"For one thing, there’s Dido’ fetishization by the two Ashford brothers. While one brother sees her simply as an exotic "other" whom he can bed without forming attachments — very different from the attitude toward white women of the same time period, whose virtue was unequivocal and untouchable — the other is downright violent in his conception of Dido, calling her "repulsive" but still expressing a desire to rape her. The scenes in which that older, more violent Ashford brother addresses Dido directly, giving voice to his unbridled racism and at one point assaulting her, are indisputably disturbing, not just because they represent a disgusting and brutal history but because I see remnants of those attitudes today in the way the world perceives the bodies of black and brown women: exotic, sexual, sensual, different objects. We see it in the way Miley Cyrus and almost any given white pop star (Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke, for example) use black women’s bodies as props in music videos: as something to be appropriated and used for one’s own pleasure and then cast off in pursuit of the next trend. In addition, the rape of black women still does not seem to carry much horror in 2014; it was most recently a punchline on Saturday Night Live, and last year Russell Simmons was forced to apologize for his highly offensive "Harriet Tubman Sex Tape." None of this is too different from the way the Ashford brothers perceive Dido’s body: as an exotic "other" not worthy of love or respect but merely of lust, and lust framed in a particularly problematic racism."
Belle: A Lesson in the Timelessness of Racism and Misogyny Against Black Women by Olivia Cole