From Aretha Franklin to Star Jones, Kenan Thompson is no stranger to making a spectacle out of the large black woman. The fictional character of Virginiaca Hastings literally takes the cake as Kenan's most minstrelesque role on Saturday Night Live.
This is not merely a matter of dressing in drag, but a much deeper racist and sexist mockery of the hypersexualized black woman.
As the skit opens, we are taken to the Baby Gap, and the high class narrative voice of a man says, "and now, shopping with Virginiaca." It's no accident; the man's upper-class intelligent voice serves to poke fun at the name itself--it's reminiscent of stereotypical black names like Laquesha.
Kenan Thompson then stomps into the store dressed as the stereotypical large black woman with a small cheetah-skinned purse and long nails. To top it off, he's stuffing cake down his throat. When approached by a young white male worker, who asks if he is looking for baby clothes, the conversation turns into "can you lift me up over your head," and "do you wanna see me in some baby clothes?" Then it gets worse, as "Virginiaca" pulls out her phone and calls for her daughter, "girl you are gettin' on my one big nerve, where is you?"
Then Ellen Page, the leading actress in Juno, runs in with a loud husky voice and a huge black afro. The two proceed to obsess over small children's pants as "booty shorts," and are insulted when the worker insists they won't fit Virginiaca's step daughter, who complains, "mama he's tryin' a seminate that I'm fat or sumthin'."
After complaining that they need the shorts for their "booty back and forths," they show the worker their dance--which is basically just them shaking their butts. The skit ends as Virginia stuffs her face with chips from her purse and hits on the worker by flaunting her large breasts on the counter and then jumping onto a table and shaking her butt. The worker proclaims, "I quit," and leaves the set, with Virginiaca still on the table.
The entire skit is a minstrel show--the mispronounced words, the exaggerated outfits, the big hair, the obnoxious voices, and of course, the dancing. The presence of the young white male worker is most important, for he is the character that non-black/female audiences are meant to immediately identify with. His purpose in the skit is to serve as the white male gaze and simultaneously lasso-in the audience into an us against them--the two "black women."
As a consequence, we get a minstrel show which focuses primarily on the large black Virginiaca who throws herself at us constantly. Along the lines of Eddie Murphy's horrible Mrs. Rice character. We are then supposed to derive a perverse pleasure out of watching her big, overeating, big-breasted body disgust us nonstop.
Yes, perverse. It's a disgusting pleasure that comes from observing a large, sexualized black woman made into a complete spectacle by a black man dressed in drag.
- ▼ March (3)