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Blackface
Not an actual black person.

Blackface is the tradition of a performer putting on stylized black makeup to appear as a stereotyped character of African descent. Blackface performances often took the form of Minstrel Shows. The usual version included dark or pitch black makeup and bulging red or pink lips. Blackface became associated with negative stereotypical depictions of blacks in America (labeling them as stupid, lazy, lecherous, dangerous, comical, or just generally beneath whites) and became shorthand for these condescending attitudes. As much as some people would like to forget it, blackface performances were mainstream American entertainment for almost 100 years until racial backlash ultimately capsized it.

Because of its pervasiveness in the US for such a long time, blackface imagery was also transported to other countries, where the lesser cultural stigma allowed it to continue. Blackface characters still pop up in Japanese culture and media from time to time, often causing massive headaches for exporters.

The trope remains a sensitive subject to this day and will cause quite a backlash if it ever shows up in mainstream American culture. Even without the traditional trappings of blackface, instances of Fake Nationality involving a black character will usually raise eyebrows. Yellowface is a similar practice involving Asian characters, while Brownface is for characters of various "brown" races.

The inversion, black actors playing white people, is rarely done straight. When this happens, it's almost always in-universe and for comic effect.

Tropes associated with Blackface

  • Ash Face: Older animated works would often segue from an Ash Face incident to a Blackface gag.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: A common trope of early cinema was to find some excuse for the main character to intentionally or accidentally take on the appearance of blackface, then pause for a minstrel show-style musical number.
  • Black Like Me: A white person makes himself look black and experiences everyday life as a black person and learning An Aesop about tolerance.
  • The Coconut Effect: Black actors in minstrel shows often had to use makeup to accentuate their lips in order to look more like a blackface actor.
  • Dead Horse Trope: Blackface rarely appears in modern mainstream media played straight. If it shows up at all, it's generally for Black Comedy (No Pun Intended), satirical purposes, or Deliberate Values Dissonance.
  • Modern Minstrelsy
  • Monochrome Casting: Often a reason for the use of blackface in places where there simply aren't many black actors to be found.
  • Older Than They Think: The tradition of blackface extends hundreds of years before its rise in popularity in America.
  • Old Shame: For American culture in general. In its heyday, blackface was a major part of America's distinct artistic culture. Today it's treated as an embarrassing episode in American history. Many beloved film and cartoon characters appeared in blackface in the early days of film and animation, when the trope was still mainstream. The companies who now own these intellectual properties are understandably reluctant to air them out.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: Many blackface performers insisted that it was not racist but an Affectionate Parody of their black friends. This excuse doesn't fly today, of course.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Often when blackface cropped up in old cartoons and slapstick it was being used as a disguise.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: The modern-day successor to blackface, in which non-black people will behave in ways that are stereotypical for black people. However, the intention in this case is usually to be cool rather than to mock black culture. Badly done can result in some Unfortunate Implications regardless.
  • Unfortunate Implications: And how!
  • Values Dissonance: Blackface was once considered harmless good fun, but appearing in blackface today is about as acceptable as burning a cross.
  • Zeroth Law Of Trope Examples: The eponymous role in Othello was traditionally played by a white actor in blackface, and this remained the case long after blackface had become unacceptable in most media, though it's just as common for theatre companies and film producers to simply hire a black actor for the part.

Works in which Blackface appears

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball: Mister Popo and other black characters have the appearance of blackface characters, which has been a long-standing nightmare when it comes to trying to export the shows.
  • The Galoot Sect assassins from Flag invoke this aesthetic with their creepy, golliwog-like masks, possibly meant to represent the black goddess Kali.
  • The Black Looks, an anti-robot hate group, hide their identities by wearing blackface in the classic Astro Boy story Capetown Lullaby (aside from their leader who wears a weird mask that looks like a black Gonzo the Muppet).
  • An unknown character in an omake from The World God Only Knows appears to don this (bottom left panel). The character was going to perform a ritual to curse people.
  • Episode 8 of Love Lab has a very uncomfortable gag featuring the use of blackface, which caused some backlash from Western viewers. In what is truly a bizarre cultural difference, it's made clear the girls are actually trying to compliment black women, even noting how strong and beautiful they are.

    Comic Books 
  • An old Golden Age issue of Captain Marvel had Billy dressing up in Blackface as part of a Paper-Thin Disguise.
  • Black characters in Astérix tend to be drawn like this. One story in Uderzo croqué par ses amis parodies the fact by depicting a ridiculously bad strip supposedly drawn by a young Uderzo. It features a Roman optio and his 'politically-incorrect Romans', soldiers who are drawn in a blackface style even more extreme than the style in the original comics.
  • In an April Fools' Day crossover strip made for Pilote, the original magazine that ran Astérix and other characters like Barbe Rouge (a gang of pirates who the perennial useless pirates in Asterix are based on). In the comic, the Gauls and the (two white) pirates teamed up to play a joke on one of the other Pilote characters, who was always drawn in black and white, pretending they were going to colour him in with paint but instead just painting him completely black. While they're all laughing at him, Baba (a reasonably-drawn black pirate) comes in at the back, saying hi and asking what's going on. The captain's response:
    Redbeard: Um... why don't you get back on board?

    Film 
  • A very rare inversion in the 1932 film adaptation of The Most Dangerous Game. Black actor Noble Johnson wore makeup to play the White Russian Cossack Ivan. The black-and-white cinematography made this easier.
  • Spike Lee's Bamboozled: A modern African-American filmmaker creates a television minstrel show in which black actors perform in classic blackface. He's trying to make a point, but to his horror, the show becomes successful. Real-life audiences didn't respond well to the use of blackface in making a heavy-handed point about modern portrayals of black people.
  • Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer features the main character performing in blackface in a minstrel show as part of his journey to self-expression. Ironically, Jolson's character can only express himself by putting on the mask of a black man. This was also semi-biographical, as Al Jolson really did perform in blackface and felt a special kinship with African-Americans. He actually helped a lot of blacks break into the music business, demanded that they receive equal treatment, and was famously the only white man allowed in the all-black nightclubs in Harlem.
  • This was also used in the 1980 remake of The Jazz Singer, starring Neil Diamond. Diamond's character dons blackface to join a group performing in a black nightclub in Harlem... in 1980.
  • Gangs of New York features a propogandized performance of Uncle Tom's Cabin, in which actors playing parts of slaves wear blackface.
  • Fred Astaire does a blackface number in Swing Time (1936). Many fans regard this as more of an "Othello" than a "minstrel show" situation, as it was an homage to a specific black performer (Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, whose dancing style was a major influence on that of Astaire).
  • The otherwise squeaky-clean classic Holiday Inn shows for Lincoln's Birthday a full minstrel show featuring dancers in blackface.
  • In the 1936 film version of Jerome Kern's Show Boat, Magnolia and the show boat troupe don blackface for the "Gallivantin' Around" number. Since one of the themes of this musical is the destructive nature of race prejudice, this may be deliberate irony — or it may just be a lamentable lapse of taste.
  • In Whoopee!, Eddie Cantor tries to pass himself off as a black man, performing a pretty racist shuffling darky routine, then belts out a performance of "My Baby Just Cares for Me" in his classic singing style. Eddie Cantor was the last major vaudeville performer to use blackface in his act, and his character was Fair for Its Day - an intelligent, in fact nerdy character, as opposed to the "Carry Me Back to Ol' Virginee" standard.
  • The Three Stooges disguised themselves as slaves using blackface in the Civil War-themed short "Uncivil Warbirds".
  • Laurel and Hardy disguised themselves in blackface after breaking out of prison in Pardon Us.
  • The Marx Brothers, evading the law, momentarily done blackface to hide among a bunch of stable hands in A Day at the Races. Harpo only paints half his face.
  • The Birth of a Nation used blackface not as a comedic device, but as a means to allow white actors to portray black and "mullato" characters in an overtly racist film.
  • The Eighties comedy Soul Man features a Harvard Law student who darkens his skin to get a scholarship for black students. The film caused some controversy during its release.
  • In the Polish film Vabank, set in 1930s' Poland, one of the protagonists, Moks, at one point sings in blackface. Also, a fake 'Negro' appearance place important role in the caper the protagonists pull off.
  • In Bob Dylan's film Masked And Anonymous, Ed Harris appears as the ghost of a murdered minstrel named Oscar Vogel, very much in the Al Jolson mode. Dylan has invoked minstrelsy on other occasions, notably naming his 2001 album Love and Theft after Eric Lott's academic book Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class.
  • Lampshaded/parodied in Tropic ThunderRobert Downey, Jr..'s white Australian character Kirk Lazarus portrays black Sergeant Lincoln Osiris by getting his face and body surgically altered to look like a fairly realistic black man. His character's personality, however, is embarrassingly over-the-top, and he stays in character at all times, much to the chagrin of the actually-black Alpa Chino. The fact that the whole thing is meant to be a parody of Oscar Bait and extreme Method Acting went over the heads of some critics and viewers, who claimed it was tantamount to blackface. On the flipside, though, the NAACP approved of the character in their own screening of the film, and Downey was nominated that year for an Oscar.
  • Pops up, of course, in CSA: The Confederate States of America, where in the Alternate Universe in which the South won the Civil War it never becomes taboo.
  • The Paper-Thin Disguise variant shows up in Silver Streak. Con man Richard Pryor helps to disguise traveler Gene Wilder, who's been framed for murder. Presumably it helps that Wilder has naturally curly hair. Hearing Wilder's clueless Soul Brother patter, Pryor says, "I sure hope we don't run into any brothers." Behind the scenes, Pryor changed a scene to so that the disguise does not fool the black janitor.
  • Trading Places also uses it as a Paper-Thin Disguise for Dan Aykroyd in the scene on the train. The others with him are also in disguise/costume, but their target for a theft has met Aykroyd's character before, necessitating something more drastic: brown shoe polish.
  • The white voice actors of Amos N Andy appear in blackface in their sole feature film Check and Double Check. The comedy duo was at the height of their fame, but fans were apparently disappointed to see their favorite radio characters looking like white guys in blackface. The film was not a success.
  • An interesting example is found with Tommy Chong as the blues singer Blind Melon Chitlin' in Still Smokin: the humor is not based around the character being black, but being blind.
  • This is how the villain of The Zebra Killer disguised himself while committing murders.
  • Inverted in White Chicks in which Shawn and Marlon Wayans play two detectives who disguise themselves as white women.
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, Cartman briefly appears wearing blackface during his performance of "Kyle's Mom is a Bitch."
  • In The Last Emperor, the deposed Emperor Pu-yi performs a concert backed up by Chinese musicians in blackface.
  • A character seen briefly at the start (and in a throwaway gag near the middle) of Forbidden Zone is a slumlord and crack dealer played by a man in blackface; there are several others in bit parts throughout, done for comedic shock value.
  • Rochester the butler in Gross Out is not only done up in blackface, but is a grotesque stereotype.
    The Cinema Snob: My God, man! You're drunk and shockingly racist!
  • In Django Unchained, Samuel L. Jackson put on darker makeup to play Boomerang Bigot house slave Stephen. Jackson conceived of the look when deciding that Stephen had no white ancestry at all. Funnily enough, he actually wore more than needed because he thought he didn't look dark enough yet, only to later see the film and realize the photography was making him even darker.
  • African-American actor Forest Whitaker further darkened his skin in The Last King of Scotland to portray Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Amin actually was quite dark, of course.
  • The 1973 French comedy Les aventures de Rabbi Jacob (English title: The Mad Aventures of "Rabbi" Jacob) has a scene in which the protagonist, a bigot, accidentally gets a face full of ash. Although (unlike in similar gags from older animated shorts) he doesn't proceed to act "minstrel," he does get mistaken for a black person.
  • A white actor with dark make-up plays a black farm hand in Seven Chances.
  • The Ed Wood film Jail Bait randomly cuts to a blackface minstrel performance at one point. This was actually stock footage from a film done years earlier. It has no effect whatsoever on the plot.
  • Parodied in Be Kind Rewind as Jack Black's character attempts to portray an overweight African-American. As soon as the locals see him in blackface (a majority of which are African American themselves), they react with disgust. Mos Def's character is given the part and Jack Black points out the hypocrisy that while he may not be black, he's still the right body type for the role.'
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's Young And Innocent, the (white) murder masks himself with a blackface while playing in a jazz orchestra.
  • Averted and Inverted in Watermelon Man. Originally, the film producers wanted a white man who'd be made up as a black man for the rest of the film. Instead Peebles managed to convince them to cast Godfrey Cambridge, who was made up as a white man for the first section of the film before his transformation.

    Literature 
  • In one of the Little House on the Prairie books, the town has a contest where different townsfolk each put on a little show. Laura's father and a few his friends win it with a Blackface routine. Don't bother looking for this scene on the television series, obviously.
  • Part of the immense, immense controversy involved in the self-published Revealing Eden book is that, in its future where blacks have all the cultural cache and whites are a minority, a number of whites use "Midnight Luster" cream that not only protects against UV radiation but allows them to "pass" as black. And yes, there were trailers for the book featuring white actresses in blackface.
  • The 1960 German children novel Jim Button features the main character with a clear blackface design on the cover. Even the 1986 TV puppet adaptation follows the design very closely, as it did not hold the same negative connotations in Germany as it did in the United States.
  • There's an unusual version in Sharps which inverts the connotations of blackface. Nobility and elite soldiers from The Empire are darker skinned than people in the city states that have broken off, and so in the provinces, when actors portray aristocratic characters in plays, they darken their skin and put on plummy accents that are pale imitation of how Imperials actually talk.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Mad Men season 3 episode "My Old Kentucky Home" features Roger Sterling in blackface, singing the title song to his new, twenty-something wife. Some of the characters are horrified, but more about a respectable businessman making an ass of himself than moral indignation over the racial insensitivity.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,
    • Discussed and Lampshaded in "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth", where the gang decides to do a sequel to Lethal Weapon with both Mac and Dennis alternate playing Murtaugh. Dennis refuses to be in blackface, but has no problem doing a "black voice." Mac dons full shoe polish and tries to retroactively use Laurence Olivier as justification. Nobody remarks on the fact that Frank spends the entire movie playing a villainous Native American stereotype.
    • Used again in "Lethal Weapon 6," when Mac again darkens his skin to play Murtaugh. During the shower scene, Mac's makeup begins to wash off. Dee also plays Murtaugh's daughter in blackface and does a stereotypical voice.
  • In Australia, The Footy Show memorably did this one time when Indigenous player Nicky Winmar was unable to appear, and the show was speculating what happened to him. Well on the final segment of the show host Eddie McGuire was going to review the teams for Freemantle and West Coast when the audience starts laughing. He twigs that Sam Newman has done something and is almost scared to look at Sam impersonating Winmar wearing black facepaint. Despite the cries of outrage over the incident Winmar had the last laugh. One year later, there would be a knock at the guest door after Sam laments they never had that anymore. He gets up to answer it to reveal Winmar, all smiles, apologizing for being a year late.
  • In another Australian incident, an act called "The Jackson Jive" appeared on Hey Hey, It's Saturday, a variety show, shortly after Michael Jackson's death. Five men, doctors in everyday life, danced in blackface and afro wigs, while a sixth, dressed as Michael, replete with ghost-white makeup, sang "Can You Feel It." American guest judge Harry Connick Jr. was understandably offended. The host apologized to Connick on air.
  • Cop show Boney outraged Aboriginal rights groups. Due to a shortage of suitably qualified actors, the lead role of the Aboriginal copper who solves crimes through native tracking and hunting skills was played by a white man in blackface. And he was from New Zealand.
  • In the Polish comedy series Alternatywy 4 (1983), one character was a black American exchange student named Abraham Lincoln, played by a white man wearing blackface. Poles attempted to justify the portrayal due to the relative lack of black people in Poland at the time.
  • In a Halloween episode of the Irish video-diary sitcom Dan and Becs, the main characters plan to go to a party in fancy dress as a couple. Due to a miscommunication, Bec thinks they're going as Richard Gere and Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman and dresses accordingly. Dan thinks they're going as... Ike and Tina Turner. They give their diary entries on the night, still in costume, Dan still covered in blackface. Their black taxi driver is not impressed with Dan's get-up until, that is, he remarks, "Oh, you're meant to be Ike Turner. Why didn't your girlfriend go as Tina?"
  • According to The Goodies, their ancestors were cruelly kidnapped by the BBC and forced into blackface as cast members on The Black and White Minstrel Show (see corresponding entry). They eventually fought for equal rights, no matter what colour paint, be it black, white, green, polka-dot. The episode was actually labelled: DO NOT BROADCAST - RACIST in the BBC archive. The Goodies also appear in blackface in the South Africa and Eckythump episodes. The show also mocked The Apartheid Era racists by showing how horrified they are of blackface performers: white people imitating black people. One episode has Bill Oddie covering his exposed arms and face with shoe polish and converting to Islam.
  • In Jeeves and Wooster, Bertie Wooster and Jeeves both disguise themselves in as part of a troupe of blackface minstrels in order to escape J. Washburn Stoker, father of Pauline, the girl in of Bertie's ill-fated engagements. The minstrels were there as part of Stoker's son's birthday party. Wooster ends up having to perform Lady of Spain in blackface with the minstrels before being able to escape. Later the the Harley St. doctor Sir Roderick Glossop has to dress up in blackface to entertain a young boy who was promised that he could see the minstrels at Stoker's son's birthday party, but is unable to go in the confusion.
    • In another episode, Bertie is persuaded to disguise himself as an African chief in order to retrieve a tribal artifact, making things very awkward when the real chief shows up. In each case, Unfortunate Implications are mostly skirted because the joke is not on black people but on what a dolt Bertie is for thinking it would work.
  • The Sarah Silverman Program played with this. Sarah argued with a black man that being Jewish is harder than being black, and the two agreed to go through one day as the other ethnicity for a day to test it. Sarah dressed up in a horribly stereotypical and offensive way, receiving very unpleasant remarks, thinking they actually thought she was black and their responses were genuine racism. When she met the man in the usual spot she and the gang get their coffee and said that she agreed that being black was harder, the black man said he realised being Jewish was actually harder. He was wearing a yarmukle, peot, a long false nose, and a shirt saying 'I <3 Money'. The man left the place as the two exchanged suspicious looks.
  • The Python crew occasionally donned blackface to play Indian or black roles for Monty Python's Flying Circus sketches.
    • One episode of Do Not Adjust Your Set (one of the two shows often seen as a direct ancestor to Monty Python's Flying Circus) featured the show's band, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, performing in blackface. This included rather large examples of exaggerated lips, even as far as blackface is concerned!
  • In an episode of The Mighty Boosh, Julian Barret plays "Rudy", a partially two-dimensional guitarist/sage with an appearance resembling Jimi Hendrix. Barret has darkened skin as well as fake teeth to make him appear to be gap-toothed. He also has a large fake afro with a door to another dimension. In another episode, Rudy is fully three-dimensional and is no longer blackface, though he does retain his magic afro.
  • Are You Being Served?:
    • Mr. Grainger does himself up in blackface to perform "Mammy" in the B-plot of an episode. Ultimately, this rolls back into the main plot: In order to replace a malfunctioning animatronic Santa, the Men's and Lady's Wear staffers are auditioning for the role (and its extra pay). Grainger doesn't have time to remove the blackface before the audition... which makes him more attractive to the child brought in to select who'll get the role. The kid is black.
    • Another episode has the staff performing a minstrel number, in blackface, to celebrate Old Mr Grace's supposed African heritage. As you can see on his face at the end of the show as his staff is strutting about in blackface, he is horrified at this spectacle.
  • Seen in the pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire (which takes place in the 1920s) during the New Year's celebration.
  • Parodied by Spitting Image in "The White & White Minstrel Show" that features the polar opposite of this trope: black people wearing whitefaces. The sketch itself is a bitting satire of the apartheid in South Africa where they think "that blackfaces don't belong with black".
  • The Black and White Minstrel Show performed musical numbers in blackface on a primetime BBC slot from 1958 to 1978. The show scaled back the blackface numbers toward the end of its run. Its cancellation was not due to the blackface, however, but due to cutbacks on variety shows. The stage show version continued until 1987!
  • Scrubs has a flashback to an incident where Turk convinced JD to wear blackface (where Turk himself would be wearing whiteface) while they met with some friends of Turk's. Turk ends up being distracted at an inopportune moment, meaning that JD seems to be alone when the guys see him. It does not end well.
  • In an episode of Community, Chang dresses up as his Dungeons & Dragons Drow character, which includes jet black skin. Both Shirley and Pierce think he's in blackface.
  • In an episode of Gimme a Break!, Samantha dresses Joey up in blackface to perform at Nell's church in a Very Special Episode about racism.
  • In the All in the Family episode "Birth of the Baby", Archie is forced by his lodge to appear in blackface in a minstrel show. Right before he's supposed to go onstage, he's informed that his daughter has gone into labor, so he ends up in the hospital in blackface.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of Soap when the Major, Chester, and Donahue are in blackface in preparation for a night raid on the Sunnies church/bunker along with Benson in order to rescue Billy. (The blackface in this case is an ordinary stealth technique so as not to be easily seen.) As they're planning, Jessica comes in and apologizes for interrupting Benson's reunion with his family. After they explain that they're them, Jessica asks why they're dressed as 'Negros'. During the raid they get caught, and Benson covers for them by saying they're the Step Brothers, and leads the others in a dance "audition."
  • 30 Rock
    • Jenna Maroney has appeared in blackface twice. The first time, not unlike the The Sarah Silverman Show example, arose from an argument with Tracy Jordan about whether it is harder to be black or a woman. The second occurred when Jenna dressed as Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann while her crossdressing boyfriend dressed as Natalie Portman in Black Swan making them ...two black swans.
    • A live episode, where Kenneth defends live television, has a flashback to an Amos And Andy expy show - Tracy Jordan plays one half of the team, and Jon Hamm plays the other, in poorly applied blackface and horribly over-the-top mannerisms that finally got on Jordan's last nerve. Kenneth explains that the network thought two black people on the same show would make the audience nervous - "...a rule NBC still uses today!"
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • When Fred Armisen started playing Barack Obama, a minor stink was raised about whether it constituted blackface. The issue died out after it was argued that Fred Armisen and Barack Obama are both mixed race and the fact that they're not the same mix just makes it a standard case of Fake Nationality. Plus the darkening of Armisen's skin looks like the spray tan it probably is, and most people aren't offended by spray tans.
    • Darrell Hammond played Jesse Jackson with fewer complaints.
  • In the pilot episode of Life's Too Short, Warwick watches a performance of "Ebony and Ivory" performed by two dwarfs, one of whom is a woman in blackface. Warwick says that he's pretty sure you can't "black up" these days, but "maybe in the North."
  • Billy Crystal sparked some very minor controversy when he appeared as Sammy Davis Jr. during his intro to the 84th Academy Award presentation. Crystal used realistic makeup to resemble Davis, not stylized blackface. Critics were apparently unaware that Crystal had been doing Davis impressions for years, including his time on Saturday Night Live, with Davis's personal blessing.
  • It's implied Barney once used this on How I Met Your Mother. He mentions that the worst lie he ever told to get a woman into bed (and that is a very competitive category) was when he used a seduction technique called "The Soul Man". We're not told the details of what it involved, but he used it to hook up with a woman who would only date black guys, and he did it while going by the alias "Barnell".
  • Inverted in Chappelle's Show in sketches where the black host Dave Chappelle lightens his skin in order to play white character Chuck Taylor. Chuck has appeared in several episodes of the show, and as a Running Gag, his skin gets lighter and lighter with each appearance until his final appearance has him almost literally white.
  • In The Office (US), Dwight has a warehouse employee dress up as Black Peter, complete with blackface. Luckily he figures out that the office staff will find it offensive, so he texts Black Peter to not show up. He appears later with most of the makeup wiped off.
  • In the episode "Korzenie" ("Roots") of Polish sitcom Swiat wedlug Kiepskich, the main protagonist wakes up to discover that not only him, but everyone around is suddenly black, including people on TV. Nobody understands his surprised reaction, all the pictures in the family album suggest that he has always been black, and his apartment holds a church service with gospel music. The episode ends with him finding out that his asshole neighbour is still white, and upon pointing it out he responds with "So what? Just because I'm white doesn't mean you can bully me! I'm a human being just like the rest of you!".
  • The Man Show had two recurring skits where Jimmy Kimmel browned his skin. One skit had Jimmy dressing up like Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone and dispensing Cloudcuckoolander ramblings about nothing. Kimmel had previously developed his Malone impression for the radio, where costuming was not an issue. The other skit had him dressed up like Oprah Winfrey as a parody of Oprah's feminine lifestyle segments on her own show.
  • The very creepy Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentlemen is a subversion. That's what he really looks like.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look briefly used blackface as a punchline to a skit about a group of historical re-enactors who get tired of covering the English Civil War all the time and briefly try to re-enact a scene from the Congolese civil war while awkwardly trying not to be racist (and failing).
  • One Retraux sketch by The Two Ronnies has Ronnie Barker playing "Al Vermont", a singer who performs in blackface.

    Music 
  • An entire genre of music, the "coon song" was dedicated to mocking black people, sung by performers in blackface. Paradoxically, such songs were often written by African American composers such as Ernest Hogan, Sam Lucas, and Bob Cole. The genre was a precursor to ragtime and was eventually replaced by it. Note that in popular usage, "coon song" was often applied to music sung, originating from, or merely in the style of, Negro music, without regard to content. One who sang Negro songs was a "coon shouter."
  • Appears rather shockingly in the video for Culture Club's "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" as Boy George is convicted by a jury of jazz-handing minstrels.
  • Florence + the Machine's music video for "No Light, No Light" has two savage people in blackface menacing the white singer, who is saved by white choirboys and seen at the end with a white lover. Supposedly, the men in blackface are meant to be demons.
  • The European version of the video for Taco's cover of "Puttin' on the Ritz" has tuxedo-clad dancers in blackface lean into view each time the words "Super duper" are sung, and the instrumental shows them tap-dancing. For the North American market, a photo of Gary Cooper (name-dropped in the previous line) replaces the blackface dancers, and the tap-dance segment shows them only from the waist down.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In 1998 DeGeneration X mocked the mostly black Power Stable [[ The Nation Of Domination Nation of Domination]] by dressing as them, complete with blackface. This somehow received little to no complaints, and is still considered one of Raw's funniest moments.
  • At WrestleMania VI, Roddy Piper fought Bad News Brown with half his body in blackface, after Bad News Brown called him racist. Apparently he did it to show that color doesn't matter. The paint was a concoction that could only be removed by a specific solvent (so Piper wouldn't sweat or smear the paint off during the match). Piper would claim later that André the Giant and Arnold Skaaland, as a joke, dumped the solvent down the drain and replaced it with plain water; it took weeks of scrubbing and sitting in a sauna for the paint to finally come off.

    Theater 
  • Most black vaudevillians wore blackface. Some were light enough that they needed to put on burnt cork to make it clear to the audience; others just bowed to vaudeville standards.
    • Popular vaudeville actor Bert Williams often performed in blackface. As he gained more success, his works phased out the extreme racial humor. His popularity among white and black audiences ultimately made him a force for increased racial tolerance.
    • Bill Robinson, popularly known as "Mr. Bojangles", was among the first black performers to make it big without blackface.
  • Many opera roles, such as Otello in Verdi's opera, and Monostatos in The Magic Flute have been portrayed in blackface. There is still a shortage of black opera singers, but white singers playing these roles no longer black up.
  • Similarily, the title character in Shakespeare's Othello was traditionally played by a white actor in makeup, though the original King's Men might not have used it. It wasn't until 1943 that a black actor played the role in a major stage production of the play, but the success of that production didn't stop the common practice of using blackface to last well through the 60s.
  • Referenced in the play No Sugar, which revolves around a family of Australian aborigines in the 1930s. In one scene, they recall a recent trip to the cinema, where they saw an American film with a blackface performer, who they joke must have been having a really rough time as a whitefella if he saw becoming black as a step up.
  • Depending on the country and the company, blackface is still used in some ballets, such as for the Moor doll in Petrouchka, the Moor doll in The Nutcracker (if the production has one), and the children in the Golden Idol sequence in La Bayadere. In the US and UK, some companies have eliminated blackface or cast the roles with dancers of color, although the practice has still not disappeared.
  • Word of God says that the Hungarian version of Avenue Q replaced the Gary Coleman character with Michael Jackson to avert this trope. This way, the character could be played by a white actor and still be considered African-American.

    Toys 
  • "Golliwogg" dolls are dolls made in the style of a person in blackface. They can still be purchased in some areas.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon: Jynx was originally designed after this aesthetic before its coloring was changed to purple due to complaints. While it got a baby form with its equivalents Magmar and Electabuzz it was notably the only one of the trio that didn't receive an evolution. It is sometimes claimed to have been designed after the "ganguro" style, though it was only just beginning to come to prominence in Japan at the time. A more likely candidate is the European Zwarte Piet holiday character mentioned below, considering its Ice typing and appearance as Santa's helpers in the anime.
  • The turtle shell in Doki Doki Panic has a blackface appearance.
  • MadWorld has the Black Baron, revealed to be white by the announcers. He has the mannerisms of a stereotypical pimp. Perhaps bowing to how the overseas market would view it, Anarchy Reigns (which is in color as opposed to its precursor's Deliberately Monochrome) portrays the Baron as an actual black man.
  • Kingdom of Loathing features a status effect called Black Face, which raises your Muscle stat and damage, but lowers your combat initiative. The effect description simply reads: "Yeah, we went there."
  • Unintentionally occurs with Passionate Patti in Leisure Suit Larry 5 due to a malfunctioning copy machine.
  • An extremely unfortunate example occurs in Square's NES adaptation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, released only in Japan. The caricature used for Jim would almost be cause for Torches and Pitchforks in the U.S.
  • One of Xenoblade's main antagonists is actually named Blackface, though he's actually kind of an inversion, being a black and gold, baroque-looking robot with a sinister white mask. Nonetheless his name was changed to Metalface in the English version for fear of the name's nasty associations.
  • Oil Man from Mega Man Powered Up. He was recolored blue and yellow in the English version, but his voice actor still plays him as sounding black-ish and worse yet he's portrayed as being somewhat lecherous, shiftless and not overly bright.

    Web Original 
  • In Brad Jones Demo Reel, Gretchen said she player Othello while wearing blackface, and then whiteface over that.
  • Bart Baker had a few parodies with himself in blackface.
    • An elderly Chris Brown in "Senior Citizen Love" (International Love)
    • Rihanna in the "Pour It Up" parody
    • Kanye West in the "Bound 2" parody.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes characters such as Bugs Bunny would often get soot blown in their faces, causing them to spontaneously parody The Jazz Singer or Eddie Rochester. The Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD set features unedited short cartoons featuring blackface and other stereotypes. Whoopi Goldberg hosts an introductory segment on the disc to explain the intent behind this: while such stereotypes are bad, it would be worse to pretend that they didn't exist. Further detaols are here.
  • Appeared in quite a few of the early Tom and Jerry shorts as well. When re-aired these scenes tend to be edited out, and a couple shorts which can't be easily edited have been all-out banned and don't even appear on the DVDs.
  • Really, nearly every studio during The Golden Age of Animation did this as a gag at some point. At least one Terrytoons short has done this, as seen on Jerry Beck's site.
  • South Park riffs on this trope in "Summer Sucks." The town gets covered in ashes, causing all the ash-covered residents to look like they're in blackface. Needless to say, Chef, the resident black man who'd just returned from his vacation, isn't pleased.
    Chef: Okay, everybody get in line so I can whoop all your asses.
  • Parodied on Family Guy in season 9, when Chris wanted to dress up as Bill Cosby for Halloween, using blackface as well as his trademark sweater. His mother tried telling him it’s wrong, but Chris just said, ‘Why, don’t I look like him?’ His mother agreed that he did, but then said, ‘You can’t just go out on the street in blackface, it’s racist! Now go put on that Indian head gear I bought you!
  • The book Kaboom! Explosive Animation from America and Japan mentions that "Even today, the question can be legitimately asked: How much of Mickey Mouse is mouse, and how much is blackface clown?"
  • The Little Mermaid contains a one-off blink-and-you'll-miss-it blackface gag with the blackfish in "Under The Sea". This wouldn't be racist if the blackfish was actually black, but as it isn't...
  • The Smiths in American Dad! show up to a black organization's banquet in blackface after misreading the invitation. It turns out the party's name was "Black People Changing the Face of America".

    Other 
  • This happens in The Philippines, particularly in the province of Aklan in the Visayas every January, when the native brown people smear their bodies with black coal to celebrate a feast with the indigenous black minority called the Aetas, with a help of a miracle from a memento from the Spaniards that helped develop a culture. It's called the Ati-atihan, which literally means "festival of acting like Aetas".
  • A Japanese earthquake safety pamphlet passed out as late as 2004 featured a cartoon "sambo" character with a blackface appearance. After some complaints, the pamphlet was redrawn.
  • The helpers of Sinterklaas (the Dutch Santa Claus) are usually white people in blackface and colourful costumes called Zwarte Piet ("Black Pete").
  • There is a picture of Eva Braun dressed as Al Jolson, in suit and full blackface. Yes, you read that right.
  • New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind landed in hot water when a picture surfaced of him costumed as a black basketball player for Purim, complete with darkened skin and an afro wig. Critics labeled the costume blackface, while Hikind insisted that no offence was intended.
  • Korean comedians have dressed in black face a few times in recent years, drawing attention from the ex-pat community.
  • In pre-season testing for the 2008 Formula One season, Lewis Hamilton (the first successful black F1 driver) was racially abused by people blackfacing and wearing shirts reading "Hamilton's Family".
  • Jane Hamsher, a blogger for Huffington Post, came under attack for posting a doctored picture of then-U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, then a Democrat (but before he became an "Independent Democrat"), in blackface, being shown alongside Bill Clinton. Hamsher subsequently apologized.
  • Two instances of blackface that happened for Halloween in 2013:
    • Vice Principal Lionel Klotz, at Mayfield Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario, dressed as Mr T in chains and blackface. He was briefly suspended for a time.
    • Julianne Hough dressed as a black inmate from Orange Is The New Black, complete with blackface. She apologized for doing this.

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Big Head ModeStay Ahead of This IndexBoom, Headshot
Black Eyes of EvilTropes in BlackBlack Knight
Black Dude Dies FirstBlack IndexBlack Gal on White Guy Drama
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The Jazz SingerImageSource/Live-Action FilmsRise of the Talkies
Barely-There SwimwearThe Roaring TwentiesThe Cheerleader

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