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Robert Downey to play black character.

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Robert Downey to play black character.

Postby Phatferd » Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:28 pm

I want to get an idea of what people think about this. I am on the fence as to whether this is acceptable or not. Robert Downey Jr, has been cast to play a black character in an upcoming film.

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Re: Robert Downey to play black character.

Postby jlm53089 » Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:57 pm

its called Tropic Thunder, looks funny but still kind of odd that Downey is playing a black charecter.
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Re: Robert Downey to play black character.

Postby Art Vandelay » Fri Mar 07, 2008 6:05 pm

I'm kind of on the fence about this as well. I think it's important to note that he's not playing a black guy per se, he's playing a white guy playing a black guy...which seems like a kind of silly distinction, but in this case I think it's significant. It seems that they are lampooning and satarizing blackface--and Hollywood in general--more than they are taking part in blackface. I don't think we're talking C. Thomas Howell in Soul Man here.

That said, however; these instances of blackface as satire or parody seem to be becoming more prevalent and I think they serve, somewhat, to desensitize people to the white-person-in-black-face-paint phenomenon, which I don't really like to see. I think even when something is done with good intentions, you can't ignore or forget the history that it comes out of. I don't think it's necessarily a good thing for us to take the taboo off of blackface even when done in decent taste because it's a short step from decent taste to really, really bad taste. My fear is that something like this could lead to a bunch of "Hey, Robert Downey Jr. did it in a movie, why can't I do it for Halloween?" idiots.

But at least this is generating discussion and making us think, which is antithetical to the history of blackface, which was to not think. Generally speaking, blackface audiences didn't think critically about or consider the impact or consequences of what they were watching, they simply confirmed awful stereotypes and reduced serious, painful, real struggles to knee-slappers.
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Re: Robert Downey to play black character.

Postby knapplc » Fri Mar 07, 2008 6:14 pm

Good post, Art. I wonder how many people even know what blackface is or what it meant to race relations when it was most prevalent. It seems like one of those forgotten episodes in history.
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Re: Robert Downey to play black character.

Postby Amazinz » Fri Mar 07, 2008 6:40 pm

This is a "smart" community, very learned. I would say that the majority here know what Blackface is. I would say that calling this Blackface is a stretch and takes it out of context. Make-up looks awesome. Doesn't seem offensive me. However, I'm not the best judge since I am not exactly PC.
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Re: Robert Downey to play black character.

Postby bigh0rt » Fri Mar 07, 2008 6:57 pm

Amazinz wrote:This is a "smart" community, very learned. I would say that the majority here know what Blackface is. I would say that calling this Blackface is a stretch and takes it out of context. Make-up looks awesome. Doesn't seem offensive me. However, I'm not the best judge since I am not exactly PC.

Completely agree on all fronts.
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Re: Robert Downey to play black character.

Postby knapplc » Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:09 pm

I will agree that there is a component of the Cafe that is very smart, and who most certainly know what black face is and what it was. There is also a component that has no idea what it is, or what it meant to race relations.

It was to the second component that my statement was directed.
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Re: Robert Downey to play black character.

Postby Phatferd » Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:16 pm

This is why I am on the fence in regards to this topic. I think their is no malicious intent on the part of the filmmakers and crew. With that said, this may lead to an undesirable outcome for future lines to be crossed. If they open the door to this topic, all it does is allow someone who likes to push the edge of the envelope to exploit it in a negative manner. How long before someone to try and make a name for themselves by taking this a step further and turning it into a racial mockery.

I've learned through my fiance who comes from Dutch heritage (mother born in Holland) that they have a tradition during Christmas involving a black elf (I believe it's an elf, but I could be wrong). There is a Dutch store that both her and her mother would shop at when she was younger. During Christmas, they would hire a white person with black face paint walk around the store talking to the customers and handing out candy and such. I was shocked when I heard this. I don't think things like that set a good example towards our children and impressionable people in general. It creates a mockery out of a person, solely on their skin tone.

To echo Art's thoughts, it scares me to think that kids will be walking the streets come October 31st in black face paint going as a "black man or woman". I'm afraid all this may do is come off as ignorant and minimize the history of African Americans in this country, which can be classified as very prideful.
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Re: Robert Downey to play black character.

Postby Madison » Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:22 pm

Curious, but I've seen Eddie Murphy play white parts and female parts while fully in costume for the role. How is this different? :-?
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Re: Robert Downey to play black character.

Postby Yoda » Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:27 pm

The only thing is, why is it ok for African-Americans to paint their face and pretend like a white person?
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