What's So Bad about Blackface?

In Dan Flory & Mary Bloodsworth-Lugo (eds.), Race, Philosophy, and Film. Routledge. pp. 51-68 (2013)
Christy Mag Uidhir
University of Houston
I argue that what’s so bad (qua film fiction) about the cinematic practice of actor-character race-mismatching—be it the historically infamous and intuitively repugnant practice of blackface or one of its more contemporary kin—is that the extent to which film-fictions employ such practices is typically the extent to which such film-fictions unrealistically depict facts about race. More precisely, I claim that race-mismatching film fictions—understood as a species of unrealistic fiction—are prima facie inconsistent fictions with the capacity to mislead their audiences about certain morally relevant actual-world states-of-affairs and thus, prima facie aesthetically, epistemically, and morally defective.
Keywords Race  Unrealistic  Blackface
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