Monday, November 01, 2010

Shaq, Dwayne Wade, and Hoopz: Blackface and Drag

Dwyane Wade’s whiteface Halloween spectacle is generating headlines.  Wade, painted in stark white make-up with a parakeet yellow beard as accessory, partied this weekend in Justin Timberlake drag.  Wade’s get-up has sparked interesting debates regarding racial imitation.

Certainly, whiteface does not have the same racist, mocking history as blackface.  Recall:  blackface minstrelsy and films such as A Nigger in the Woodpile (1904) or Birth of a Nation (1915).  However, histories are constantly being created, and whiteface is just as racially divisive as blackface.  That is, unless Wade’s masquerade is some weird celebration of whiteness—a show of love, rather than theft, to paraphrase scholar Eric Lott …but, sorting out that madness is for another time.

Wade wasn’t the only celeb to play dress-up this weekend.  Shaquille O’Neal also opted for mimicry by costuming himself as “Shaqeeta” in a stripey black and grey dress and fake boobs drag.

Together, Wade and Shaq, raise important questions about racial, gender, and sexual appropriation.  To put it another way:  Wade, a black male, decided to play a white man for a day.  He was photographed with a sistah’—hopefully she was not supposed to play Janet Jackson to Wade’s Timberlake.  Shaq, a black man, choose to be a black woman for the day.  Big Shaq was to viewed seen as being comical—just like Martin Lawrence’s Big Momma and Shenenah, Tyler Perry’s Madea, Eddie Murphy’s Rasputia, Jamie Foxx’s Wanda….you get the picture.  The joke is once again on black women.

It gets even odder.  Shaq’s rumored extra special BFF, Hoopz from Flavor of Love “fame,” outfitted herself as—get this—a pregnant dude. 

One has to wonder what’s behind such racial, gender, and sexual borrowing.  Shaq, tell me, is this some form of gender “desire”?  Dwyane, was whiteness so irresistible you needed to “suit up” in it?  Hoopz, please tell me your get-up is about disrupting gender and sexual boundaries.  You are giving us a smack down for inappropriately obsessing over what track athlete Caster Semenya has between her legs, as well punishing us for watching out for women’s’ “baby bumps”—right????

It would be great if these folks were challenging social norms and boundaries.  However, they don’t seem to be; they’re just straight up clowin’.  But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t use this moment as a way to continue discussions about mimicry as it intersects with the politics of race, gender, sexuality and power.  Your thoughts?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Top 40 Election Day Party Jamz!

It is important to get out and VOTE on November 2nd.  Pack up that boom box and lots of size D Energizer batteries (Radio Raheem style).  Turn up the volume and draw in the crowds outside your polling place—remember, you can't block the entrance!  Get folks’ attention with this list of feel-good, motivational songs (in no particular order):

A Brand New Day-The Wiz soundtrack
Wavin’ Flag-K’Naan
You Got to Believe Something-Pointer Sisters
Respect Yourself-Staple Singers
I’ll Take You There-Staple Singers
Respect-Aretha Franklin
A Change is Gonna Come-Otis Redding
You’re All I Need to Get By-Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Sisters are Doing it for Themselves-Aretha Franklin
Oh Happy Day-Aretha Franklin/Mavis Staple

Everyday People-Sly and the Family Stone
Someday We’ll All Be Free-Donny Hathaway
I Got You (I Feel Good)-James Brown
Wakeup Everybody-Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes
War-Edwin Starr
What’s Going On-Marvin Gaye
Stand by Me-Ben E. King
You and Your Folks/23rd Psalm-Blind Boys of Alabama
You Got to Move-Blind Boys of Alabama
Get Up, Stand Up-Bob Marley and the Wailers
People Get Ready- the Impressions
Beautiful Brother of Mine-Curtis Mayfield
We’re Gonna Make It-Damian Marley
Compared to What-Les McCann & Eddie Harris
Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing-Incognito
Work To Do-Isley Brothers
Fight the Power-Isley Brothers
Somewhere Over the Rainbow-Iz
Brother's Gonna Work It Out-Willie Hutch
Better Days are Coming-Jimmy Cliff
Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho-Mahalia Jackson
Yes We Can Can-Pointer Sisters
Taking it to the Streets-Quincy Jones
I Just Want to Celebrate-Rare Earth
Sunshine (I Can Fly)- Raul Midon
Wonderful World-Satchmo
Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours-Stevie Wonder
You are the Sunshine of My Life-Stevie Wonder
Give More Power to the People-Chi-Lites
Man in the Mirror-Michael Jackson

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Top Twenty Black Horror Films for Halloween!

Get your scary on with your very own Black horror film festival. These are just a few I get a kick, er, scream out of…

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The Black guy doesn’t die first, but the movie’s end is gut-wrenching (pun intended) all the same!

J.D.’s Revenge (1976)
Glynn Turman channels his inner-gangster, complete with a conk and a straight razor… and it works!

The Blood of Jesus (1941)
Spencer Williams crafts a beautifully shot morality tale about staying on the path of righteousness.

Def by Temptation (1990)
The cast from Spike Lee’s School Daze—James Bond III, Kadeem Hardison, Bill Nunn, and Samuel L. Jackson-- reunite for this shocker about temptation and sin.  Go Granny!

Street Tales of Terror (2004)
A trio of frightening fictions—stay out of the water, away from abortionists, and don’t trust your drunken friends!

Bloodz vs. Wolvez (2006)
Three words—Hil-ar-ious! When the Wolvez poop on the floor…omg!

Petey Wheatstraw:  The Devil’s Son-in-law (1977)
With Rudy Ray Moore starring don’t expect a true scary movie.  But, there is a devil, and a mammy…oh boy.

Crazy as Hell (2002)
I miss me some Peter Benton from ER.  Get your Eriq La Salle fix—whew he is literally a sexy devil!


Killjoy (2000)
If Michael Jackson came back…as a killer clown.

Kill Joy
Tales from the Hood (1995)
Lessons on staying true to the ‘hood.  Sellouts be damned!

Sugar Hill (1974)
“Hey Whitey, you and your punk friends killed my man…I’m not accusing you “honk.” I’m passing sentence and the sentence is death!”  A classic Black horror line!

Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (1976)
Ex-NFL'er Bernie Casey turns into a blue-eyed devil and wreaks havoc in Watts.

Abby (1974)
Abby, girlfriend where’d you get that fly white suit?  This is a demon with some serious style.

Blacula (1972)
R.I.P. William Marshall and Vonetta McGee.

Scream, Blacula Scream (1973)
Pam “Lisa” Grier reclaims voodoo, reminding folks it is a respectable religion…not some crazy wizardry as other movies would have us believe.

Soul Vengeance (1975)
Yep, this is the infamous movie…Brother Charles gets his revenge with his—ahem—manhood.  But this is also a film that has a lot to say about police brutality and recidivism.

Spirit Lost (1997)
Leon shows plenty of booty as he gets busy with a ghost.

Ganja and Hess (1973)
Duane Jones of Night of the Living Dead fame is back.  This time he’s with horror Goddess—Marlene Clark.  Bill Gunn stars and directs this gorgeous, haunting film.
Ganja & Hess

Son of Ingagi (1940)
The Black middle-class on full display.  A monster ape is shaking things up, but Black love prevails.

Chloe:  Your Love is Calling (1934)
Racists lynched Mandy’s man—after she steals one of their babies, she plans to walk on their graves.  Keep your chin up Mandy!

For more ideas also check out
For a scholarly take on Black horror, check out Horror Noire:  Blacks in Horror 1890s to Present.
For a whole lotta religion mixed with your horror, check out Nollywood (“Nigerian Hollywood”) films such as 666.

Hip Hop Halloween Hitz! Top 10

Ok sinners, get your Halloween remix on with these horror jams (in no particular order)...

A Nightmare on My Street—DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
Bones soundtrack—Snoop Dogg and various artists
Mind Playing Tricks on Me-Geto Boys
Chuckie-Geto Boys
Diary of a Madman-Gravediggaz
Snoop Dog’s Hood of Horror soundtrack—Snoop Dogg and Various artists
Tales from the Hood soundtrack—Various artists
Vampire-Kung Fu Vampire
Hokus Pokus-Insane Clown Posse
Now Eat soundtrack-Brotha Lynch Hung

Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys

Kung Fu Vampire

Insane Clown Posse