All Articles Tagged "passing"
(Pop Matters) — “Life is but a walking shadow,” wrote William Shakespeare inMacbeth. In film studies, we frequently consider the extreme contrast of light and dark, of noirish chiaroscuro designs that were born from the severe German expressionist lines. These are the “shadows” that highlight the pronounced differences between black and white, between coruscation and silhouette, between good and evil. The complex interplay between these two diametrically-opposing forces is one of the most essential technical elements of a film’s design, illuminating, reflecting and projecting the subconscious and highlighting implicit narrative themes in a visual language that aids the spectator’s understanding of the art as they read it. Nowhere is this essential cinematic contrast more apparent than upon the skins of characters in films about passing – a trope in which (usually female, usually biracial African American/Caucasian) pass for white, abandoning their black heritage and otherness to reap the benefits of whiteness. The light is the positive signifier, while the dark is the negative.
Until recently, this particular leitmotif was refracted bluntly in the way race dynamics were depicted in film in general. There were “black” films and “white” films, but rarely did any movie dare to highlight what life was like for any realistic scope of biracial characters who existed in true Jungian shadow-self, caught between these two worlds, standing on a near-literal precipice with one foot in African American experience, the other firmly in majority white culture, confronted with an impossible choice: live in truth as a person of color, be marginalized and treated like dirt, or risk “passing” for white to gain societal advantage.
(The Loop 21) — I love Rashida Jones but, I’ll admit that my familiarity with her acting career is relatively new. I started checking for her circa her guest arc on The Office and now I’m loving her on Parks and Recreation. Plus, her appearance in a movie trailer exponentially increases my interest in a film. The same is true of Maya Rudolph. We’ll get to her in a minute. Recently, after exposing myself as a Rashida fan on Twitter, I wound up engaged in a spirited, constructive discussion about her. It began with my reference to a quote from Jones I’d found via Racialicious:
I always wanted to pursue theater and my black cultural identity. In my second year at college, I did the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, and it was so healing. […] I’m lucky because I have so many clashing cultural, racial things going on: black, Jewish, Irish, Portuguese, Cherokee. I can float and be part of any community I want. The thing is, I do identify with being black, and if people don’t identify me that way that’s their issue.