The Daily Dump

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Wednesday, August 23

Uh, Martin? I Think They’re Talking To You

It’s been a little slow in my office today, so I got through sorting out an enormous stack of papers that had accumulated on the side of my desk. Underneath them all, I found an article I had printed out from the New York Times about how large, black women are being unfairly portrayed in the media as brash, comical, aggressive figures of authority. It begins:

“At 200 pounds plus – most of that pure attitude – she is hard to miss. . . . She typically finds herself in an exchange that is either confrontational or embarrassing. And her best line is often little more than a sassy ‘Mmmm hmmm.’ “

(Pause to let your mind finish going through the montage of large, black female actresses saying “Mmmm hmmm.”)

It continues:

“The heavy black spokeswoman for Pine Sol was one of the first to embrace the role. Her aggression was aimed at household dirt, however, not people. In a recent commercial for Captain Morgan rum, a large black woman berates her man for playing dominoes and making her late.

In one Twix commercial, a full-figured black woman asks her boyfriend if her pants make her rear end look big. As the camera focuses on her plump backside (exaggerated by the camera for effect), the man stuffs his face with a Twix bar and mumbles an indecipherable answer. Pleased with his response, the woman walks away. She is not shown being aggressive or loud, but the commercial leaves the impression that if the man had given the wrong answer, she might have erupted.”

I don’t remember why exactly I saved this article, if it was because I agreed with the fact that not all large black women should be defined as strong and humorous or disagreed with it because I can think of a lot worse things to be defined as then strong and humorous. (Like, oh I don’t know, a black man being portrayed as a lackadaisical dominoes player.) Or maybe I just liked the fact that a New York Times writer wrote the phrase “plump backside.” But now that I reread the article, what strikes me is how racist it is. Not to black people, but to white people. You don’t think white people are typified and pigeonholed in the media? Like in movies, whenever an unassuming martial arts expert is in a bar and some macho guy messes around with him and ends up getting beaten up? You know who that is? A WHITE GUY. Or whenever there is a car chase and the two vehicles go careening through the streets of a crowded city and people constantly have to jump out of the way or risk being killed? You know who they are? WHITE PEOPLE. Usually carrying shopping bags and lingering near a fruit stand. BECAUSE YOU KNOW US WHITE PEOPLE. SPENDING OUR HIGHER INCOMES ON CLOTHING AND FRUIT. You know, I fought really hard for the role of sassy teacher on “Boston Public.” And in the end all they wanted me to do was test drive their BMW around the unusually curvy streets of an upscale suburban community. It’s just not fair.

(Note: An extremely interesting fact culled from the article: The Cream of Wheat Guy has a name – Rastus. RASTUS. And we’re writing articles about the Pine Sol lady? I mean, why didn’t they just name him, “Yessuh"? Or would that have sounded “too gentrified”?)


And to add insult to injury, these sassy black women are often played by MEN (Big Momma, Medea's Family Reunion, etc.)!

Also, where are the black Forest Rangers? Those roles ALWAYS go to whities.

By Blogger Cherry Ride, at 5:01 PM  

I pictured Mo'Nique the entire time I was reading this.

By Blogger Carrie Broadshoulders, at 5:46 PM  

You should go see "Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me." Not because it's all that great, but because there is a big black woman in that show and her entire role is to be That Big Black Woman Who Sings A Gospel Number And Livens Up The Audience At The End. The song is called "Stop The Show" and it really is about how you need a big black woman to come out and stop the show. I saw it last night and it is by far the best part of the entire production (totally worth the discounted TKTS price... didn't that show *just* open?)

By Blogger Werbie, at 6:45 PM  

one sterotype hollywood has ignored "indian guy engineer"
wake up studio executives! 80% of engineers have names with no vowels! (actually i dont know if that is correct but it sounds good)

By Blogger Lux Lisbon, at 6:51 AM  

So you lost out on a role to Chi McBride?

That's nothing to hang your head about.

By Blogger Alex Fritz, at 7:44 AM  

Who doesn't like it when a NYTimes writer uses the phrase "plump backside."

And I've long felt that America has become so "OMG, WE CAN'T STEREOTYPE BLACK PEOPLE OR PRE-JUDGE THEM BECAUSE THEN WE'LL BE RACIST AND EVERYONE WILL HATE US" that we've failed to notice them doing the exact same thing to us. And us doing it to ourselves. I have an idea. Let's just pidgeon hole EVERYONE. I'll assume that every large black woman is funny and sassy and every Indian is smart and good with technology and every Asian is a musical wizz who never stops practicing, and they can all assume that I'm rich, snobby, and preppy and have nothing better to do with my time than try not to get hit by crazy drivers.

By Blogger Rebecca, at 10:39 AM  

Hey, has anyone noticed that Aunt Jemima lost some weight? And the bottles are now streamlined?

By Blogger Jess Riley, at 10:58 AM  

It's a good thing I like clothing and fruit.

And rebecca, you forget to include the "other half" of the white population in your summary...the rednecks that drink PBR and watch NASCAR 24/7. We're either rich and preppy or redneck and uneducated, doncha know.

I've known some very not-funny large black women in my lifetime. They clearly need to see more movies, dammit.

By Blogger Faith, at 11:44 AM  

don't forget to continue the pigeonhole, those 'asians' know how to do those mad ninja skills too! But then again, they're only known as Jet Li right? and all irish only know how to drink. (which i'm irish so i'd know )

By Blogger Sarah, at 12:12 PM  

and itlaian men cheat on their wives and germans are angry and the french smell.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:54 PM  

Is Aunt Jemima really an aunt?

By Blogger mrsmogul, at 4:09 PM  

All Swedes shop at Ikea, are very pleasant, have incredibly healthy family relationships and live in very tidy, small homes.

Oh, and Mexicans clean things.

And Canadian all hate Americans and smoke too much dope.

Oh, wait. That one may be true.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:40 PM  

there's this poster in the toronto subway, of an indian guy and an asian lady sitting on the subway, kinda pushed WAY over away from this guy who dumped all his garbage under the seat and is a mess. he's waering a pig mask... what is he??? WHITE! you can just TELL!! if it was a black guy, what would happen??

i met this largely black lady last week on a construction site. what was she doing?? singing GOSPEL!! it was funny so i laughed.

By Blogger Evil Deacon, at 6:27 PM  

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