Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This is so...Racist

My writing partner for years was a '60s revolutionary type, and a producer friend of hers was trying to pitch a follow-on to "Wattstax" back in the '90s. So we got some people together for a screening of the original.

The movie opens with people arriving at the show, in their red carpet finest. But it was 1973, and it was just what you might imagine, with purple pimp hats and lord knows what all.

I could swear that I heard my friend say under her breath, "This is so...racist."

When you think "reverse racism", you might think something like black-on-white racism, but a better description of it would be something akin to "The Magic Negro".

That wikipedia entry has some really bad examples of The Magic Negro, like Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption. The character of Red is saved by the enlightened white guy, instead of the other way around. Or Morpheus in The Matrix, since race is reasonably irrelevant in that movie.

The relevant part (to real life) is the ideal of racial superiority being applied as pressure to the individual. The formerly considered subhuman is now expected to be superhuman.

If we are to go forward with the notion that all men truly are created equal then we have to extend to all men the freedom to be fools and jackasses--and the freedom to dress in gaudy, absurd clothing when it's the '70s, and then to be embarrassed about it years later.

This post was inspired by an Althouse commentary thread. You had someone arguing that there were probably pix of Obama running around dressed like a hippie, and someone else arguing that it was unlikely.

Very few people can claim fashion superiority from the '70s. Lindsay Wagner and Valerie Harper, for example. Lindsay because she looked great even in the clothes of the time and wouldn't look out of place now in the same thing. Valerie epitomized a style that was very '70s but actually not gaudy or garish. (I actually met a woman in the '90s wearing that exact style and it still worked pretty well.)

But seriously, we will never be post-racial until we can laugh at the '70s together.

Then we can get started on the '80s, with the underwear wrapped around the wrist and the seventeen layers of clothing and....


  1. Maybe it would be best for Rush to find BHO nicknames other than 'magic negro.' He, and others, using this sort of discretion would help to advance your call for universal joviality.

    Underwear on the wrist? I recall a pretty good Miami Vice wardrobe (in Seattle.) But no avant-garde underwear garb.

  2. I don't do talking heads, but I was vaguely aware of Rush's use of "Magic Negro". I wish it were less true because I see the reverse racism issue there.

    People are acting like the qualifications for President are trivial. That a good heart is charisma are all you need. What if that's not true, and the result is Obama fails miserably?

    (Which isn't to say he still might not be better than McCain.)

    I have it on good advice that the underwear thing was a Lauper/Madonna inspired thing. Surely I saw it. (Though not as much as you'd see in a movie from the time.)

  3. Dude the wife is doing a podcast on Friday that will be put on the Yahoo Shine fashion network. One of the three casts we will be filming is about swimwear and how you need a cover up or something to go from the pool to the bar or the barbeque without going back to the room to shower. And one of the tips is to get a hair covering or scarf just like Rhoda used to wear! Talk about your coniecidink.
    The 70's Rhoda Morgenstern look is coming back in a big way with head bands and scarves and wild prints. It's destiny I tell ya.

  4. Fashion loops, after a while.

    In the '80s, there were lots of homages to the '50s. In the '90s there was a '60s vibe....


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