Friday, April 1, 2011

The Whitewashing Of Mixed (Black) Women In Hollywood

I must confess that it's something that has always irked me to a degree.  I've discussed this in the past in regards to Maya Rudolph and her movie, Away We Go.  Lately, we seem to routinely be given the pairing of a white man with a racially ambiguous woman with no family of her own or friends that aren't white.  Recently I went to the movies and was once again slapped in the face with this recurring theme when I saw the poster for her latest project, Bridesmaids.  As dismayed as I was and currently am my feelings for Maya haven't changed from my original blog entry.  So, due to my feelings for her and the fact that the trailer is hilarious, I will more than likely be at my local theater dealing with my ambivalence as best I can.

The inspiration for this entry came from an article on Rashida Jones "passing" through Hollywood.  In the piece the writer cites a quote from Ms. Jones in Racialicious:

"I always wanted to pursue theater and my black cultural identity.  In my second year at college, I did the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, and it was so healing. […] I’m lucky because I have so many clashing cultural, racial things going on: black, Jewish, Irish, Portuguese, Cherokee.  I can float and be part of any community I want. The thing is, I do identify with being black, and if people don’t identify me that way that’s their issue."
The quote itself comes off as disingenuous.  How can you possibly identify as Black in your personal life (I assume), yet your racial identity isn't reflected in your art?

The author of the TheLoop21 article asks the question:
If Rashida Jones identifies as black in her personal life, is she obligated to pursue roles that identify her as black, too?
Is she obligated to?  She only has to do two things, "stay Bla . . . ".  On second thought, no she's not obligated to, but if she had the social conscious that she claims to it would be nice.  There is no denying that she is a good actress that is currently getting a lot of work.  It's a shame that there are no dark faces that might also get some work as her sister, brother, mother, father or dare I say boyfriend or husband in a movie or television show.

Thanks for stopping by,



Anonymous said...

That's right! Keep our entertainers accountable. I won't be seeing this movie for other reasons, but I really appreciate this write up!

8thlight said...

Thanks! I appreciate the fact that you took the time to comment.

Jay said...

this entry made me smile on some points... never knew you were a writer too :-)

katchin05 said...

Good post & interesting thoughts, but should we be holding the actors or the casting directors responsible? Should someone turn down a role because the directors or writers didn't choose to reflect the actors' personal identity properly?

8thlight said...

@Jay I definitely wouldn't see myself as a writer, but thanks! I do know a little bit about a little bit. lol

@Katchin05 I think both the actors and casting directors should be held responsible. Lots of actors have influence in the casting to a degree. I don't think it would come to roles being turned down as much as an actor simply saying, "hey, I'm not white can this possibly be reflected on screen?" According to a podcast I heard, Jennifer Beals was responsible for Pam Grier's role going from her friend on The L Word to being her sister. I'm only talking about actors and actresses who have some pull. I don't want any actor or actress getting fired over this.

funkdigital said...

This is something that I've also noticed. I will point out that at least great comedian Franklin Ajaye played her father, but Rudolph's whole camp were white. Didn't even see black family members at the wedding.

Add this to the the Black male SO choices and you have a serious problem. Leading Black men paired with either Latina or mixed race women like Paula Patton.

Duchess Drake said...

This is something I have always felt strongly about. I have been wondering what it is. I believe it has more to do with the old Hollywood monarchy and what they think blacks will spend their money on. If all we will pay to see is racially ambiguous women AND men (though since every women in every race wants to bed a black man it's okay to be dark and be a sex symbol in Hollywood) then why would they put someone that could actually relate with me and take a loss at the box office? As a people we have to want to see Black characters that are engineers, swash buckling heroines, and white wives that want to learn how to do their mixed son's hair properly (an Afro for 15 years is NOT proper).Will the advertising "golden ones" (all races of males from 25-50) allow a extremely dark woman to be the leading lady they kiss, the zombie heroine horde,or the secret agent that teaches the newbie how to curve bullets? (yes, in the comic book for the film "WANTED" Fox - played by Angelina Jolie was a gorgeous black woman with a bodacious Afro). I'm sorry to say if our men, the one s that pay for the date's, our part of the advertising "golden ones" don't want to see us, they wont make the movies with us. we have to get our men back for that to happen. I really miss the seventies. At least our black men wanted us instead of racially ambiguous women. (Pepe Le' Pew's girlfriend cat *Le' Sigh*)