Thursday, December 10, 2009

Minstrelsy Alert! Be on the lookout for racism on SNL

A recent Saturday Night Live skit starring Kenan Thompson was called to my attention today. Prepare to be offended when you click here to view on Hulu.

Thompson plays Virginiaca, an overweight, obnoxious black stepmother of an equally obnoxious white girl. They are shopping at a store that sells high-end apparel. Virginiaca assures the salesclerk that she could purchase the entire store. She's rich, you see, because her white husband is loaded. (Golddigger? Materialistic?) "Where you is?!" mother yells at daughter. "Where you is?!" the daughter yells back. They continue in exaggerated blackspeak as they peruse the store. The daughter insists on trying on a teeny-tiny skirt 'cause it's perfect attire for her to "get her booty go round-and-round." Begin erotic humping. They finger wag at a mannequin because--surprise!--they're too dumb to realize it's not a real person.

It all culminates at the end when Virginiaca mounts the table and says to the white salesclerk: "Do you see this position I'm in?" She inches toward him, ass in the air. "I want you to imagine this with no bottom and no top!" She is literally throwing her sex at him, enacting the stereotype of the licentious black female that dates back to slavery. Thanks for bringing it back, SNL. It's really, really funny.

If SNL were trying to poke fun at stereotypes--to show their absurdity--they missed the mark. They could have shown the white salesclerk having these preconceived notions based on stereotypes and made him look like an idiot. They could have had Verginiaca and the daughter leave the store and suddenly drop the act, showing how they fooled the racist salesclerk that took them seriously. Instead, the whole thing was plain buffoonery. Buffoonery that fed upon--no gorged upon--terribly painful, racist stereotypes of black females.

Modern minstrelsy. Instead of the black and white characters in blackface, the white girl has an imitation black hairdo (a poor rendition, I must say), and Thompson gets to dress in drag.

I'm impressed (and appalled) with how they were able to roll so many stereotypes into a 3-minute skit! What a deal! And to mimic the long tradition of minstrelsy so accurately! Step right up folks, it's time for a show!


Ronni said...

Too bad it was Ellen Page in this skit. I'm pretty sure it wasn't her idea, but still. :( I like her.

Liberty said...

I know, right? I'm mad at her for this.