Sunday, April 24, 2005
Nicholas Kristof writes about interracial relationships in today's NY Times, but has some pretty absurd arguments when trying to criticize Hollywood for not representing the gains that have been made in society. For example Kristof writes:
The latest "Guess Who" is about a white man in love with a black woman, and that's a comfortable old archetype from days when slave owners inflicted themselves on slave women. Hollywood has portrayed romances between white men and (usually light-complexioned) black women, probably calculating that any good ol' boy seeing Billy Bob Thornton embracing Halle Berry in "Monster's Ball" is filled not with disgust but with envy.
Huh? So it is not good enough that they have an interracial relationship, it has to be the right mix of gender and race.... And the "usually light-complexioned" line just kills me. So according to Kristof some people are not "black enough," for Kristof. What a joke. Should this same logic be applied to affirmative action programs? We could set up two boxes, one for dark skinned African-Americans, and one for light-skinned persons. And only the dark skinned persons would qualify for the programs, because according to Kristof light-skinned minorities don't really count.

Pathetic. And racist really. I wonder why so many people think liberals are idiots, when this kind of logic is floated around.

"Guess who," and movies like that could be criticized for the fact that when a interracial couple is cast in Hollywood it is too often done to perform a plot function (i.e., it is intentional that the relationship is interracial). What we should be seeing more of is movies where race is irrelevant to the plotline, yet there is an interracial relationship.

Kristof tries to think of movies with interracial relationships and doesn't do a very good job. Just off the top of my head you have "Fools Rush In" with Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek; Austin Powers (I forget which one, but the one with Mike Meyers and Beyonce - of course, maybe Beyonce doesn't count per Krisof's "logic"); Monster Ball was named by Kristof earlier; pretty much every Jennifer Lopez movie, but I was thinking primarily of "Out of Sight," where race was totally irrelevant to the plotline; and "The Bodyguard," with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. I am sure there are plenty more.

So to me Kristof's criticism rings hollow (and certainly seems uneducated). But that doesn't mean there shouldn't be more movies where there happens to be interracial relationships where race isn't a plot line. I can think of a half a dozen movies where I can think of a black actor that would have been much better in the lead role than the white actor. I wonder how many of those movies were cast without ever considering black actors. If any of them were, than that is a problem worth writing about. Kristof should engage is some actual journalism and find that out before he writes on this topic again.
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I am an attorney in Chicago. Politically speaking, I am an indepedent that tends to lean conservative on fiscal issues and progressive on social issues. I try to remain as unbiased and open-minded as possible. Please email or post any comments, and especially criticisms. If something I say is wrong, or you disagree - let me know about it!

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