You know who I’m talking about –- black actresses who bring a “sassiness” to their portrayals. A few actresses come to mind, one in particular.
Broadly speaking, being a black woman –- and living in real life and not on the screen, I know that sass is often a part of who we are. Many black women are sassy or have elements of sassiness that pervade their personality.
Sassiness is not limited to ghetto girls and the uneducated.
The truth is, sassiness is alive and well every day within many of us. Of course, there are varying degrees of sassiness. Someone could be (1) sassy and someone else could be (10) sassy.
In fact, I’d say it’s unusual to find a black woman who is completely devoid of sassiness, regardless of socioeconomic standing, much like it is unusual to find a black person devoid of that thing called “soul.”
Of course, not every black woman has sass. This is probably in large part based on their upbringing and their childhood environment, etc. And it is true that many educated black women and high achievers don’t own this behavioral trait.
Anyhoo, as far as sass on screen…
I think there’s a place for it when it’s called for, but its misuse is the problem. I suppose actresses (those not as skilled) use this as a means of expression to beget realness to the blackness of their character. They likely think this is necessary to establish their character’s authenticity.
My main complaint about sass is that it is usually uncalled for. And when there’s too much of it, it transforms the character into a caricature. It diminishes the character’s credibility. In these instances, sass is as an inappropriate expression of what sass could be (strong mindedness, opinionated, fearlessness about voicing anopinion). Instead, you end up with rudeness and brashness that is… unbecoming.
My second problem with sass is repetition. Many actresses who
rely on it use it, use it ALL THE TIME. I figure one of two things is going on here: (i) the actress is placing pieces of her real life persona onto the screen, or (ii) the actor deliberately sets out to portray the character in this way when it is unnecessary to do so, when it is detrimental to the characterization. The actor's inability to transform into character and her reliance on this vehicle to layer her character, are miscalculations.
The third problem with sass: Actors who don’t understand what surely must be a fundamental element of acting; that is, nuance. Sometimes it is appropriate or may even enhance the character if a little bit of sass is applied. Or sometimes a moderate amount of sass might be interesting or funny or entertaining, but too often the sass is too much.
That actress who came to mind -– before I think of her as a good or bad actress doing good or bad movies, I think of her as “that sassy actress” because she ALWAYS IS.
There’s nothing wrong with a sh*t-talker as long as she exists for a valid cinematic reason, rather than existing as a function of the actor’s inability to express herself. I’m like, hellllooooooooooo, I know you are black. I can see that you are.
There’s a place for it, without a doubt, but unnecessary, excessive and misuse of sass makes the actor look stupid. As a consequence of the actor’s fragile understanding of elements of speech communication, I cannot feel truly engaged with the character, because the sassiness is a distraction… and annoying
What do you think about sass?