Is it okay for a white person to play a black one in a t-v skit?
Some papers raise the question after "Saturday Night Live" used a caucasian actor to portray Senator Barack Obama last weekend.
Is it political correctness gone too far? Are they suggesting that this is some sort of 21st century "Amos and Andy", some kind of HD minstrel show?
The Huffington Post explains the move:
The show had been in a bind since the beginning of the season, disadvantaged by having only one black male cast member, Kenan Thompson, whose fuller body type was inconsistent with the Senator's slim, lanky frame. Though Thompson had been rumored to be trying to lose weight for the gig - one which could well lead to a meaty recurring role playing the President of the United States - earlier this week founder/executive producer Lorne Michaels told several press outlets that the search for someone to play Obama was on, both inside and outside the current cast.
Expect to see some controversy from this decision: Though Fred Armisen has played an ethnically diverse range of characters before - including Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Prince - the minority of black faces on SNL has been noted in the past, and the chance to give this plum role to a non-black player will surly generate debate (never mind resuscitating the old "Is Obama black enough?" question). Still, there is precedent: Darrell Hammond's impression of Jesse Jackson, Horatio Sanz as Aaron Neville, Maya Rudolph as Liza Minelli.
And, the Post says it all when it adds that all that matters is whether it's funny. It's "Saturday Night Live", after all. Who cares about the make-up--if Armisen can do a dead-on Obama, he can rest assured of a gig until at least November, if not longer.