The song "Turkey In The Straw" is one known to millions of Americans as well as many, many others around the world. Here's a National Public Radio article that shines some light on the virulently racist lyrics that attended that familiar old melody in its earlier incarnation. WARNING: Do not go to the link if you wish to avoid racist imagery and slurs.
Francis Ford Coppola's first studio picture (and Fred Astaire's swan song) was a big-budget musical about a leprechaun who magically ends racism in the deep south state of "Missitucky." Look!—to 1968's Finian's Rainbow. [more inside]
Recently, Quebec's annual comedy award show, Le Gala les Oliver opened with its host, Mario Jean, coming out in blackface to imitate a black comedian. Of course, there has been considerable stunned and angry editorials. But this is not the first incident of the use of "blackface" in high profile in the province. In 2011, a McGill student filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights commission after his classmates donned blackface and imitated Jamaican stereotypes. [more inside]
The YouTube clip, set to the tune of the 1985 charity single We Are the World, features Israelis dressed as Arabs and activists, waving weapons while singing: "We con the world, we con the people. We'll make them all believe the IDF (Israel Defence Force) is Jack the Ripper."While the Israeli government has apologized for distributing links to the video, Israeli government spokesmen nevertheless maintain that the video is "fantastic" and "what Israelis feel." And not just any Israelis: the video was produced by and stars, among others, the Jerusalem Post's deputy managing editor Caroline Glick.
Australian television show "Hey Hey It's Saturday" is currently back on the air after a few decades, running a series of reunion shows, and the other night a group that had been on the show in the 80s came back with the same act, in blackface. [more inside]
The Black and White Minstrel Show was a (very cheesy) British variety series that ran Saturday nights on the BBC for twenty years. Hard to believe that it was still on the air as late as 1978. A live show, "Memories of the Minstrels ," toured the UK to packed houses in 2004 and 2005. The show was performed white-faced and featured the stars, medley's and costumes from the original TV series. Previously. [more inside]
Should I use blackface on my blog? A flowchart.
“The Emperor Jones was a landmark drama, not only in conception but also in production: a black actor, Charles Gilpin, was permitted for the first time to enact the leading role in a New York drama.” James Earl Jones and collaborators discuss and rehearse a later production. Currently Elizabeth LeCompte directs Kate Valk, a middle-aged white woman in blackface, in a contemporary production from the Wooster Group. They’ve courted this type of controversy before. The NYTimes loved the show, this review isn’t as glowing.
Jump Jim Crow, through the hoops of one Robert Christgau's erudition as he surveys the literature extant in In Search of Jim Crow: Why Postmodern Minstrelsy Studies Matter, through multiple readings of Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop, Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and Their World and and Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. Consider, too, The Minstrel Cycle from Reading The Commitments and other various and sundry attempts to peek inside the minstrel mask—all multiple readings reading blackface minstrels from the pejorative to the explorative, subversive to oppressive, past to future, unfolding tesseractly, if not exactly, with singing, dancing and extraordinary elocutions. Buy your tickets and step within for The Meller Drammer of Minstrelsy in The Minstrel Show 2.0…
"Rhy Helro Miss GoRightwry!" A gallery of Yellowface and Blackfaces in Hollywood at the Makeup Gallery. (via Sharpeworld) Despite efforts of the MANAA to reduce Asian stereotypes in media, there is a long history of white actors portraying asian roles (warning: really bitter commentary). When will there be enough outcry (or demand) for movies with asian roles that don't know kung-fu or are exotic hookers? Or are we satisfied with Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu, and Mr. Wong?
The Minstrel Show The Minstrel Show presents us with a strange, fascinating and awful phenomenon. Minstrel shows emerged from preindustrial European traditions of masking and carnival. But in the US they began in the 1830s, with working class white men dressing up as plantation slaves. These men imitated black musical and dance forms, combining savage parody of black Americans with genuine fondness for African American cultural forms. By the Civil War the minstrel show had become world famous and respectable. Late in his life Mark Twain fondly remembered the "old time nigger show" with its colorful comic darkies and its rousing songs and dances. By the 1840s, the minstrel show had become one of the central events in the culture of the Democratic party.. The image of white men in blackface, miming black song, dance and speech is considered the last word in racist bigotry for some. And yet, standing at the crossroads of race, class and high and low culture, blackface minstrelsy is one fascinating topic in academic circles. It’s history is intertwined with the rise of abolitionism, the works of Mark Twain and the histories of vaudeville, American vernacular music, radio, television, movies, in fact all of what is called popular culture. Details within.