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I wonder if this would be better off as part of a bigger article elsewhere. SophieWilderModerator 22:22, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

I'm confused as to whether it is on mission or not, but then I usually am. It's a more interesting phenomenon than the current text suggests: a mainstream entertainment genre, once widely popular, that's become taboo to even allude to. That in itself is frightening, and should be even more frightening than I'm actually finding it. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 04:17, 3 January 2014 (UTC)
Watch this and then I'll tell you its context if you can't guess it. (People over 40 who know British culture, shush for a minute.) - David Gerard (talk) 09:09, 5 January 2014 (UTC)
I do know that you can still get Golliwog dolls over there, or could until recently. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 18:02, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
Specifically, that w:The Black and White Minstrel Show was broadcast until just a couple of years before and lots of people still missed it - David Gerard (talk) 10:01, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
Interesting. In the USA, my understanding is that the last public blackface minstrel shows disappeared along with traditional vaudeville shortly after WWII. Mildly intriguing that it persisted much longer in the UK. Then again, who'd have thunk so many Britons were intensely studying on American blues records in the early 1960s, either? - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 16:07, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

sexual taboo[edit]

wasn't minstrels done partially because you could not show black men with white women ? There were also actors playing Indians, both american and the actual Indian kind, also africans in movies like tarzan. Hamster (talk) 05:05, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

Blackface-as-minstrelsy predates cinema by several decades. While I don't doubt you on the idea of black actors and white actresses being taboo (I know little about the history of cinema), the kind of minstrel shows that involve blackface weren't about protecting any sort of colour line, they were straigh-up about portraying black people as buffoons/clowns/objects of ridicule.
If you want to get a great modern take on blackface minstrelsy, watch Spike Lee's Bamboozled. It's an amazingly powerful film that deals with an element of the subject that this article does not address -- African-American minstrel shows where the African-American performers would "blacken up". It's a great film.
Also: Handy histories of blackface: 1 and 2. PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 05:30, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
For a somewhat different take, check out A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell (ISBN 141657106X). Russell argues that blackface characters, like the stock characters of popular comedy from ancient Greece forward, portrayed people relatively free from work ethic, sexual repression, and able to engage in public merriment without fear of shame. People enjoyed the performances because in some sense they'd like to live just like those characters. It was definitely stereotypical, but not all that hostile. I'm not sure gangsta rap is an improvement in terms of wish fulfilment fantasy, in other words. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 18:12, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

Katty Perry[edit]

Her appearance definitely isn't yellowfacing. We call it Cosplay. Zero (talk) 21:34, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

ಠ_ಠ Occasionaluse (talk) 22:24, 6 January 2014 (UTC), we actually don't call it that. --Kels (talk) 22:43, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

Günter Wallraf[edit]

I'm not sure if or how this should be mentioned in the article, but there's this guy who has blacked up a few times for undercover documentaries about racism in Germany. It's hard to tell to what extent the hostility & conflict he experienced were typical examples of racism or partially a product of the fact that he looks a bit creepy - sort of exactly like a white guy in make-up & an afro wig. + The whole concept is a little conceited - why not just work with an actual black person to make a candid documentary on their experiences? WéáśéĺóíďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 00:05, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Reminds me of this. PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 00:21, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

John Wayne's unfortunate turn as genghis[edit]

Unfortunate not just for the yellowface, but for the fact that most of the cast and crew were effectively killed by nuclear fall out. The perils of filming downwind from an atomic test site. Not relevant to article I know, just ghoulishly interesting. AMassiveGay (talk) 00:18, 9 January 2014 (UTC)


There doesn't appear to much here beyond some examples of blackface and yellowface. Would it perhaps better expanding into more expansive look at racism within Hollywood? The use of blackface really only touches the surface. AMassiveGay (talk) 01:02, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Zwarte piet (black pete)[edit]

just to Clarify some inconsistencies; around the dutch figure of Zwarte Piet;

  • first and foremost; Zwarte piet is NOT dressed in a ministrel outfit, nor is Pete intended as a caricature of Black people.
  • moreof Zwarte Piet is comparable to the iranian figure of Hajji Firuz
  • as well as several likewise figures that are part of Pan-european folklore,
  • the whole "controversy" is not all that big in the netherlands itself, seeing its largely a children's feast.
  • most importantly SinterKlaas (and this cannot be reiterated enough) is NOT the same as Santa Claus, and NOT a dutch X-mas tradition _AT ALL_ (seeing how we still celebrate X-mas, whereas nicholas is typically a holiday for the Kids

- Claudi

I'm Belgian so I'm well familiar with Black Pete. Saint Nicholas is my favorite holiday of the year, always has been.
Black Pete, according to tradition, is black because he goes through the chimney. But this doesn't explain the very racist elements of the character. He has sterotypical big red lips, curly dark hark and a slave's earring. The chimney thing is actually a retcon that comes from an episode of the widely popular "Dag Sinterklaas" show. So yes, it's perfectly rational to consider him a racist stereotype, simply because he is one.
The easiest and most lore-friendly way to clean him up is to remove the lips, earring and hair, to focus entirely on the "charcoal Pete" character as has been suggested recently. Secondly, it's important to recognize he's a friend of Saint Nickolas, not the manservant (knecht) as he's traditionally called.
I absolutely love the Saint Nicholas holiday, and it would only become better when it becomes less racist. (talk) 11:07, 5 September 2018 (UTC)

Is the act itself actually racist?[edit]

If a white man putting on black makeup to play a black man is automatically racist, then would that make a male Monty Python actor putting on a dress to play a woman automatically sexist?

There's a big difference between being racist and simply being racial.

Sure blackface was often used to make fun of black people, but big noses are often used to make fun of Jewish people; does that make any character with a big nose automatically anti-Semitic?Skadooshbag (talk) 22:36, 11 June 2018 (UTC)

It's not automatically racist (Robert Downey Jr in blackface in Tropic Thunder is making a satirical point, and it's probably acceptable in an Al Jolson biopic, or to mock a white person who spends too long on a sunbed). But if someone is just doing it to get a laugh, then you need to interrogate more deeply why they're doing it and why people are laughing and what effect it has on onlookers, so you can judge if it's racist - and in that case it's easier just to avoid blackface unless there's a strong reason for it.
As for whether it's sexist for a man to wear a joke and get laughs, sometimes it can be. But while blackface is one type of white people dressing up, there are many different contexts for men to wear dresses. There are people who'd say it's transphobic and hence objectionable to do it for a laugh.[1] And there's a whole big debate about whether drag queens are sexist or misogynistic.[2] And if we went back to the situation c. 1600 where there were no female actors just men in dresses, then most people would say it was sexist. (Bonus question: was it sexist for Monty Python not to employ any women except big busted sex objects?) But because the relationship of men and women is different to that of blacks and whites you can't directly carry it across - indeed men wearing women's clothing are commonly beaten up as gay or transsexual while white people dressed as blacks are not, so if you see what looks like a man in a dress, you certainly can't assume it's being mocking or sexist. (Gay men don't usually wear women's clothing of course, but that doesn't stop homophobic attacks.) --Gospatric (talk) 15:22, 5 September 2018 (UTC)
Satirical point being made (out of sync) here: --Scherben (talk) 22:21, 26 September 2018 (UTC)