Blackface: A MediaSpy Thread




Done by a white person?


Sure… but let’s be clear there needs to be a point to the satire, if it’s just that he’s a black man etc then I see no point in that… if it’s taking issue with the record as President then that’s fine.

The same with Trump, if the satire is that he’s an old white guy then I wouldn’t support that… but if the caricature calls into question his policies and actions then that’s fair game.


Not quite. Blackface is more than just painting on a fake skin colour, its a distinct genre of music hall entertainment where black people were portrayed (by white people) as dumb, simplistic and inferior. They spoke in ersatz black dialects and caricatured the lives of slaves living on plantations.

There were shows entirely comprised of these blackface routines from the early 1800s all the way through to early radio and film up until the 1930s. By that point people had started to realise that it was insensitive to black audiences (something Kelly fails to grasp almost 80 years later).

Of course, blackface hasn’t stopped actors portraying people of other races in make up. See Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of an Japanese character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or Peter Sellers as an Indian actor in The Party, or Fisher Stevens as Ben in Short Circuit in 1986.

Of course there is still debate over Hank Azaria’s portrayal of Apu in the Simpsons, given the show is full of stereotypes anyway. And Robert Downey Jr restarted his career with playing an Australian actor in blackface in Tropic Thunder. Similiarly the Chaser escaped with virtually no criticism for a blackface skit of the Jackson 5 in their Election Coverage in 2007, whilst Hey Hey copped massive criticism for a similiar stunt in 2009 (perhaps a sign of how behind Australia is on issues of racial sensitivity).

The stereotypes of Donald Trump are drawn primarily on a caricature of the image he himself has pushed to appeal to people who don’t like PC.

I think free speech allows for the deconstruction of the images people create and the ideas they have, but not the inferiority of their race.


Didn’t a black guy dress up as a white guy at the recent Oscars or some awards? Black people have caricatured white people as well. I’m not trying to deconstruct and parse your comment but you didn’t mention that - only white people portraying other races…

And when you say “not quite” at the start of your comment - well, yes quite. You’re saying you’re allowed to caricature Trump’s face but not allowed to apply black paint on one’s face to caricature President Obama - if I am reading your argument correctly.

And your Trump argument is pretty flimsy. I mean - just google orange Trump. So because , in your words ,he has “an image he himself has pushed to appeal to people who don’t like PC” , then there is some “license” to caricature him but it’s not OK to caricature Obama?


I think that was #fakenews in response to the #OscarsSoWhite drama from 2016 when Chris Rock was hosting.

The most memorable instance of whiteface I have seen is from Eddie Murphy who donned it to address the idea of white privilege on SNL back in the 1980s. If you watch the clip, it actually parodies the concept…

Perhaps African Americans are entitled to parody a tool of their own oppression in the same way that they have been given ownership over the n-word. Not a hypothetical I’m pushing but an interesting thought nonetheless.

And I’m not denying that other races do caricature. I know Asian cultures haven’t quite got the same nuance in this sort of stuff as the west does. There is a lot of racially insensitive stuff in Japanese anime for example. Anime and Manga also have interesting takes on Christianity because in Japan they view it in the same way we view Greek/Roman mythology.

I’m of south Asian decent and I’ve seen family pictures of Indian school plays in blackface in the 1930s, which suggests those attitudes are actually tied with colonialism and imperialism (and that poor attitudes to africans are not unique to caucasians). Heck many of the members behind that infamous Hey Hey Skit in 2009 weren’t white either.

The orange trump stuff comes from the idea that he gets fake tanned (certainly there are some differences in his skin tone around the eyes which suggest this is the case.) But it’s not a parody of white people in the way that Blackface has historically been used. If liberal protesters started painting their faces orange to pretend to be Trump Supporters, I think it’d be more problematic.

But the idea that a bad fake tan is off limits to everyone seems a bit precious. Heck that vein of comedy existed well before Trump (see Robin Williams in Old Dogs in 2008).

Of course, there is an interesting contrast in the idea that someone who apparently is empowering white supremacists isn’t exactly keen on being pasty white himself.

Basically, there are shades of grey around the representation of culture. But engaging in whataboutism still doesn’t make Blackface acceptable.

This is an exceptional case comprising decades of racist attitudes which haven’t been replicated elsewhere in history.

It’s nice to think that all races cop it equally but history just shows some have got it worse than others. But it is important to note that white people aren’t exclusively the transgressors.


So my point is, to adopt your view, then when will blackface be acceptable? Never? In 100 years? 500 years? 1000 years? When is the time when you would say white people could apply black paint like other races may caricature white people?

NBC News

I think the term “oppression” in the context of this conversation is ironic considering we are talking about PRESIDENT Barack Obama. How many more black presidents would we need before we evolve the oppression narrative?


to me black face is the most rasist and degrading thing a white person can do


I wonder if there will be any consequences after these photos and some others have resurfaced.

Edit: It’s been pointed out that this photo is fake:


I’m surprised similar hasn’t happened here. The cast of Fast Forward in particular frequently blacked up for sketches.


Blackface is never appropriate, and neither is this thread existence.


agreed why is this thread even allowed to be made??? blackface is not apporiate it never was and never is ??? admin tell me why


Allowing a discussion of it is not an endorsement of it.


It’s embarrassing to be associated with a forum with supporters of it though. This is a media forum.


So we’ll close all non media related threads then


Fine with me.


Chris Lilley made a whole series out of it. Although he was called out over it.


I think it was. Used to see it a lot

Did anyone say boo when this ad originally aired?


That “Clinton” photo isn’t even of the Clintons: