Friday, March 09, 2007

Scarcity getting scarcer

To the review pages for a brief thought about Norbit, the new comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Eddie Murphy (two for the value of none). I can't comment on how funny the movie is, tho' the notices aren't promising, but it does seem rather to accentuate one of the arts world's greatest problems.

In case you're unfamiliar with the premise of Norbit, Eddie Murphy plays a hen-pecked husband, although given his wife's comical obesity, rhino-pecked is more apt. Murphy also plays the fat, violent, all-round foul wife, quite possibly wearing three fat-suits at once. So far, so-so.

I understand the limitless (limited?) humorous possibilities of Eddie Murphy not only as a woman but as a fat woman. The hilarity is in the unlikeliness.

But isn't this a prime opportunity to give a role to a black woman? There are so few as it is - Dreamgirls being a notable exception - that giving the part of a black woman to someone other than a black woman seems almost perverse. It's not even like giving it to a man undermines the unfortunate stereotype of the overwhelming black woman.

Dreamgirls may not actually be an honourable exception: no-one but black women could play the leads. What we really need is non-gender-specific roles going to some of the talented black women out there. I would never advocate positive discrimination - give the role to the best actor - but surely the best actors include more black people than star at the moment?

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