Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hollywood Racism: Robert Downey Jr. Dons Yellow Face for New Sherlock Holmes Movie


Robert Downey Jr. Dons Yellow Face for New Sherlock Holmes Movie

Why is it that White people can always find a way to appropriate from other cultures?  Robert Downey Jr. has a history of douchebaggery that is well documented, and he certainly did not do his reputation, or Asian people any favors by dawning yellow face for his new movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Uh huh, I wonder if he shuffled his feet, smoked opium, worked in laundry and moonlighted as a pimp?  Yes, those are the stereotypes associated with Asian men from that time in history.  I know that Holmes is a detective, and it makes sense that he would go undercover for an investigation, but as an Asian man?  Really?

I know that some are thinking that this was part of the script, and not a decision made by Robert  Downey Jr., but that is incorrect. As the star of that movie, Downey could most certainly have used his influence to get the scene altered or changed altogether.  If he had refused to put on yellow face, then the producer and director would have had no choice but to change it. Robert Downey Jr. simply does not care how his behaviour effects people of color, and I can say this with confidence because to my knowledge, this is the second time he has done this sort of thing.  Tropic of Thunder anyone?

There are no circumstances under which it is acceptable for a White man to dress up as a person of colour. Even when the intent is not meant to mock a particular group. it is still outright appropriation.  In this case, Downey dressed up to entertain viewers and that necessarily contains an element of mockery.  This is why Downey's performance need not take on the aspects of a minstrel show traditionally created to mock Blacks to be offensive.

As I viewed the image, I could not help but wonder if there are any re-occurring Asian characters in this movie?  Is this why Downey Jr., the producer and director felt that it was appropriate to substitute a White man for an Asian man? To erase Asian men, only to have Downey Jr., dress up as one, creates Asian men as disposable. It reminds me of the fact that as far as Hollywood is concerned, actors of color are interchangeable in terms of race.  Whiteness is the only race that is repeatedly clearly defined and that is specifically because the entirety of the western world constitutes a White supremacist state.

Every time I write a post of this nature it becomes a magnet to those who just cannot stop themselves from justifying racism.  Do yourself a favor before you comment and think before you comment why you feel need to declare that Robert Downey Jr.'s attire is acceptable.  The very fact that you are searching for a way in which to excuse it, should be warning enough that something is desperately wrong with what he has chosen to do.

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