The term “blackface” rightfully evokes anger, shame, and a sense of righteous indignation. The practice during the dawn of Hollywood, and in Vaudeville and other theatrical productions going back a century prior, despicably cemented racial stereotypes.
It’s a good thing we got rid of blackface, right? Or did we? Comedian and radio personality Adam Corolla points out in an interview for his new book In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks that modern Hollywood is completely comfortable making a mockery of the male.
[In television] guys are treated like buffoons. Whenever they do that thing where the mom is out taking care of her mom and the dad is left behind to prepare a meal for the kid… he’s on the phone with her and he’s dumping pancake batter into the toaster that’s catching on fire. We’re not that dumb. That’s what I’m saying…
It’s not overt, but it’s sort of permeating our society now… and the guy’s flopping around on the sofa and the woman’s going, “Come on, we got to go to Home Depot and fix this place up.” And he’s like, “Oh, I don’t know. I want to eat more spam out of a can.” We’re not that way. We build the bridges, we build the skyscrapers.
Buffoonish characters have been a linchpin of comedy for as long as man has portrayed drama. Surely, not all such characters are an attempt to stereotype an entire class of people.
However, when you consider blackface, you see a pervasive and persistent practice which took on an agenda of demeaning black people. The question is, has Hollywood adopted a similar agenda to degrade men in modern society?
It is incumbent upon us to look beyond our dramatic portrayals for an answer. In the time when blackface was practiced, there was obviously an established prejudice and rampant discrimination against black people. Blackface merely fueled the fire. Presuming there is a current effort to demean men in our society, it is working against a historical tide, rather than with one.
Indeed, that is the likely defense to come out of the radical feminist crowd. Men have held a position of dominance in societies throughout history, they would argue, and are therefore due a degree a degradation. Is that healthy though?
Taken at face value, the Homer Simpons and Peter Griffins of the world are merely entertainment. However, when we consider them within the larger context of a culture pushing greater androgyny, Corolla’s concern has merit.
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota’s North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.