by Jen Chau
Backstage, the weekly paper for actors, actually devoted a good-sized article to the discussion of acting and how mixed-race people fit into the field (thanks to Jarrad, my actor friend for the heads-up! I didn’t even realize that it had come out yet! :)). The article questioned whether “racial categories help or hurt actors.” I was asked to comment as part of the article, and was happy to see that many mixed actors and actors of color were also included in the discussion of this topic.
Chau explains….”I definitely think that there’s that struggle with, ‘Do I try to get roles that I actually identify with culturally, or do I just fit into what people think that I am?'” she says. “How much do you really fight that as an actor or actress? I think that in some ways Hollywood is a little bit behind the times; they see people in very defined categories. Within those categories, you’re supposed to look a certain way. It’s very limiting. I personally think that it isn’t until people force it a little bit more that Hollywood is going to change.”
Actor Coby Bell, son of Broadway actor Michel Bell, is multiethnic — African American and Caucasian — and admits that casting directors see him differently than he sees himself. “I’ve always been put into the category of African American as far as Hollywood goes. I’ve never had a problem finding work, so I’ve been lucky in that sense,” he says. Bell’s résumé includes Half & Half, Third Watch, Girlfriends, A.T.F., Smart Guy, and, most recently, a starring role in the new CW series The Game. He says it’s rare to find a project in which race isn’t an issue.
This is an interesting conversation that we have been having more and more lately. How do you negotiate the difference between what is already available to you in Hollywood as an actor, and where you would like to see things go (if you are indeed concerned with realistic representations and want actors to be able to play characters true to their own ethnicities in real life)? Some actors care and feel the responsibility…others consider the small opportunities afforded them, and take the good roles they can get (no matter what ethnicity they are asked to portray).
This brings up a lot of questions — is it important for actors to truly represent the characters they play (latinas playing latinas, middle easterners playing middle easterners, etc.)? Do we want to go in that direction? This raises questions of authenticity, responsibility…who is accountable for these images? And what exactly are we prioritizing when an actor is matched up with a character to play? Is the most important thing their ability to tell the story? Or is it to make sure that they truly represent the ethnicity of the character they are playing? Perhaps one matters more to some, while the second matters more to others. It’s interesting to think about as more and more actors of color are on screen and speaking about this issue… thoughts?
by Carmen Van Kerckhove
Lola Ogunnaike just wrote a great article for The New York Times examining the overwhelming success of VH1’s reality show “Flavor of Love.” The show’s first-season finale in March drew nearly six million viewers, making it the highest-rated show in the cable channel’s history.
(Her observation that Flavor Flav “bears more than a passing resemblance to a California Raisin character” is also hilariously spot-on!)
Personally I can’t stand the show. Even having to hear it play in the background (my boyfriend is a loyal viewer) makes me nauseous, mainly because of all the slurping noises — presumably from when the girls make out with Flav. *shudder*
And yet, I know so many perfectly intelligent, conscious people *coughJenChaucough* who can’t help but watch the show. Is it just the can’t-look-away trainwreck-quality of the show? Or is there some deeper appeal?
Fans of the show call it a harmless guilty pleasure, and its star a lovable and unlikely Romeo. Critics have accused the show of trafficking in racial stereotypes and have called Flav everything from a sellout to a modern-day Stepin Fetchit.
“Anytime we mention ‘Flavor of Love’ on our show, the phone lines start blowing up,” said Donnell Rawlings, a New York morning radio personality on the popular hip-hop radio station Power 105.1. “Good or bad, our listeners love talking about Flav. They can’t get enough of it. You’ve got beauties and you’ve got the beast, and it’s become one of those shows you must watch every week.”
In any case, fans of “Flavor of Love” and Flava Flav are in luck. Apparently, the franchise is expanding:
Mr. Cronin said he and his partner are working on a spinoff of “Flavor of Love,” which will feature 20 men vying for the affections of one woman. This doesn’t mean VH1 viewers have seen the last of Flav. Ideas for a nighttime talk show, an animated series and another reality show, where he acts as a Cyrano de Bergerac dispensing dating advice, are being batted around. He also plans to release a self-titled independent album on Halloween.
by guest contributor Luke Lee, Racialicious’s senior YouTube correspondent
Check out Luke’s own blog at real men are not
Despite nearly a week of constant videos of or concerning the now infamous Bill Clinton interview, the folks at Rednecks TV clawed to the top spot of This Week’s “Most Viewed” with their latest episode, episode nine. The first thing you notice, of course, is the glaring Confederate flag that Rednecks TV uses as background and illustration which for now doesn’t seem to have anything to do with their show despite their association of the Confederacy and the south with being a supposed redneck. Now, basically this is a show where two guys sit at a table and talk and do various “tests” and “product reviews.” They don’t seem to talk about race at all beyond saying “redneck” a few dozen times and for the most part, it’s just an assortment of fratty phallic-humor jokes…
As previously touched upon on Racialicious, Weird Al Yankovic has a new video out where the chorus line is “White and nerdy” and that pretty much says it all. What’s important to note, however, is just how popular the music video is and how well it’s received in user-ratings and comments. There are a few versions of the video floating around and in total there must be well over 500,000 views so far and not to mention a solid 4/5 stars rating. People love this stuff…
And speaking of Blackface-Without-The-Actual-Blackface type humor, one of the things that really clogs my toilet is when people try to make jokes by pairing two things that are supposedly “completely opposite.” In this case we have a cartoon of Lil’ Jon and a Rabbi in “Hebrew Crunk!” Cue the rush of people running to the local Halloween store to buy fake dreads, sunglasses and gold teeth just so they can say “Yeaaaaah,” drink lots of alcohol and act like an idiot to “play the part” in a few weeks… And as you’ll notice is a recurring theme on YouTube: some idiot doing blackface. Continue reading
by Carmen Van Kerckhove
I’m not sure if this is for real, but according to Vibe Confidential:
Today my homegirl and co-worker, Hot 97 host Angie Martinez spoke to Akon about relationships. Akon, who recently released a single with Eminem, explained that as an African (Ak’ is from a very prominent music family in Senegal) he believes in polygamy. His father had four wives, all of whom he considers “Mom”.
It also turns out that Akon has taken up a Senegalese lifestyle here, because after a little hesitation, the singer-producer admitted that he has his own multi-monogamous household going down in the ATL!
Cause you know, all Africans believe in polygamy. Anyway, supposedly Miss Info has the scoop over at her Celebrity Drama Podcast on the Hot97 web site. But with no show descriptions, I have no idea which episode is the relevant one.
by guest contributor Jeff Yang, SFGate.com columnist and blogger
TWO FOUR SIX EIGHT
THIS IS HOW WE INTEGRATE
And that’s that. Just three episodes into the made-for-media-outrage spectacle of Survivor: Separate But Equal, the tribes have been forcibly bused into a Red Team and Blue Team. The method used to Benettonize the castaways was painfully ordinary–two male captains and two female captains were selected, and each picked teammates like a sandlot Wiffle Ball game, with responsibility for the next selection passed to the just-picked person.
The caps: Our sassy boy Brad from Puka and poultry-pilferin’ Jonathan from Raro, plus Latino risk consultant Cecilia and flirty Raro “boxer” Parvati (her bio says she throws fist in that Most Extreme of bloodsport federations, Perfect 10 Model Boxing).
You’d think they could have at least required them to explain why they were making each choice, like in Dave Chappelle’s inspired “Racial Draft” skit: “I pick Yul because he defies the Asian ‘geeky male’ stereotype, while epitomizing the Asian ‘model minority’ stereotype.”
In any case, the elimination of the ethnic rivalry motif has taken with it any real interest I have in the program, other than seeing how long it is before someone actually punches Cao Boi in the mouth–as I noted in my last recap, it was only a matter of time before his teammates realized that his problem isn’t the dumb ethnic jokes, it’s that he can’t keep his piehole shut for more than five minutes at a time. Given that, I guess this is my last formal Cook Island recap…unless Burnett decides to throw more racial MSG to the Survivor stirfry, or until the other Survivors form a cargo cult and begin worshipping Yul as the incarnate god he is.
Still, it’s been fun. Can’t wait for next year, when Burnett debuts Survivor: Pirates! Ninjas! Monkeys! Robots!
My money’s on the ninjas.