HHBMedia | Hollywood and Natural Hair
I was more than excited to watch the season premiere of Dancing With The Stars this past week. I missed the live showing, but was able to catch it on Hulu the following day. I couldn't wait to see Patti Labelle, Rumer Willis and Michael Sam tear up their routines.
As expected, the premiere was fun and light-hearted. The judges were pretty lenient on the contestants, seeing as this was their first go-round. All of them seemed to be on their best behavior; all but Len Goodman, whose commentary left a bad taste in my mouth.
LMFAO's RedFoo and his partner, Emma Slater performed a 70's style-Cha Cha number over his single, Juicy Wiggle. Although his ballroom skills needed a bit of work, I thought they killed it overall. Now, I'm no pro but I do know a thing or two about entertainment, and RedFoo's moonwalk had me hype. He was full of energy and put on a great show. I thought that most of his feedback was on point, until Len Goodman inappropriately compared RedFoo’s dancing style to his hair, "wild and unkempt.”
If you're unfamiliar with LMFAO, RedFoo represents half of the group and is the son of music legend Berry Gordy. So you guessed it, he's black (half, full, doesn't matter. He's a black man), and historically blacks are known to have kinkier hair textures than other races. In fact, the group’s trademarks are their enormously thick Afros.
As soon as the remark slipped out, I did a quick Google search to see if anyone else peeped it. To my surprise, I couldn't find a single article acknowledging it. I reassessed to see if I was maybe overreacting - maybe his comment wasn't that bad, and I shouldn't be offended? Truth is it was ignorant, and shouldn't have been said at all, let alone on-air. In fact, RedFoo's facial expression showed me that he wasn’t too cool with Len's observation either.
Now, I'm not calling Len Goodman a racist - he's actually one of my favorite judges on the show, and I highly doubt that he would've made the statement if he knew how unsuitable it was. But that’s the issue. Hollywood is notorious for being absent-minded with their comments, and under-representing anything that isn’t “white.”
We could blame Len's lack of sensitivity on his age, seeing that he's one of the most seasoned judges on the show. But in a time when the natural hair movement is picking up momentum and awareness is at an all time high, I would think that, at very least, those with an entertainment platform would be more socially conscious with the comments they make on air.
Giuliana Rancic, another beloved on-air personality of mine, felt the wrath of the natural hair community when she stereotyped Zendaya and her faux locs as smelling like "patchouli oil and weed" during an episode of Fashion Police. With the help of the viewers (and the network), she immediately realized the offensive nature of her comment, and promptly made a public apology to everyone she may have hurt.
But what about Len Goodman? Is it ok for his ignorance to be swept under the rug because not enough naturals tuned in to DWTS?
I guess this shows us that Hollywood isn't diverse enough, and will continue to neglect cultural differences unless they’re confronted. And according to the industry, you’re only offensive and inapt if you’re caught red-handed.
When will it change?
In the meantime, I’ll continue to sport my “wild and unkempt” Afro…
*** This post was originally published on HHBMedia in March 2015