Too Black? Too Fat? Too Sassy?

The NYTimes features an article about those black, fat, sassy women peppered across the media spectrum. It comes as no surprise that the article is full of fantastic quotable nuggets.

Her onscreen presence takes on many variations, but she is easily recognizable by a few defining traits. Other than her size, she is almost always black. She typically finds herself in an exchange that is either confrontational or embarrassing. And her best line is often little more than a sassy “Mmmm hmmm.”

Large black actresses have had recurring roles in commercials over the years, and often are cast in roles where their aggressiveness is a defining trait. The heavy black spokeswoman for Pine Sol was one of the first to embrace the role. Her aggression was aimed at household dirt, however, not people.

Orlando Patterson, a sociology professor at Harvard, amplified that point. “To the black audience, this may be, ‘You do your thing, sister,’ ” Professor Patterson said. “The white audience is laughing with her. Then they go back to reality, and they laugh at her.”

I don't have anything serious to say about all of this. I agree that some audiences will laugh at Ms. Big and Sassy for different reasons. However, this issue hits nearly every type of audience. White Guy With Erection Disorder evokes laughter from Ms. Big and Sassy, while I find it a depressing harbinger of the future...


Blogger Fried Catfish said...

Speaking of stereotypes, I'm reminded of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. And speaking of that show, I saw previews for an upcoming gender-bender show that really perplexes me. The Fab 5 are attempting to "masculinize" a female that is transitioning to male. So I guess they're going in the opposite direction on the gender spectrum. In one recent episode, they tried making a gay man more...gay. I'm getting really confused by this show, but at least they're redecorating and adding home accents to society's traditional gender rules on national television. More fuschia! More tangerine! Let's do some manscaping!

8:42 AM  

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