Hairspray Racism

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The theatre world has been littered with racism since the beginning of it’s existence. From minstrel shows to the prevalence of whites performing in black face, the world of theatre hasn’t been too fond of non-whites. Now, in this day and time, passé racism is no longer tolerable. In the world of theater and entertainment, this rule applies. Several modern works have attempted to center around issues of race and how they affect the society. Hairspray is a sixties-era musical that deals with discrimination based on race and weight. The intended message of the musical is the demand for people of all types to be allowed to live as they wish. The route that the musical goes to represent this message is questionable. The cast members of Hairspray…show more content…
On one hand, Hairspray preaches equality. On the other hand, Hairspray preaches stereotypes. Matthew Delmont proposes that “the history of race in America is an issue of attitudes not policies.”. During Hairspray’s time of setting, blacks were starting the civil rights movement living by Jim Crow Laws. Blacks and whites weren’t allowed to share the same amenities. They were separated in schools, restaurants, trains, hospitals, and more. Furthermore, black Americans were denied access to beaches, swimming pools, parks, picnic areas and hospitals. The version of 1960s Baltimore portrayed in Hairspray tries to make is seem like people are too busy dancing and singing to notice racism. The movie only portrays racism in one character, Velma Von Tussle. This allows other white characters to become innocent bystanders to the discrimination faced by the black characters. This suggests a way of understanding race, by allowing viewers to disown racism without acknowledging the actual structures of discrimination. Racism is sugar-coated in the film to be the belief that blacks, and whites should live in separate places. This kind of framing suggests that the best way to address racism is to stop calling and accusing people of being racists. In the movie, Tracy Turnblad can understand the troubles of being black because she is an overweight white teenager. She has a real…show more content…
However, it completely shielding the viewers of the uncomfortableness of the more difficult times. The movie focuses mostly on the white lead character’s point of view, and completely ignores the social and economic factors of 1960s racism. Racism in 2018 is much different from racism in 1960. Possibly this is because media, race, and labels will continue to operate so that white people can continue to maintain stability. Racialization proves to be an issue in Hairspray. Upon being condemned to detention, Tracy realizes that the detention is mostly full of black people. This act not only associates black people with violence, but it also makes the audience assume that all punishable crimes are committed by black people. Additionally, Tracy’s mother tries to persuade her to march with the blacks because of how the society will view them. Racialization can produce a hierarchical plan. This plan may become controlled and overall limits a particular race. According to July April, having a white lead role speak on behalf of black people portrays the dominant ideology that white people are above black people. Class, gender and ability all play a part in race operations and how race is represented. Additionally, the faintness of whiteness in terms of racial position gives indication that whites are non-raced people. In conclusion, Hairspray’s goal was to showcase black and white segregation in the 60s, but
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