2009-10-08

Blackface Is Making A Comeback?

For some reason, when I saw Robert Downey Jr. play a white actor playing a black guy in Tropic Thunder. I laughed. I thought it was hilarious. I didn't get offended. I will admit when I first heard about it I was uneasy, but the execution didn't make it seem like he or the film were making fun of black people, but rather making fun of a white Australian man who is trying to obtain and capture the black experience, and missing the "experience" all together.

Tropic Thunder clip "Theme from The Jeffersons"


Now let's go over to Australia. Harry Connick Jr. was recently on a show in Australia called "Hey Hey It's Saturday", which appears to be a "Gong Show" type variety show where regular people showcase their talent and then are judged. Harry Connick Jr. was one of the judges, and apparently his appearance was controversial because he had an issue with an act called the "Red Faces." The group referred to itself as the "Jackson Jive" and were parodying the Jacksons. I guess it was the manner in which they parodied the Jacksons that Connick took issue with. He gave them a zero, and at the end of the show explained why he was uncomfortable. The show did issue an apology for showing the act. In the twitterverse reaction varied, I managed to talk to one Australian guy about this, as he felt it was people being overly politically correct. You guys know my feelings on political correctness. Maybe it was a cultural thing, this took place in Australia after all, but of course these are the same people who gave us this commercial.



OK, now I watched this, and found it unfunny. Maybe I have a horrible sense of humor, but it was a little too much for me. The blackface, the afro wigs, the white suits purple shirts, as well as the name "Jackson Jive" rubbed me the wrong way.

Maybe it was a bit too much like this:





Sometimes blackface doesn't work. I matter of fact, most times it doesn't. Remember the Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg debacle? I guess Ted thought he might get a free pass because he was dating Whoopi, but he didn't.



It just didn't work, much like these don't really work either:




I mean I do think most people have a sense of humor, I really do, like I mentioned before I liked "Tropic Thunder", and I remember folks being a bit upset, but no one took to the streets to protest, I also remember this movie, Soul Man, which I probably should have been offended at, but wasn't. It was about a white man passing as black so that he could get a scholarship after being admitted to Harvard Law. I guess they were giving away scholarships to black people en masse back then. It was one of the first movies I saw with an interracial relationship between a black woman and white man (Rae Dawn Chong and C. Thomas Howell, who in real life were married). Of course Rae Dawn Chong was really only half black, her dad is Tommy Chong. I so digressed on that.



I was however offended at this movie, and the reason had nothing to do with race, it was just a bad movie:



I am also offended at much of the modern day Minstrel Show performers such as Lil Wayne and T Pain.



I do wonder why in blackface, they go for the full jet black "look" vs. a more brown or tan approach?