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Friday, December 30, 2016

Whiteface

Blackface is of course utterly outré.  And there's just no need for it.  Plenty of talented africans to fill appropriate roles.  And what is an appropriate role?  Any non-specific role -- you know, for a human being.  Also a specifically african role, like Harriet Tubman or MLK jr.  But what about Brownface, or Yellowface, or Whiteface?  I just don't see the need for a hispanic to play a  hispanic role.

Is that insensitive and racist of me?  Well, I have a right to be racist and insensitive. That's what freedom is -- the right -- not the necessity -- to be offensive.  Civility and good-breeding should daub up the cracks, and tolerance -- actual tolerance, for what is obnoxious -- will cover the rest.  It is pathetic that we need to remind them of this -- the opposite of freedom is coercion.

But to return to the matter.  I think it's racist to require that actors play only their own race. Pace the Huntington Post, with its blindside racism. Thus, the Globe Theatre's casting of a black youngster as  Romeo.  He's just too earnest and breathy and smiling to be pleasing, and the ahistoricity of it is jarring to me -- call me a bigot -- but to our modern sensibilities there's nothing necessary in Romeo's being white.  Same sort of casting in the most recent film of As You Like It.  And there's a Midsummer Night's Dream  with an african female.  We just have to redefine the meaning, when she is called "fair".  Fair enough.  Off hand  I don't recall any BBC attempt to cast an asian in a comparable speaking part.  Odd.

Point is, any nose-shape, any length of hair, any mere detail of physicality need have no impact on the role.  So, a dwarf as One of the  Gentlemen of Verona?  Nowadays there are some excellent little person actors.  No need to cast  them as weird dream visions, or as comedy props.  Once you're not an adolescent any more, the old funnyman references to midgets just isn't funny, man.  They're depending on the condition itself to be the joke.  Lazy hack stuff.  Like old-time radio with its dialect humor.  Italian and Irish and Jewish -- it was a SCREAM.  Deadly unfunny, to us.  Tastes change.  The essence of humor is surprise -- witness the hilarity to an infant of  peekaboo -- and the surprise of such differences as dialect has worn off.  Thank heaven.

And hispanic is such a mixed bag, that just about anyone could play it.  I'm about the only exception -- tall lanky blue-eyed blond.  Africans can play hispanic.  Asians can play hispanic.  Europeans can play hispanics.

And given the wide phenotype of american blacks, do we really truly need only ethnically african american actors to play such roles?  Well, as an affirmative action thing, sure, maybe.  It's not like there have been that many non-musician/criminal roles open to blacks.  Fortunately the audacity of hope has changed that forever.

But I do have two issues.  First, asians.  In olden days, honestly, when an asian actor was cast in a movie or early tv, it was more because they were asian, than because they were good actors.  You do know what I mean, hurt though your sensitivities may be.  Same with giants -- Richard Kiel was okay, but no great shakes as an actor.  Same  with little people -- they got the role because they fit the part physically.  Michael Dunn, as an obvious exception.  Sociological reasons for all of this -- lack of encouragement to even find out if you were a good actor, if a minority. Toshio Mori's "Japanese Hamlet" touches on this theme.

I suppose that's mostly in the past, now, although these Hollywood lefties are as racist as any clansman.  Good roles, you know, go to our  people.  Crossburning, or speech codes ... means of control.  (I know, I'm evil for saying it.  I should be stopped.  Opinioncrime (henceforth, opcrim) will not be tolerated.)

Of course, no one could have been less talented than Micky Rooney as Mr. whoever in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Any asian off the street who could find his mark and remember lines would have been as good, or as bad. You'd have thought someone in the studio would have seen that. But they still had blackface in the 50s, so, uh, there. Peter Lorre  could, uh, pass, as Mr. Moto.   But  Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee ... and Glen  Gordon -- as Fu Manchu? Ah, so.   It's a great character.  Unnecessary casting, though. Warner Oland?  He was a freakin swede.  John Wayne as Genghis Khan -- famously awesome.  Nuff said.

But my real question is really an answer to the PC lefty racists.  How have europeans been portrayed, in asian productions?  Well, originally, at first contact, we have this:
Slightly demonic.

It was hard to get the eyes right:

And the nose was a problem:

But it started to come together:


Hey, foxy lady -- come here often?

And by the time Commodore Perry hove to, we get the idea pretty well:
Recognizable.

But that was then and this is now.  I went online to see if there were any scholarly or journalistic studies of how europeans have fared in the past hundred years or so.  Crickets.  Something must exist, but not in the first few pages of google -- and how could anybody be expected to look further than that?  Be sensible.  Get a grip.

My deep expectation is that we -- and by we I mean normal people ... you know, tall lanky blue-eyed blonds -- have been portrayed by ethic asians, in asia.  Mostly.  I have only one bit of evidence for my intractably-firm opinion.  Something I saw a few years ago, to my delight.
Look familiar?

I will never be convinced but that this is meant to represent my people.  A few more inches in the nose, please.  Just think about pulling taffy, and you'll get it right.  Haw haw haw.

So the next time some lefty hack racemonger complains about, well, what else, it will be easy and useless to suggest that, yes, true, america sucks, but so does everywhere else.


J

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