“She has acted like a movie star: she looks great, she is grateful, there’s no pictures of her drunk at some party. She’s played her part well.”
It may seem harmless on one level, but the comment is enormously telling. It highlights not only the politics that we are all vaguely aware of when it comes to who does and doesn’t get the Oscar, but the politics of respectability that have, for better or worse, colored so much of Lupita’s attention and success. Because what if Lupita hadn’t played her so-called part so well? What if she had been snapped drunk at a party? What if she wasn’t Ivy-League educated, poised, articulate, calculatedly and well-styled, full of such earnest awe and gratitude? And more importantly, what “part,” exactly, is she expected to play?
Consider last year’s it girl, Jennifer Lawrence. Much of Lawrence’s charm, what has seemingly endeared her to fans and voters alike, is the fact that she’s beautiful but brash, clumsy, outspoken, quick to drop an f-bomb or flip the bird, and unapologetic about her love of sports and junk food. If Lupita had exhibited those characteristics, if she were less poised and less stylishly presented, would she garner the same appreciation that she’s been getting? Would she still have won the Oscar? The ideal answer would be “Yes, of course.” But the thing about the ideal anything is that it doesn’t always reflect reality.
Earlier this week, there was a controversial cartoon released depicting a little black girl with posters of Lupita plastered across her bedroom wall, while posters of Nicki Minaj are stuffed into her trash can. By denigrating Minaj and putting Lupita on a pedestal of exemplary black womanhood, the artist, and those who share the sentiments of the cartoon, do not only Minaj but Lupita a disservice.
Full article at http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/the-respectability-politics-of-lupita-nyongo