It would be better if there was a female POC character who was allowed to be soft, but Allura isn't it. Canon is canon.
man, race and media is a really really complicated issue. I wouldn’t say Voltron is doing it right, though to be fair, Allura is allowed to be soft and tough at different points
the discussion I guess me and that other anon are engaged in is…. multifaceted. They want Allura to be a mothering figure (even when it’s confirmed she doesn’t do well with kids), and while ‘Strong Independent Black Woman’ (that doesn’t get to be soft) is very problematic, I would really argue so is ‘The Mammy’ figure. As essays like that and video essays like this and this go over, the mammy is a black female stereotype prominent in western society that is a ‘selfless’ nonthreatening mother/caretaker
soooooo, why is Allura, a young teenage girl that is shown to be a war leader ‘headcanoned’ as motherly?
I’m really not one for discourse, but this is my warning to the Voltron fandom to be very careful about the Momllura trope after evidence for it is gone and the implications behind it have a harmful history
Perrie Edwards on her feelings after winning the X Factor and thinking she was possibly too young for what was ahead for the girls:
Perrie: “I remember we just won and we had been so happy and excited and we were like ‘oh we want to see our families and everything’ and we got whisked away we couldn’t even see our families that much. We got put in the car with our Manager, Anneka, and she sat there and was like “ok girls so…” and bear in mind I was, had I just turned 18 or wasn’t I even 18 yet or whatever? I sat there with you lot and we were all in the car and I sat next to Jes like that [close] and I’m holding her arm cause I’m thinking like ‘this is really happening’. She sat us down and was like ‘ok guys this is your schedule for the week and tomorrow is a 4.00am wake up call for glam and we’re getting you new phones. This is going to be your blackberries…’ and we were like ‘ah ah’ and I remember I just forgot everything. Everything else was a blur. I didn’t listen to a word she said. I got back to my hotel room and I rang my mam crying and I was like ‘mam I’m too young like I’m scared’ and I was like ‘I know that I’ve got the girls and I feel safe with them’ and I felt like, I don’t know why but I felt like Jes was like my little mammy figure at the time, and I was like ‘I can’t do it like everything is happening’ and then after that after the week happened and I realised how much I just loved being around like youse and everything like that I felt more safe. But it’s just like your life ‘boom’ changes.”
43. Oh my, where do we even begin with Cream of Wheat? How do we explain this smiling, reassuring face we see on every trip down the cereal aisle?
In 2015, some may wonder how there could be any issues with this iconic figure. Today, chefs are celebrities, so to us, it may seem a positive thing to see an African American in full chef’s garb assuring us that Cream of Wheat is something we ought to have on our breakfast table.
But there’s another side to the story. It starts in the 1890s, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, an hour’s drive from the Canadian border. A flour mill, seeking to stave off bankruptcy after the Panic of 1893, developed a new product, a breakfast porridge generically known as farina. This “Cream of Wheat” caught on, and by 1897, the company had to move its operations to Minneapolis, the milling powerhouse, to keep up with the demand.
One of the mill’s officers, Emery Mapes (1853-1921), had some commercial art and advertising experience, and had put a face on the product: a chef named “Rastus.” And that’s where things get uncomfortable.
Why “Rastus”? It’s an extremely uncommon name. In the 1870 Census, for instance, there were only 42 in the entire country, and only four of them were identified as black or mulatto. But the name had become intricately linked with African Americans by the conventions of the minstrel show.
The “Rastus” character was happy, simple, and often skating on the wrong side of the law. An 1887 Harper’s Weekly cartoon, for instance, combined a couple stereotypes to create an “Uncle Rastus,” hauled before the judge:
In the early 1900s, “Rastus” had become a movie character as well. In the 1910 comedy “How Rastus Gets His Turkey,” Rastus successfully steals his family’s Thanksgiving turkey, but does so in a clumsy, buffoonish way. Of course, true to the minstrel show tradition, Rastus is played by a white actor in blackface:
Cream of Wheat spent a lot on advertising, and hired well-known artists to create a wide variety of images of Chef Rastus at work. Many might be seen as “slice of life” Americana, and are not inherently offensive, such as this one of the chef at work in his hotel kitchen:
But others played to the demeaning stereotypes of the time. In a particularly shameful 1921 example, Rastus brings his own message, set in ignorant minstrel dialect:
On the face of it, the ad makes no sense. The Chef, in his immaculate cooking wear, is supposed to represent the product’s quality and purity. At the turn of the century, led by the Kelloggs and C.W. Post, cereals were considered to be “health” food, both delicious and wholesome.
So what’s the advantage in having its chief spokesman sound like an imbecile? But such were the contradictions of the Jim Crow/Minstrel Show era. If the Chef had to speak, he couldn’t be shown as speaking as an intelligent, knowledgeable person. That wouldn’t fit the Rastus side of the stereotype.
In this 1916 ad, Rastus’ face appears next to the stereotyped character of the little black kid who’s able to escape the bulldog because he’s eaten his Cream of Wheat, but loses the apples in his pockets, which we’re supposed to assume he’s stolen:
And in this 1929 “A Case of Desertion” ad, we find Cream of Wheat combined with the classic “watermelon” stereotype:
There was also a Mrs. Rastus. I don’t know if she was ever named. She is presented as a “mammy” figure, similar to the Aunt Jemima artwork of the period, complete with bandana and apron. Believe it or not, this is one of the more humane versions:
At one level, then, many Cream of Wheat ads represented this theme of the infantilization of the black population. Before the Civil War, part of pro-slavery propaganda was that the enslaved people were happy. (And many owners would go to extreme lengths to hide whipping and other torture scars that would evidence otherwise). After the Civil War, this turned into the sentimentality of the minstrel shows and the “Brer Rabbit” stories (which also included a Brer Rastus character). The popular media image of African Americans in general, and men in particular, was that they were happy, harmless buffoons who did not need to be taken seriously:
That’s never entirely disappeared. Even in 2013, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson reflected on his relationships with black folks back in the old days, and declared that “they was happy” under Jim Crow.
So what’s the moral of the story? After all, it’s 2015, not 1915, and things have changed. Yet many of us, whether our heritage goes back to Africa or Europe, feel obliged today to specify that #blacklivesmatter precisely because it seems that in some very important ways, our society doesn’t act like they do matter, and we don’t seem to be addressing key issues.
So what about the Cream of Wheat guy in 2015? The ads don’t call him Rastus any more, with all of that baggage, he’s not presented to us as a household servant (see part 2!!), but rather, purely as the Chef, in a day when chefs are heroes. So maybe he’ll survive. And maybe that’s ok,
But it’s good to think about it anyway. In this election cycle, some have tried to write-off such discussions as “political correctness,” which is assumed to be bad. But representation is important. Media depictions and characterizations play a big role in shaping not only the self-image of African Americans but also the image and perceptions of the majority population, i.e., the folks who have to take the lead in shaping the laws that ultimately decide whether black lives matter, or not so much.
If Michonne was white, her and Rick would have BEEN got together. Everyone would rave about how it’s so obvious they like each other, the Media would have obsessed over it and released multiple articles about it all over the place.
But nope, because Michonne is black, some people “just can’t see” anything between her and Rick, they don’t think Michonne even wants to be in any relationship, her and Rick are “just friends” and now that the show added in some random white woman (and a blonde, no less!), people who were in denial get to be smug, people are celebrating the show ‘finally’ getting an attractive woman, and the Media has been focusing only on Jessick since Jessie showed up.
Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, they literally shove the black woman to the background and put her in the dark and make her look plain so that very same white woman can have her spotlight moment and be further forced on viewers who KNEW that Michonne and Rick were becoming more intimate. Black woman is a glorified babysitter Mammy figure who never even gets a damn “Thank You”, but white woman holds a baby for a few moments and gets appreciation and a kiss on the cheek. Black woman literally pushed to the background so the white woman can be glorified. Black woman character dressed to look more unattractive so she won’t be a 'threat’ to the white woman who’s supposed to be more desirable. Have the male lead associate the white woman with good things instead of the black woman who convinced him to go to the safe zone in the first place.
I've always thought that Big Mama from The Fox and the Hound was quite a positive female character, but I have a friend who's convinced that Big Mama is a racial caricature, a maid or a "mammy" figure. Is she right?
I had to watch a few clips and read some analysis in order to answer this- it’s been so long since I last saw this movie that I didn’t even remember her, but I was rather curious to know since I haven’t heard it come up before.
In some respect, you are both right. She is right that the owl uses AAVE (though watered down, as this review describes it). And if there was much doubt I think naming a character “Big Mama” tends to push it more in that direction.
I found an essay that answers your question more thoroughly; I’m going to copy paste below some of what that author has said. I don’t agree with everything he says in it– he comes to the conclusion that “Dumbo” is the least racist out of any of them because it portrays most accurately, and I don’t agree with that, or his opinion that “The Fox and The Hound is an example of racism simply because it so clearly isn’t.” I mean… what? It either is or it isn’t. I understand what he’s trying to say but I mostly agree only with the parts about character that I have highlighted below.
I don’t think you’re necessarily wrong in saying that she’s a positive female character, but I think if you examine the intersection of portrayal as a female (implied, since it’s an owl) black character, then the reality might be more nuanced than just straight up… good or bad. Her implied blackness can’t be divorced from an analysis of her character.
“There is a speaker of AAVE in this film, although the AAVE used is a much more watered down version than I saw in either of the other two films. Big Mama, an owl, is voiced by Pearl Bailey… Big Mama is portrayed positively, almost saintly, as she seems to always be doting on the young fox…
Her “black” speech is watered down, but you can catch a lot of the differences in her speech from the “standard” white speech of Tod, Copper, and Widow Tweed, and the fact that she’s being played by a black voice actress is not lost.
…The point I was going to make about Big Mama is that she seems to be almost too perfect a character. Virtuous in every way, always patient and kind, never angry or sad or selfish (or even aware of any kind of self-interest), always wise and dignified. In fact, she’s not really a character at all, but a cardboard cutout of an angel…
Compared to the other characters voiced by black actors in the other two films, she’s a glittering idol of what portrayals of “black” characters “should be.” A way for an industry previously ridiculed for its treatment of black characters to dodge all criticism and deny all intentions of harm.
Trouble is, this idea is extremely flawed. When, as a filmmaker, you have a black character, and water down their natural speech to make it sound more “standard,” and give them lines that make them smarter than other characters, and portray them in a way you’d never portray a hero or heroine - as a pillar of virtue - your black character never has a chance to become anyone of any importance. A guardian angel, a watchful friend. But not a hero, and most definitely not a villain. This “character” you’ve created has no motivation. He has no will, no heritage, no way to break out of the box you’ve painted him into. He ceases to be a character, after all, and becomes simple scenery.”
-In that last part, I agree with what he’s saying about her not being given motivation of her own etc., and as an intersection of race her stand-in as the helpful elder is mammy-esque, but I totally disagree about other parts of what he’s saying. If you read more of what he says, it almost seems like he doesn’t think a black character (or person) could possibly speak this way or have “smarter” sounding lines like… what?? Black people aren’t a monolith of speech and portrayal.
What's wrong with the way Abbie is portrayed in Sleepy Hollow?
Okay. This is going to be long. I think the more appropriate question is what isn’t wrong with the way Abbie is being portrayed in Sleepy Hollow. Read under the cut because…I’m not kidding. It’s SUPER loong.