And one of the complaints that you often hear (although more in the past I think) from the African-American or Latino community is that there are fewer images of themselves in the media.
I find it interesting that almost all of the sitcoms starring African-Americans that have actually been funny and somewhat relevant have been on the Fox network, widely viewed as ultraconservative. Before that, in the 1970's, there were the "A New York Jew Looks at Negroes" comedies like Good Times, The Jeffersons, and Sanford and Son.. (Speaking of which, the July 2002 issue of Mad has a piece on "What if Cris Rock Performed at a Bar Mitzvah?) In the middle, there was the wildly popular Cosby show, which was widely criticized as being unrepresentative of the lives of African-Americans, mosty by white liberals. And there was that show a bit later that actually had some bite--I forget what it's called, but it starred the guy who was also in Alien III. But at the same time, the Fox network has done dozens of sitcoms starring African-Americans, many of them very good.
Anyway, it's been rocky. It's really very hard to do a show with minorities without being criticized for something. It's either too much this or not enough this. At best, the criticisms tend to push the writers in the direction of bland characters that don't make for good drama or comedy.
Just because it's about race doesn't mean it's a minstrel show. In fact, it could be the exact opposite.
Which means that it will be nailed just as bad. The Goodies did a show about South Africa, which was about as surgical an attack not only on Apartheit but on racism and racialism in general as I have ever seen in my life. This at the time when the BBC, in all seriousness, had a variety show called The Black and White Minstrels. Yet a compendium on The Goodies claims that the BBC has labeled this episode "Do not show--racist."
However, that Queen Latifah/Steve Martin flick looks kinda retarded, and makes me sad because 'The Jerk' is one of my favorite movies, and ironically skewers some racial stereotypes itself
It's ironic that, many years ago, Queen Latifah got into controversy by making a number of rather racist comments. I haven't seen the new movie, but I found it interesting that she was in Chicago in a totally race-irrelevant role. (When I saw Chicago on Broadway in the 1970's, the Mama character was white). She did quite a good job, even though her voice was surprisingly soft, but as I pointed out in my diary, maybe that's why they cut my favorite song from the movie, which would have been a duet between her and Catherine Zeta-Jones and requires very brassy singing. Maybe they filmed it, and it will be in the DVD. But anyway, I digress.
Due to the nature of being a minority, if you're in the public eye, you're always going to be someone's symbol of something. And, since so many people are so incredibly stupid, it's gotta be a simple symbol of an easily understood concept, or it's bad, and if you're dancing around trying to please anybody, you can't make art for shit.
Which is why I'm glad that the Queen Latifah/Steve Martin movie has been made. Maybe it will be for shit, but you have to risk making movies like that, or else the art is never advanced.
The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett
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