Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Stereotypes Or Just Plain Fun?

To those of you not familiar with it, you must have seen the movie poster below? It's from a recent Eddie Murphy flick "Norbit".
Norbit is a typical Eddie Murphy comedy, with the actor playing several roles. He plays the docile orphan, Norbit. He is also Rasputia, Norbit's obese and domineering wife. He is the elderly, racist Chinese man who runs the orphanage as well.
As frequent movie goers, me and *A* have been consistently confronted with the poster for this movie at our local multi-flick place the past couple of weeks. Neither of us have been comfortable looking at it. Not because its an obese woman in a negligee, but because the character happens to be black.

We wondered about the stereotyping there. Yes, we need to be able to laugh at ourselves, but at what point do we go from doing that to indulging in a typical racial stereotype?
I did wonder about it though, what do African-American women think about this? I figure they ain't pleased. I did get my answer not once but twice. Here are a couple of links (1, 2) to pieces on NPR, that represent the view of black women, and they are not pleased.
From one of the links.
One side of the debate over the plus-size heroines casts them as sisters of the bold and brassy women played by Monique and Queen Latifah. The other sees them as being closer to the "mammy" stereotype that once prevailed in American popular culture.

Also being considered is how the images affect real-live black women who are overweight.

But I also think there are these two amazing women, who serve as strong positive role models. I am proud of what they have achieved through all the difficulties they have faced and overcome, and in my eyes they are simply adorable and beautiful.

Queen Latifah

Jennifer Hudson.

I guess there is no bigger message here, other than to say that there are a lot of good positive role models out there, norbit not withstanding. And no I am not trying to be PC or anything.

Funny.. You folks wanna try and caption this?



Aditi said...

hmm that is interesting thing u noticed there regarding the stereotypes.. btw wasnt tyra in the news recently because of being criticised for gaining weight?
no attempts at captioning..

Mona Buonanotte said...

Caption? Something about breastfeeding? Pigs wearing shoes? Oh, I need more coffee for that one....

deepsat said...

interesting note on the stereotypes!

caption: sleep has no bar!! LOL!!

Mridula said...

Interesting observation Sanjay. I remember being shocked at seeing the amount of food a student of mine had for lunch. No doubt she is stick thin.

Caption? What is a caption :)

Shitrint said...

the first thing I noticed abt that movie poster was that the character was obese and funnily the color came second for me... and i dunno why i am not surprised. maybe becoz i hav seen eddie murphy in the nutty professor and i saw some similarities here and there. but watever it is, i dont think its a very nice portrayal!

how u been pal?

Sanjay said...

@Aditit. Yes, you are gith about Tyra. I actually thought she looked better with some more pounds on her. :)

lol@ no captioning.

@Mona.. I hear ya re coffee.

@Deepsat. lol @cation.

@Mridula. I know what you mean about some ppl who can eat vast amounts and it never shows. I know some one like that. I on the other hand have almost become a frugal eater..lol

@Trinnie, Thank you for your comment. I am ok. And you?

ML said...

Very interersting post, Sanjay. And I agree, those women you listed are adorable and beautiful. They have so much to offer!

As for the caption well here goes:

And this little piggy went to market...

I suck at captions, that's why I always ask other folks to submit them. Great picture!

beenzzz said...

Quwwn Latifa and Jennifer Hudson are great women! I think Norbit is just another "Klumps" movie. After a while, Eddie Murphy is going to have to try something new!

beenzzz said...

Sorry, I mean Queen Latifa, not Quwwn....I need to learn how to type! :)

Sanjay said...

@ML.. thanks. I have a caption in mind, might post it up tomorrow.

@Beenzzz. Thanks, you are right about this act by Eddie Murphy. Don't worry about typos, you haven't seen my typos yet. :)

Asha said...

I heard that Eddie Murphy didn't get Oscar because of Norbit! I love Eddie M,he is a great actor in whatever films he acts.Oscars should be given for their talent ,not judging about the characters they play.
I have never seen big black women cribbing and crying over their weight(wait,except Miss O!).I love their confidence and humor.I happen to think they are all absolutely beautiful,including Norbit's wife.

Mother Love!!:))
Kids are always adorable to their mothers whether they are their own humans or adopted Piglets!HeHe!!

MONA said...

what about Oprah Winfrey! I just Adore her!

Paparazzi said...

Babes in arms. Spot the differences.

Orchid said...

I enjoyed this post because this thought crossed my mind when I saw the Norbit posters too but you said it more beautifully than I could've imagined.......ofcourse black women wouldn't take this lightly, aren't they also the ones compalining about the disrespectful portrayal of women in the hiphop videos ??..it's definitely stereotyping gone too far, i say!
How about "love knows no species" :)

Carrie said...

I think big women are beautiful if they are happy with themselves. It is all about self-image. But I can see where some people wouldn't be offended.

caption:you are just as beautiful as that other baby.

gr said...

Yeah, 'babes in arms' is good, although I was thinking
'Year of the pig means pigs get spoiled'

meno said...

And to think that Eddie Murphy was nominated for an Oscar.

I just don't find that kind of loud humor funny.

Caption: How come her baby is cuter than mine?

starry nights said...

I have been thinking of the Movie also.I think eddie Murphy should stop playing obese women. I think since he is black also not much will be said.
Caption...My baby is talking, has yours started to talk yet?

Intern said...

hmmm well sanjay, big is beautiful YES...
however one should not forget that overweight is often assocaited with a host of health probelms - high BP, heart diseases, shortness of breath ... I think its an issue as serious as bulimia or anorexia.

Oprah Winfrey was extyremely overweight and her struggle with weight has been a source of inspiration with many.

I guess I'm out of line ... you were talking slightly different issues. Plz excuse me here.

Lotus Reads said...

When I looked at the poster of Norbit, the one thing that stood out for me was that the woman (Eddie Murphy) was grotesquely large...I didn't think anything of the colour. I would have been equally shocked had she been white or Asian, I guess.

I suppose it's all plain fun, I don't know. Maybe once I check out the NPR links, I'll feel differently.

Id it is said...

We have gotten so used to stereotypical representation of various things, be it an ethnicity, or even a country that it has stopped bothering us as much; we've been bombarded into numb acceptance, and thus the poster.
Interesting post. It got me thinking of all the media stereotypes that I encounter without getting frazzled.

Shionge said...

That is a pretty neat observation Sanjay but I just hope that it is merely a avenue to earn big time at the box office.

Personally though, it puts me off and I don't like to watch such movie.

Hmmm...about the caption, how's this "Can we swop?"

Have a nice day my friend!

Sai said...

I absolutely love Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson as well!

I am sick and tired of stereotypes and making fun of overweight women. I was very slim all my life but was quite overweight a few years ago. I know first hand how hurtful that can be.

No attempt at captioning...too tired!

Keshi said...

that Norbit poster is everywhere ova here and it cracks me up each time I see it :).

Caption: coochee coo my lil bacon..


Ash said...

As someone who has always had weight issues, I just LOVE this post.

The world needs more people like you!

chandni said...

interesting thought...

but even within India and in our movies...the way we represent sikhs or south indians or parsis is so stereotypical...isnt it!!!

Food for thought definitely

Enyur said...

An interesting read. you're right. These two are only two of the many positive role models out there.

Caption: *sigh* Darn! I knew I should have just had a piggy instead!

Enyur said...

Sanjay - I recall you once left me a comment on my blog asking me if I could enable the RSS feed (?). Just wondering...how do I do that?

Many thanks!

moegirl said...

I agree it seems its okay to be terribly cruel to plus size women. I love Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson.

Fuzzylogic said...

I'm getting bored with these flicks which have become a staple of sorts for Eddie Murphy.Norbit will probably be one movie I wouldn't mind giving a miss.Your observation of stereotyping is so true.Good to see atleast the black women are certainly voicing against this particular portrayl.

chocolteluva said...

hmm missy elliot, i like her too. although she did loose ALOT of weight, but she's still not a stick figure and i love her for that. i love any woman whose comfortable being her size and confident in doing so. im not skinny and according to the indian standards and sometimes my family "i wont find a suitable husband" because of that.
my grandma, everytime she visits she tells me to loose weight cause ID BE SOO PRETTY IF I DID. i guess pretty is skinny, not how i look or anything?

anyways.. interesting observation least to say.

chocolteluva said...

caption: "nurture the pig in you" ..

Viewer said...

Caption: Babies are babies after all, no matter wht species they are..

Cacophoenix said...

It's a stereotype just like every other stereotype I have ever come across. I guess the problem is ppl are so resistant to change that are comfortable putting things in the pegs they have always thought they belonged. (Huh! does that make sense?) I like queen latifah and J.Hud. They are moving away from the superficial to doing hat they are really talented at. That's one reason I am not a big fan of 'o'.

Caption: Mothers thinking "God, How can they look so angelic and still smell so bad!!!"

Donviti said...

you know you are talking about stereotypes and I was watching Deal or No deal of late and I noticed they have really been playing to the stereotypes lately and it is kind of irritating.

they had some greeks breaking plates, had some Italians on their doing their thing,

i digress....good post.

Carrie said...

I hope you are okay.

Anali said...

Great post! I thought about doing one myself, but I was too angry and didn't want to rant. I'll try and restrain myself here, but I am absolutely disgusted with Eddie Murphy. I would never see this movie and I'm glad he did not win the Oscar.

As a black woman, and a brown-skinned black woman at that, it shows me what he thinks of women like me. Not much. I'm not large like that, but I think he has a very bad and stereotypical view of darker skinned black women. Like his current girlfriend, ex-wife, and his love interest in the film, the women that he deems worthy of respect are very light skinned women and very thin, but I think skin color is an issue here.

It is the mammy stereotype all over again and it is very hurtful that a black man especially would choose to do this. Ok, I'll end here.

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