There was a bit of a shocker included in the Oscar nominations this year -- Robert Downey Jr. receiving a nod for his part in Tropic Thunder. It's a double whammy -- one of those rare nominations in the comedy category (a farce no less!), and a role that's almost 100% blackface. Unsurprisingly, the role created unrest, as well as a lot of discussion revolving around Hollywood's treatment of race on and off the screen.
Like it or not, race jumping is pretty much intrinsically linked to Hollywood -- all the way back to the first silent films. Over the years, it's morphed from minstrels to mainstream icons, critical darlings, and races of all sorts. Katharine Hepburn went Chinese for Dragon Seed. Charlton Heston went a rather ridiculous brownface for Touch of Evil. These days, that's not quite so kosher, but instances do pop up, both on the big screen (keep reading) and small screen (Saturday Night Live, for one).
But to try and delve into all race portrayals for a list of seven is just silly, so I'm focusing on blackface. And since the Academy Awards are almost upon us, this is blackface at the Oscars (save for one relevant film in recent history that should be mentioned, but didn't get Academy love). Read on, and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.
Note: Blackface is used in the broader sense, and not just to define minstrel performances.