Day by Day

Friday, March 07, 2008

It's Not the Color, but the Thickness

Terrorism abounds, the economy is slowing down (no, not a recession yet), peace is not yet found in Palestine, and sadly, baseball season is nigh upon us.

Yet, a major headline recently was that actor Robert Downey, Jr. "blacked" up for a role.

This is, apparently, bad.

First, the backstory. Ben Stiller, noted comedian, is directing and starring in a comedy about actors making a movie. In other words, there's a lot of make-believe going on here.

Mr. Downey's part is as an actor who's apparently Oscar-quality (whereupon we already know that Mr. Downey is acting, as he's not often been labeled "Oscar-quality") playing a part that was written for a black actor.

So, we know from the start that it's not serious. This isn't blackface in a negative, farsical, or minstrel-show type sense... This is an actor playing a part. For years, actors and actresses have labored for the belief that any person can play any part, under the ideal world of the theater.

Where was the uproar when the movie below came out:

If changing one's image is wrong, it's always wrong; by corollary, if it's not wrong, then it's never wrong. Equality means everyone can do it. And since Mr. Downey certainly isn't doing this maliciously, but more for the "craft", then... what's the harm? The part isn't the same if a black person portrays a white person pretending to be a black person. It's just the same that a woman playing a man pretending to be a woman isn't the same. (And didn't John Travolta recently change his body image to play a part in "Hairspray"? It wasn't because there wasn't a woman available to play it - several already had on both stage and screen; just that he was playing it this time.)

We MUST get past these little things, especially issues that aren't issues at all, so we can focus on the truly troubling issues facing us as a society... like, what are we going to do about the 31st of March.

Let's judge Mr. Downey on the content of his character, not the color(s) of his skin.

1 comment:

Mary*Ann said...

Well...*you* will do nothing about 31 for an actor playing someone other than is what they do. I think all your points are valid...except to the PC police.