Friday, June 04, 2010

Claudia Schiffer’s Blackface

So German super-model Claudia Schiffer and photographer Karl Lagerfeld think that blackface is acceptable if it involves high-fashion. And judging from the comments I have seen, multitudes of Whites believe that it is only fair turn-around for Whites to pretend to be Black. After all, Blacks, with their hair-straightening and skin lighteners, have been paying handsomely to look White for decades.

First off, I really don’t think that Schiffer stole work from a Black model. Whoever buys the shots knows that they are of Claudia in blackface, and this juxtaposition has specific value worth the trouble. I consider these photographs in the same category as these of Gisele and Black guys with big muscles (here). Someone is trying to get a ‘rise’ out of the public, and the question is, does it work and does it go too far?

For me, blackface that distorts the physical or behavioral character of Blacks is not acceptable. This goes for emulations of any ethnic group, from Asians, to Indians, to the Bantus. Emulations that reflect positive portrayals are acceptable, but understandably tread a thin line. I asked a Black woman in my office her thoughts, and she was not offended and thought it was art. She said a bucket of KFC under Schiffer’s arm would not work.

So in the end, I say no harm no foul. Keep on playing.

James C. Collier

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7 comments:

Jaime Santos-Prowse said...

I don't think the argument that Blacks have been trying to look more like Whites for decades is fair when you consider that one group is dominant over another. Assimilation is something that happens culturally, not as a means of parody or social criticism or slander. So Blackface, to me, is generally different in terms of motivation and the result.

However, in this particular instant I'm inclined to agree with you and your co-worker.

Sn3akrFr3akr said...

I would be offended if I felt that there was a negative portrayal in the photos. I think the goal is to acknowledge the artist's ability to transform someone so drastically. It also serves as a way to prove that we're all one in the same as far as humanity goes. Pass the pics around, and some may not even realize that she is white. Granted, they do not already know who she is.

tiana said said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James C. Collier said...

tiana, why do you feel the need to punctuate your words with such angry emphasis and violent imagery?

James C. Collier said...

tiana, upon checking with a co-worker on the meaning of 'double-down', you are too vulgar! and hereby revoked.

tiana said said...

this is the meaning of a double down: http://www.kfc.com/doubledown/

it's a kfc sandwich. lol. wow. you post about kfc as if its part of black culture, and then aren't even familiar with the menu. smh!

ronnie brown said...

seems to me that white folks are very comfortable with manipulating blackness as an accessory...but vaildating it as acceptable, desirable and of equal value...not so much.