WickedEye's Quotient

6/18/2007 at 12:19

Who She Is

Okay, I’m more than a little bit freaked out.

I like Mariah Carey. More than I did, anyway.

And it has nothing to do with her music.

I’m perennially annoyed by the lack of “interracial” (interethnic, in my parlance) coupledom in popular media. When you do see it, it’s always in reference to some work like “Othello” (helLO, people- tragedy), and it’s always being vetted out of film adaptations of less tragic and more popular novels. (For example, when the decision was made to cast Denzel Washington as the male lead in "The Pelican Brief", the script adaptation cut the romance between his and Julia Roberts’ character. Why? The producer thought it would be- and I quote- “too distracting”. Distracting? What an unimaginative euphemism. And as though Denzel Washington could be anything but.)

And it isn’t just that. There are all kinds of examples of celebrity name changes in order to reflect a less “ethnic” feel (Alan Alda=Alphonso D’Abruzzo, Demi Moore=Demetria Guynes), and precious few who refuse. I always respect those who do. For example, Salma Hayek, one of the most physically perfect women who walk the earth (and she ain’t a bad actress either) was refused roles for years because her name sounded “too Mexican”, and she wouldn’t change it.

What does this have to do with Mariah Carey?

Carey’s mother is Irish American; her father, African American and Venezuelan. Carey has always discussed her ethnic heritage openly- for which I respected her in the first place. Children of interethnic marriages often have a very hard time with the adverse public reaction to this, especially celebrities- if their names draw fire, then their parentage draws outright racism. But she goes further than mere openness - I haven’t followed Carey’s musical career, which is why I didn’t realize that she very openly and publicly celebrated her parents’ love for one another- and the obstacles they overcame in remaining together- in a music video which actually has her parents in it.

Normally, soppiness of this kind makes me roll my eyes. But the final scene of Carey’s video- shown after we’ve seen the story of two young people very much in love with each other, and the girl disowned by her family for it- in which she is singing to two people seated at the front of the crowd, is genuinely moving when you realize that they’re her parents, and that what you’ve just seen is their story. Beautiful.

This woman doesn’t have a problem acknowledging where she came from, and that’s the first and most important step in knowing who you are. Kudos to her for that.


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