The Cinema of Hollywood— Black Faces, White Messages

I, as a rule, avoid stupid people.

Because they are vexations of the spirit, and in the truest sense of the word… wastes of time.

But every so often, I feel that a positive discussion can be distilled, or needs to be made, out of one person’s negative.

Someone posted on line for “flicks where there are NO BLACK PEOPLE?”

On the surface it’s the kind of ignorant discourse that has become common place in the increasingly unmoderated world of YOUTUBE and CRAIGSLIST and IMDB and insert other online site here. Increasingly companies shirk their responsibilty to moderate discourse under the guise of liberty, when in truth it’s about being a haven for hate, confusion, and disconnect, and the antithesis of communication. It’s about sites creating an uncivil experience.

But I thought such moronic statements, occasionally warrant an answer, not for the moron who posted it, but for those stumbling honestly on it, and who may take away only the fool’s foolishness, I wanted to give the other side of the story.

or

One moronic topic deserves another.

or

We need more films with characters and directors of color, and preferably more than the stupid tokenism prevalent in “Hollywood” films. Cause trust me I hate the token, shoe-horned in, poorly written single Black character in a film otherwise filled with pale faces more than anything. I mean what was that damn RESIDENT EVIL movie. Don’t bring the Black character in the film or show… just to be the sum of your stereotypes.

I mean I really fucking hate that.

And I hate the Black actors who are in the films to do nothing more than reinforce white messages. Be walking stereotypes. It’s one of the reasons I hated SIN CITY (beyond it being just a god-awful movie) or the otherwise excellent DAY AND NIGHT that was ruined for me in the last 5 minutes with an inexplicable introduction of one of the most annoying characters in all cinema.

So the search should be for movies without poorly written Black characters. And it’s a search, that I back up with dollars. As a rule films with strong characters of color, multiple characters of color, smartly written, get my attention and my dollars. And those without… do not.

One of the reasons HANCOCK (that was marketed to be a failure) was one of the highest grossing movies of its year. Making over 300 million, just shy of IRON MAN, and the blockbuster that was DARK KNIGHT, was the same reason most critics hated it, and most people of color loved it, it was a film with an unconventional 2nd half where the character of color, transcended the box that hollywood designs for them… of crook, fool, or comedy relief, and got to be a hero, while also being a quite brilliant and forlorn love story.

That’s the cinema, I like paying for. And it’s the cinema I want to see more of. The cinema… of transcending. And more than that it’s a cinema, our youth desperately needs more of.

We do not rise above our dreams. And mass media, movies, music, tv, teaches youths of color, to dream very poorly indeed. To be sidekicks in their own lives at best.

And it’s the reason I LOVE movies like CITY OF GOD (or the equally brilliant TV series CITY OF MEN), CAPUCCINO, And we need more of them.

Thing is there are brilliant films and filmmakers (SOUNDS OF SAND, LIFTED, EL BENNY, THE DISCIPLE, THE ASSASSIN, ALGENY, DARSALAM, BLACK DYNAMITE etc), but they don’t get picked up for distribution, and our cinemas instead get flooded with the 8 million copies of moronic comedies, or the same old, tired, boring, and ultimately eurocentric tripe.

And we are all… diminished, by the lack of diversity and dumbing down of American culture. Our cinema and our songs. There’s a reason films and music are stuck in the 80s, regurgitating and recycling it. It’s because the new has always come from the ground up. The culture of those on top, always dependent on the culture of those on the bottom. You get no country music, no rock and roll, without negro spirituals, and blues, and jazz.

And today our inner city youth our devoid (devoided) of culture. And mainstream America has nothing to copy, so we get stuck in this loop, of listening to the good old days, or remaking the good old movies.

We become a cannibal nation, eating its own tale.

Because people in positions to give us the new, are afraid. And they crush innovations, new voices and new dreams… not realizing, that ultimately the dreams they crush, of that young filmmaker or actor or musician of color… is everyone’s dreams. They have always been, these people of color, the engines of our tomorrow.

All our tomorrows.

So the search must ever be, for more visions, and more visionaries… of color.

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