Thoroughly Racist ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’

Screenshot of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” from another high school production on youtube.

Thanks to Mia Wenjen for covering this topic so thoroughly on her blog, I Love Newton.

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” was a musical film from 1967.  It included a subplot about a hotel proprietor who dresses in yellowface and two nefarious Chinese henchmen.  It was developed into a musical 33 years later, and the racist subplot remained intact.

I was somewhat surprised that anybody would consider a remake of a dated movie to be a good idea, especially given the racism.  Of course, we’re only too familiar that white people find a great deal of entertainment in racism.  The entertainment value is often used as a defense of racism:  “But it was only meant in good fun!”

If you do a brief web search, you’ll find that “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is a popular choice for high school theatrical groups.  Undoubtedly because it’s so much fun.  Newton North High School chose it for its spring production.  Newton (MA) is predominately (82%) white, with an 11% Asian American population.  And although concerns were voiced before the musical was staged, it proceeded as planned.  Although a note about the “stereotypes” was listed in the program guide, apparently.  On page 49.

It’s been my general experience that when white people are confronted with their racism, they rarely will completely abandon the racist endeavor.  This is because they have too much invested in both the endeavor and the racism.

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If Romney were Latino …

Photo from Univision via democraticunderground

… he wouldn’t feel the need to brown up for the people.

Okay, I have to admit I initially thought no way but it appears that I am actually an optimistic sort who gives people the benefit of a doubt.  Because it sure looks like Romney is wearing bronzer  for his appearance with Univision.  Here’s a brief clip where you can see a closeup of his face.

Have at it in comments.  #IfMittRomneyWereLatino


Charley Gallay/Getty Images for UNICEF

Here’s the caption from the news report:  “Model Heidi Klum and actor Tom Hanks perform during UNICEF Playlist With The A-List at El Rey Theatre on March 15, 2012, in Los Angeles, Calif.”

Note the year does say 2012.


Subtitled: Mama don’t let your babies grow up to use youtube.

So in two separate cases this week, a pair of high school girls recorded and uploaded racist videos to youtube. It’s so confusing that some news articles are reporting on one school but linking the video from the other.

Santaluces High School would not report on any potential disciplinary action for the students.  Gainesville High School reportedly expelled the students.

It’s just a repeat of the same old crap we’ve seen time and time again. Same formula.  Somebody does something racist.  They are then shocked by the response.  Because they thought they were being clever and funny and all.  Because for many people, “humor” depends on the disparagement and dehumanization of other groups. Continue reading

At your own risk

My opinion:  Don’t shop  I noted previously that the online orders are having some sort of fulfillment problem.  A quick peek around the interwebs reveals this isn’t just me.

So here’s my update.  I bought $75+ of books, using $60+ of gift cards.  The partial order shipment took five days for the actual package to show up on the tracking after Borders claimed the package had been shipped.  Up until that point, the online tracking showed only that information had been received from Borders.

I did receive the partial order eventually.  And yesterday I got a gift card refund in the mail.  So I got suspicious and looked at my credit card statement online.  Borders charged my credit card for the whole $15+ that I stupidly charged over the gift card amount.  This despite the fact that it cancelled one of the books.

So instead of just charging my credit card for $2, it sold me another gift card.

Two books are still not here.  Oh, and despite Borders’ notice that these books are backordered, they show up on the website as available and shipping within 24 hours.

Dear Morgan Spurlock

If you had to barf during your documentary, do you think you might have warned me beforehand?  I rarely vomit.  However, seeing or hearing somebody barf is an immediate trigger for me.  When one of my colleagues was pregnant, I lost five pounds.

And for the record, tonight I had just eaten a lovely vegan dinner.  In moderate amounts.  Although I did have a soda.

PS:  Said documentary is available on hulu.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

A Halloween two-fer

At a Children’s Memorial Hospital fundraiser, not one but two guys chose to dress in blackface.  One was Lockport alderman John Robert Krzos. The other guy is apparently lucky enough not to have any kind of fame, because he wasn’t named.

You do have to wonder about all the people at the party and why they didn’t say anything.  Krzos apparently posted his picture in blackface on facebook.  So either nobody said anything to him, or he didn’t listen when they did.

It is somewhat encouraging to see the Tribune has run two articles about blackface in the past two days, especially given its previous vigorous defense of dressing up as Indians.  Although I suspect most people don’t learn their lessons as concepts (making an identity into a costume is unacceptable) but rather as individual bits unrelated to systemic racism (black people are offended by blackface).  Therefore I am still not hopeful that racist concepts and the racist imagination will be recognized.

The annual Halloween post

2007. 20082009.  I don’t have the energy to write the long post every year.  But I write a bunch of short ones.  Use the handy search box and input “Halloween” or “blackface” or “yellowface” and a scad of posts will pop up for your reading pleasure.

In the year 2010, one might hope that one might not have to tell people that they are contributing to systemic racism through their Halloween costumes.  That such costumes play into dehumanization and ridicule of other groups.  That our ethnicities are not something you can try on for fun.

But people still need to be told.  And even when they have been told, they still just don’t get it.  (I’m looking at you, dreadlock crafter!  And don’t think I didn’t notice that you deleted a lot of comments that explained quite clearly just what was wrong with your Halloween costume.)  Continue reading