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February 20, 2008 |

By Dustin Rowles | Comment Diversions | February 20, 2008 |

A while back, in Stacey’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s retrospective, no amount of scorn was spared for Mickey Rooney’s Jap-face portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi, a stereotyping so heinous that it makes modern viewers like commentator Todd, in a word, cringe.

I had a similar reaction watching Luciano Ercoli’s Death Walks in High Heels the other day. I thought I’d seen some crazy-ass blackface in older films, but nothing beats Susan Scott in Afro wig and head-to-toe paint doing a go-go striptease. After the show, Scott’s lover steps into her dressing-room just as she’s about to cold-cream the bronze off her face; “I like you when you’re all black,” he whispers, and proceeds to ball a temporarily exoticized, but safely Caucasian-approved, fantasy jungle-bunny. It doesn’t matter if the filmmakers probably meant well (this may have been a clumsy 1970s push in the direction of interracial love acceptance); I still cringed.

It got me thinking — just how long a list can we make of “politically uncomfortable” film moments? How much racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, homophobia and general othering has been churned out in our movies — not as overt attacks, necessarily, but in thoughtless, misguided or insidious ways that represented the unexamined assumptions of an era’s filmmakers and audiences?

And while we’re on it, any guesses what the Pajibans three generations from now will be taking our films to task for, philosophically?

Film Stereotypes To Cringe By

An Afternoon Comment Diversion / Ranylt Richildis

Comment Diversions | February 20, 2008 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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