A Good Whitewashing

For the first time a few days ago, I saw the movie I Love You Man starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, where they become friends because Paul Rudd needs male friends and a best man for his upcoming wedding. Rudd’s fiancee is Rashida Jones, an actor who has been making her way on shows like Parks and Recreation and who is also the daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton.

Negro Girls everywhere I thought could rejoice a bit. Here is a colored girl whose color isn’t the point in the movie. The prospect of her not being white isn’t even mentioned. Color blindness I don’t believe in, but color-beside-the-pointness I can get. At the end of the movie, when Rashida Jones heads down the aisle to meet Paul Rudd, she isn’t escorted by her father, but we’ve been told that her father is out of the picture. Yet, no one at all from the family of Jones’s character seems to be there. Besides a black minister, there doesn’t actually appear to be any people of color at the wedding. It made me…uncomfortable. Was there a decision to not even in a minor way nod to the fact that Jones isn’t just another white girl? Does she want it that way? It seems in more roles than just this one that she is stripped of any racial designation. Or maybe producers and directors want it that way? Or maybe, I was making more of this than necessary. Except for the other day.

Jones is in a new series of Dove hair commercials that asks if your hair has a mind of its own and wants women “to make friends with their hair.” Sure. Sounds good. In the commercial that just started running, Jones shows up to lunch with her white girlfriends. Her hair is a mess, bedraggled, bushy, unmanageable. Is her race equally unmanageable in Hollywood? Dove wants to tame her hair, make it lay down in submission and make it no different than the sleek and shiny hair of the white girls across from her at the lunch table. But, she is different. She isn’t just like them in hair or in color. A decision to be homogenous would make getting roles easier, better to not stand out Rashida Jones might think. I would hope it would actually be better for she and every woman of color be incorporated to make a broader spectrum instead of being whitewashed.

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