The Importance Of Blackface In Film

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Register to read the introduction… Friedman (2011) discusses the importance of “blacking up”. “Blacking up” refers to the moment in a film in which a white character undergoes the transformation into a blackface minstrel performer. In movies that use blackface self-consciously, such as in films about white performers that do blackface, this scene establishes the character as a white body and thus, he can be treated as such by the viewers. However, in films were the blackface performer is supposed to be perceived as an actual black person, this scene is omitted. The presence of this scene is an important distinction. “In the one situation white performers in blackface play diegetically ‘black’ characters. In the other, white actors playing diegetically ‘white’ characters don blackface in a key narrative episode…and become ‘black’ in a circumscribed setting, either in the context of a stage performance or in an attempt momentarily to deceive a social audience” (Friedman, 2011). Diegetically “black” characters on the silver screen are subject to Jim Crow norms, just as Black Americans are. In the 1930 Amos ‘n’ Andy film, Check and Double Check, great care was taken “‘to avoid offending Southern exhibitors and audiences’ by depicting interracial ‘familiarities.’ This news item attributes the studio’s concern to southern audience backlash following a ‘picture …show more content…
Whiteface minstrelsy has its roots in West Africa. Beginning with the first Portuguese explorers that landed on the continent in 1441, Africans mocked the European visitors. Africans would make up songs and dances that aped how the White sailors looked, dressed and moved and would often perform them in a show for their European guests. However, it was not until they were brought to America that the Africans begin to lighten their skin as a part of the mockery.
In the John Canoe or Junkanoo festival that spread throughout the Caribbean and the South, and in the related Pinkster celebrations up North, slaves whitened their face with flour, dressed in outrageous costumes and wigs that mimicked their masters’ and mistresses’ finest outfits, and marched around in open parody of Whites’ stiffest, most formal behavior. (Strausbaugh, 2006, pp.
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Royal Hampton. I am a white woman in America.” The hotel receptionist quickly acquiesces to “Brittney’s” request for a room without presenting identification (Yang & Ryser, 2008). By asserting her whiteness, “Brittney” is able to bypass the rules in order to get her way. Moreover, “these expressions of white entitlement resound also in blacks’ overt interpretation of the way of whiteness” (Smith-Shomade, 2008). From the Black perspective, privilege necessitates whiteness and the two are inherently

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