Media tagged Whiteness

Key & Peele - Negrotown

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            “Negrotown” is a five-minute clip created by comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele for their television show Key & Peele on Comedy Central. Key & Peele uses satire, comedy, and popular culture in order to address current social issues, especially about race, gender, and ethnicity. “Negrotown” premiered on their show in September 2015 in their final episode. The sketch begins with Key walking down a dimly lit alleyway while suspenseful piano music plays in the background. A white police officer pulls up in his vehicle and tells Key, an African-American man, to “hold it right there.” The two get into a verbal disagreement about what Key did to deserve being stopped by the police officer. Angered, the officer forcefully hits Key’s head into the police cruiser. After this, a homeless-looking man approaches Key and the two African-American men walk down the dark alley together, which ultimately leads into a bright magical portal that transports them to “Negrotown,” a “utopia for black people.” Here, the man who once looked homeless is dressed in a bright pink suit and joyfully sings about the positive aspects of Negrotown. A chorus of people recite lyrics about Negrotown having no “trigger-happy cops,” no white people “stealing your culture and thinking it’s theirs,” and no people making you their “token black friend.” In short, Negrotown is a place where African-Americans do not face any racial prejudice or discrimination which occurs in the outside world. After the song and dance about Negrotown is over, the clip goes back to the same back alley and we see Key laying on the ground, forced to face reality again. The police officer asks him to get up. Key looks at him surprised, stating, “I thought I was going to Negrotown.” The officer answers, “You are.” 

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Levi's-Everybody's Work

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This ad is part of Levi Strauss’s “Go Forth” campaign, launched in July 2012. With a black and white image, it depicts a man with a shovel across his shoulders, gazing off into the distance. He looks as if he is taking a break from hard physical labor. The image is overlaid with text: "Everybody's work is equally important."

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Louis CK on Being White (EXPLICIT)

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This clip comes from comedian Louis CK's stand-up routine, featured in the 2008 special "Chewed Up". In it, he muses on the priveleges that are associated with being a white male, as well as the often dangerous disadvantages that have historically come with being anything other than a white male. He considers the case of a time machine: "Here's how great it is to be white: I can get in a time machine and go to any time, and it would be f***ing awesome when I get there! That is exclusively a white privilege." The clip has been the subject of debate and controversy among viewers. Some see Louis CK as providing a constructive voice to point out issues of white privelege. Others believe he perpetuates  racist stereotypes and fails to acknowledge the racism that still exists post-1980s.

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Matt Damon interrupts Effie Brown to explain diversity in filmmaking

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This video clip is from the fourth season (2015) of Project Greenlight, an American documentary television series on HBO that follows first-time filmmakers as they are given the chance to direct a movie. In this video segment, a group of mostly White male producers, including Matt Damon, famous actor and one of the executive producers of the show, are sitting together evaluating the projects. There is one other (White) woman, but the only person of color in the group is Effie Brown, an experienced Hollywood producer who has produced seventeen feature films. As they are discussing one of the films, Effie Brown brings up a concern that the only black person in the movie is a prostitute that is slapped by her white pimp, and that it may be important to be aware of who is selected to direct a scene and characters like that, because of the representational significance of that being the only black person on screen in the film. Matt Damon interrupts to argue that the directing team had already talked about the same issue that Effie was bringing up, and she disagrees. He then proceeds to interrupt and talk over her again, explaining what he views diversity in films to be, saying, “When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not the casting of the show,” meaning that diversity concerns only matter when thinking about who is onscreen, and not who is behind the scenes writing, directing, and producing movies. 

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Michael Jackson, "Black or White"--the UNCUT version

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This 11-minute uncut version of Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” music video was released six months after the March 1991 Rodney King beating by four Los Angeles police officers, and offers a complicated commentary on contemporary race relations. The video was most often exhibited without the last 4 1/2 minutes on MTV and other television outlets, which resulted in many viewers only seeing the optimistic, poppy, racial and global harmony parts of the video and not being aware of the portion that pointedly juxtaposed scenes of prevalent racist, war-torn, and blighted city streets. In contrast to images of Jackson dancing with people from around the world, black and white babies sitting together on a globe, and diverse, smiling faces morphing into one another as they joyfully sing the pop song, in the latter section, Jackson performs his signature dance moves, but they are deliberately laced with anger, even violence, as he destroys the racism and prejudice emblazoned on graffiti-marred public property, and through his dance, takes ownership of the public space of the street.

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