Is PC Culture going too Far?
The (journal) entry below is an opinion based on the views of a non black, white passing POC.
With the rise of the BLM movement, many companies and public figures are coming under fire for their racist and problematic pasts or products. As a white passing POC (who is not black), I definitely see and agree that they (being the companies) and the products are wrong. But how much is too much?
The first example I am going to go over is the Quaker Oats Company who owns Aunt Jemima. The origin and image of the woman we have come to know as “Aunt Jemima” come from racist stereotypes often used in minstrel shows. She portrayed the “mammy” stereotype that existed at the time, and even still is being portrayed. The mammy (or mammie) archetype was (and is) the stereotype of an enslaved black woman who were domestic workers; the kind of slaves that would take care of their white masters’ children and household tasks. Over time the stereotype branched out to include black women that are homely, protective, and almost motherly figures. A more modern example of the archetype is Miranda Bailey in Grey’s Anatomy, a black, female doctor who is often seen and treated as a motherly figure.
The company has since announced that it will be removing the image from their products and have condemned it’s problematic past.
Pretty much this exact situation is also extending to Mars Inc.’s product Uncle Ben’s and Mrs. Butterworth.
These companies are making the first steps to righting past wrongs; but are they doing it because they’ve finally seen it’s problematic and want to? Or because they feel pressured to do it so they don’t get cancelled? Either way, it’s a smart business move.
These issues, while I may have an opinion on, are not for me to get too passionate about. I’m not part of the community that it affects.
Now onto a topic that I take a lot of issue with. Younger Gen Z’ers trying to cancel Robert Downey Jr. because of his role in Tropic Thunder. Here’s the problem with that. Unlike RDJ’s co-star Scarlet Johansson, he isn’t playing a person of color. RDJ is a white actor that is playing a white actor named Kirk Lazarus who undergoes a “pigmentation procedure” (which I assume is the opposite of skin bleaching) in order to play a black character named Staff Sergeant Lincoln Osiris in a Vietnam era war film. Why does Kirk Lazarus do this? He’s a method actor… right, ok. What RDJ is not doing is being a white actor himself playing a black character directly. Not only that but the fact that Lazarus did what he did is called out in the film by an actually black actor. The film Tropic Thunder itself has commentary within the movie about how white actors shouldn’t take roles that aren’t meant for them. While it’s classified as an “action-comedy” though one could argue it walks the satire line.
Some people are also calling out White Chicks (mostly white people IMO) for the same reasons that people want to cancel Tropic Thunder and RDJ for. Even though it falls under the same exact parameters that RDJ and Tropic Thunder do. The Wayan Brothers (Shawn & Marlon) are not two black actors that are playing white, female characters. They are black actors that are portraying black FBI agents that are undercover and in disguise as white, female heiresses. Mind you, the entire operation that they’re involved in… has no approval. But that’s beside the point. So just like RDJ, the Wayan’s aren’t black actors playing white characters.
But people continue to LOVE AND STAN Breakfast at Tiffany’s and refuse to call it out for Mickey Rooney. Mickey Rooney is a white actor portraying an Asian man… and not just any Asian man, a gross stereotype of an Asian man. Don’t get me wrong, you can enjoy problematic movies… as long as you recognize that it’s problematic.