by Lavern Merriweather
The other day, I was watching a show with a panel of black female actresses discussing their careers while being in the Hollywood limelight. One of the women, Viola Davis, used her time on the show to once again defend her role in that shitty ass movie “The Help”. She used the typical black person’s drunk on the ‘Hollyweird’ Kool-aid mindset by saying there should be no shame in her game. She also fished for compliments by tearing herself down and basically saying that these are usually the only roles afforded to her.
That is the ultimate cop-out. I’m assuming that nobody held a gun to her head and forced her to become an actress. It was a choice. And when you make that choice, you have to be held accountable for your actions. It’s like Robert Townsend said at the end of his supreme classic film “Hollywood Shuffle”, there is always work at the post office. Even when there isn’t, that doesn’t justify black people and other folks throwing themselves on the grenade for their ‘Hollywretched’ masters.
It seems that pride and dignity fly right out the damn window when black people care more about the almighty dollar or want to get attention. Recently, comedian and star of her own show Mindy Kaling defended an Elle fashion cover that shows her only from the neck up. That same magazine had three other covers with white women in full body shots. As usual, Kaling took the slave mentality route by saying that the picture was beautiful and she felt very proud of it. Many were criticizing it, because they believe that since Kaling weighs a little more than her white counterparts, her body was hidden. Instead of taking a stand, she took the punk’s way out. This is so typical of people of color.
I remember when the movie “Rising Sun” came out and all the controversy that came with it. A lot of Asian people felt that it showed them in a menacing light, particularly one of the main actors Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa. Asian American activist Guy Aoki was especially vocal about his disgust, saying that you never see the actors in these offensive movies that are under attack agree with the protesters. That’s because they care more about the money.
I understand better than anyone that nobility does not pay your bills. Nor does it put any food on your table. But to go out of your way to play a warrior for the racist, arrogant, immoral pinheads that run the Hollywood industry is stupid and wrong. Not to mention it says very little, if anything, about your self-esteem or lack thereof. It’s one thing to want to support yourself and your family financially. But to constantly do it at the expense of your own self-respect it’s utterly disgraceful.
I get that many folks of color get just as caught up in the bright lights and big city lure of Hollywood. We have all been brainwashed by that system for the longest of times. However, when you know something is flat out insulting to your very being as a non-white individual and you go along just to get along, it makes you just as bad as they are. And if Viola thinks so little of her looks, then why the hell did she get in this business in the first place knowing full well that it’s like former black model Beverly Johnson put it, comprised of ‘tall, skinny, blond white girl syndrome’.
Being her age Ms. Davis can’t fake ignorance to the fact that she was fully aware that her mountain was going to be a tough mother to climb, to say the least. So, don’t try now to play victim and make excuses for the very people who have made you feel like crap about your black features to begin with or continue to contradict yourself, then try and justify your hypocrisy because you are marginalized. That’s like Jewish people at the height of the Gestapo era lining up around the block to be captured then subsequently put to death by their oppressors.
Don’t whine about how the ‘man’ is keeping you down while you happily play his mammy stereotype to make yourself a buck. And I do mean a buck since according to Viola’s own logic, she isn’t as beautiful, thin and charming as the white female movie stars who can command six-figure salaries and take any role they want to the point of where they can even turn down some roles and still expect to be an A-lister while black women get the scraps.
Earth to Miss Thang, if they are treating you like a dog, it’s because you keep barking for them. I can’t for the life of me get how it is that grown-ass people can complain and bitch one minute, then turn right around and praise the very system meant to keep them feeling like shit about themselves. Don’t pretend to be Harriet Tubman when you choose to be a patsy for the greater society or defend the people who are doing it themselves.
I know what Malcolm and other black philosophers have said about race. Still, every human being breathing has a moment in their life where they have to be held responsible for the decisions that they make. So sorry Viola, but you get no free pass from me for the part that you freely participate in while trying to absolve yourself by saying how you have made it despite your burdensome baggage of low self-esteem or how unattractive you thank you are.
Guess what? You have your bosses to thank for that. Serving drinks at their ball while playing a good little darkie will get you no sympathy. You don’t like your job, quit. And while you are at it, quit bellyaching about how bad you feel about yourself as you star in films that patronize for a new younger generation coming up the very same ideology that you claim screwed you up so damn badly. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, especially while you hand feed it to your white employers.