Last night I ran over to the East Village to see the comedy I Love You, Man. It stars Paul Rudd and Rashida Jones. The premise is pretty simple: boy proposes to girl, girl accepts, but boy doesn't have any male friends so he has to scour the streets of Los Angeles for a Best Man in a series of man-dates. Here's the good part: Rashida Jones plays Paul Rudd's ethnically ambiguous wife-to-be. I say ethnically ambiguous because my movie buddy [who's also bi-racial] tapped me on my shoulder and asked, "Uh, does she have some African-American going on?" I quickly explained Rashida was Quincy Jones' daughter. Before I go any further let me set the record straight. I had no problems with the character's racial ambiguity. I was a fan of Rashida Jones when she played the "Italian" girlfriend of Jim in The Office.
However, the wedding ceremony scene happens. After two hours of no reference to Rashida's ethnicity, she was being escorted down the aisle with her two best friends and not her father. In fact, her family wasn't at the wedding at all. It was as if some executive said, "Mmm… if we give Rashida a father, or mother, then her ambiguity becomes specific and ethnic specificity is too much of a downer in a comedy about white guys and their boy-to-man struggles. Look, it's one thing for actors to portray people and not ethnicities, but when Paul Rudd's family is all up and through the movie and Rashida's family is not, well, it's interesting. I guess ethnic specificity only works when the specificity is selling drugs, dancing to Hip Hop, or running North to freedom.
What are your thoughts?
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.