Brietbart’s BigHollywood Longs for ‘Good-Natured’ Black-Face Minstrel Shows
July 5, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Andrew Breitbart’s right-wing Internet empire, longs for a return to the “innocent” Jim Crow era, when Negroes knew their place. And Blackface Minstrel shows perpetuated racist stereotypes of blacks as naive, lazy and ignorant. The white actors, wearing blackface, speaking in exaggerated slave dialect, sang and danced, as characters named Zip Coon and Dandy Jim.
Gary Graham penned a “patriotic” July 4 piece on Brietbart’s BigHollywood blog, waxing nostalgic about the 1940s film “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” based on the career of George M. Cohan. Graham, gushed that the politically incorrect Cohan produced “good-natured” harmless Minstrel shows. But to Graham’s dismay, the white man’s fun, at the expense of black people came to a screeching end, because of the hippies with their “Marxist political correctness” and “class-envy.”
Graham, an actor known for his role as Ambassador Soval in “Star Trek: Enterprise, is one of many right-wing Hollywood types that flock to Breitbart’s blogs with their nonsense. Perhaps the most offensive line in Graham’s ode to 19th century racism, is his belief that Blackface Minstrelsy was not offensive to African Americans:
“Cohan wasn’t politically correct — he and his family put on Minstrel shows! Innocent, good-natured entertainment back then, offending no one, delighting all; black, white or variegated paisley. It wasn’t until the class-envy of Marxist political correctness that we insisted on being horrified by such a thing.”
Graham also longs for the days when men were men and women were subservient, and also knew their place, just like the Negroes:
“Men treated women with genteel deference and women modestly comported themselves with style, sweetness and class. Youth respected the wisdom of age…or…they got their butts whooped.”
Graham’s arguments are just too mind-numbingly stupid for me to dissect line by line, but it’s shocking that he could be so insensitive and completely unaware of the long-lasting institutional harm caused by the offensive stereotypes promoted by Blackface performers.
As pointed out by a PBS documentary on the subject, the racist stereotypes persist to this day:
“In fact, one group was called “The Real Nigs.” And this was — they were advertised as “Come to the theatre and get a real look into what plantation life was like.” So this was not advertised as a stage show. It was advertised as a peephole view of what black people were really like. To that extent, it affected all of society because those people who didn’t know blacks, and there were many places where there were very few blacks, assumed that those characterizations, those depictions, those foolish characters on stage, were real black people. And so it had an immense effect on the way mainstream society thought about blacks.”
There is nothing patriotic or “good-natured” about Jim Crow era Minstrel shows.