Monday, August 25, 2008

But What If It's Funny...

James Hannaham rings his hands over at Salon about why there is no outrage at Robert Downey, Jr.'s playing a black man in "Tropic Thunder".

Black folks can take a joke. Seriously, we can. African-Americans have a sense of humor, an ability to think critically--and a vast capacity for forgivness. I'm all down for the cause and everything but I can laugh at a racist joke, if the shit is funny.

It's all about context and delivery and source.

I sat in a theater full of black people watching "Tropic Thunder" and we laughed our asses off every time RDJ opened his mouth. Because he isn't playing a black man. He's a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude.

I just spit out my coffee thinking about "It ain't nuthin' but a thang." For the rest of the year, my friends and I will be waiting for opportuinties to use that as a ridiculous non-sequitur in work meetings.

Critics nervously over-praised the execution of the blackface while black people just shrugged and laughed. We got the joke. We don't need anyone to be outraged on our behalf. Not this time.

Is it confusing for white people what will offend? Maybe. Sometimes you people get it right, mostly you people don't.

"What do you mean by "you people"?"


It's a black thing. You can't understand.

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