August 19, 2012

Taking A Tumbl: Regarding My Nina Simone/Zoe Saldana Post

A couple of days ago, I linked my post: (Mis)Casting Call: The Erasure of Nina Simone's Image to my tumblr page, and it was re-blogged by several people; a couple of whom took issue with the picture I used to accompany the post. To them, the image took precedence over the very valid issues I raised in the blog post. One tumblr-er noted...
"feeling some type of way about that particular picture of Zoe Saldanath that picture is rubbing me the wrong way its like [they] are trying to erase the fact that zoe is black zoe is a black women [sic] nothing is going to change that definitely not an over edited picture and im not feeling this oversexualized picture of zoe being paired with that picture of nina"
*sigh* 


What I find most unsettling is that the stark differences between the two women, juxtaposed against each other, seems to make some folks uncomfortable. Why? There was no deliberate attempt to stir controversy on my part. I Googled an image of Zoe Saldana and Nina Simone, that was one of the pictures that popped up first, and I used it. In any event, I felt compelled to write a response to those tumblr notes trying to take me to task over the picture, excerpted below... 
A couple of tumblr notes indicate that some people are discomfited by the fact that I used a specific picture of Zoe Saldana juxtaposed against one of Nina Simone. Firstly, it wasn't a deliberate attempt on my part when I inserted the accompanying image into the post. I was looking for a side-by-side/collage-d image of Zoe and Nina without having to create one myself, and looked on Google images to find one and that one was the one I chose. There was no rhyme or reason to my decision other than convenience. 

Secondly, regarding the concern that there was an attempt to erase Zoe's race;  if you read the article in its entirety, you quite possibly would have noted that I stated I was not a gatekeeper for "Black is, Black ain't" and noted that Zoe is undoubtedly part of the Diaspora. The picture that was chosen does not negate the fact, that Zoe being cast to play Nina Simone is wrong on many levels, and that Hollywood is notorious for trying to erase the image of Black actresses with keener features.
Read the rest here...  
The picture of Zoe Saldana against the picture of Nina Simone doesn't quell any of the points I made about colorism or the seemingly random decision to cast Saldana to play Nina. Nowhere in my post did I question or deny Zoe's Blackness. I believe I stated she didn't share the same phenotype. Reading comprehension is a dying concept and skimming simply doesn't suffice if you're looking to refute something someone wrote. Focusing on the picture I used to accompany the larger issue at hand, is a derail as far as I'm concerned. And in the grand scheme of things, the issue isn't about Zoe, the picture, or her acting fortitude. It's about the media's and Hollywood's growing disdain for how some Black women look and dishonoring Nina's legacy and story by miscasting the role to play her.

2 comments:

nick said...

i couldn't agree with you more.
zoe is great, just not right for this.
i wish she voluntarily withdraw.

Tiff J said...

Hi Nick, Thanks for your feedback!

I wish people can grasp what's really at play here and realize the frustration isn't an attack on Zoe Saldana's acting prowess, Blackness, or lack thereof. It's about the media's and Hollywood's continued erasure of a specific type of Black female aesthetic.

They continue to perpetuate these skewed views of Black female beauty, even when attempting to relay an actual person's personal narrative... which included the challenges she faced, for not possessing certain features.

I wish Zoe wouldn't help perpetuate that Nina's obvious erasure either.