Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Images of Oppression and Inequality

Many people would find it hard to believe that there are still instances where "Black face" and "yellow face" performances are still used for humor and advertisement but they still are.

Here, French Vogue did a spread in it's November 2009 issue using white models painted Black to sell clothing.

Dutch model Lara Stone wore black body makeup in the November 2009 issue of French Vogue magazine.

In the film "Tropic Thunder" faced controversy from people angry over its slanderous use humor when referring to people with mental illnesses but also featured Robert Downey Jr. as an Australian actor who undergoes "skin darkening" to play a Black military leader during the Vietnam war.

Robert Downey Jr. in "Black face" in the film "Tropic Thunder" which grossed $110,416,702 (US as of November 9, 2008)

The film "I now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry" featured a cameo from Rob Schneider who played a Canadian Asian minister who barely speaks audible English.

Rob Schneider in "yellow face" playing an Asian minister.The film grossed $119,684,970 (in the US as of October 14, 2007).

In every image above, the directors of this media form felt a person not of color would demonstrate a point better than an actual person of color. In the case of the white, dutch model in "Black face," the intention was to sell clothes. In the case of the film "Tropic Thunder," they felt it would be more entertaining to have a white actor play a Black actor instead of just hiring a Black actor. Equally damaging and yet perhaps less acknowledged is the use of "Yellow face" in the film "I Know Pronounce you Chuck and Larry," where the character was not only acting out exaggerated stereotypes but also reinforced the negative ideologies put upon Asian men.

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