- Posted May 15, 2012 by
Rochester, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
A White Woman on Hollywood White Washing
Cultures like individuals evolve. When Europeans first took to the seas on voyages of discovery and were the discoverers and not the discovered, whatever culture they came upon seemed barbaric and of interest. Even when the natives in America taught the colonist survival tactics, the majority no doubt continued to consider their knowledge and ability to attain more less developed.
Today we cast ourselves in roles of members of cultures we formerly regarded as under developed. It is referred to by its critics as “white washing.”
Peter Sellers, the late comic, did brilliant parodies of the “stereotypes” of other cultures. When he did a sketch in which he played a bell hop in room service and played all four characters in the rooms he went to, it added to the comedic effect. One was an Indian, another and Arab, etc. He got their orders mixed up. The smoking pipe for the Indian went to the Arab who when asked if he had it said: "Oh, it is wonderful. I don't have to wonder where is Mecca, Mecca is coming around to me." It was a showcase of one man's "voices" and characters.
A Pakistani has been cast as a white. Award-winning, bi-racial English-Pakistani actor Ben Kingsley played the title role in "GHANDI" has played whites in some films. We can take that. We cannot take the unholy criticism and the threat of others in countries opposed to us that they will wipe us off the map. Respect our culture as we do yours. We have come of age. Witness how Sharia law and Muslims have generally dominated Europe. It has angered whites but still, whites preserved their democratic principles and accorded them the right to practice Sharia in certain cases. What Muslim country would allow English law? A lot can be learned from parody on both sides. Don't let it die. For a Yale lecture on stereotypes see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6OfFaBWtx4
Some cultures put on masks of the gods in their ceremonies. Are the gods annoyed? Hardly. But challenge the godhead, well Job found out what can happen didn't he. "Can you raise leviathan with an hook"? Parody is not a weapon; it is a vehicle for entertainment and instruction.
Of course whites treat each other badly at times (witness the age-old Anglo-French business). In this famous scene, Peter Sellers demonstrates the limits of parodying another language:
Today so-called 3rd world countries are now truly the most powerful - Brazil, India, Russia and China (BRIC) - and even in decline, whites in the US (now almost a minority) are criticized for behaviors that would get a pass if carried out elsewhere.