Saturday, May 2, 2009

Token Flamboyance


In those high school dramas there was always the Token Black Guy. He didn't have much dialogue, but his presence broke up the monotony of white on the eyes. The concept of the Token Black Guy is spoofed in comedies. In horror flicks, he's usually the first one to die, or he's the smart one who doesn't go towards the noise or out into the woods to investigate... but dies anyway.


So apparently Hollywood has done the Token Black Guy thing to death and maybe now they've moved on to the Token Black Gay Guy. Token characters portray stereotypes or are caricatures of the group they represent. What made me want to attempt to put this unstructured observation into words was The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, namely BK. He's described as "flamboyant" - a euphemism for "gay". He's a hairdresser as well. The only other Black gay character that sticks out in my mind is Carter on Spin City. Please let me know of others.
 

The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency is based in Africa. Homophobia exists heavily in Black American culture. Same goes for African culture (re: continental Africa) and derivatives, to the extent that gang rapes are committed against lesbians to "correct" them and gay men are jailed and killed. I want to look at the positive of this situation. A token character is an admission of existence. They are willing to show that gays are born, raised, live, exist in Africa. Yeah, it is a stereotypical character (hopefully one day we'll move past the neck-rolling, hand-on-the-hip gay characters who are hairdressers, waiters or fashion designers) and it's only one show but it's a start - No? 

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