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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Why can’t Gabourey Sidibe play any role that a thin white actress might play?

Radio idiot Howard Stern engaged in some vile fatbashing of Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe the other day — I won’t repeat it, but you can listen here, if you must — the upshot of which is that she’s kidding herself in thinking she’s ever gonna get another role after Precious. She already has gotten more work, of course.

A piece at ABC News about Stern’s comments and Sidibe’s Hollywood prospects includes some comments from industry professionals that are far more insidious and revealing about Hollywood’s predjudices, under the guise of concern:

New York casting director Bernard Telsey said Sidibe’s size is both a plus and minus.

“It’s going to make her not right for the new ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ but it’s going to make her right for the role that needs her for that specificity,” Telsey told ABCNews.com. “There’s room in Hollywood for someone who looks like her,” Telsey said. “Sure, there will be fewer roles, but there’s always less of everything for people who are unique and original and different.”

Greg Kilday, film editor for The Hollywood Reporter, said Hollywood will have to think creatively to find roles for Sidibe. “And Hollywood isn’t always creative,” he told ABCNews.com. “To try to find roles that she will fit well in is going to be tricky. She may, in some senses, find herself competing with Jennifer Hudson, who already has an Oscar under her belt. Hudson hasn’t done much in the way of film work since ‘Dreamgirls.’ I think Gabourey might face the same challenges.”

Do you see what they’re saying? Thin white actresses can play anything — cop, criminal, lawyer, mother, lover, victim, doctor, patient, and certainly romantic leads — but a fat black actress can only play a part that is specificially about being fat and black! Because when someone is fat, black, or both, that is the entirety of their lives! Fat black young women have no other concerns outside of the color of their skin or the number on a scale: not about love, about work, about family, about the giant mess the world is.

Why couldn’t Sidibe fall in love with a vampire? Or play an intern at a Fortune 500 company who uncovers evidence of corporate crime? Why the fuck couldn’t Sidibe play Juliet?

Why can’t Gabourey Sidibe play any role that a thin white actress might play?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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