Actress Aline Moraes: made up as black woman (left) and as herself
With the recent controversy surrounding tennis player Caroline Wozniacki stuffing her top and skirt to impersonate tennis champion Serena Williams (coincidentally in Brazil), I thought I would revisit another recent incident involving a white woman imitating a black woman. On the November 29th episode of Brazil’s Globo TV program Como aproveitar o fim do mundo (How to take advantage of the end of the world), actress Aline Moraes’s character Kátia artificially darkens her skin and dons an afro wig to “become” a black woman. Why? In Globo’s own take on the end of the world craze, Kátia wants do everything she hadn’t managed to do in her life up to that point including fixing the errors. So what does this have to do with looking like a black woman? Check out how the blog called Belezas Negras explained it in a post called “Black Face e o fim do mundo na TV Globo (Blackface and the end of the world on Globo TV)”:
“Globo TV tries to spread the in-vogue belief in the end of the world on the cabalistic day of 12/21/2012, a touch of anticipated spectacle on the couch.
“In its parody of the end of the world on TV, the series Como aproveitar o fim do mundo (How to take advantage of the end of the world) presents an episode in which a white actress, Aline Moraes, is made up as a black woman in order to accomplish one of her “last desires”: to fuck a black man. I used the word “fuck” because I find it more consistent with the final moment in time, straight up with no sweetener or false morality! After all, she only has a short time to accomplish the act.
“In the minds of the authors, by the fictional scene they created, this is one of those things that they believe some white women want at the last minute. The critical conclusion that they ultimately reached is consistent with the policy and standard imagery that Globo TV and its clan of writers commonly produce and exhibit through racist stereotypes offered to the public as entertainment.”
And this is how the news was reported on Globo’s website
Actress Alinne Moraes appears as a black woman with an afro on Globo TV series
Do you recognize the girl in the photo above? It is Aline Moraes characterized for the TV program Como aproveitar o fim do mundo (How to take advantage of the end of the world). In the episode, Kátia, her character in the Alexandre Machado and Fernanda Young–written series, remembers that one of the main items on her list of last wishes is to sleep with a black man and an oriental man. To do this, she needs to adapt herself to the taste of the candidate who she will try to take to bed.
To take on this appearance, Aline spent 40 minutes being made up and coiffed before going on stage. The make-up team of the series used long-lasting makeup as the base for her to have dark skin along with a wig.
“The idea was to give her with an air of the mid-70s”, explains Simone Batata about the characterization on the show. “Only that the strands of the wig were straight and we needed to give it curls. Then we had to unravel it strand by strand to create this ‘afro’ effect. It came out exactly like we wanted.”
Here’s a short clip of the scene from the show
Aline Moraes in Como Aproveitar o Fim do Mundo (Skip to 2:16)
So what do think of this? Do you see it as racist? Disrespectful? Just plain silly? My thing is this, I never like to see anything remotely reminiscent of old blackface caricatures that served as a means of dehumanizing black people in the 19th and 20th centuries. This imitation of a black woman doesn’t come across as dehumanizing or hideous as the old black and white images from the early 20th century, or the more outrageous blackface performances during Brazilian Carnaval and a current controversial TV show, but my question is this: why imitate a black woman in an attempt to have sex with a black man? Interracial relations, love and sex is nothing new, and as we have shown in previous posts, there are plenty of black men in Brazil who would accept a white woman just as she is! Thus, for me, this is just plain silly. The other problem is, as we have discussed in a few previous posts, it again plays on the fetish of interracial sex as well as stereotypical images of black male sexuality.
On the other hand, this subtle display of blackface doesn’t let Brazilian TV networks off the hook. In the past 40 years or so, Brazilian television has shown that it has no problem painting white faces black for the sake of humor. And many of the other blackface performances are just as ghoulish as those from the old Al Jolson era. Below are just a few videos of blackface performances on Brazilian television over the years.
A Cabana do Pai Tomás: white actor Sérgio Cardoso in blackface and without
In 1969, the Globo TV network aired the novela A Cabana do Pai Tomás, a Brazilian take on the Harriet Beecher Stowe novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. On the program, white actor Sérgio Cardoso’s face and body was painted black, he wore a wig and corks in his nose to emulate a black man. The program provoked protests from artists and intellectuals and gave the impression that there were no black actors available or talented enough to play the part. Below are only a few more of many videos of Brazilian styled blackface.
Grande Otelo and Virgínia Lane in “Boneca de Piche” (1973) – Tv Globo
Xuxa e Grande Otelo – “Boneca de Pixe” (1992)
Desirée Oliveira and Romeu Evaristo, re-do “Boneca de Piche”
Actresses without blackface makeup
Virginia Lane (top left) Xuxa (top right) Desirée Oliveira, Elizabeth Savala, Lady Kate