I was all sad and depressed about today being my last day as an employee (and a legal alient) but THEN I was FILLED with a RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION. So now I feel better.
Eddie Murphy has made a new movie called "Norbit" which is, as far as I can tell, basically about a quiet, simple man who is hounded by his harridan girlfriend who is brash, overblown and of course, overweight. The (very unfunny!!!) gag is that Murphy plays both parts. WHY o WHY does Eddie Murphy insist that playing on cultural stereotypes is funny?! In addition he plays an Asian man--Mr. Wong--which I'm fairly certain is about as PC as blackface. ARG! Can you imagine the outcry if white men decided to dress up like large, black women and walk down the street snapping their fingers and wearing loud jewelry? (not being stereotypical--it's there in the trailer for "Norbit"!) Or maybe the problem is just me: it seems acceptable for black men to dress up like women as long as they are making such broad jokes that everyone is in on them. Could it just be me? I'm still struggling to get a handle on my own feelings about the black/white divide in my own life. Why do I find it easy to shrug off Laurence Olivier's performance, in blackface, of Othello by saying that it was the late 1950s or the fact that Washington owned slaves, but when the Wayan brothers dress up like the Hilton sisters I get out my soapbox?
I continue to work through my issues.
I am MORE offended (righteously!) by the fact that Norbit's wife, Rasputina, is a fat woman, so you get all the jokes about her breaking the bed, eating him out of house and home. There is a comedy series here "Little Britain" that features two men dressing up as fat women and competing for a man who chooses them solely on their size--naturally the "comedy" is supposed to be about the gross out factor of two naked fat women running down the aisles of a supermarking stuffing crisps into their mouths. Society seems to have a horror of naked fat people: there is such a demand on us to be perfectly groomed, with clean hair and nails, otherwise we instantly become gross and smelly. Whenever fat people choose to relax in their jammies, it is almost always percieved as disgusing, slobby even. Whereas when Rachel on "Friends" puts on her pajama bottoms and digs into a tub of Ben & Jerrys, it's okay because we know that underneath all that she's actually slender, well-toned and probably going to go to the gym tomorrow. But the attractiveness of fat people ends when our clothes come off, and the facade crumbles. Even after all our work to stay polished and clean, as soon as the support hose comes off, all the old associates about fat = smell comes back with a vengeance. This, of course, is patently not true: I take a shower every night, whether I need to or not, and when I get up at 7:40 in the morning, 15 of my 20 getting ready minutes are spend washing my face, brushing my teeth, putting on makeup and spritzing with "Chanel No. 5." Which, incidentally, is the only think Marilyn Monroe (another large woman) wore to bed.
You may think I'm just being paranoid, but in my efforts to research Mr. Murphy's latest exercise, I visited the imdb message boards where I was expecting people to be as outraged as I am. Instead I found messages like "it's true, all Fat people smell" and "Fat people get food stuck in their rolls and that's why they smell" and "Fat people are costing us money because they all die of heart attacks and can't pay their hospital bills" and "Fat people use disabled parking spaces because they can, instead of people with a legitimate disease" and (my favourite) "Fat is a sin, because the Bible says that you should be healthy and not overeat." I am appalled. APPALLED. I can't believe that people can be so ignorant about weight. I could not believe the hurtful comments that people were flinging around like it was God's truth.
And I am well offended that people like Eddie Murphy are going to make money off of such ignorance. Well, I hope you have some nice audiences--I am never going to see a movie of yours again. Even "Dreamgirls" which I was waiting for like it was Moulin Rouge 2. Have a nice life.