Monday, February 12, 2007

Norbit

Okay, folks! There is yet another movie out there in which a black man is being meanspirited against a fat black woman. What is that about?
I'm not overly bothered by it because I've grown numb to it. I kinda started getting numb with Martin's Shenaynay, the Wayan's In Living Color, etc. Of course we do have a lot of fat dark-skinned women in our culture --hey I'm one-- but there's such a thing as laughing with us and laughing against us. The skinny white guys in my hood all have fat dark-skinned girlfriends so when they laugh there's no real cruelty in it. They know girls like the woman in Norbit. But folks in racist towns in this country have their ideas and this feeds into it. And Hollywood is willing to pay for anything that is a cheap laugh. About the mainstream media seems to allow certain images of black folks more than others.
And yet....even in non-mainstream media....we black folks also seem to allow certain images. I mean, when was the last time you saw some fat girl hosting a show on BET? And most of the videos by black movie-makers (which are geared toward a black audience) are pretty subtly racist. Light-skin, anti-fat. So our own
self-loathing plays into it also. I mean, I don't mind the folks Tyler Perry, Martin Lawrence, the Wayans describe are all part of my reality. And I look at them lovingly. And Tyler Perry does a good job of showing his characters lovingly. But the other guys just seem to be working off an anti-female issue. We've got to admit to ourselves that there are some heavy sexual issues between black men and black women. If we had more powerful black women filmmakers, would we have stories where men were all scrubs and low-down with "potential" ? And would the black guys be screaming -- like they did with Alice Walker and Ntozake Shange-- that we women were being unfair? Probably. But, as far as I know...black women wouldn't do films about men with weight issues.
Media has a tendency to become historical myth and "fact" If we consider the truth that in real life no wagon train was ever attacked by Native Americans, but all Americans believe they were because of the illustrations and pulp novels of the late 19th century, and now authors write books about those poor frontier folks being attacked and assume what they're writing is true, then we understand how powerful the media is. The creation of the big-mouthed proud black woman who is fool enough to think she's sexy and intelligent shows the pathological hatred some black guys have against black women (am sure there are tons of social reasons for that..most probably being that their mom had to be strong and the guys resented it.) But it also shows the need the white world has to believe stuff like that against black folks.
It's a tough situation because black folks have always handled life with humor and have been able to laugh at ourselves. Life's hard. But no other culture picks on its culture as we do, and no other minority men pick on women as much as the men in our culture pick on us. I like seeing fat black women represented in films. There are a lot of us around. But the meanspiritedness in some of the depictions doesn't help us. Whites can see that meanspiritedness. Knowledgeable white folks despise it, but the ignorant ones incorporate it.
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