Robert Downey Jr. Goes Blackface

I guess this is the moral and ethical progress white people are talking about that us black people have a hard time spotting.

How far we’ve progressed. Whites can now perform in blackface and black people are ridiculed BEFORE protesting for even thinking about having the gall to do so. Even pre-emptively we have comments about Al Sharpton commenting on the blackface.

The fact that this movie is supposed to be about the egos of Hollywood actors adds a thick layer of unintended racial irony on top of the obvious offense of blackface performance. It is this: Robert Downey Jr., a white man who, like many super rich entertainers has suffered from drug addiction and has been convicted of drug crimes. He represents the double-standard of Hollywood and this society as no non-white actor could have the resume of drug crime that he has and remain an A-list actor who gets major funding from the big moviehouses. Whites will deny this, as racial double standards are routinely denied by reactionary whites but deep down, they know its true. A black actor would be out of work indefinitely if caught multiple times by police with heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs as Downey Jr. has been. This social fact adds a sick and very twisted arrogant irony that this actor specifically, one that would be out of work if he were not white to begin with, is tapped to paint his face black and play a black man on the silver screen. Talk about ego. White arrogance, contextualized, seems boundless.

As a preemptive side note to all of those who comment that this won’t be offensive, who decides on this kind of question? Whites or blacks? This issue dates back a century. The legacy of haranguing men like Al Sharpton dates back to before Al Sharpton was born. Whites have always decided what was acceptable or offensive. That is why they essentially hate a person like Al Sharpton who represents non-whites deciding for themselves what is or is not appropriate.  On another side not, it should also be taken into consideration that Downey Jr. has another majorly funded movie coming out this year.  So what?  This says that he wasn’t tapped for this role on some downswing of this career but that this blackface move is something he is riding on the upswing of his career, a move he deems beneficial as gravy on top of the multimillion dollar Iron Man role he is already bagged for 2008 release.  Just something to consider if anyone is thinking this represents some valley in his career to explain the choice.  On the contrary, blackface is apparently the kind of choice made by white Hollywood actors at their peaks.

20 Responses to “Robert Downey Jr. Goes Blackface”

  1. Awful post. Not as awful as watching white chicks though. Whiteface!

  2. The spirit of George Wallace blogs forth! Thanks!

  3. I know it hurts that I cut down your entire post with a few words, but there is no need for name calling.

  4. Hehe…you offered nothing for me to think about, mi amigo. Empty retorts from strangers are okay. I can handle it.

    Have anything of substance to contribute?

  5. I haven’t seen the trailers to this movie as of yet. However, the stories surrounding the news regarding Robert Downey Jr performing as a black man sound funny. Far as satire goes, that is.

    We won’t know until it comes out, but it sure got my attention. A good thing, I think–nowadays.

    –The Wow Jones Report

  6. CHMT,

    Ooops. I meant to write that the news regarding the photo of Robert Downey Jr playing a black actor suggest that the movie is funny. Hey, I chuckled when I saw the photo.

    –The Wow Jones Report

  7. […] specifically sought out 3) I find it hard to believe NO black people were offended when so many people online have questioned this movie […]

  8. Of course folks are offended. In a society that places property rights above everything, human rights included, we would have to stick together to impose our moral values on a culture without any. And we, don’t stick together much. Jena was good but we still have not regained the collective consciousness we had 40 years ago when most of the leadership was executed.

    Only collective pressure will bring these endless supremacist indignities to an end.

  9. I’m convinced that people who are complaining about this movie have no idea what it’s about. No one complained when the Wayans brothers went undercover as white women in “White Chicks”. Why didn’t they hire two white actors to play the part? For that matter, why didn’t they hire two white actresses to play the part? Did anyone complain about male actors losing out on a role when Julie Andrews did “Victor Victoria”? And where were the feminist groups when Dustin Hoffman kept a female actor from working when he took on the role of Dorothy Michaels in “Tootsie”? The point I’m trying to make is that if any of these roles were played by the people they were impersonating the plots of these movies would have been very different or would have made no sense at all.

    “Tropic Thunder” (or at least Robert Downey’s character), is based on the same premise as the movies and characters mentioned above. Robert Downey Jr. plays Kirk Lazurus. He is a white Australian, award winning actor who is know for going to extremes for his roles. So much so that he goes through a medical procedure to make his skin black so that he can play the role of Osiris who is black. It is a bone of contention with fellow actor Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) who IS black, that Kirk, a white actor, is playing the role of a black man. It’s also mentioned that at some point in his career Kirk Lazurus also played the role of Gloria Steinem.

    Robert Downey Jr. is NOT taking a role from a black actor. Kirk Lazurus, the character in the movie within the movie, IS. Personally, (and I guess I have to qualify this by saying I’m black) I think this is a clever idea. Wish I had written it.

  10. If you think that the primary problem folks have with this blackface is that we are down one less job, you have missed the point entirely and should read more/rethink things.

    As for your wish that you had come up with this idea for blackface, I don’t really know what to say to that. It strikes me as pityable but you probably don’t care because thinking this is about the loss of a single acting job, you don’t understand what is going on here.

  11. There exists the ANTi-HOLLYWOOD racial satire movie coming out soon, a unique, provocative, true satire, made for a minute fraction of studio movies.
    Check out the video clip on the web site Send the director a note if you do not agree (heck, send him one of you do agree).
    Pass it along if you deem it worthy.

  12. I am an African American woman and I find it extremely offensive that RDJ (or anyone else for that matter) would agree to portray such a role! I understand that many people who have left comments say that “It’s just a comedy,” but when you are Black, these types of actions tend to strike a nerve that people from other ethnic groups may not understand. This is especially hurtful when interacting with others from another ethnic group and they feel that since you are African American that they can imitate these characters when they are addressing you, as if since you are Black, you can relate to the stereotypes. It is unfair to make people feel uncomfortable for the sake of comedic enjoyment for others. I ask that people take a moment to try to understand how this type of portrayal is offensive, especially if it doesn’t have any other purpose except to be comical.
    By the way, I did not agree with how overweight people were made fun of in “Shallow Hal” or how Eddie Murphy portrayed white people in his movies when he wore makeup. Comedy should be used to entertain without offending large groups of individuals. This is why many kids feel that the only way to get a chuckle out of others is to poke fun at someone or put people down. Sad World!

  13. The funny thing is you complain about that a black actor could not get away with doing things after drug issues yet Richard Pryor turned it into a punchline and he was accepted. The pretense that we don’t get it is the irony of this whole complaint. Don’t you think in this hyper-sensitive politically correct world we live in that the movie studios did not weigh this issue? The surely did and the box office results prove so. The real comedy about this is your offense to the comedy and your predictable offense makes it so much more funny. Your so silly!

  14. Birth Of A Nation and other racist tripe also did well at the box office. What sells to racist white America isn’t a good metric for morality. We should all understand that by now.

    Gone With The Wind has only been outsold by the Bible.

    Racism sells in the US.

  15. Indeed you are correct, racism does sell in the US, but it sells both ways.
    I’m from the UK and I have to say that I am constantly appalled at the racism, and segregation I see in this country.

    “White Chicks” was one of the most racist films I have seen in recent years. Just stop and think what would have happened if it were the reverse, two male white comedians dressing as black women and making racially stereotypical jokes about their culture for 2hrs.

    Downeys performance in “Tropic Thunder” is far from racist. The jokes are not at the expense of black culture, but rather at the arrogance of Hollywood and its actors, who are so racially insensitive as to cast black as white, and visa versa.

    Racism is not acceptable, no matter what color your skin. And before commenting on a film I suggest you go see it first, and try to understand what the motivation for doing something is.

  16. Racism does not work both ways. Ignorance does. Most whites have as much understanding of what racism is as Hells Angels do about feminism. That’s really the problem here.

    Racism is a power dynamic. Not a narrative explaining hurt feelings due to namecalling, which is how most whites see it, quite a childish and infantile perspective. The fact that people of color make up more than 80% of the globe’s population but most nations dominated by people of color are 3rd world. While whites make up only about 16% of the population of the globe but almost every predominantly white nation on Earth is 1st world. Not to mention that whites in Europe, the US and Australia possess wealth far out of proportion to their representation on the planet.

    These are examples of racism. These dynamics, these economic and material facts don’t work both ways. It’s global white supremacy.

    Now what you seem to be talking about EW, is racial prejudice. Now anyone can display racial prejudice. That is something that can occur on an individual level. And in that case, you are right. But racism, as a larger dynamic is a white problem. The example you bring up about the movie White Chicks. Look at this photo.

    See the white guy in there? He was the money guy behind the movie the other folks in the photo starred in. So even Hollywood flix like White Chicks that you think are instances of Black racism are in fact bankrolled and would be impossible if not for white people like the producer in the photo. So you should look more deeply at what is actually happening, not only the surface impression.

    And what about the other racist angle to all of this where a guy like Downey who is an avowed and recurring cocaine addict. Why does he get the Iron Man role? Why does he still make tens of millions of dollars in Hollywood? A Black man hooked on cocaine, no matter how good an actor he was, would not continue to get contracts and a free ride from the press. If you are honest, you will admit that what I’m saying here is true.

    See, the big picture things only work one way. The smaller things like individual racial prejudice work every which way, and of course, that is why white people focus on those dynamics and not the big picture.

  17. You beat your own sad self adsorbed drum far too much. Focus your writing skills on other things than the “poor us” diatribe. You are like those conspiracy theorists who say even a game of pool is racist because the white ball knocks the black ball in the hole at the end to win. Richard Pryor as I mentioned made millions, you do not address that. Marion Barry was reelected. Your “global white supremacy” thing is laughable. Wow, that was the cake topper there. I thought you were serious until I hit that line. You are one funny guy.

  18. If you will attempt to refute actual points, I’ll be happy to have a dialog with you. That is part of what this is for. Other than that, not interested in oneupmanship of insults. Thanks for dropping by.

  19. I think that you rae really hot.. can i have your nimber

  20. I think that you are really hot. Can i have your number?

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