Is Everybody Wild About Harry?



Is it ever all right for whites to perform in blackface, and who decides what is blackface?

Harry Connick Jr., actor, musician and New Orleans-favorite son, can testify to the difficulty surrounding these types of questions. Connick was recently a judge on the Australian TV show, “Hey, Hey It’s Saturday,” when six white men (five in blackface and one doing a Michael Jackson impression in pancake white makeup) sang as “The Jackson Jive.” Connick gave the group a “zero” for its efforts. He then walked off the set, but came back later as the show’s host apologized for the act.

Immediately, some praised Connick for his reaction, but in the age of the Internet, it didn’t take too long for a 1996 MadTV clip of Connick to surface. For the skit, in which Connick plays a minister hawking a Harry Connick Jr. album, Yahoo! News Blog  writes that Connick “slightly darkened his skin to play an African American minister.”

Take a look at the MadTV clip. Is Connick in blackface, and is he really trying to play an African American minister?

Last month, I took a look at the controversy surrounding Shirley Q. Liquor, a white drag queen who performs as a African American woman on welfare. In that case, it seemed pretty obvious that Charles Knipp, the drag queen, was intending to do an impression of a black woman. But as for Harry, I don’t see it, and I don’t hear it.

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