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Mar. 10 2010 - 4:40 pm | 1,412 views | 0 recommendations | 10 comments

Racist confusion around Gabby Sidibe and Precious

gabbysidibe091005_1_250Like many people, I became instantly enchanted with Gabourey Sidibe as soon as I saw her in an interview.  She has a dynamic personality, she’s funny, and she’s an incredible actress.  When Chris Rock inexplicably groped Sidibe at an awards show last week, she responded, “It’s my own fault for being too damn fine.”  I like her so much!

While Sidibe is doing quite well for herself, its unsurprising that she’s being targeted by people fuckheads like Howard Stern.  What is surprising, though, is that people apparently don’t realize she’s an actorWeird, right?  Especially considering she was just nominated for Best Actress at the goddamn Academy Awards?  But people are racist, classist, and just plain idiotic.  I guess people think Sidibe’s portrayal of Precious must have been so good because it was an exact reenactment of her own life.  Sidibe told The Guardian:

“I’ve seriously got people saying to me: ‘Are your children OK now?’ And not just from ordinary people, but from people who’ve been in the movie business 20 or 30 years” (emphasis added).

What the hell is wrong with these people? They seriously think this film was a documentary!  As Alex Jung in RaceWire puts it, this would never happen to a white male actor– no one asked Edward Norton “how his experience in the mental ward was” after Primal Fear.  In fact, I’m pretty sure no one would ask Meryl Streep to cook them something from “Mastering the Art Of French Cooking,” either.

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This appalling behavior isn’t about Sidibe’s youth or her newness to Hollywood– no one believed Haley Joel Osment must have really seen dead people.  It’s about her blackness, certainly, but it’s also about where she’s from.  To presume that all black girls from Harlem must have identical experiences speaks to a profound separation from communities of color and low-income communities.  Precious is a narrative film based on a fictional novel.  The fact that large numbers of people are assuming that because Sidibe is also from Harlem, and therefore must be Precious, illustrates that those people know nothing about Harlem.  These assumptions exoticise Harlem as a mysterious place where everyone must lead dysfunctional, terrible lives.  The fact that Sidibe is a happy, college-educated, well-adjusted actress (who is also black and from Harlem) is, apparently, difficult for some people to grasp.  Sidibe puts it best:

“They try to paint the picture that I was this downtrodden, ugly girl who was unpopular in school and in life, and then I got this role and now I’m awesome,” says the actress. “But the truth is that I’ve been awesome, and then I got this role.”

Yes, Gabourey Sidibe!  You are awesome.  And you embody the attitude that every girl should have, no matter where she’s from.


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  1. collapse expand

    Mr. Knefel,

    I am not disagreeing with your points but I would point out that Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams had people coming up them after Blair Witch Project came out saying “OMG, you are ALIVE? I was sure you were dead. What happened”. Now granted BWP was a pseudo-documentary but still, some just do not grasp the concept. Like all of the teenage girls who wanted to move in with the Brady Bunch.

  2. collapse expand

    Molly…perhaps you should not jump to racist conclusions. Maybe the film is so good that some people do think it’s a documentary.

    Maybe the film was that good. Maybe the performances were that compelling.

    It sure is easy to call people idiots and moronic when you assume racism is involved. Easy to feel superior in one’s views as well.

    Plenty of less capable films had people thinking a scripted piece was, in fact, a documentary.

    Perhaps it’s better to praise the performers than it is to ridicule those who may have believed the performances.

    Then again, I may just be an idiot.

  3. collapse expand

    So you were listening to Howard and he said something that offended you? Ms Sidibe does seem to handle herself well. I think it will be hard for her to find a followup role. I have not seen “Precious” but I probably will. When I first saw “My Left Foot” I couldn’t believe they had found someone who was paralyzed who could act so well!

  4. collapse expand

    Jim–
    Point taken. I do apologize if I was premature in my assumptions. It may be a testament to the quality of the film that people thought it was a doc. But at the same time, the name of the movie was “Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire.” The word “novel” implies fiction. And Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz are in it. There are multiple indicators that the story is fiction, and yet people are still projecting the story of the character Precious onto the actor Sidibe. So I still think it is a bizarre assumption for people to make.
    But thanks very much for the feedback.

  5. collapse expand

    When I was growing up in the 1980’s I observed some of the white girls in my high school started going out with blacks. I was repulsed but didn’t say anything because I knew that this was supposed to be all acceptable now. Most of those girls ruined their lives as a result of their interracial dalliances, and one girl I knew, Sheri Morton of Northampton, ended up with a knife sticking out of her eye.

    Also, in 1997 I followed the Nushawn Williams case, where one black guy infected a dozen young white girls with AIDS in Jamestown, New York.

    So now I have a daughter. I didn’t have a TV in the house, because TV is constant pro-black, race-mixing propaganda that is programming young white girls for death by race-mixing. When we are in a black area, I stop at the pharmacy and show my daughter all the “black hair straightening” and skin lightening products. I show this to my daughter, and the conclusion is obvious — choose White mates, and you get to have natural light skin and naturally straight hair. If you race mix with blacks or browns, your descendants will spend their money at pharmacies trying to look white. Look at a picture of Jennifer Lopez when she was a teenager, compared to now. She has done major plastic surgery/skin lightening/nose jobs/hair straightening/lightening to look as white as possible.

    So I am very glad for the movie Precious, which is the only movie with blacks in it that we’ll ever rent. Precious will shock the hell out of my now young teenaged daughter, so she can see that blacks aren’t “Little Bill” or Disney mulattoes. Blacks are not like us, and we sure as hell don’t want to be like them, or among them. The best path is to stay White, stick with your own kind. Because when a white girl goes black, she don’t come back. Just ask Nicole Brown Simpson . . . oh wait, you can’t. Her black husband sawed her head off.

    http://www.cofcc.org

    • collapse expand

      Jeronimus … just checking … did you happen to notice there is an extremely intelligent gentleman with a Harvard law degree who has lived all over the world, who is also well-liked by dozens of millions of people who is currently running the most powerful nation on earth?

      Stereotypes are based on low sampling rates and a gross lack of education. I’m sorry your teenaged daughter has you as an example in life. I hope she is able to leave your home and realize, on a planet of almost 7 billion people, not everyone looks like you.

      And thankfully very, very few people think and act like you as well.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  6. collapse expand

    Jeronimus,
    Please do not comment on my blog again. This is incredibly hateful, not to mention erroneous, and I want no part of it.

  7. collapse expand

    Molly,
    I was surprised you picked up the racist nature of the comments about “Precious”. Howard Stern is awful and his audience expects such hateful spew from him. However Alex Jung was right, these are people who should KNOW better, calling them out on their discreet racism does not make you superior, just smart. (My surprise comes from my racist belief that white “just don’t understand.”

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    About Me

    I am a stand-up comic and writer living in Brooklyn. I also teach theater and comedy to elementary-school kids in the Bronx. My writing and comedy videos have been featured on the women's comedy website Funny Not Slutty, Punchline Magazine, and EDGE.

    I co-write and co-star in a web series with my brother called John and Molly Get Along, which can be found on Youtube.

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