Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Comic Strip found at en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Blackface
The media item I found was a comic strip titled Blackface and darky iconography. It has a blackface man with huge black hair, big eyes, and big pink lips sitting in a chair with a woman and two children around him. The woman and children this man was entertainment and something they could laugh at. The black-faced man was sitting in a rocking chair dressed in a cartoon looking suit and has an expression of a googly-eyed smile. The white children and mother are entertained by this character and see him as something instead of someone. All the characteristics on the man pop out such as the eyes, hair, lips, and color of the man.
Blackface is a style of theatrical makeup that originated in the United States, used to affect the countenance of iconic, racist American archetype that of the darky or coon stated Wikipedia. The white people saw these blackfaces as comical and entertaining, they did not even think there was a true person with feelings under the black face. In the movie “Ethnic Notions” it talked about black face and how it was so popular in entertainment and so racist as well. The movie showed Bert Williams and he was the highest paid African American entertainer of his day. I remember Williams saying “After I perform the white folks invite me back to a party with them and I sit and wait by the door and no one will let me in because without my entertainment attire they are embarrassed to be with me. I am a man too, I want to go out and have a good time” (Ethnic Notions). This is an example of how Williams was treated differently and unfairly because he was black. Even though he was a good entertainer and made more money then many other colored people or even some white people, the white folks still looked at his as inferior and like he wasn’t human. In the reading “Drawing the Color Line” Zinn stated, “The blacks had been torn from their land and culture, forced into a situation where the heritage of language, dress, custom, and family relations was bit by bit obliterated except for the remnants the blacks could hold on to by sheer, extraordinary persistence” (25). This explains how black people did not have a choice at what they did or how they were treated. Blackface is an example of that, the black men that performed blackface did not like how they felt when doing the job getting made fun of and having a stereotype towards their race and enforcing it by dressing in costume and performing. Wikipedia states, “But apart from cultural references such as those seen in theatrical cartoons, onstage blackface essentially was eliminated in the U.S. post-vaudeville, when public sensibilities regarding race began to change and blackface became increasingly associated with racism and bigotry” (Wikipedia). Blackface might have been entertainment for some but to others it was a way to make racist comments and enforce race towards black people. Blacks where humiliated and made a stereotype that blackface enforced to be popular.
I think that blackface is a stereotype towards black people. Many thought of it as entertainment and comedy and those who performed it, it was a way of life and survival. But the meaning behind it was wrong and hurtful. I think today blackface was looked at as more racial then comical. The readings like Drawing the Color Line and the movie Ethnic Notions was a good example of seeing the meaning behind blackface.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The television show Seinfeld
The media item I chose to write about it a television show called Seinfeld. It is an American sitcom that originally aired in NBC; it had a total of nine seasons. The show was written and created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. The set of the show is in New York City’s upper west side. The characters in the show are Jerry Seinfeld, George Costanza, Elaine Benes, and Cosmo Kramer. The main story about the TV show is basically about the encounters of the four friends in their daily life’s (Wikipedia). The episode I am writing about involves the character Cosmo Kramer. Wikipedia states, “Kramer was the archetypal "wacky neighbor" and Jerry's friend. His trademarks include: his humorous upright bouffant hairstyle and vintage wardrobe; his energetic sliding bursts through Jerry's apartment door; his assortment of comic pratfalls; and his penchant for nonsensical, percussive outbursts of noise to indicate alarm, skepticism, agreement, or annoyance.” I chose this media item because it reminded me on the reading in class called “How Our Skins Got Their Color” because in the episode Kramer was dating young attractive black women. When I went to meet the parents he gave of an image he did not mean.
In the episode of Seinfeld Cosmo Kramer is dating a young attractive black woman. Cramer was going tanning everyday in a tanning bed to get some color because he thought he looked better with a nice tan. As the episode went on the woman he was dating wanted Kramer to meet the family. The woman he was dating liked that he was white and the daughter was raving about him to her parents. So the woman’s parents were expecting to see this nice white gentleman their daughter has been raving about. Well the night before Kramer laid in the tanning bed as usual, but this time he fell asleep. When he woke he was extremely a dark tan color, he almost looked as if he were back. This episode reminded me of the reading “How Our Skins Got Their Color” by Marvin Harris. The media item relates to the reading because the episode was an example of what Harris was talking about in a way. For example Harris explains, “Human skin owes its color to presence of particles known as melanin. The primary function of melanin is to protect the upper levels of the skin from being damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet rays” (7). This explains the basic understanding of how the skin color works. Cosmo Kramer was tanning because it wasn’t summer and he was not getting any sun, so he thought the tanning bed was a good way for him to get some color. Harris stated, “During the frigid winters, only a small circle of a child’s face could be left to peek out at the sun through the heavy clothing, thereby favoring the survival of individuals with translucent patches of pink on their cheeks characteristic of many northern Europeans” (8). This episode with Kramer is related to this reading because it is an example about skin color and what can happen with tanning. The media item also reminded me of race because the woman Kramer was dating was black and she preferred white men, she was raving about Kramer to her black parents. When Kramer went to meet the parents he was extremely tan almost black and the parents were in shock because they where expecting this white male. It almost seemed that the parents felt that Kramer did it on purpose to mock them, but it was an accident. This piece of media contradicts with what we are used to hearing about race and black and white. In the episode the white male and black female are dating and the parents are expecting to meet a wonderful white male, when Kramer shows up as a darker skin color that is when the argument begins. In the reading “Drawing The Color Line” it stated, “Or, to put it differently; is it possible for whites and blacks to live together without hatred” (23). I believe this episode of Seinfeld is an example of what Zinn was saying until the episode ended with Kramer accidentally changing his skin color to dark. This media item is a goes example about race and how two separate races can agree or disagree, and it also is a good example of how skin color is defined and used in our world today.
I believe that race is a never-ending argument. When Zinn asks is we can ever give up the hatred between black and whites, I do not know if everyone will agree on one side. There are too many people in this world who have different opinions and feelings on these issues. I thought the media item of Seinfeld was a perfect example to show that one two races start to join there are always so king of complications involved but know one says they cant be worked on to stop. The issue with the skin colors and just understanding how we got our skin color is easy to understand because it is more fact than an opinion. The media item used was perfect for both of these issues because it was an example and explained them in a way I could understand.
Friday, October 19, 2007
The media item that I choose is a Movie called Fired Green Tomatoes. The movie was made in 1991 Stars Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson. This has been one of my favorite movies since I was little. The Movie was based on the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg. A summary of the movie is a woman named Evelyn Couch meets an older woman named Ninny Threadgoode whom she starts to become very close with. Ninny greats her with a story of the now abandoned town in Alabama called Whistle Stop and the people that lived there. Evelyn Couch is a housewife who is bored and becoming uninterested with her and her husband’s relationship (Wikipedia). She becomes fascinated with the stories Ninny is telling her and the independent characters of Idgie and Ruth. Ruth and Idgie’s story is about their life after Buddy Idgie’s brother’s death. Idgie and Ruth become best friends after Ruth leaves her abusive husband. Ruth and Idgie raise Ruth’s son Buudy by themselves and become two very strong and independent women. During this time there was slavery and issues with race. The Threadgoode Family had black workers but they sis not treat them as slaves there were very nice and respectful with them. The black workers were Sipcey who worked with the women in the kitchen and was the nanny to the children and Big George who was the caretaker around the house. They were mother and son and lived with the Threadgoode’s were it was a nice environment. The reason why I choose this piece of media was because it really gives an example of who it was back in the old days with slaves and colored people (Wikipedia).
The movie Fried Green Tomatoes relates to class material because it is an example of how slavery, privilege, power, race, and gender all work. In the film there was a separate place where black people ate. The movie shows all the white folks eating inside the diner where it was cool, and all the black or colored folks sat outside in back of the diner. In the reading Drawing the Color Line Zinn stated, “Human status by the use of racial hatred, with that relentless clarity based in color, were white was master, black slave” (26). This was stating that white people where the masters and that black people were the slaves or workers. In the film even though the Threadgoode family were nice and kind people they still showed an example of how the whites were the masters and the blacks were the salves. Zinn states in the reading Drawing the Color Line, “This unequal treatment, this developing combination of contempt and oppression, feeling and action, which we call “racism”-was this the result of a “natural” antipathy of white against black? If racism cant be shown to be natural, then is the result of certain conditions, and we are impelled to eliminate those conditions” (27). The main part of the film is about Ruth’s ex husband’s death and who killed him. He was part of the KKK in the film and there was a scene where he came to the diner and tied Big George up and started beating him. Idgie came to the scene and told Ruth’s ex husband if he ever came around here again she would kill him. Well Ruth’s ex husband did not listen and he came to steal Ruths baby and the nanny Sipcey who was black was watching the baby at the time, the ex husband knocked out Sipcey and proceeded to steal the baby. Sipcey woke found the ex husband of Ruth and hit him over the head with a frying pan and killed him. Idgie wanted to be put on trial for the case because she knew if Sipcey were put on trial she would be hung immediately because she was black. Zinn stated in the reading Drawing the color line, “From the beginning, the imported black men and women resisted their enslavement, under the most difficult conditions, under pain of mutilation and death. Zinn was talking about how slaves were treated unfair and in certain conditions it came to death, which relates to the film. The film displays a lot of what Zinn sates in his reading called Drawing the Color Line and the movie is a great example.
I liked Zinn’s reading called Drawing the Color Line and the movie Fired Green Tomatoes. I thought both of these pieces fit well together because the film was an example of what Zinn was stating about slavery and how colored people such as black’s were treated unfairly. I agree with Zinn is his writing and I learned a lot from the reading and it was very informative as well as the movie. The movie also taught me so much and was a good visual example of how slavery was and how black’s were treated back then. I feel that many do not understand how those African American’s felt back then and they never will.