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“They Cloned Tyrone” Movie Analysis: Systems, Cycles and Forced Assimilation

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hampton U chapter.

They Cloned Tyrone is a modern day take on blaxploitation films, a popular genre of the 1970s mixed with elements of a 90s sci-fi thriller. The film was released on Netflix at the end of July. The story follows the efforts of a drug dealer, pimp, and an sex worker who happen upon an extensive government plot targeting their neighborhood. Starring John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, and an exuberant Jamie Foxx, also featuring an entertaining performance by rising star J. Alphonse Nicholson, recognized for his role as s Lil Murda in the Starz hit drama P-Valley.

They Cloned Tyrone” delves into a conspiracy, unveiling a covert agency conducting covert experiments on working class African American individuals. This includes the intriguing concept hinted at in the title: human cloning. The narrative highlights places like the black church, hair salon, and fast-food joint as instruments of societal manipulation. Additionally, a strange white substance is being introduced into individuals’ food and haircare items, unbeknownst to them, targeting products that are commonly linked to African American culture, such as hair relaxers and fried chicken.

On the surface, the characters may appear as one-dimensional representations, trapped in offensive stereotypes: the ruthless drug dealer, slippery pimp, and ostentatious sex worker. However, we quickly come to understand that there’s more beneath the surface. Each character has become these archetypes due to the conditioning of their environment. ‘Slick’ Charles (portrayed by Jamie Foxx) embodies the essence of a 1970s pimp, while Fontaine (played by John Boyega) is a depiction of a 1990s drug dealer. The rationale behind creating these two characters becomes evident towards the conclusion of the film. Both find redemption, breaking free from both themselves and the film’s antagonist.

Teyonah Parris’ portrayal of Yo-yo is marked by a distinctive narrative. She grapples with a dual condemnation from society and bears the brunt of the severe exploitation endured by women, especially those within the working-class and African American communities in the deeply unequal United States. Despite being forced into prostitution, she emerges as the strategic leader behind the trio’s victory against a formidable foe. Her wellspring of inspiration is drawn from the Nancy Drew comic-book series, originally tailored for middle-class white children in the 1950s, offering an unforeseen well of inner strength. Fontaine (John Boyega), the protagonist, grapples with depression and experiences a sense of alienation. Many characters face issues of exploitation, alienation, and oppression due to their environment. Due to the main characters methods of employment, they are also shunned by a broader society.

This film is one that explores forced assimilation. The clones serve as a metaphor for how white America tends to accept Black individuals and culture only when they conform to a white-washed ideal, reaping the benefits of wealth, influence, and comfort in white society. Simultaneously, the clones symbolize the deliberate efforts of white individuals to maintain power imbalances by keeping specific Black communities impoverished and oppressed. Among the clones, characters like Fontaine are designed to perpetuate a disadvantaged neighborhood, diverting authorities’ attention. Conversely, lighter-skinned Black individuals in the community represent an assimilation effort. If the scientists succeed, the film suggests that all Black individuals would ultimately become indistinguishable from white.

The film has garnered global acclaim, largely owing to its clever use of humor. The film acknowledges its not-so-serious nature, even while delving into weighty subjects, and fearlessly explores the absurd and the imaginative. It offers a glimpse into the government’s concealed activities, revealing how these hidden truths can lead individuals towards uncomfortable revelations. While in many movies, this might serve as a profound and almost philosophical awakening, here it is wielded for comedic effect.

“They Cloned Tyrone” is hailed as an intriguing and rewarding cinematic experience. This movie stands out as one of the most intriguing films of the year. It defies conventional tropes, offering both entertainment and a captivating ensemble of characters portrayed by exceptionally talented actors. In the end, this risky display has proved immensely rewarding for all those involved.

Serenity Smith

Hampton U '24

Hi!! I'm a graduating senior at Hampton University majoring in psychology with a premedical concentration from Prince George’s County, Maryland. I'm passionate about mental health and writing. My most creative outlet is writing poetry, but I have a newfound love of writing articles about topics important to me.