LeBron is just the latest black man on TV to dress like a woman: It’s an overwhelming trend
by Ashley Naples
LeBron James recently appeared in an ad for Progressive Insurance wearing a wig. The masculine and muscular James with a female hairstyle was meant for comedy, and it did create quite a laugh for those who enjoyed the commercial. LeBron was also surely paid handsomely for his appearance, making some feel that it was a worthy endeavor.
But there are others who are wondering if there is a consistent trend to emasculate the black male in the media. It’s not nearly as often that you find prominent white athletes or celebrities put on television dressed as women. However, among black men, the numbers are a little too high for comfort: Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Charles Barkley, Wesley Snipes and a few others have put on wigs and/or dresses in order to make a mostly white audience laugh at their antics. It may seem like comedy at first, but when you look beneath the surface, you can’t help but feel that there might be an agenda at work.
A rapper, Young Thug, recently appeared in public wearing a dress, and a few other black hip-hop artists have started wearing dresses as part of a fashion statement. Does this mean that black manhood is now dead or that someone is trying to kill it? Has the gay agenda gotten so deep under President Obama that they are pushing black men to embrace homosexuality instead of wanting to love a black woman? There’s nothing wrong with being gay, but if you’re not gay, then why would the media be trying so hard to present black men as homosexuals or cross-dressers instead of men who are attracted to women and want to raise families as traditional fathers?
Besides Mrs. Doubtfire (played by Robin Williams) and Tootsie (Dustin Hoffman), there aren’t many examples of white men being portrayed as women or cross-dressers. Adam Sandler dressed as a woman for a recent movie also (Jack & Jill). But most of these images were from the 1980s, so you have to go back nearly 30 years to find that many examples.
But with every passing year, it seems that another black man is being asked to put on a dress in order to make money. In fact, with black men being only about 6 – 7% of the US population, it’s astonishing to see how regularly they are selected for roles that involve them playing the opposite gender.
Dave Chappelle said that part of the reason that he left Hollywood is because he refused to emasculate himself by putting on women’s clothing. But when Chappelle stepped to the side, there were plenty of hungry actors ready to take over his position in the industry. We’d be lying if we didn’t say that some of these men might be secretly gay, so wearing a woman’s dress may not be a huge stretch. But black men are also disappearing from the family and ending up in the streets, and these trends could be a part of the dissolution of the African American family. Strong father figures like James Evans from Good Times or even Heathcliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show are out of style and being replaced with something that we’ve never seen before.
With the spike in black male prison populations since the 1980s, there is a connected increase in the numbers of black men on the downlow. After being in prison and away from women for so long, some men are turning toward other men in order to find physical love. This is part of a public health crisis, where these men with little access to healthcare may end up catching STDs and infecting women.
One theory is that the physical domiation and sexual prowess of the black male has always been seen as frightening and threatening to powerful white males. So, they are either attracted to that prowess, or want to deflate it the same way you might neuter a dog so he doesn’t have babies anymore. When you put a scary black man in a dress, he becomes friendly and safe, like the Eunich on the plantation that you can now allow to babysit your kids.
George Washington Carver got along with quite a few whites and was trusted around their children because he was castrated as a young boy. By zapping out the sexuality of young black male, it makes some people feel that he is now safe for consumption. This has happened since black people were brought over on slave ships, and strong black maleness has long been seen as something that has to be contained or eliminated.
Some analysts, such as BOSS Sports writer John Hennry Harris, have seen this trend as one of concern. He asks the BOSSes on our Facebook fan page whether LeBron’s wig-wearing performance is part of a longer historical trend. Sure, he’s going to make some money, but how much money is enough? Doesn’t LeBron have enough money, or must he do anything that he’s told to do to make another buck? Maybe it is the strong love of money from an impoverished community which leads so many black men to be ready to put on a dress in order to buy a bigger house or a nicer car. Do any of these actors take a second to realize that black men are the ONLY group of people being asked to dress like women on such a regular basis?
What is it about the black man’s strength that makes society want to water it down with the powerful contrast of a dress, lipstick and a wig? Who are the people behind the scenes asking these black men to dress like women and why are they agreeing to do so? If black people were the ones making these films, would they choose to put our men into dresses or would we choose a different image for ourselves? If this is what these men are doing on screen in order to find success, what kinds of compromises are they having to make behind the scenes?
There is a lot of conversation among educated and intelligent black women seeking marriable men who are deeply frustrated by the lack of presence of strong men in the black community. In cities like Atlanta, it seems that every other black man is either gay, incarcerated or chasing a white woman. This can make black women angry to see the best of their men turned into women right before their very eyes. Then, all they have left is to imitate Kerry Washington on Scandal or Viola Davis or many of the black women in media being encouraged to see white men as their dating solution.
What’s the common theme? Breaking up the black family: Black men don’t want black women, and black women don’t want black men. Maybe this is not an accident.
There is an overwhelming entertainment history in America of black people being used for entertainment of whites. The black male actor is not usually seen as a diverse creature capable of playing many types of roles. He is sometime typecast as the buffoon or the clown on screen, only given access to positions that are one dimensional. The number of roles available to a black man usually consist of playing the part of the brutish tough guy from the hood, the silly clown that makes everyone laugh, or the big, strong athlete that leaves the audience marveling at his physical prowess.
All of the images just described become that much more loveable and laughable when that man puts on a dress. Picture the tough guy wearing a dress, it’s an hilarious contrast. The funny guy wearing the dress is just another Kevin Hart, Jamie Foxx or Martin Lawrence. The athlete wearing the dress is LeBron James or Charles Barkley all over again. There is a formula at work, and it’s one that has become pretty consistent.
You might even want to compare this to the old school minstrel shows, where whites would dress themselves in blackface to pretend to be black men behaving in a silly way. When you look at the big picture, black men have never really been taken seriously on the big screen. Black audiences are more likely to be fed a comedy from Hollywood than a serious or thoughtful drama. Black men have either been seen as a threat or been seen as a joke. You can look at the minstrel show below to see an example. Tell us what you think.
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