One day this week, I was causally sitting on the couch catching up on some of my favourite TV shows. An advert for the telecommunications company Virgin Media appeared starring, the record-breaking 100 meter Olympic sprinter, Usain Bolt.
During the course of the advert Bolt is seen playing the roles of a young boy, an elderly man, a baby in a high chair and lastly a woman, pictured above. The scene of Bolt dressed in a brown wig, blue hair-band, and a floral dress caught my attention. One could argue that his head is photo-shopped onto the body of a female. However, this is a concept we see all too often with prominent black males who are in the public eye, namely celebrities.
Looking back into my youth, I remembered where I first noticed this concept. It was a film released in June of 2000. The film featured a FBI agent played by Martin Lawrence, dressing up as a big black woman. A film called Big Momma’s House.
Since then we have seen the emergence of many black males within the entertainment industry, who many look up-to, dressing up as women. Whether they are comedians like Kevin Hart, actors like Tyler Perry or music artists such as ASAP Rocky and Kanye West. Once they reach the pinnacle of their career something happens.
On the 3rd of February 2006, Dave Chappelle was a host on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Dave was explaining his reasons behind his unexpected departure to Africa and supposedly walking away from a 50 Million Dollar deal, for the third and fourth seasons of the “Chappelle’s Show”. Here’s a snippet of what he had to say:
Many artists have caught on to the current trend and have also started speaking out publicly about it. For example Papoose, a New York underground rapper from Brooklyn, released a single titled ‘Control’. Within the lyrics he states:
“Kendrick, Kanye, Drake, they all act feminine, Wear a lot of clothes you usually see women in” “You only blew up cause you contributed to the feminization of the black man”
While the same could be said for other racial groups, clearly we can see cohesiveness between black male celebrities and transgender attributes. Males are seen to be strong and dominant figures; especially black men who above all are often portrayed as those who should be feared. Seeing black men in this new light will somehow strip them from those titles.
Psychologists such as Albert Bandura conducted a study in the 1960s, to investigate if social behaviours (i.e. aggression) can be acquired by imitation. The experiment used a number of children between the ages of 3 and 6 years old who were made to observe the actions of adults in different environments. Whatever the children saw the adult do, the children copied. Our future generation of children who are currently learning from their environment are subjected to these images of the feminised man. Sooner or later this will become the norm. Monkey see, Monkey do.
Earlier this month we saw the 2014 Autumn/Winter collections of London Fashion Week. The menswear collection seemed to push the boundaries of what is deemed acceptable for both genders. The garments resembled those which are specifically designed for women, yet it was men who were actually dressed in them. Fashion critic Suzy Mendes, writing for The New York Times, stated that the J.W Anderson show “rekindled the masculine-feminine debate in 21st-century fashion.”
I feel strongly about this subject because I myself am a young man and I am concerned about the future of masculinity. I am concerned about what my future children will perceive as the norm. I am concerned about the feminisation of not just my race but my gender. I am concerned about the extent that people will go to fit in with the rest of society because they fear the possibility of being labelled not normal. I am concerned that we will just passively digest what is being forced fed to us. I am extremely concerned …
Whether they are offered a significant boost in earnings due to ‘selling out’ is irrelevant, I strongly feel there is an agenda behind this which will be explained with more detail in my next blog. I will elaborate more into the reasons why I believe this agenda is being pushed forward also touching on the effects I think it is currently having.