Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We are Respectable Negroes Mourns for You: Actor Heath Ledger Found Dead

Heath Ledger was one hell of a gay cowboy. He was ready to shine again as The Joker, but now we will only have those fond memories. Hopefully, Heath will find the peace in death that he could not find in life.

from msnbc.com:

Heath Ledger found dead in NYC apartment

28-year-old actor was nominated for Oscar for ‘Brokeback Mountain’

NEW YORK - A New York Police Department spokesman says the actor Heath Ledger has been found dead at a downtown Manhattan residence.

According to TMZ.com, Ledger, 28, was found dead in his bed in one of his residences in Soho by his housekeeper at 3:35 p.m. ET Tuesday.

The actor has a two-year-old daughter with former fiancee Michelle Williams. Ledger was set to play the Joker in the upcoming Batman film "The Dark Knight." He received an Academy Award nomination for his work in "Brokeback Mountain."


gordon gartrelle said...

Could it be that appearing in "Monster's Ball," that racist piece of...Oscar-bait, cursed Ledger and the rest of the cast? Check out the rest of those involved:

Director Marc Forster--everything he's done since MB has done doo doo at the box office. Controversy over "Kite Runner"'s rape scene--The child actors did not want to be ostracized because of their on screen victimization.

Halle--still rich and fine, but now her movies are box office poison. Plus, she is about to birth a tragic quadroon who will probably have more identity issues than his/her mother does.

Billy Bob--Lost Jolie at her public freakiest, completely oblivious to the fact that his music is as bad as that of Bruce Willis, Russell Crowe, Kevin Bacon, Jared Leto.

Mos Def--no longer a viable music artist. Starred in a string of terrible movies. Sued for a fortune in child support. His belief in crackpot conspiracy theories revealed him to be not as bright as he once appeared to be.

Puff--No longer viable as a music star, New legal problems (he just can't go that long without smackin somebody upside the coconut). Middling reviews of his Broadway turn. His choppers still prevent him from closing his mouth. Sued for a fortune in child support. Running out of ways to profit off of Biggie's corpse.

Peter Boyle: Dead. He was only 71!

deva said...

Just FYI, Ledger finished filming The Dark Knight so they'll be one more star turn before his body of work is publicly complete.

And Gordon, I actually think Halle's doing pretty well. She seems really happy. And do quadroons really have identity issues anymore? This kid will be raised rich and protected and will probably be phenotypically ambiguous enough to pass, in any case.

But then I don't understand the whole "tragic mulatto" thing. I know it's a powerful literary troupe, but so is Freudian psychoanalysis and I don't see any evidence for the practical effects of that framework in people's lived experience either.

Dubois already figured out the double consciousness, I would say that this very website is a working out of that phenomenon, I don't see how mixed race folks (at least black and white american) have a special claim on psychological dual-ness. The only position I could see being uniquely effort-filled is one in which the identity and phenotype do not line up, i.e. identify black and appear white or vice versa. But that is a very rare phenomenon. Light-skinned black people are incredibly common and mixed race people are generally regarded in this category. If the big beef of the tragic mulatto is that they want their whiteness acknowledged to such a degree that they are no longer considered black, but instead some intermediate category, like say, colored, then I would say that's not tragic, that's a status grab based on white supremacy and I really have no sympathy and in fact am pretty offended.

Anyway, one of you guys should revisit the "tragic mulatto" phenomenon because you reference it often here. However, it's one of those things I just won't be able to understand without an exegesis.

gordon gartrelle said...

Great idea.

I use "tragic mulatto" facetiously and defended lightskinnededgirla while back. Chauncey and Zora feel differently.

Zora said...


Don't try to pull Chauncey and I into your mess.

I have nothing against people of different races getting together on the basis of shared values and perspectives. Indeed, in an ideal world, this is how it should be. I definitely do not see the children who result from these unions as defacto "tragic mulatto's."

My problem is with people who are invested in proving how white they are, or how non-black they are. They think of being mixed as something new and novel. They resent being regarded as an ordinary negro, even as an ordinary light-skinned negro.

The tragedy of the group is that they have a very narrow, often negative perception of what it means to be black (sometimes b/c they simply haven't had much contact with black america). At the same time, every one sees them as black.

The result is a series of blogs, movements, individuals, etc. arguing essentially "I may look black, but let me tell you why I'm not." A google search will reveal more than you might care to read.

Imagine not believing yourself to be black. Imagine not even seeing black people as attractive, positive beings. Then imagine waking up each morning and seeing a face that everyone in the world recognizes as black. Tell me why this isn't tragic?

deva said...

But Zora, don't A LOT of black people, perhaps especially black women, feel this way, whether they're mixed race or not? Isn't that the whole nature of internalized oppression? I just don't think mixed race people have a corner on this particular psycho-drama. As you say, there is no reason a mixed race person should defacto embrace "tragic mulatto" status. There are plenty of folks, as you and Chauncey noted, who honor their parents cultures and still live in and with the reality that "everyone in the world recognizes [them] as black" and therefore they are prevented from sharing in the wages of whiteness and have to build their identities the same way other people of color do.

It may be cliche, but I really do believe that it is difficult for black people to develop positive self-images period. And many of us struggle with defining ourselves as individuals with good and bad qualities, high, middle and low brow interests, complex political opinions, myriad predilections and talents etc. despite prevailing negative and/or totalizing stereotypes, while still embracing what we know to be unique, vibrant and brilliant about our culture and the range of our people's experiences.

It seems to me the only difference with mixed-race folks who've taken on the tragic mulatto yolk is the notion that they somehow just missed whiteness, while ordinary negroes (who are by the by nearly all technically 'mixed race') didn't have a chance and so shouldn't feel quite as cheated as the so-sad mulatto.

Tough break, I guess, but I really can't bring myself to boo hoo about it. All people of color deal with tough identity stuff -- thems the breaks when you're not born into the unmarked universal category.

Also, I think the fact that the mochachino, cablinasian phenomenon is encouraged by a certain strain of supposedly progressive politics is just terrible. In the same vein as the sympathetic colorblind liberal. A total rejection of the power dynamics and social structures that effect the real world. Total hogwash.

Anyway, that's enough of my soapbox. Thanks for your clarifying remarks.