Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Black Dress

What is the deal with black male comedians dressing up in drag for movies? Tyler Perry's done it a few times for his Medea series. So has Martin Lawrence for his Momma's House series. And Eddie Murphy has done it for his Nutty Professor series, and is doing it again in Norbit. Remember Jamie Foxx's Wanda on In Living Color? And Miguel Nunez in Juwanna Mann? And the Wayans Brothers in White Chicks?

These characters aren't even positive role models for black women, let alone women at all. Lawrence's character Shenehneh on his TV series was downright offensive. Why did women not picket his show for this? Why is the fat, black woman portrayed in movies as over the top and offensive and no one says anything about it? I remember seeing Dave Chappelle on Oprah saying he had to refuse to wear a dress for his show once.

I think that the increasing popularity of having black men dress in drag is something worth examining. And its not just for one movie, these characters are both recurring in a series, or given spinoffs. When a black man puts on a dress, is it a way of eliminating his oh-so-threatening black male sexuality? Or does it make him less dangerous in a still all-white run Hollywood?

If I was Murphy, this would NOT be the movie I wanted out in theaters the same time I am nominated for an Academy Award.


  1. Thanks for this post. As someone of color I really appreciate someone else seeing the need for a full accounting from these guys.

    Unfortunately, we won't get one. You actually answered your own questions, whether you know it or not. Americans feel safer when loved, nutured, chastised, cajoled, etc; by large black women. It's the Mammie thing, if you will.

    Personally, I think some of 'em just couldn't come to grips with their femininity and these characters are how it manifested itself. The audiences are just glad to see themselves in the media and the dirty deal is struck.

  2. I have to confess that I actually watched "Big Momma's House 2," only because I was trapped on a plane with nothing better to do ... It was a horrific experience, so even if 200 people tell me Norbit is the funniest movie they've ever seen, there's no way I'm gonna see this .. just say no to men in drag and fat suits, black or white

  3. I can't wait to see Eddie's new one!