Thank you very much for this post. I really didn't know how to feel about the performance, and I am glad to know the opinion of someone much more relevant to this issue than I am.
that's pretty much where i landed. it was extremely uncomfortable at first, and then a sort of "well they're people of color so it must be ok" moment, but it was really a bad shellac over things and later, after the show, it just seemed really wrong and not right. i wasn't sure how to process it at the time, but after everything died down, it still just didn't sit well at all.
Why do people ever think blackface is a good idea. WHY.
Well, I was waiting for it to become edgy or clever. I was actually kind of excited about it, seeing their costumes and makeup backstage, because I thought there would be irony in their ironic racism. Whoops.
Thank you for this. I really appreciate that fact that you are sending this to them AND posting it in your journal.
I didn't see the whole act, so I didn't really have any idea what the context was. I, like many others who posted comments here, was like "Um? I guess they're making a statement? Not my place to judge?" I was definitely shocked (I was literally standing there with my mouth open...)
Like you, I'm deeply concerned that someone out there is going to blame Jim. There are people just waiting for a reason, and though we all know he doesn't "preview" acts for HHR, not everyone does. Last thing we need!
I would suggest that you just point folks to this entry if they are curious what you thought. I wanted to know, and I think it's important.
Finally, can I just say that more than any other piece I've ever seen any poc do, your piece for the Mardi Gras show really felt like.... it was just some fucking awesome social commentary. Keep it up!
YOU ROCK LAUREN. I was waiting for that flip and was left feeling "oh.....FUCK" when it never came.
It's a good thing I'm injured, because I don't know what I'd have done if I was there.
Is there video somewhere of this? I think it's time to have a talk with some folks we know who have worked with them, but I'd like to be able to see this performance so I have something to show them.
I don't know if there's any video--our usual videographer was out of town--but there are photos. (Thankfully, most of the photogs aren't making them public.)
What the crap. Any claim of ignorance is rendered irrelevant by the fact that they lied about the act.
Could it be that this was some sort of "commentary" around the Hubba Hubba/brownface ridiculousness?
That's all I got.
Yeah, maybe. But honestly it was pretty commentary-lite. And all they accomplished was to shoot themselves in the foot. Apparently they did this number at a conference for burlesque performers of color last month. I'm not sure how that went over, but at least perhaps there was some sort of context for it there. Friday night? At a show spoofing Oktoberfest? Not so much.
thank you SO much for writing this/posting this.
you've summed everything up eloquently, and maturely. WE needed this.
i'm completely blown away that any POC (or anyone with even one iota of social/historical awareness, for that matter) would be fool enough to pull out black-face. it's tacky, it's offensive, and completely lacking in shock value (the operant word being "value") if, and when i say if, it's a BIG FRIGGIN', "IF", not accompanied by some stellar contradictions/statements to tear apart something so ugly.
the only reason i'm not amazed no one had given them at least a, "so, uh... what are you doing?" when they were getting into makeup is because it seems everyone was equally shocked, confused, and expecting something beyond, "ha ha, we're black, so it's funny!"
black-face for black-face sake? vile.
hopefully this will not have any adverse backlash against jim, and all of the hardworking staff and performers of HHR, you all do so very much to make this show a respectable, and deservedly successful addition to the bay area.
Have the POC involved in this said anything about why?
Not yet. I'm still waiting for a response. I emailed them directly, and there's another conversation happening on Facebook right now. At least one of the dancers got a link and was invited to comment, but he hasn't yet as far as I know.
Edited at 2009-10-26 09:58 pm (UTC)
I don't know the producers of HHR, but I've heard very good things about them from my boyfriend whose band has performed at their Oakland shows more than once. I also *greatly* appreciate that they provide a platform for burlesque performers of varying age, race, and size. I feel that they do a lot of good in the SF entertainment community and hearing what SF Boylesque pulled has me right pissed off. I hope this doesn't hurt HHR too much and that word of SF Boylesque's unprofessional bait-and-switch is spread to producers of other shows/events.
thanks for the post... i just returned from IDKE in Tucson where there was cultural appropriation up the wazoo topped off with a fat suit. so i am very interested in the ways that communities can talk about intention vs impact of performance, accountability of performers and the too-often trend in calling any feedback or commentary on performances an attempt to censor.
i was at Kaleidoscope and the piece definitely was not read this way there. it sounds very similar in costume but i dont remember there being make up. it made me think of Bamboozled at the time.
i do think that i might disagree that producers dont deserve to be in the hot seat when it comes to accountability for their stages. sure, its hard to micro-manage everything that is on a stage but i think its valid that if you see some thing at an event that sharing your feedback with the producer is totally acceptable. AND you should share it with the performers.
anyway... will try and keep up on to the response as i am interested to hear how it all goes.
I don't think anyone actually expects a producer to walk away smelling like a rose after a performance goes wrong. That said, it's pretty damn speshul for performers to tell a producer they're doing one number and then turn around and do something completely different.
And yeah, I'm curious about how much context played into the performance at Kaleidoscope. But that's part of being a performer: knowing your audience. And this was the fourth time SFB has been on the HHR stage.
I'm not saying anything new here by pointing out that racism has been the new "edgy" for a while now
. And blackface
. And actually, that last link to Bambizoozled.com (a database of blackface) is rather eye-opening for white folks like me, seeing (white) people commenting about how black people should "get over it already." Feh.
Of course, in some cases it's used to make a rather sharp and salient point, by way of making people uncomfortable
, but all too often it's not.
I hope you post the response from the group, if they send one.
I know it's hard to decide whether or not contacting an offending party will be constructive, and I wouldn't have blamed you for deciding not to. Thank you for sharing with us.