This past Tuesday, the New York Times found itself in hot water concerning a review of an Off-Broadway play. Ben Bartley wrote an insensitive description of Saartjie Baartman, the African slave woman Venus is centered around. The play by Suzan-Lori Parks details the real life exploitation of Baartman, who was forced to participate in European freak-shows for her curvy lower half. Bartley began his piece by casually comparing the woman known as “The Hottentot Venus” to celebrity Kim Kardashian.
“‘Attention, please, those of you whose greatest ambition is to acquire the traffic-stopping body of Kim Kardashian. There is a less drastic alternative to costly and dangerous buttocks implants.’” the theater critic wrote. What he failed to consider was the historically born objectification of black bodies, and the sexualization and torture they often faced. By dismissing this all, Bartley drove Twitter into a tailspin. His insertion of Kim Kardashian where she did not belong had a high price to pay. Users swiftly called out the inconsiderate article.
@nytimestheater HIRE BLACK WOMEN!!!
— VzA (@ValerieComplex) May 16, 2017
Although the New York Times deleted their tweet, the article is still up to read. Even after Baartman’s death, her remains were on display as late as the 1970s. Her disrespectful treatment post-mortem continues now with Bartley’s article.
Do you think the NYT was wrong to compare Hottentot Venus to Kim K?
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