Hollywood Puts A Thin Mask On Racial Stereotyping

EDT, September 21, 2013 A flurry of excitement and a blur of bright, sequined costumes surrounded Edina McGrath as she stood backstage at the Greater Hollywood YMCA Family Center. Amid trying to get performers lined up and into costume, she could hear the crowd gathering in the next room. “They get here early to get seats,” McGrath said of the audience. “And every year, we have so many great and talented performers.” This is the second year in a row that the YMCA has hosted the Snappy Senior Fun Follies Show, a mini Broadway production. And it’s grown from just an idea into a big undertaking. Performers ranged in age from 60 to 90, and the range of talent was just as wide some sang, some danced and others told jokes. The crowd of more than 300 was well entertained during the two-hour show. McGrath opened the show with her rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” The show also honored America with several patriotic numbers and the presentation of colors, and military veterans were recognized. Other acts including Hollywood’s own Jersey Boys singing “Sherry” and the Sexy Seniors’ performance of “Rock Around the Mop.” Ricardo Ribeiro brought the audience to its feet with his performance of “Climb Every Mountain.” Two years ago, McGrath approached the YMCA’s executive director, Rhonda Ludwig, about putting together a show of senior talent. McGrath, who has more than 10 years experience in the entertainment industry, wanted to get her fellow seniors involved in singing and dancing. “It’s just my desire to show the world that there are still seniors that have talent and want to show it off,” she said. “We find more and more talent each year. It’s such a wonderful experience.” Ludwig said, “I thought this would be something that included like 10 or 15 people, and we could have it on the pool deck.” But like last year’s inaugural show, Ludwig and other YMCA staffers found themselves scrambling to find chairs and enough seats for the guests. “This is a big deal for everyone here in Hollywood,” she said. Proceeds from the show’s ticket sales will benefit the YMCA’s financial assistance programs.

But in the case of fur, the citys zeal to protect animals is running up against its claim as a capital of high fashion. The boulevards in and around the city limits are lined with designer shops, notably Beverly, Melrose and Robertson. While some residents praise the citys socially conscious stand on fur, the ban has angered many business owners. Retailers with multiple locations are busily moving fur products to locations outside West Hollywood. Independent boutiques, like Darel Adams Kin store on Sunset Boulevard, are seeing if suppliers will take back some of the fall fur coats on order. Furs make up a small fraction of Adams collections but are among the most pricey items. The furs are sometimes the most expensive pieces in the collection, so it affects sales dramatically, especially if you sell it at a larger percentage, he said. To cut off someones big-ticket item makes it hard for a business to survive. Darren Gold, chairman of the board of the West Hollywood Design District, said the city has worked hard to establish itself as a premiere fashion destination, attracting a collection of both established luxury brands and independent designers. The ban, he said, is a slap in the face. Its detrimental to our image as a West Coast fashion capital and could prevent fashion houses from choosing West Hollywood, Gold said. The ban on fur apparel was approved in fall 2011, and city officials said they sought input from store owners and residents. During one boisterous seven-hour hearing, hundreds of people many from out of town crowded into council chambers and gave council members a standing ovation after they voted on the issue. West Hollywood is a very progressive community that puts a lot of emphasis on social justice and welfare, Councilman Jeffrey Prang said. People care about the humane treatment of animals. City officials said they know their ban is largely symbolic because fur is widely available just outside the city limits in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. But they hope the law sends a message.

West Hollywood fur ban takes effect Saturday; merchants outraged

It started in 1968 with Peter Sellers painting his face brown (an entirely different issue), donning an Indian accent and uttering birdie num num in the movie The Party. More recently, and more disturbingly, Disneys animated show Phineas and Ferb has an Indian kid named Baljeet. Hes got an accent. And Wikipedia describes Chirag, a character in the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid , as Indo-American. But the film depicts the child with you guessed it an Indian accent. Now, its one thing for adults to have accents. But you dont need a PhD in linguistics to know that children lose their foreign accents very quickly. So what is Hollywood up to with the Indian accents, then? If accent gives us a place, and tells us who were are and where were from, the Indian accent highlights that these brown children, living in our neighbourhoods, arent like us. More than 150 years ago, Indians were very clearly made out to be not like us from the British colonialists point of view. This certainly played into the colonialization of the subcontinent by the British Raj, especially after the failed mutiny of 1857. Arthur Herman , in his fantastic biography Gandhi and Churchill, noted that especially after the mutiny, in British eyes a Hindu, especially one from Bengal or southern India, was not a true man. So it seems that this accent in Hollywood serves two separate functions. First, it separates a visible minority group as not like us, which is a pernicious thing to do in a multicultural society. Furthermore, one cant help but wonder if the separation via accent is an expression of fear fear of Indian (and Chinese) success in the global economy.