Scandals of Classic Hollywood….Then and Now

Dandridge suffered so that others wouldn’t have to. Yet fifty years after her death, when one would hope that all vestiges of discrimination, prejudice, and sexual stereotyping would have dissipated, they’re still alive, however quiet. Think of (mainstream) black female stars. There’s not a lot of them, so this won’t take you long.  Now think about who they’re allowed to be with onscreen, and the discourses about their sexuality off-screen. Whitney Houston could do little more than kiss Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard. Halle Berry was archly criticized for taking a role in which she was hyper-sexualized and can’t open a movie. Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jennifer Hudson, Mon’ique — none of them can get a leading role in a major Hollywood picture, much less a romantic leading role. We may have a black president, but most Americans still don’t know what to do with a black, sexual woman onscreen.

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