Viola Davis

Diary of a Mad Black White Woman – Hair Quiz

Dear Diary,

I know, I know, you’re already chastising me for ignoring the goals I so painstakingly wrote out in you just a few short weeks ago.

Nothing personal, I just gave it a thought and decided that I should try “loving myself as I am” for a while. And by “loving myself as I am,” I mean “I don’t want to get up an hour earlier every day, so maybe we just let these pants out; and am I really going to open up my Rosetta Stone Finnish every day? Isn’t that what google translate is for?”

raw

But there is one thing that I feel I have no choice but to commit to.

I changed up my hair recently and it has really captured the imagination of my friends. And coworkers. And absolutely and complete strangers. And TSA agents.

And I have heard their cries.

Normally, the hair conversation goes kind of like this:

THEM: Did you…. Change your hair?

ME: I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the roar of this kettle. Shall I make you a cuppa, or do you have time for a proper brew?

And then we usually move on.

This time, for some reason, it’s been different:

THEM: You changed your hair!

ME: I’m sorry, I was re-watching my favorite dressage clips and couldn’t hear you over the beautiful tinkling hooves. Which do you prefer, a counter canter or a flying lead change.

THEM: Okay. I have to know…

ME: Well, the difference is simple. A counter canter–

THEM: So, this one… is it real?

ME: It’s pretty unbelievable to watch a steed take to the air like that, but yes, it’s very real.

THEM: I mean your hair. Is it real?

ME: Well, you can see it, so it’s not imaginary.

THEM: But is it like… yours?

ME: Well, as far as I know, no one’s coming to arrest me for theft.

It’s about now that the conversation tends to shift to anything else. Often because this is also when I start setting things on fire as a distraction.

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But now, even above the roaring flames, folks just keep going.

THEM: Okay, but like… I’m dying to know. Beyoncé’s hair. Is that real?

ME: I don’t know Beyoncé.

THEM: And like Viola Davis… I know she took off her wig in that one episode, but what about the like the Golden Globes… is that her hair?

ME: I also don’t know Viola Davis.

THEM: Yeah, but like.. .what do you think?

ME: …

THEM: …

ME: I think that I prefer the counter canter. It’s not a rated move per se, but it’s very necessary.

I’m not sure what has increased everyone’s attention to this detail, but I will do my Oreo duty to smile, nod, and do what I can. To that end, I have created the following quiz that I will be handing out to friends next time they ask about the hair of people I know nothing about. Will let you know how everyone scores next week.  xoxoxo

 

 

How Well Do You Know Hair?

It’s vitally important to know if a black lady’s hair is growing out of her head, or if it’s just attached there by magic and white tears. It’s also sometimes hard to tell what’s going on up there. So why not test your follicle strength with this very easy quiz.

Look at each photo, then choose the answer below it that you think is the best way to answer this conundrum. 

 

 

 

A. Real
B. Fake
C. I don’t know
D. I don’t care
E. Wait, what? Why does anyone care?

 

 

 

A. Real
B. Fake
C. I don’t know
D. I don’t care
E. Seriously, I’m not sure how this matters much at all.

 

 

 

 

 

(source)

(source)

 

A. Real
B. Fake
C. I don’t know
D. I don’t care
E. Honestly, this woman works incredibly hard smashing barriers left and right, do we really need to reduce her down to what her hair is forced to look like for the sake of being camera ready.

 

 

 

 

 

A. Real
B. Fake
C. I don’t know
D. I don’t care
E. Are your teeth real? What about your chin and nose bridge?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A. Real
B. Fake
C. I don’t know
D. I don’t care
E. What? It’s just a question.

 

 

ANSWERS!

If you answered mostly:

As, Bs, or Cs,  – congratulations, your guess is as good as mine.

If you answered mostly Ds – congratulations, your sentiment is the same as mine!

If you answered mostly Es – you might want to make some time for a proper brew and a think.

 

 

BONUS!

Another fun hair conversation I had this week:

HIM: Look at this picture of David Beckham

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ME: I mean, I’m not complaining about this, but why are we looking at pictures of David Beckham? This is our office. 

HIM: What do you call this hair style?

ME: Cornrows.

HIM: No, that’s not it.

HIM: Yes, it is. Those are cornrows.

HIM: But he’s white.

ME: …

HIM: It’s not cornrows if they’re white, right?

ME: (cheerfully finds match)

 

Also, diary, “test your follicle strength.” I might be more proud of that than of anything I have ever done.

 

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If I met you for the first time at a dinner party, what am I most likely to ask you? Let us know in the comments! 

Still confused about how hair works, check out these handy guides!

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For Mor-eo Oreo: Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)

Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!
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The Help Wins! 6 Reasons I’m Totes Thrilled

I was worried last year. I had pretty much exhausted the canon of movies that remind me how awful it is to be an RBP. I had gone through Tyler Perry’s joints. I had taken copious notes on how people of color were relegated to the tiniest of roles in regular movies. I read up on Lucas’s problems with Red Tails. But Oreos require constant inspiration and I was running low.

And then tonight’s SAG Awards happened. And The Help won Best Picture.

Here are 6 reasons why it’s beyond baller that it did.

1. Keeping the genre alive. Look, there’s only so much room in the canon for “thrillers” or “comedies” or “silent films.” We need to constantly push the envelope. At this time, we have amazing technology that can take us to far away worlds or put a new spin on old techniques…. But both of those things take quite a bit of work and challenge filmmakers as well as audiences. Much better to bask in nostalgia, both in the look and mentality of the films we choose to make and laud.

2.  Wildly inconsistent stakes distract from period horrors. So, the RBP ladies in this movie need Skeeter because it’s too risky for them to speak up for themselves. If they do, they’ll get fired, or worse. So it makes total sense then, that Minnie bakes her own shit into a pie and gives it to a white lady. Because if it’s such a terrifying time that black people can be killed for looking twice at a white person, I’m sure they’ll be perfectly safe by giving their former employers a Hep strain.

Because the film doesn’t make it clear how dangerous a time it was, it lets us know that it probably wasn’t all ~that~ bad in the end. I mean, there was room for shit pie.

How did she even know how to properly season a poop in a pie in the first place?

3. Totally reasonable reason for firing someone turns into abhorrent reason to fire someone and thus makes the fired seem a bit petty at the end of the day. So, in addition to emotionally molesting her friends for their stories that she’s going to publish, Skeeter also spends a great deal of time pestering her mother to tell her what happened to the mammy she grew up with. With a tearful story, her mom finally tells her.

Turns out, Skeeter’s mammy was like 174 years old and couldn’t properly serve meals anymore. Also, during a very important meeting, the mammy’s daughter bursts into the room and interrupts. This is the equivalent of me following my company’s CEO to a business lunch and then sitting down at their table as if our company’s CEO has any idea who I am.

What Skeeter’s mammy did was a perfectly reasonable firing offense. And so, again, it reminds us that things weren’t really all that bad back in the ol’ Jim Crow days, so seriously, what is everyone complaining about??

4. Reminder that it doesn’t matter if you were beaten to shit by the cops and your kids can’t go to college–if your friend gets a book deal, it’s all worth it! One of the maids, Yule May, steals a ring to help pay for her sons to go to college. This is a crime. For the infraction, she’s beaten half to death by a couple of white cops.

The next time we see Yule May, we don’t see her broken bones or bruised face from being the victim of very unreasonable search and seizure. Instead, we see her yukking it up in jail, reading Skeeter’s book. There’s no more mention of her poor sons who now can’t get an education, nor do we see how exactly her bones managed to knit after two grown men used the full force of their physicality on her. This, like with point 3, reminds us that things surely couldn’t have been all too terrible, so why can’t we all just get along now!

5. If something’s shot on celluloid or shown in a theater and doesn’t feature a black woman saying “I love me some fried chicken,” then I don’t think that thing can properly call itself a film.

Here’s some more fun with The Help. This piece wasn’t nominated for Best Short Subject Film, I’ll never know. I’m sure we can all agree that it was a snub!

6. Okay, fine. Viola is pretty amazeballsingly gorgeous. As discussed before, self-loathing makes the Oreo go ’round and I was running low. Now I get to be bummed out not only about being black, but about my complete inability to achieve this kind of statuesqueness.
What do you think? Did The Help deserve the award? Do you want it to get an Oscar, too? What do you think should get the gold this year? Let us know in the comments! 
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For Mor-eo! Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!

Helping The Help: An FAQ for White People to the Rescue Movies

The race-tastic period drama The Help opened this week and is on its way toward cementing what has been an unofficial film genre for years: The “White People to the Rescue” movie.

Besties.

(I did try coming up with a better name for this class of film, but nothing really worked… “Benevolent Colonialist” “Minorities Really Need Help” “Period Film that Obliterates the Agency of People of Color.” Suggestions are welcome).

The Help joins films like The Blind Side, Radio, The Soloist, Avatar, Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, Finding Forrester, Hancock, Wildcats, The Gridiron Gang, Friday Night Lights and even Transformers 2 (in that movie, the black Autobots were the only ones in the species who couldn’t f*cking read) to remind us how crappy being of color is and how those unlucky enough to not sunburn really need someone of Irish/Welsh/Polish/freckled descent to save them from that fate.

All movie genres have specific rules that must be followed. Westerns must be leisurely paced and take place in wide open spaces. Thrillers must misdirect. The Saw and Hostel movies must make you uncomfortable, not because of what’s on screen, but because someone thought up that shit in the first place. Comedies must feature a bunch of douchebags behaving unredeemably, but still getting impossibly hot girls in the process. Chick-flicks must make being a single female look like a fate worse for a character then ending up in the Hostel franchise.

Kill them, monkey. I'll never tell.

White People to the Rescue movies have their own rules, too. So if you’re wondering if what you’re watching is a WPTTR movie or just a thinly-written drama, bring this FAQ along to help you suss it out.

Whoa! There are minorities in titular roles in this film. Dose that make it a WPTTR movie?

Not necessarily. It could be a British movie. Or something Tyler Perry just threw up.

There are black people in the movie, but mostly white people in the audience. Is this a WPTTR movie?

Likely so. Movies that are actually about RBP are scary and intimidating. I’m sure that when BoyzinDaHOoD (that’s how you spell it, right?) came out, there were drive-bys in the theater. White people have learned to stay away.

Wait, I thought WPTTR movies were about black people?

Incorrect. Black people (or Native Americans or the Na’vi or Latino kids who just want to DANCE!) in WPTTR movies are really just foils for non-colored protagonists.

Not those kinds of foils. But man, I would love to watch a good fencing movie!

The Help is about Skeeter figuring out how to become a famous writer by making black ladies very uncomfortable (but it’s for their own good!!). Avatar is about Sam Worthington turning out to be a better Na’vi than all the other Na’vi. But we need to see the Na’vi so that we understand how deficient they are at being what they are. Dances With Wolves is about Kevin Costner getting a sweet Native muffin basket because he’s just way cooler than her boring-ass Sioux family and friends who didn’t try to genocide her people. The Blind Side is about Sandra Bullock learning that she is as awesome as she thought she was because she forced a kid who didn’t have a natural proclivity for football into being an NFL star while making him neglect developing other academic skills that might serve him well when his body explodes from weekly poundings.

That last sentence sounded kind of sexual. “Weekly poundings?” Did you really mean to say that?

 Look, I just ate two donuts. I’m a little distracted by the high of the sugar rush and the guilt of gluttony.

Two donuts? Did you really need both of them?

Yes.

The villain in this movie seems layered. Is this a WPTTR movie?

No. While audiences often enjoy a challenging bad guy who seems like they actually have a point to make, that is not the case in WPTTR movies. These movies often deal with very icky themes like racism and colonialism and those are uncomfortable. So the villain has to be created in such a way as to make it seem like those things don’t happen anymore. Their racism has to be blind, bold and violent.

In The Help, for example, bad-girl Hilly sounds stupid and mean when she suggests that black people have different diseases than whites and that’s why they need separate but equal bathrooms. And she is beyond cruel when she smiles after seeing a black lady get beaten with great big sticks.  Also, she needlessly says variations on the n-word as awkwardly as possible.

“Great big sticks?”

Not an innuendo.

Why shortchange audiences from having interesting villains?

Because if racism looks like how it does in these movies, then obviously, no one is racist or even prejudiced at all even a little bit. No reasonable person is going to cop to relating to the baddies in these movies.

If the racism in these movies were subtle or obscured by policy, semantics or tradition as crazy commie liberals say that it is in real life, it might cause audiences to wonder if their prejudices are worth examining. And no one wants to pay $14 to feel guilty about something. These donuts, par example, were free.

Goodness! The herorine/hero in this movie is a real hottie/sweet piece of man-ass! And they seem to be going on an emotional arc where they learn to be a better person. Is this a WPTTR movie?

 No. Though one of the basic tenants of screenwriting is that your protagonist must…protagonate (ie. learn something and change because of it) over the course of the story, they MUST NOT DO THIS in a WPTTR movie. In The Help, Skeeter starts off headstrong, confident and not racist. And she ends…headstrong, confident and not racist.

Likewise, main characters usually have to overcome one of their own issues and have some sort of comeuppance in order to protagonate in the first place. This bit of storytelling is also often omitted in WPTTR movies.

The Help isn’t a story about a woman who believes life to be hunky dory and finds out that it isn’t. She is from the start, not thrilled with the stifling traditions her town is steeped in, so no change there.

This isn’t a story about a woman who thinks she’s being appropriate but learns she’s mean. From go, she’s very nice to her friends maids and remains so throughout the movie.

This isn’t a movie about a woman who’s afraid of something and faces her fear. As soon as we see Skeeter, she’s not afraid to ask for a job, a high-level writing assignment or to blow off a potential boyfriend.

What did you say?!?!?

“Off!” I said “blow OFF” her potential boyfriend.

My bad, I was really distracted. That donut business sounded like a good idea. I’m on my third.

Did you really need three?

Yes.

Fair enough.

Om nom nom. What were you saying about Skeeter?

Right! She suffers no consequences for putting the maids in an awkward situation and doesn’t actually grow or change as a person because she is for all intents and purposes, an already awesome person.

Looks good, doesn't it?

Okay, fine, but surely that doesn’t happen in The Blind Side, Dangerous Minds, Avatar or Dances with Wolves?

Sandy B. is headstrong, confident and not racist. And she ends…headstrong, confident and not racist.

Michelle Pfeiffer is headstrong, confident and not racist. And she ends…headstrong, confident and not racist.

Sam Worthington starts out giving a shit about the Na’vi and ends the movie still giving a shit about the Na’vi, only now he’s better than all of them.

You didn’t mention DWW.

I know, I think we get the point.

Hmmm, what about the good looking part? You forgot about that.

Oh right!

All of this spectacular sense of self is wrapped up in an attractive, but not tooooooo attractive package so that no one is intimidated by her looks. While Emma Stone, Sandra Bullock and Michelle “MS Word will correct the spelling of my last name for you” Pfeiffer are lovely, they are not treated like the untouchably gorgeous heroines of other movies. So they seem like everyday folk. Which makes ladies feel like they could be those ladies and dudes feel like they’d actually have a chance. Audiences like to feel good about themselves.

Is it weird that I think Ben Stiller is one of the sexiest men in Hollywood?

No. Not at all. And I will fight you to the death for him.

I want to eat his face off.

This movie has white people, but also a protagonist of color. Is it a WPTTR movie?

No. Having a main character of color will basically turn a nice period piece into a Tyler Perry joint.

Wait, you’ve spoken pretty completely about some specific deets in The Help. Did you…actually go watch it?

Of course!!! Regular viewing of WPTTR movies reminds Oreos why we try so hard to escape our dark fate. I can’t wait for the Criterion edition!

Have you seen The Help? Did you read the book? Are you going to? Let us know what you think of the film, the genre, the handsome Mr. Stiller or anything else in the comments!

Being historically black isn’t all bad, of course. Be sure to check out 8 Other Awesome Things about Slavery!

And just for poops and giggles, get the hit song White People to the Rescue! stuck in your head! Sing it at the office. Everyone will love it!

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For Mor-eo Oreo: Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!