June 23, 2007

Angelina Jolie in blackface

A Part Colored By History

Choice of White Actress For Mixed-Race Role Stirs Debate on Insensitivity"I am screaming my head off about Angelina Jolie playing Mariane Pearl, who is half-black."

But others argue that the Jolie naysayers are practicing reverse racism. Said a contributor on TheZeroBoss.com: "Mariane Pearl is mostly white . . . what are you practicing here, the one drop rule?"

(Jolie, it should be noted, claims some nonwhite ancestry. Her mother was reportedly part Iroquois.)

The debate is cast against the backdrop of the United States' troubled legacy of minstrel shows, where white actors slapped on burnt cork or shoe polish, the better to mock African Americans. Film stars Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Eddie Cantor performed in blackface, as did actors in D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation," using greasepaint and murderous stereotypes to reinforce America's worst fears about black men. Even as recently as 1993, actor Ted Danson donned blackface to roast then-girlfriend Whoopi Goldberg at the Friars Club.

Hollywood didn't confine this phenomenon to its depiction of African Americans. White actors including Mickey Rooney, Katharine Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine have donned the brown-, red- and yellow-face, too, playing Native Americans, Latinos and Asians, usually to stereotypical effect. Then consider that Forest Whitaker darkened his skin to play Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland," and the issue gets complicated: Does that count as blackface, or is it akin to Nicole Kidman's donning a prosthetic nose to play Virginia Woolf in "The Hours"?
Comment:  I just saw A Mighty Heart. It's good. I give it an 8.0 of 10.

4 comments:

russell said...

Writerfella here --
writerfella has yet to see A MIGHTY HEART, and so comment on the film soon will be forthcoming. BUT -- it is the case that Angelina Jolie negotiated for and then purchased the rights to the story as a film. Any complainants should realize that all they had to do to get a half-Black actress (and there are several) to play the role of Mariane Pearl was to bid against Jolie and then finance their own film of the story. That not being the circumstance, then all they are doing is what critics are doing -- they did not make the film and only are consumers. This may not be the world that they wish it to be and, to change it, they must become participants other than just filmgoers...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

You aren't as ignorant of the role of money in moviemaking as you sound, are you? You do know whites and minorities in Hollywood aren't playing on a level field, don't you?

"It is the case that Angelina Jolie negotiated for and then purchased the rights to the story" because she and Brad Pitt are fabulously wealthy. How many black women besides Oprah have their kind of money?

Let's check the facts. According to one listing

http://www.ivillage.co.uk/newspol/celeb/cfeat/articles/0,,528719_705020,00.html

Jolie is the 6th most powerful actress in Hollywood. No black actress is on the list.

In short, several half-black actresses might've bid against Jolie if they'd had as much money as she does. And I'd make a more authentic Maya movie if I had as much money as Mel Gibson does.

So you think the only way critics could end Uncle Tom portrayals of blacks (Stephin Fetchit, Amos 'n' Andy) was to produce their own nonstereotypical works featuring blacks? Wrong. They ended these portrayals by criticizing them--by pointing out how wrong they were.

russell said...

Writerfella here --
Except for the fact that Spike Lee did the very thing that you say has not been done, you might be correct. But then he has succeeded in many quarters of the field and likely could have accomplished the Daniel Pearl film, IF HE WAS SO INTERESTED. Apparently, he was not, and it went to Angelina Jolie, who had the money and the interest, even if Oprah was looking elsewhere for bad books and Dr. Phil's next faked (ala Jerry Springer) hot topic. Guess what? Your ostensible Mayan movie would get just as many complaints as did Mel's BECAUSE YOU AREN'T MAYAN! It may not seem likely, but it still is true...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Spike Lee did what "very thing" that I said hasn't been done? Turn into a black actress and bid on Daniel Pearl's story? Why don't you learn to write more clearly so I don't have to interpret your vague messages?

Re "Your ostensible Mayan movie would get just as many complaints as did Mel's BECAUSE YOU AREN'T MAYAN! It may not seem likely, but it still is true...": This isn't true, it's your (worthless) opinion. Perhaps this explains your ongoing problems here. You don't know the difference between fact and opinion.

It's pretty easy to show up your worthless opinion. How many complaints did good non-Native productions such as Powwow Highway, Dreamkeeper, and Flags of Our Fathers get? Not many, because they were good.