Week 8: Blackness Representation

Kirk- Tropic Thunder


“In the nineteenth century the minstrel show became the most prominent and popular form of American entertainment. Today we instinctively recoil at the sight of performers in the burnt-cork makeup and clownlike greasepaint that turned their skin pitch-black and their lips and eyes into giant cartoon features. But the foundation of American comedy, song, and dance was laid down by white and black minstrel stage legends” (Austen, 2012, p. 4)

I chose this picture because in a way this was a modern day version of blackface. The movie Tropic Thunder gave  Robert Downey Jr. the role of a white guy playing the role of a black guy in a movie. They make it very obvious in the movie that he is playing a black role, but it’s still not right. The worst part is that the readings claim that black minstrel was popular in the nineteenth century, but yet Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for an Oscar in 2009 for playing a black man. This shows how even though the blackface era had thought to be in the past, this isn’t really the case. The white actors are even being praised for acting as a black man, by giving this character a nomination. I’m not criticizing Robert’s acting skills, just they idea behind the role he was given to play.

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