Thursday, February 16, 2006

Race-swapping

The NY Times has a story discussing FX channel's new reality show where a white family wears black makeup, and a black family wears white makeup:
"Black.White.," a six-part documentary that makes its debut on March 8, follows the race-swapping experiment of two families. The white Wurgel-Marcotulli family of Santa Monica, Calif., (along with Rose Bloomfield, the 17-year-old daughter of Carmen Wurgel) and the black Sparkses of Atlanta, including Mr. Sparks's wife, Renee, and 16-year-old Nick, undergo a racial transformation through the magic of sprayed-on color, wigs, contact lenses and other makeup tricks. The whites appear black; the blacks appear white.

The Wurgel-Marcotullis and the Sparkses, as they normally appear


The Wurgel-Marcotullis and the Sparkses, transformed

This obviously follows on John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me experiment in racial crossing over, which I always forget about. I'm surprised there hasn't been a more recent serious attempt to recreate Griffin's experiment. Has Black Like Me been discredited? I wonder why I never heard it discussed during college by my many classmates and friends studying ethnicity and the construction of race.

The show could be better than White Chicks (which I liked), but it can't be as entertaining as Eddie Murphy's hilarious experiment living life as a white man:

[ cut to Eddie, in white makeup and wig, talking to a black Loan Officer ]

Loan Officer: Now, let me get this straight, Mr., ..uh.. Mr. White. You'd like to borrow $50,000 from our bank, but you have no collateral, you have no credit. You don't even have any I.D. Is that correct?

Eddie Murphy: That's right.

Loan Officer: Mr. White, I'm sorry. This is not a charity. This is a business!

White Loan Officer: Uh, Harry, why don't you, uh, take your break now? I'll take care of.. uh.. Mr. White.

Loan Officer: Well.. okay. Thanks, Bob. [ exits ]

White Loan Officer:
[ laughs, then sits ] That was a close one, wasn't it?

Eddie Murphy: It certainly was.

White Loan Officer: We don't have to bother with these formalities, do we, Mr. White?

Eddie Murphy: What a silly Negro!

White Loan Officer: Just take what you want, Mr. White. Pay us back anytime. Or don't. We don't care.