The San Francisco Examiner has a nice opinion piece today by Gregory Kane about whether hip hop, rap, and black centric movies (Kane chooses Tyler Perry’s “Medea Goes to Jail” as a reference in the article) promote racial stereotypes.
I am not black, so perhaps I am not the best judge of such a dividing issue. But being brown skinned, I can look at racial stereotypes from an outside perspective – from a viewpoint that is neither black, nor white.
I personally find that its only the rare art or artist that can transcend stereotypes. Nearly every movie, song, album, book, has some form of stereotype or the other. You have the dumb college quarterback, the recent immigrant who struggles with English – few artists can resist the temptation to use a stereotype, rather than put in more effort to create a truly unique character.
I am reminded of Robert Downey Jr.’s character in Tropic Thunder. Downey plays Kirk Lazarus – a 5 time Academy Award winning Australian actor, who undergoes a skin darkening procedure to play an African-American character. Downey mocks the use of stereotypes in movies by making his character an over the top racial stereotype.
Watch this video and you will know what I am talking about:
The Tropic Thunder filmmakers have done a tremendous job of deconstructing and mocking the racial stereotypes. Gregory Kane in his article references “Medea Goes to Jail” – a simple, stupid comedy that depends on racial stereotypes for its laughs, and not on innovative dialogue or truly funny situations.
And that, I think is the whole issue: filmmakers, artists, musicians taking the minimum effort route and creating stereotypes instead of putting in the work to make truly memorable characters. When someone uses a stereotype, I attribute that to creative lazyness, and nothing else.
What do you opine, my readers? Does hip hop really, truly promote racial stereotypes?