From the day we’re born, we’re fed these preconceived notions about everything—gender, class, economy, you name it. And most of us cling to these conventional ideas and stubbornly refuse to step outside of them. Humans are born brainwashed, and even though we’re gifted with consciousness, creativity, and a unique thought process in each individual, instead of questioning the norms, most of us get even more attached to them. External forces like consumerism and capitalism are somehow to blame for it, as even the food we eat and the face cream we slather on somehow manage to hypnotize us. They enchant us with their clever advertising, and we readily fall for it, blinded by their seemingly harmless effectiveness. Who needs free will when we can be happily trapped in this circus of labyrinthine manipulation?
Well, Jule Taylor’s latest film, They Cloned Tyrone, delves into these debatable concepts of how humans are manipulated by a higher power and drawn to its outward charm. But what sets They Cloned Tyrone apart is its portrayal of some morally gray protagonists, like the drug dealer Fontaine, pimp Slick Charles, and sex worker Yo Yo, who stand out as voices against this mass hypnotism.
How did they find the clones?
In the troubled town of Glen, where drug dealing and prostitution were rampant, Fontaine was surviving the dangerous world of rival gangs with his life constantly at risk. On a fateful night, Fontaine was killed by one of his rival gang leaders, Isaac, but unexpectedly, he woke up the next day incredibly alive. Starting his regular routine, he called his mom from the other side of the door and scratched a lottery ticket, oblivious to the fact that his luck was under the control of a greater entity. However, as Fontaine went outside that day, he witnessed bizarre happenings, like a Black SUV picking up an injured man from the road.
Forgetting about everything, including his encounter with the local pimp, Slick Charles, the previous night, Fontaine barged into Charles’s motel to collect the money he was owed. There, he was confronted with the reality that he had died the night before. Slick and one of his sex workers, Yo Yo, claimed to have seen Fontaine getting shot by Isaac’s men and found his miraculous return from the dead very spooky. Determined to unravel the mystery of Fontaine’s questionable existence, the three of them embarked on an adventurous investigation.
On their way, they spotted the same Black SUV parked near a house. Curiosity led them to enter the house, which ultimately led them to infiltrate a secret laboratory. In this startling discovery, Fontaine came face-to-face with a white man with an afro who was experimenting on his lifeless body. Within the lab, they found a substance similar to cocaine, which Slick tasted, and it gave him a slight high. But in a momentary mishap, Slick accidentally killed the scientist, and subsequently, the three of them managed to escape from the lab.
The following day, while discussing the mystery at a restaurant and savoring fried chicken, the seasoning induced uncontrollable laughter in all the customers, including Fontaine, Slick, and Yo Yo. Using her sharp deduction skills inspired by Nancy Drew, Yo Yo realized that the seasoning was laced with the substance Slick had tasted in the lab, a mind-controlling substance that hypnotized the entire population of Glen, particularly the Black community.
After further exploration, they discovered a church nearby which everyone attended. To their horror, they found a hidden lab beneath the church where clones of the town’s Black residents, including Fontaine and Slick, were being created. While they moved from the lab and ended up in a bar, Fontaine and Slick found themselves getting mind controlled by music, but Yo Yo had somehow been spared from the cloning process, becoming the only one capable of reasonable thinking. She guided her two friends to keep on track to question and challenge these bizarre circumstances.
What was Nixon’s role in it?
However, in that bar, the crowd was being puppeteered by a DJ, who instructed them to capture Slick, Fontaine, and Yo Yo. As the crowd surrounded three of them, a car arrived, and another clone of Fontaine, named Chester, emerged along with his master, Nixon, one of the officials overseeing the cloning procedure.
Nixon, unlike Richard Nixon, the 37th US President, actually was against war, because he preferred using even darker implications, such as cloning, to control violence among people of color. As he stepped out of the car and explained his ideas,They Cloned Tyrone‘s central focus seemed to be racist white people disregarding black lives. He firmly believed that black folks were inherently violent, corrupt, and potential criminals, and he wanted to eradicate these traits through cloning to instill the same ideology in everyone’s mind and make the United States literally “United.”
Nixon admitted that he was not in charge, but he was just a guy working under a boss who only called him to clean up the mess caused by Fontaine, Slick, and Yo Yo. He claimed that the violence within these communities was being purified through the cloning process to eventually remove crime and violence from the world. That’s why they chose individuals with criminal tendencies, such as drug dealers, and undesirable figures like pimps, for their cloning experiments.
Although Nixon didn’t kill them, he flaunted his power by manipulating Fontaine and Slick, turning them against Yo Yo. However, after building up tension, he told them to relax and walked away. This mind-controlling power was enough to prove their authority over people of color, which scared Fontaine and Slick, leading Slick to abandon the rebellion and return to his regular life. But Yo Yo remained a rebel, as she was not cloned, and this experience only motivated her further to put an end to the mass cloning operations. She was determined to fight against the oppressive forces that sought to strip away their individuality and freedom.
What was Old Fontaine’s intention behind making clones?
As Yo Yo was kidnapped by Nixon, Slick and Fontaine made their way into the underground lab in search of her. It wasn’t easy for Fontaine to end up there, so he faked his death, hoping the scientists would take him to the lab to create another clone. His plan succeeded, and once inside, he managed to knock out the scientists and finally meet the mastermind behind the entire scheme. To his utter shock, it turned out to be an elderly version of himself—a crucial revelation in They Cloned Tyrone that revealed the reason behind the mass cloning and the mastermind’s identity.
In Old Fontaine’s room, we found the experimental clones of humans, transformed from black to white. Shockingly, this transformation was the ultimate goal of this cloning, as the old and original Fontaine wanted to eradicate the entire black race and replace it with a white one, even if it took generations. This revelation was deeply disturbing for Fontaine, as he found that one of his people was behind this larger and more evil scheme. However, Old Fontaine had his reasons, which he tried to justify through his twisted and sickening explanation.
The root of Old Fontaine’s obsession with transforming the race remains a tragic event from his past. At the beginning of They Cloned Tyrone, we saw a photo of a young boy, Ronald Chamberlain, in Fontaine’s house, who was actually Fontaine’s brother. Ronald died at a tender age, becoming the victim of racist white men who callously shot him on the street. No one intervened to save the young boy or called for help, and by the time old Fontaine found him, Ronald had already died. As Fontaine washed the blood from his brother’s body, the black color of his skin became a symbol of the tragedy and racial hatred that had taken his brother’s life. Thus, instead of turning against the white people, Fontaine’s personal vendetta led him to seek the eradication of his own race, hoping that by transforming them into white individuals, they would no longer face the same consequences as his brother did.
However, in old Fontaine’s twisted explanation, there were evident loopholes. If he intended to wipe out the black race, why did he choose to clone criminal-minded black individuals? Did he plan to change their violent tendencies and then transform them into white individuals? Despite the abundance of violent, corrupt, and evil white individuals revealed in society, why did he still hold the belief that white people were inherently non-violent? They Cloned Tyrone highlighted the fallacies in old Fontaine’s reasoning and raised questions about whether he was truly the mastermind behind the scheme or merely a puppet under an even more powerful master, who manipulated him using his tragic past into committing such a heinous act.
Old Fontaine mentioned making a deal with a devil-like entity, hinting at the existence of a bigger and darker force behind the scenes. If a sequel to They Cloned Tyrone were to be made, we would eagerly await the conclusion and explanation of who this mysterious “Devil” could be and the ultimate revelation of the puppeteer pulling the strings in this disturbing scheme.