Skip to comments.Behind the Makeup: BLACK LIKE YOU
Posted on 07/16/2006 3:42:59 PM PDT by fgoodwin
IN the last few years, it has seemed that perhaps America's long-buried history of blackface is being allowed to peek out of the closet. Bob Dylan named his most recent studio album "Love and Theft," after Eric Lott's landmark 1993 study of the form; and in his curious 2003 film, "Masked and Anonymous," Dylan even got Ed Harris to "black up" for a scene. Spike Lee also explored the subject in "Bamboozled," and competing biographies of Stepin Fetchit joined "Where Dead Voices Gather," Nick Tosches' meditation on the minstrel superstar Emmett Miller, on bookshelves. "Old Dan Tucker," the opening track on Bruce Springsteen's album "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions," is identified in Dave Marsh's liner notes, without apology, as "the most famous of all blackface songs before the Civil War."
Still, John Strausbaugh argues in the persuasive, provocative "Black Like You," blackface continues to hold an especially vilified place in American culture. "The swastika, the 'N-word' and blackface, because of their special historical significance, are the ne plus ultra of hate speech," he writes. If you doubt that claim, ask the singer Stephin Merritt, who recently set off a small explosion in rock's intellectual circles by stating that "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," from the disowned Disney film "Song of the South," is "a great song." Or, better yet, try an easier test on a crowded subway car, pull out this book, with the close-up of a blackfaced minstrel on its cover, and see how you feel.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
But then again there's Bob Herbert running around the Times in whiteface...
Bob Herbert wants to grow up to be Elis Hennican.
I think I saw a scene of modern (and not ironic) blackface in a British movie with a scene SET in a British television studio from 1961.
So to all FReepers, are any familiar with NON-American presentation of blackface, and if so, when did it die out elsewhere?
In a sort of related topic, Disney had no problems with releasing Song of the South in Japan, China, and Europe throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It is only in America that the film disappear from release to theaters or video (there are a number of now out of print foreign video releases that were all legit).
Great post as expected from you!
The swastika was a widely used "good luck" symbol in Americana (team logos, postcards, floor inlay) before Hitler's crew perverted it.
MEANWHILE, Che, Red Stars, Communism, and even Joe Stalin are okay in the hearts and minds of Americans. 100 million killed under Communism is no big whoop.
Blacks have done "whiteface", in movies, in America, since at least the '60s, with WATERMELLON MAN" being the one from the '60s.
Blacks "blacked up" in their minstrel shows and one of the most famous and beloved vaudevillians, Bert Williams, who popularized such songs as "I ANI'T GOT NOBODY" and "ME AND MY SHADOW", blacked up, though he was a Negro.
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