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Responding to the suggestion that the mask in "The Mask" is a trope for
blackface, Danny O'Brien wrote:
 
>   That's silly!  Why do so many people always want to reduce every symbol
>and every device into a Black/White thing.
>
>   Not everyone is s a racist!
 
 
I have several problems with this.
 
1) I don't find it remotely silly but rather almost entirely convincing;
 
2) Clearly, there's a difference between the sort of analysis that provoked
this response and the 'you're-just-saying-that-becuase-I'm-black' mentality
to which Mr. O'Brien alludes (and which was brilliantly parodied decades ago
when Bill Russell hosted 'Saturday Night Live').  To examine the way a
device works in a dramatic narrative is a far cry from 'reducing' the
complexity of that narrative.
 
3) There's almost nothing racist in Krin Gabbard's critique.  On the
contrary, it demonstrates in a clear, point-by-point fashion the ways in
which various aspects of transformation and power in "The Mask" can be shown
to reflect the same sorts of tensions that exist in our culture between
stereotypes of black and white culture, experience and behavior.  I recall
the first time Krin posted this analysis (very soon after the film debuted,
I believe) and how impressed I was with its clarity, thoroughness and --
perhaps above all else -- calmness, especially with regard to the question
of race (and this during the first OJ trial, yet!).
 
4) To simply deny that the film supports such a reading because "not
everyone is a racist" is criticism of the
'if-you-like-this-sort-of-thing-then-you'll-like-this' stamp.  For me, the
bottom line is the actual film up on the screen can be deployed to support
this reading without stretching credulity one bit.  Which, in effect, is why
I think it's such a swell analysis.
 
5) I love "The Mask," and this reading makes me think even more (not, as I
suspect Mr. O'Brien might be suggesting, less) of it.
 
6) Can't we all get along?  (That's a joke, folks...)
 
 
Holiday Cheers,
 
Shawn Levy
 
 
     Shawn Levy     | "Sympathy isn't what I'm after, I'm basically
                    |  almost happy, God in all His wisdom knows that at heart
 [log in to unmask]  I'm really not complaining...."
 
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