Author Topic: Billy Crystal and blackface  (Read 24654 times)

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Calypso

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #30 on: February 28, 2012, 11:08:53 PM »

I agree. Cyrstal in full reasonably realistic makeup is not 'blackface.'

Blackface is a specific look, meant to create a specific character. I don't see anything in Crystal's performance that appeared to be trying to re-create or reference that character

I think calling his makeup blackface is either ignorant or a deliberate attempt at muck-racking.

I absolutely did not want to provoke muck-raking. Should I change the thread title, or would it be too confusing at this point?

Roe

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #31 on: February 29, 2012, 04:51:14 PM »
I think I have been abundantly clear that while I disapprove wholeheartedly of blackface. Doing a parody of someone who happens to be black is not anything at all like the same thing.

I agree. Cyrstal in full reasonably realistic makeup is not 'blackface.'

Blackface is a specific look, meant to create a specific character. I don't see anything in Crystal's performance that appeared to be trying to re-create or reference that character

I think calling his makeup blackface is either ignorant or a deliberate attempt at muck-racking.


I agree that what Crystal did is definitely not blackface.

POD.  He wasn't doing blackface.  He was imitating SDJ. 

Miss SDJ! 

blahblahblah

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #32 on: February 29, 2012, 05:06:22 PM »
Quote
I think calling his makeup blackface is either ignorant or a deliberate attempt at muck-racking.
....And I think that refusing to acknowledge that it's blackface is ignorant, myself. So I suppose we're at an impasse.

mlkind1789

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #33 on: February 29, 2012, 05:15:31 PM »
Quote
I think calling his makeup blackface is either ignorant or a deliberate attempt at muck-racking.
....And I think that refusing to acknowledge that it's blackface is ignorant, myself. So I suppose we're at an impasse.

From Wikipedia...
Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used in minstrel shows, and later vaudeville, in which performers create a stereotyped caricature of a black person.



Billy Crystal was not "creating a stereotyped caricature", he was doing an impersonation of a real person.

merryns

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #34 on: February 29, 2012, 05:49:17 PM »
It's not meant to be offensive, not intended as a racist insult. Sometimes people just need to get over themselves.

I don't think it's fair to say "some people need to get over themselves". As PP have said, blackface has painful historical connotations that are offensive to SOME people. Just because you don't think it's offensive doesn't mean it's not offensive to others, so saying that people need to get over themselves reduces their concerns as though they are petty and foolish. You're definitely entitled to your opinion, but it doesn't mean that the opinions of others don't matter.

I think I have been abundantly clear that while I disapprove wholeheartedly of blackface. Doing a parody of someone who happens to be black is not anything at all like the same thing.

People that look for offense where it is obviously not intended will never be satisfied. Those are the people that I think should get over themselves. All they do is distract everyone from real instances of racism when they occur.

You are using really dismissive language. "Get over themselves", "looking for offense" ... You have every right to disagree, and probably don't mean to be offensive, but you are offending me with the way you are speaking about other people's feelings. Please stop.

hyzenthlay

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #35 on: February 29, 2012, 06:15:51 PM »
Quote
I think calling his makeup blackface is either ignorant or a deliberate attempt at muck-racking.
....And I think that refusing to acknowledge that it's blackface is ignorant, myself. So I suppose we're at an impasse.

As I said blackface is specific makeup used to create a specific character. And that's not what Crystal was doing.  I'm not sure why you feel the need to redefine the term to try to apply it to Crystal. Surely if you feel his act was racist you can make the argument without incorrectly applying the term 'blackface.'

Sharnita

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #36 on: February 29, 2012, 07:10:50 PM »
I didn't watch the Oscars and had no idea what happened in the show.  When I saw the title I wondered it Billy had done a some sort of song about the history of film that included The Jazz Singer.

ETA: That would meet the definition of blackface and I would find it unwise and most likely offensive.  The impression of Sammy Davis Jr. doesn't strike me as nay of those things.  I feel pretty cofortable with that because I do not believe Mr. Davis ever indicated thathe found the impressions to be any of those things and it seems like he would be the best informed of anybody.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2012, 07:14:01 PM by Sharnita »

trailgrrl

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #37 on: February 29, 2012, 07:37:38 PM »
OK, for your perusal and judgement.

Blackface:  Al Jolson  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfIRDwMjT2U&feature=related

Impersonation:  Billy Crystal as Sammy Davis Jr. 1986

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyw-vkyvmtM

Jim Carrey as Sammy Davis Jr.  1992
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=3GIQPWrKits

as lastly Sammy as himself
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYihDAhVPk




Sabbyfrog2

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #38 on: March 01, 2012, 03:23:14 PM »
I have read through the whole thread and am still in the mindset that Crystal, and the Oscars, have nothing to apologize for.

The term "Blackface" is being thrown around incorrectly and frankly, I myself am finding it offensive as an actor. What Crystal did was not "Blackface". He donned a costume to impersonate a once living, breathing, person. (A person who never claimed offense at the gag himself.) Dark makeup was a part of that costume. To call it "blackface" is offensive to me personally as an actor. My friend had to don dark makeup for a role when no dark skinned woman was available for a role. I resent the implication that she is "racist" and did "Blackface" because she did so.  I am begging people to please stop using that term to describe the bit; It's not even close.

I understand that some people are bothered by the "black makeup", those people are entitled to their feelings, but you know, EVERY culture has something in their history that is painful. 
When did it become acceptable to go around demanding apologies from people for every. little. thing. that might POSSIBLY remind SOMEONE of some painful time in the PAST? A past that most of the folks who claim offense can't even claim to remember personally because they were not around when it happened! By most of the arguments here, I could claim offense at every implication, ad, or sketch that portrays the Irish as drunken, tempermental, idiots who only eat potatoes, Lucky Charms and carry around 4 leaf clovers. Or I could demand an apology for my Irish ancestors who died while building the railroads and demand they pay me restitution because "it's too painful to look at a railroad".
Please.

How else are we to get past these things anyway if we just ignore them and pretend they didn't happen? I am not trying to dismiss anyones feelings but this really is much ado about nothing.

People are cherry picking what's offensive. Why if it's not okay for Crystal to don the dark makeup for a bit is it okay for an African-American comedian to don white makeup for a role or make jokes about white people? The double standard and hypocrisy is ridiculous and I cannot believe we are perpetuating it on this board by lambasting one and not the other.  Either it's okay, or it's not.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2012, 03:32:50 PM by Sabbyfrog2 »

Two Ravens

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #39 on: March 01, 2012, 05:19:37 PM »
FWIW, Davis's daughter has come forward and stated she was not offended by it at all.

Quote
"I am 100 percent certain my father is smiling," Davis told The Hollywood Reporter. "Billy previously played my father [on Saturday Night Live] when he was alive, and my father gave Billy his full blessing."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/billy-crystal-blackface-oscars-sammy-davis-jr-daughter_n_1312942.html?ref=entertainment&icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl12|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D139855

Shoo

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #40 on: March 01, 2012, 08:43:44 PM »
I have read through the whole thread and am still in the mindset that Crystal, and the Oscars, have nothing to apologize for.

The term "Blackface" is being thrown around incorrectly and frankly, I myself am finding it offensive as an actor. What Crystal did was not "Blackface". He donned a costume to impersonate a once living, breathing, person. (A person who never claimed offense at the gag himself.) Dark makeup was a part of that costume. To call it "blackface" is offensive to me personally as an actor. My friend had to don dark makeup for a role when no dark skinned woman was available for a role. I resent the implication that she is "racist" and did "Blackface" because she did so.  I am begging people to please stop using that term to describe the bit; It's not even close.

I understand that some people are bothered by the "black makeup", those people are entitled to their feelings, but you know, EVERY culture has something in their history that is painful. 
When did it become acceptable to go around demanding apologies from people for every. little. thing. that might POSSIBLY remind SOMEONE of some painful time in the PAST? A past that most of the folks who claim offense can't even claim to remember personally because they were not around when it happened! By most of the arguments here, I could claim offense at every implication, ad, or sketch that portrays the Irish as drunken, tempermental, idiots who only eat potatoes, Lucky Charms and carry around 4 leaf clovers. Or I could demand an apology for my Irish ancestors who died while building the railroads and demand they pay me restitution because "it's too painful to look at a railroad".
Please.

How else are we to get past these things anyway if we just ignore them and pretend they didn't happen? I am not trying to dismiss anyones feelings but this really is much ado about nothing.

People are cherry picking what's offensive. Why if it's not okay for Crystal to don the dark makeup for a bit is it okay for an African-American comedian to don white makeup for a role or make jokes about white people? The double standard and hypocrisy is ridiculous and I cannot believe we are perpetuating it on this board by lambasting one and not the other.  Either it's okay, or it's not.

Very well said, Sabby.

Calypso

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #41 on: March 01, 2012, 09:06:59 PM »
Whoa, trailgrrl, I had forgotten just how well Billy Crystal did S.D.Jr.  back in the day. It wasn't long enough on the Oscars to tell. He was spooky good, wasn't he?  8)

(Jim Carry on the other hand----eh.)

Lauren

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #42 on: March 02, 2012, 12:41:16 PM »
Quote
But seriously, there are a boatload of producers for the Oscars. If he made it by all those guys, maybe they figured that it wouldn't be too horrible bad. I mean, we had Sacha "The Dictator" Baron Cohen parading around the  fake ashes of Kim Jong Il. No one was offended by that, and that man is recently dead. Evil dictatory goodness aside, if the etertainment biz can joke about the recently departed, surely they can give Billy a break.

He was actually booted out of the ceremony after he did that. And I was offended. Just because he's not American doesn't mean we should make fun of a person and his death. And 'pouring his ashes' on a red carpet is aboustley disrespectful.

Blackface has so many horrific connotations. It was used as a way to keep African-Americans treated as sub-human. Even just painting yourself 'black' without the ministerial brings up a lot of bad memories for people. One doesn't need to paint their face a different colour. If they're talented enough we'll get it by his acting.

Anyone who is not African-American can't tell others to 'get over it', 'stop being so sensitive' That is horrifically rude and insensitive telling people to get over a situation we've never had to face and they have to live with every day. If we can avoid offence then we should. Billy Crystal doesn't need to paint his skin a different colour.

There's also a lot of things that were acceptable 25 years ago that are no longer OK. This is one of these situations.

Shea

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #43 on: March 02, 2012, 01:29:43 PM »
Quote
But seriously, there are a boatload of producers for the Oscars. If he made it by all those guys, maybe they figured that it wouldn't be too horrible bad. I mean, we had Sacha "The Dictator" Baron Cohen parading around the  fake ashes of Kim Jong Il. No one was offended by that, and that man is recently dead. Evil dictatory goodness aside, if the etertainment biz can joke about the recently departed, surely they can give Billy a break.

He was actually booted out of the ceremony after he did that. And I was offended. Just because he's not American doesn't mean we should make fun of a person and his death. And 'pouring his ashes' on a red carpet is aboustley disrespectful.

Blackface has so many horrific connotations. It was used as a way to keep African-Americans treated as sub-human. Even just painting yourself 'black' without the ministerial brings up a lot of bad memories for people. One doesn't need to paint their face a different colour. If they're talented enough we'll get it by his acting.

Anyone who is not African-American can't tell others to 'get over it', 'stop being so sensitive' That is horrifically rude and insensitive telling people to get over a situation we've never had to face and they have to live with every day. If we can avoid offence then we should. Billy Crystal doesn't need to paint his skin a different colour.

There's also a lot of things that were acceptable 25 years ago that are no longer OK. This is one of these situations.

Amen, Lauren.


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Sabbyfrog2

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Re: Billy Crystal and blackface
« Reply #44 on: March 02, 2012, 02:02:27 PM »
Quote
But seriously, there are a boatload of producers for the Oscars. If he made it by all those guys, maybe they figured that it wouldn't be too horrible bad. I mean, we had Sacha "The Dictator" Baron Cohen parading around the  fake ashes of Kim Jong Il. No one was offended by that, and that man is recently dead. Evil dictatory goodness aside, if the etertainment biz can joke about the recently departed, surely they can give Billy a break.

He was actually booted out of the ceremony after he did that. And I was offended. Just because he's not American doesn't mean we should make fun of a person and his death. And 'pouring his ashes' on a red carpet is aboustley disrespectful.

He was booted out because he poured the ashes on Seacrest, not for the costume and urn. If he'd left Seacrest alone, they might have just let him stay.



One doesn't need to paint their face a different colour. If they're talented enough we'll get it by his acting.

Not for a Sammy Davis Jr Impersonation. No one would have bought it.
Sorry, that's actually an absurd statement and as an actor, *I* take that personally.
By that argument, I can say the same about the Marlon Bros in White Girls. Surely those two African-American men dressing up as blue-eyed blonde females and putting on the stereotypical rich "white girl" mannerisms was completely unnecessary then. Surely they could have portrayed those characters as themselves right? If they were good actors, I would have believed the bit without the costume.

Absurd. You're cherry picking where offense should be taken. As I said before, if it's okay for one, it's okay for all.



Anyone who is not African-American can't tell others to 'get over it', 'stop being so sensitive' That is horrifically rude and insensitive telling people to get over a situation we've never had to face and they have to live with every day. If we can avoid offence then we should. Billy Crystal doesn't need to paint his skin a different colour.

There's also a lot of things that were acceptable 25 years ago that are no longer OK. This is one of these situations.

Lauren, and I am not trying to be snarky here... I am genuinely trying to understand the offense.

Were you even around when "Blackface" was done? I am genuinely curious because if you were I can understand the extra sensitivity. If not, then I don't understand why an actor is being so harshly criticized for the offenses of the PAST. A PAST that we only know about through books and old videos. Crystal's being lambasted based on an impersonation. An impersonation that the family of the person he was intimidating didn't even have a problem with.

What's in the past is in the past. LOTS of offensive and oppressive things happened to LOTS of different cultures and races. We can't keep tip toeing around things because someone somewhere might be feel offended. The best way to avoid offense is to take these things in the spirit that they are done and not by rehashing past offenses of the days of yore. We should remember the past to avoid repeating it, not use it as a tool for a modern day witch hunt.
Plus, what better way to get over the past and take the power back from it then to laugh at it? Laughing at the ignorance of the past is the best way to take the power away from it and move forward IMO.

I repeat:
He did.not.do. "Blackface". PLEASE stop calling it that. "Blackface" is a bit and requires a lot more than just dark makeup and a wig; it was once a deliberate attempt to mock African-American people under the guise of entertainment. The performers in the minstrel days who did "Blackface" took on the perceived mannerisms, accent, speech, etc... They went out of their way to make African-American people look ignorant. Crystal did not do that. Not at all. In fact, his impersonation was probably a very sincere compliment to the fallen entertainer as they say mockery is the best form of flattery.

Yes. "Blackface" is a regrettable part of America's entertainment history but it's also something that happened a LONG time ago and you're right, it's no longer acceptable as a form of entertainment. That's why it's not done anymore. But a white actor dressing up as a REAL black person for an impersination is NOT "Blackface".