Re: Steven Mikulan’s “Back in Black (and Yellow) Face: Have Movie Stereotypes Returned?” [April 25–May 1]: Great article. I always hope that the American movie-viewing public is above eating up the bile that films like Norbit spew out. But it’s apparent, considering the money the film made, that it’s perfectly acceptable to play to the stereotypes. Eddie Murphy’s portrayal of the Chinese guy was just as bad as any white actor stepping into blackface in the 21st century. Your mention that these stereotypes are alive to make whites feel comfortable with their inner racist is right on the mark. I think it solidifies their racist beliefs in the sense that they are not the only ones who think like this. Race is a big issue, and I do not think anything will change if movies and TV continue to play to these types of characters.
Mark DiNatale Posted Friday, April 25
I agree with you with regard to Hollywood, but what about the print world? If you are a black writer, you have to be the nonthreatening person of color or you can write about rap music. The things you wrote about are totally off limits to a black writer, right? The only writers allowed to be progressive and fun are white guys. I think this is pervasive throughout the media world and not just exclusive to the movie world.
Browne Molyneux TheBusBench.com; posted Sunday, April 27
Really good article, and an argument I think we’re going to see rehashed in many newspapers when this year’s Tropical Thunder will see Robert Downey Jr. black up to play a Method actor who undergoes surgery in order to portray a black character. While the footage released so far looks hilarious, it will almost certainly come under scrutiny. I think something that needs to be examined more closely is this: If it’s all in the name of comedy, is it really racism? Stereotypes are really like saying, “There’s no smoke without fire,” so if people simply owned up and said, “Yeah, we accept that the black community does these things,” instead of becoming indignant at the thought of, say, a black character owning a fried-chicken shack, then we could just sit back and enjoy comedy instead of getting scared about how un-P.C. we’re being.
Emily500 Posted Monday, April 28
One question: When did Hollywood ever stop using stereotypes?
A lively discussion on Mikulan’s movie-stereotypes article can be found at laweekly.com. There are also many comments about Jonathan Gold''s "Save the Taco Truck" and Christine Pelisek''s “Billboards Gone Wild,” and numerous fresh posts on the ongoing discussion about Paul Teetor''s "Anatomy of a False Confession."
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