Friday, October 06, 2006

More Yellowface

Eddie Murphy is reprising his one-man-as-many-characters act in a new movie called Norbit, due in theatres in 2007. In it, Murphy plays a dorky, meek Black man adopted as a child by an old Asian man and, in adulthood, who is dominated by a fat black woman stereotype. The catch? Murphy plays Norbit, Norbit's girlfriend, and the Asian man who adopts him. As the Asian man, not only does Murphy wear yellow-tinted skin, but plays up the old Asian male stereotype, complete with poor Chinglish accent. (view trailer) So, I know Murphy playing a cast of characters is classic Eddie Murphy, but in this case, I'm not excited to see Murphy play two stereotypes (Asian male and overweight Black female) on-screen with the express purpose of mocking them both. I know it's been awhile since we saw sex icon, pleather-jumpsuit Murphy whom the girls were throwing their underwear at, but this is hardly to get your name back into the limelight. Let's save the yellowface for kitschy has-been cult favourites like David Carradine and Christopher Walken, please? (Hat-tip to Mac) Also in Yellowface favourites? David Carradine (the very definition of modern yellowface) has been seen on a commercial I've been meaning to blog about for sometime. In a commercial for, Carradine plays a Chinese monk who correlates enlightenment with the website, and does some stereotypical Chinese Buddhist monk trash while he's at it. God, there are some times I just want to climb up to the tallest building I can find and scream at the top of my lungs: THIS MAN IS NOT CHINESE!! Bad enough (Yellow? Get it?) is promoting such trashy, cliched interpretations of Chinese religion and heritage, but they couldn't even find a single, bonafide, Chinese person to show in their commercial as they did it.


Blogger Y. Carrington said...

Eddie Murphy's been playing Uncle Tom characters for years now, especially the fat Black Mama stereotypes. Black men playing variations of Mammy has become an increasingly disturbing Hollywood trend over the past decade. I can't decide whether it's misogyny, emasculation, or both.

As for the yellowface, unfortunately, I'm not surprised. Yellowface never developed the stigma that grew around blackface (even blackface is making a comeback these days). It still ain't nothing for mainstream white actors to play Asian roles---I'm thinking of Jennifer Gardner on Alias here. That's why Dave Carradine can still do his stupid Kung-Fu shtick and nobody says boo. Still, I'm disappointed that a Black actor isn't conscious of how fucked-up yellowface is. But given Eddie Murphy's track record, I probably shouldn't be surprised.

10/06/2006 11:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Mac said...

Soon as I saw it Jenn I thought of reappropriate. LOL!

y. carrington,
I don't think "color" face ever went away. It just evolved from the outright racist images of Al Jolson and Fu Man Chu into more subtle forms. Sometimes people pick up on it and say something, sometimes they don't.

10/07/2006 01:23:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

thanks mac for the heads up. it definitely was blog-worthy!!!

10/07/2006 04:38:00 AM  

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