Hey there, easily riled-up, trigger jumping, bandwagon hopping Internet crusaders:
Calm. The. Fuck. Down.
Let’s talk about racism for a second here.
Do you know what racism is? It’s a lot of things, but mostly it’s when someone is considered to be superior or inferior than someone else based on the racial makeup of that person, including the color of his or her skin. That’s a simplified explanation, but it’s appropriate for this discussion.
Here’s a primer for you:
“Black people are better at basketball than everyone else.” RACIST
“Michael Jordan is better at basketball than almost everyone else.” NOT RACIST
“Asian women are terrible drivers.” RACIST
“Women are terrible drivers and my neighbor Mrs. Lee is the worst driver I’ve seen.” NOT RACIST (BUT SEXIST)
“All black men have larger penises than Adam Avitable.” RACIST
“All black men that I’ve slept with have larger penises than Adam Avitable.” NOT RACIST
Now, let’s talk about blackface. First, do you know what the fuck that is? It was originally a 19th century style of makeup and costuming that allowed white actors to create a stereotypical caricature of black people, typically using shoe polish or greasepaint to blacken their faces and exaggerate the size of their lips.
Blackface proliferates stereotypes and negative attitudes about an entire race of people, with no inherent nor obvious artistic value. It is, on its face, RACIST.
Ted Danson did blackface:
At a private Friar’s Club Comedy Roast of his girlfriend, Whoopi Goldberg, Danson donned blackface, used the word “nigger” multiple times, and fostered black stereotypes as part of his roast of Goldberg (who wrote the material with Danson). Guests like Montel Williams and Mayor David Dinkins were offended by the material and Danson got negative press for his actions. Was this racist? I don’t think it was – I think it was in the spirit of the Friar’s Club roasts, which go over the top to offend and push the boundaries of good taste to mock, belittle, and otherwise insult the guest of honor. This was a legitimate use of blackface as social commentary and satire.
Robert Downey, Jr. did blackface:
For the movie Tropic Thunder, Robert Downey, Jr. played a method actor who committed himself so fully to the role of a black soldier that he underwent surgical procedures to look black. There was very little controversy about this role because Downey pulled it off skillfully and with sensitivity. The only stereotype he was perpetuating was that of white method actors who go too far to play a role that they should consider turning down. This was a use of blackface with artistic and satirical value and not racist.
What Julianne Hough did for a Halloween party, however, is NOT blackface:
She is wearing a Halloween costume depicting one specific black character in the TV show “Orange is the New Black” named Crazy Eyes. She is not participating in the proliferation of a single stereotype. This costume isn’t making a statement about a particular race. This is NOT RACIST.
If Hough did this to play “a prison inmate” or “a convict”, it would definitely be racist, because the color of the skin is unnecessary for the costume. But if someone who is white (and not just white, but pale, almost glow in the dark white) portrayed a black semi-popular, semi-obscure character from a semi-popular, semi-obscure TV show and used a tint on her skin which, from the photo, served to accentuate her eyes so that “Crazy Eyes” would be more obvious? That’s not fucking racist and it’s not fucking blackface.
There were NO steretoypes being espoused. No cliches being thrown about. No ignorant assumptions about race being made. There is ABSOLUTELY no reason to consider this costume racist or even use the term “blackface” to describe it.
Unless, of course, we just want to stop considering context and reasonability and just declare that anyone who puts any color on their face of any type is racist. Unless we just want to blow everything out of proportion to such a degree that we have absolutely no perspective on what’s actually racism and what’s not and just separate everyone back into different schools and neighborhoods.
Some may argue that this is a matter of opinion. I disagree. I contend that there is nothing offensive about this costume on a purely objective, reasonable level, other than the fact that if she is going to go to such lengths to portray a specific character, she could have at done a better job tying her hair up in knots. If you’re going to commit to a costume, fucking commit!
In conclusion, remember, every time you cry wolf about racism, you shift the focus from actual issues and real life racism that continues to permeate our society and build foundations for stereotypes that shouldn’t even still exist today. And, every single time someone decides to blow something like this out of proportion and throw around terms like “blackface” and “racist” inappropriately, a black angel gets a bad credit score. (RACIST)