Black = Irish (not really)

The Commitments focuses on tying the Black American culture with the Irish. One of the main ways this happens is through the formation of a band to play soul music in Dublin. Jimmy creates a connection between African Americans and the Irish position by declaring that he’s black and proud (Doyle 10) and that the “Irish are the niggers of Europe” (11). Before any real explanation of this connection by performance is made, he defines the linkage. The first effect of this is to indicate that the Irish-Black condition extends beyond the scope of musical performance. This is an affirmation of the links Irish creators found with their counterparts across the Atlantic. The second effect is the reaction his band members have to this statement. In the movie, they all stare at him, shocked that the statement was even made. In the book, they were shocked as well, but they agreed (11). The difference in reception indicates a difference in the issues each work seeks to address. The movie makes it clear that aligning with the soul genre and Jimmy’s take on it was destined to fail. In contrast, the book demands that a comparison be made, but the Irish must take what they have received in this transaction and create their own. The transatlantic demands that newness is created from the past. 

The difference in the endings creates a large gap in the treatment of the Atlantic in this context. The movie leaves off on a rather negative note. Each person breaks out on their own journey using music to whatever extent they need. They define their own genres and shape it into their identities. Deco got to record songs, Nathalie was successful, and The Brassers became an all-female band. The novel denied that and instead took those musicians and pulled them together to make The Brassers sing country-punk (129). They did not need to copy and define themselves according to Black standards. They could create their own niche in the Dublin vortex.

One Reply to “Black = Irish (not really)”

  1. I think that your point about the difference between the endings of the book and the film bring an interesting point, however, I believe that the ending of the film could have a potentially more positive connotation. I believe that through the inspiration that was given to them by performing soul as a band, the individual members of the band were then able to use their strength (given to them by the band) to find and express their own musical identities in whatever means that they deemed best.

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