I still haven’t completely recovered from Hollywood’s continued celebration of black degredation – to wit – Mo’Nique securing an Academy Award for playing an emotionally unstable, immoral, and racially regressive nutcase. I don’t care how “good” she may have played the role, it was a step in the wrong direction as it relates to projecting positive and refined images of black women in cinema. I could go on and on about this, but what’s the use? Black folks seem all too grateful for a place at the cinema table. As such, we’ll settle for anything. So there is no point wasting any more time discussing this issue. It’s a lost cause. Instead, I want to turn my attention to the emergence of one, Gabourey Sidibe.
Ever since she popped up on the scene, she has become one of the biggest people (no pun intended) in Hollywood. She’s been on magazine covers, got crazy love from Empiress Winfrey and was recently nominated for (and in some circles, favored to win) an Academy Award for Best Lead Actress. For all intents and purposes, this girl is bad.
I suppose in a way this all makes sense. We have an obsession with the Cinderellas of the world. In fact, had it not been for yet another oh so poignant story about white people saving black people, Gabby probably could’ve pulled off the upset. As lousy as the movie itself was, I have to admit that Sidibe’s performance in Precious was sensational. But will that be enough for her? Will her ability to act actually be enough to make it in this industry? The jury is still out on that one.
Radio shock jock Howard Stern and his crony sidekick Robin Quivers [indirectly and politically incorrectly] brought this question to the surface. Said the Clown Price of Crudeness and his trusty sidekick:
Stern: There’s the most enormous, fat black chick I’ve ever seen. She is enormous. Everyone’s pretending she’s a part of show business, and she’s never going to be in another movie. She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she’s never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?
Quivers: “Everybody’s pretending she’s a part of show business…”
It appears that Mr. Stern and Ms. Quivers have already been proven wrong. In the few short months after Precious, Sidibe has already won acting gigs in both another movie and on a televison show. So there goes that theory. Still, I can’t help but wonder how far off Stern and Quivers were in the long run. Hollywood has an inexorable and abiding devotion to people whom they consider beautiful. And by the definition of beauty the industry follows, there is no way a person like Sidibe can even remotely make the grade. One of her saving graces at this point is her magnetic persona, true. But without the looks, making it in the vaccous, sexualized world of Hollywood for too long is a serious stretch. The business – like it or not – thrives on selling thin, attractive people. Acting talent is incidental. Hello? Megan Fox, anyone? Even people who aren’t necessarily attractive can still land solid acting jobs for no other reason but for being white (or white-ish) and thin (Uma Thurman, Cameron Diaz, and Maggie Gyllenhal all come to mind. But there are plenty more).
Sidibe was very fortunate in getting an Academy Award nomination so early in her career. Doing so virtually ensured a long stint in movies. But if I had to make a prediction, I’d say don’t count on seeing her in a blockbuster, uber-mainstream movie anytime soon. At best, she’ll be in a series of Tyler Perry-esque projects. At worse, she’ll be on Lifetime. As despicable as their comments were about Sidibe – mostly because they were unprovoked – those comments don’t appear to be far off as a social critique.
So what do you think? Less the obvious instance of Sidibe proving them wrong with her recent acting jobs, do you think Stern and Quivers were correct about the lack of validation she’ll receive? Or are they wrong and she’ll become the next Audrey plus a few extra pounds?