Satire vs. Passive aggressiveness
How does one fulfill one’s responsibility? In the book Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and the film Bamboozled directed by Spike Lee, two educated black characters set out to fulfill their responsibilities through different methods. While passive aggressiveness is used as a defensive tool in Invisible Man and satire is actively used in Bamboozled, both methods are flawed and fail to fulfill the protagonists’ individual and social responsibility.
Despite similar purposes, the two tools are different in their way of approaching the protagonists’ goals. The narrator in Invisible Man is introduced to the idea of passive aggressiveness early on as his grandfather’s last words, “‘I want you to overcome ’em with yeses, undermine ’em with grins, agree ’em to death and destruction, let ’em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open’”(16). The grandfather suggests that by agreeing with the white men and being submissive on the surface even when he disagrees deep down, he is able to keep control over his own mind. However, the grandfather’s advice is passive because he does nothing except agree. It is simply an act of patiently waiting for the whites to self-destruct and not taking an active role in attacking them.
One may ask, then, what makes the grandfather’s advice aggressive to label him as being passively aggressive? Being passively aggressive is to indirectly express hostility by intentionally failing to fulfill one’s responsibility. When