The Blackface of White Christmas

The Irving Berlin Song 'Mandy' Cloaked Racism in Nostalgia on American Stages and Screens for Nearly 40 Years

White Christmas is a staple of the holiday season. Every winter, the 1954 movie-musical brings Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen into our homes to sing and dance their way through rural Vermont. But what might seem like wholesome entertainment takes a turn when the cast performs “Mandy,” a song reminiscing about “the minstrel days we miss.”

The jarring musical number demonstrates how blackface minstrelsy embedded itself in popular culture long after the practice itself became taboo, and how, by cloaking its message in nostalgia, incarnations of the same hateful genre have …

Can Uncle Vanya Work in Four Different Languages? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Can Uncle Vanya Work in Four Different Languages?

The Play Featured in the Oscar-Nominated Japanese Film Drive My Car Offers a Window Into How Drama Brings Us Together

“If you want to work on your art, work on your life.” —Chekhov

Like any great aphorism, the dramatist Anton Chekhov’s advice can be taken many ways. In our 21st century …

The Composer Who Saved King Kong—and Transformed Movie Music | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Composer Who Saved King Kong—and Transformed Movie Music

The Masterful Max Steiner’s Career and Life Were as Dramatic as Any Hollywood Picture

An international crisis triggers record unemployment. Hollywood bleeds red as movie theaters shutter. And one major studio faces imminent closure, putting all its hopes on a would-be blockbuster.

The year is …

When San Francisco Kicked Hollywood to the Curb

Angered by Negative Depictions of Their City, in the Early 1970s Civic Leaders Regulated Filmmakers Out of Town

Canada’s motion picture industry earned the nickname “Hollywood North” because the country so often serves as a center of location production for American films. But in the early 1970s, this …

Is Oakland Too Real for the Oscars?

The Bay Area’s Second City Gave Us the Year’s Surprise Hits—Black Panther, Blindspotting, and Sorry to Bother You—But the Academy Hasn’t Returned the Love

The best California movie scene of recent vintage is the opening of the 2018 film Sorry to Bother You. A young man and his girlfriend are getting intimate in what …