Is Hollywood Limiting Black Actors….To Dresses?

Martin= Shenenah (Martin), Big Momma of ‘Big Momma’s House’
Jamie Foxx= Wanda (In Living Color)
Cedric The Entertainer= Mrs. Cafeteria Lady (Cedric The Entertainer Presents)
Eddie Murphy = Rasputia, ‘Norbit’
The Wayans Bros=’White Chicks’
Tyler Perry= Madea, The Madea franchise

 

I could have went on, but by now I take it you get the connection. It seems America loves black men in dresses.Why is this a trend? If the loud, obnoxious and angry black female is the typecast role for black actresses, then the funny drag role is that for black actors, especially black comedians. You have to question the image that Hollywood Execs want to portray black men when these projects are always getting green-lighted over projects that reflect black men in positive roles, as MEN. As far as the actors who take on the roles, you have to question, when enough is enough- the drag role is quite cliche’ to me now. All the ‘greats’ have done it, let’s move on. While roles and general opportunities were very limited for black men in the ’60s, ’70s and even ’80s, the roles that black men played were strong, inspiring, heroic, and masculine and these men, (e.g., Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Lou Gossett Jr., etc.) played these roles with dignity.

When was last time a black actor played a hero? I’m thinking late ’90s- Will Smith in ‘Independence Day.’ If someone comes up with a current role, please let me know. The fact that I can’t recall a recent role says a lot. Also, when I learned that my future husband, Idris Elba (ya’ll know), lost the role as Alex Cross (think “Kiss the Girls” and “Along Came a Spider” movies, originally played by Morgan Freeman), to Tyler Perry of all actors, I wanted to start a revolt.  Excuse me movie execs, but NOTHING about Tyler Perry says: 1) Hero/crime-solver 2) Cross-over appeal, non-Madea. In addition, with the exception of a Star Trek, the only roles Perry has taken on was in his own films, which are notoriously known for being stereotypical. Hey, I’m just being honest. In comparison, Elba has experience in crime dramas, he was nominated for his role in the Luther mini-series, in which he played a Detective! Quite honestly, Elba encompasses everything that embodies a hero. Ok, so enough stanning over Idris, for the sake of this post, let me get back to my point—-> While its good that Perry is stepping out of his Madea character, I must give a side-eye to the movie execs for  the sudden drop of Elba for Perry. Will audiences really take Perry seriously, or will we see a more comedic version of Alex Cross à la Madea solving murder cases?

 I began to think about this recently when I saw a Youtube clip of Dave Chappelle on the Oprah show, (ignore the title, which will be discussed in a future post). He begins to talk about black actors in drag and his stance against it at the 1:41 mark.

So there are some black actors who refuse to go the “drag route.”  Is there really some “conspiracy” in Hollywood to emasculate black actors, much like the early 20th century minstrel shows, to which many in the blogsphere are referring to this phenomenon as such.  Furthermore, what are these portrayals of black women saying about the image of black women, particularly plus size women? Most of the roles played by these actors in drag are in fat-suits, not to mention that they are loud, obnoxious,and unattractive. Speaking of which, why is it that Keenan Thompson is the go to guy on Saturday Night Live when it comes to playing black women (i.e. Oprah, Star Jones)? Just some things to get you thinking.

Bottom line, its time for Hollywood to start taking black actors more seriously and give them more compelling roles such as action heroes, and love interests, etc.  As far as black comedians, as Dave Chappelle pointed out, your material will speak for itself, a dress and a fat-suit is not needed to induce a few laughs.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. KEJ
    Jun 17, 2011 @ 20:28:41

    Yes they are still emasculating BM in Hollywood,Thank you sister for noticing , some try to deny this truth.

    Reply

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