Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Black Film Predicament

It’s raining. I’m no longer a child so the fear of me not being able to go out and play no longer exists. Now, However, is when I appreciate substituting my television watching with reading, writing (quite evidently), or reflecting. The Rain outside sounding seamless, as if at any given second there’s a drop of water hitting something to allow for one long consistent note, and in a jazz-like fashion percussioned by random thunder and strobed by the lightning’s bright light through my blinds. I’d describe this as being very close to the epitome of the perfect setting for said activities. Obviously second fiddle to beautiful naked women plucking away at a harp made of my beard hairs, while feeding me grapes filled with Jack Daniels and massaging my body with Aloe Vera. That’s perfect… Anyhow, its’ times like this when I like to allow my phone to die, defensing all distraction, and precede in pounding on a keyboard.

I’m reminded while glancing over at the rack containing my DVD collection that I need to push in the one DVD that’s protruding out, Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, a film amongst my favorites. Evidently, also a film that I recently watched and obviously neglected to thoroughly secure when putting back. But what’s saddening is the ratio of black film to other films in my collection. But what’s even more saddening is this being a precise metaphor for our current film atmosphere in general. Massive amounts of movie made and put out and little of them being by or about us. It’s hard to pin point the culprit. Is it the production studios? They obviously under value black film and filmmakers, almost never allowing either a big budget. Is it the movie goers not supporting the good black films available? Is it society? Does black film no longer appeal to anyone? I’ll assume it’s a bit of all of the above. What’s clear is that there is a major issue with representing blackness in Hollywood. It would seem as though Hollywood finally believes that this is a task that can be negotiated by anyone. The value of the black experience no longer exists. 

I recently watched Think like a Man. A film written by two white men, marketed as being a film by and about blackness, successfully. It angers me to no end that anything Spike Lee has done or will do could ever possibly match the financial return of this piece of shit. OK, Kevin Hart made me laugh a few times but ultimately the film is about simple caricatures and consisted of no depth nor properly represented us. Are Steve Harvey and Tyler Perry going to be the only two black males representing the culture? If so, this is quite disheartening. Here’s a name for you, Ron Bass. The white man that wrote all your favorite black movies; Stella Got Her Groove Back, Dangerous Minds, Waiting to Exhale. Yes, I said Waiting to Exhale, the film frequently described as the great black movie that depicts the black women’s plight. Written by a white dude? Is this acceptable? I definitely respect his hustle, but what does it say about us that this, evidenced by it's success, is all we support. It reminds me of the beginning of Spike Lee’s Girl 6, in which Quentin Tarantino during the audition scene claims to be making the next great black film. How silly is that? Yet this is reality, this is what Hollywood believes can be done.  

A few months ago I wrote a blog about what I thought was going to be the new black film movement. This movement consisting of, Ava DuVernay (I Will Follow), Dee Rees (Pariah), Qasim Basir (Mooz-lum), Alrick Brown (Kinyarwanda), Steve McQueen (Shame), Salim Akil (Jumping the broom), and a few more. This movement is absolutely still possible. But it requires support. It requires education. It requires that we as black people or as a black culture can’t allow ourselves not to be force fed or accepting of everything we’re tossed. This requires, until information is more readily available, research, support, and the seeking out of such films.

I am by no means trying to sound overly righteous or revolutionary. I have no issue with white film or any other type of films for that matter. I just feel like I know what’s at stake. Popular culture is where the learning is. What people see the most of ultimately begins to be adopted as truth. Reality television is doing an amazing job depicting black women and men horribly with shows like basketball wives and love and hip hop already, imagine if those same images were all you saw in the theater too. If that’s what profitable, then that’s what we’ll see. Let’s not let that happen. Support quality independent film for the time being. Allow those to be what we crave. 

Regarding sources of such information, http://www.affrm.com/ seems to be a great place. Twitter too.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pore Music and Girls

My inconsistency is quite shameful. I almost feel it necessary to begin each of my post with an apology because of this fact. This time around I’ll refrain from doing so. Although it would be an honest effort on my part, I suppose it would mean nothing if not corrected. Allow me to work on correction and maybe an apology, though no longer necessary if my attempt is success, will come later. Welcome back.

I hope life has been good to you. Me? I can say that it has. Not because much has changed, because much hasn’t, but because things aren’t horrible. I’m not sure if that’s an optimistic outlook or a pessimistic standard, either way, I have a glass, and it has water in it, and whether half full or half empty, I’m getting thirsty? Whatever. At last declaration, I proposed a life of non-conformity, in which I made it a personal goal of mine to, as so precisely titled, not conform in manners that I had been in the past. I greatly underestimated the level of difficulty of this task. I recognize that most of my conforming happens in the workplace, and though I would love to say fuck it and roll out with my head held high, sound tracked by James Brown’s the big payback, I’m fully aware that I have a lifestyle to maintain and need money to do so. So aspects of conformity will have to stay in place for the time being. I also mentioned that I was going to let my facial hair grow, initially as a fuck-corporate-America-black-man-strong-beard type of thing, but now it’s something that I’m totally embracing. I love my beard! Not only is there a level of unexpected liberation that I’m experiencing, I’m also feeling like a gold member of tribe, gang, brotherhood, or as I refer to us on twitter, bearded brigade brethren. With one glance at another bearded gentlemen I’m able to convey kinship, respect, and “Dude, nice fucking beard.” Plus, this is reciprocated. It just feels so damn Manly, for lack of a bearder word! Catch that? I also seem to be receiving a fair amount of positive attention from the ladies, and you can never be mad at that. Anyhow, I’ll attach a photo and you can let me know what you think about the Music from my pores, so to speak….

So, I live alone, and I think a lot. I read a lot too. I’m currently working through Toni Morrison’s collection and thoroughly enjoying it. She’s genius. Quite the prototype I’m scheming up for whatever woman I end up with in life. The mind of Morrison, lips of Kerry Washington, Swag of Badu, lisp of Melissa Harris-Perry, and so on. Though I’m sure all that will change tomorrow. What won’t change tomorrow is my co-sign for HBO’s new show Girls, which I frequently find myself in debates about. Though critically acclaimed, something about this show repulses the people around me. Not that critical acclaim is everything because it’s definitely not, but because the show is so outstandingly good in my opinion that I find myself perplexed by those that feel differently. In what I would describe as Woody-allen-esque, Girls thrives where a lot of other shows fail to keep my interest, the writing. It’s sharp, witty, smart, and high brow comedy. I encourage you all to check it out.

Amongst beards, books, and new shows are relationships, new and old. It’s funny how you never really know which relationships will be substantial and which will be trivial. I suppose I should appreciate the amount of people that come in, out, and around my life but at times that’s hard to do. A friendship that I considered deep ended as a new/old friendship seems to be rekindled. I tread delicately in regards to the latter, though I hope it grows much stronger. We’ll see.

I’ll assume this is my attempt at getting back in the flow of things. My making amends for inconsistency. I assure you that this blog will become priority. Thanks for reading.