14 Thoughts On The Wiz Live After Taking A Week To Fully Process Its Blackassness » VSB

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14 Thoughts On The Wiz Live After Taking A Week To Fully Process Its Blackassness

1. Black people are everything.

2. Newcomer Shanice Williams was great as Dorothy. Her voice has just the right amount of innocence and clarity for this role. She was a joy to watch and held her own alongside a cast of stage and screen veterans…and Common. I look forward to seeing her career blossom and hope that she never winds up as a downtrodden damsel in distress in a tacky wig waiting for her equally tacky light-skinned prince charming in a predictable Tyler Perry production.

3. Amber Riley’s performance of “He’s The Wiz” is my favorite number in the show. It was effortless, like everything else she does. The costumes, the choreography (by the magnificent Fatima Robinson), the deep red afro puffs, orange flat tops and the fuchsia fingerwaves were fucking beautiful and there are tons of Black and brown kids who needed to see themselves this way. I’ve watched it a few times daily since it aired.

4. Watching along with Twitter was an invaluable experience. The convergence of the brilliant, the wretched, the inappropriate and the wack that happens on Twitter on any given day is a truly magical thing, like the Black pre-rug cutting warning clap. I don’t know what it’s like to live tweet the Intergalactic Green Bean Casserole Championships or the Quinoa Sculpture Death Match or whatever special broadcasts bring all the Caucasians to the digital yard over in Fact-Averse Xenophobic Swamp Donkey Motherfucker Twitter, but when we mounted up like a multigenerational Diasporic Voltron to behold, gush, gag and complain over this primetime Black excellence bonanza in 140-character bursts, it was the closest I’ve come to a praise and worship service not tied to a wedding or funeral in about a few years. Ashé.

5. I had forgotten how refreshing it was to see dozens of Us on screen at once being creative in ways that don’t entail throwing or dodging paternity suits, niggerish stereotypes, horrendous Steve Harvey-scented life advice or champagne bottles. The deluge of quick-witted tweets and videos of Black babies singing and dancing as they watched Black folks be great on TV were a breath of fresh air considering the relentless hateration from shit-munchers like Donald Trump and the FOX-flavored melanin envy we contend on the daily.

6. A live show is no damn joke. Forthcoming jabs aside, what this cast and crew pulled off is impressive. No pausing to fix or cover onstage blunders or farts. That is a big deal.

7. Watching White folks react to things that aren’t by, for, and about them is hilarious. As Dorothy and the gang sang and twirled and vogued and Blacked excellently on live television, hoards of clueless, victimization-hungry fucknuggets from Mount Dumpsterheart climbed out of their uncledaddy’s bootyholes and swooped down to sound the reverse racism alarms. They cried, “Why is an all-Black cast not racist and who will wipe my White tears?” They wondered why their uninspired and revisionist, Caucasian-driven, ahistorical cinematic circle jerks are dutifully shot down and ridiculed like a Bad Boy artist dream deferred. They predicted outrage at the idea of an all-White production of The Wiz and were as happy as Rachel Dolezal at the podium of a Racial Stowaway Convention at the prospect of earning pity for their misinformed and misdirected displays of aggressiveshitbaggery. These are the same folks who can’t grasp that pro-Blackness is not inherently anti-White or that such reaffirming is so necessary due in part to centuries pon centuries of demeaning and disastrous encounters with their rat bastard forefathers. Maybe someone can get Tim Wise to make a cute video to break it down for them.

8. Ne-Yo’s accent fucked my head up. What year is this? Is we free? Is this the same painful accent from Red Tails, that makes him sound like a Jim Crow-era shrimp boater and part-time runaway slave from Whoville, Louisiana who lives on Marlboro Reds and old fish grease and can’t function without that invisible ounce of tobacco in his jaw that makes him sound juicy-mouthed, culturally conflicted and foolish? How did we get here and why did his have to happen to me?

9. I’ve never seen the original 1975 Broadway production that preceded the movie. I enjoyed The Wiz, but didn’t grow up singing the songs and easing on down roads in my bedroom. I don’t have the same deeply passionate connection to the film, aside from appreciating any chance I get to watch my people sing, dance, and Black excellently. As such, I was able to enjoy the broadcast as a standalone body of work, produced for a contemporary audience, with contemporary references, choreography, casting and dialogue, without bemoaning all that it lacked as compared to the play that defined my childhood and such, as I’ve seen a lot online. I could love the Emerald City sequence and its masterful use of voguing without basing my opinion on how they fared up against the magic that happened on stage in 1975.

10. I kind of want to be one of the Poppies next Halloween.

11. The downside of having so few opportunities to represent like this before a global audience with such a budget is our tendency to chain all our hopes and dreams to the few such showings we get. Unrealistic expectations fly freely. Feelings are often hurt.

12. Speaking of acting careers powered by colorism and European beauty standards, Common’s portrayal of the Wiz’s ultra-stuff gatekeeper was as dynamic as a pack-to-pan chicken dinner prepared by Sandra Lee. His jacket was dope, but the person wearing it had the conviction of a Rihanna dance step.

13. Mary…looked wonderful.

14. Even if an all/White cast were to give this Black ass show a go, it would surely be a bowl unfunky folksy fuckshit. No.

Alex Hardy

Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson's Royal Army. He is a writer who escaped Hampton, Virginia and is now based in Panama City, Panama. There, he runs The Colored Boy, and consumes copious amounts of chicken. He has written for EBONY.com, CNN, Gawker, and Huffington Post among other outlets. Alexander can likely be found daydreaming about his next meal or Blacking It Up on someone's dance floor. He also doesn't believe in snow or Delaware. Read more from Alex at www.thecoloredboy.com

  • Love your writing, but I have to speak on 4 and 7 a bit. With #4, I’m struggling to think of anything that would get nothing but White people of all kinds watching without getting decent numbers of Black people watching along. The variations between hipsters, White ethnics and rednecks are real, and besides hating on Black folk, they don’t f*ck with each other that heavy.

    With #7, I had White people on my Facebook feed straight confused when I brought up the hate tweets, and I’m not exactly connected to nothing but down a$$ 2520s. I think that was a millennial White thing. Anyone 30+ remembers the Diana Ross/Michael Jackson version, and generally let the all Black cast cook.

    • mochazina

      i’d venture to say that last year’s peter pan live was mostly 2025s watching… of the 3 live musicals, it had the lowest ratings.

  • Jocelyn

    I wasn’t born when the previous stage version debuted or the movie. But I grew up watching it on cable and loved it. I know all the songs and was happy to see the new version. It was long (my attention span is waning in old age) but enjoyable. They modernized it without making it foolish. Common was eye candy. I am a fan but it was clear he was there because
    he is popular and cute. I was under the impression that fish grease is
    Ne Yo’s native tongue. I’ve watched the other NBC Broadway Live productions and this was by far the best!

  • I’m still upset about Common being the weak doorman to Club Wiz. He’s got the driest personality of all time and his presence was an insult to anyone who has ever been involved in theater in any capacity. I feel like Mary could’ve done more, “No Bad News” fell kind of flat for me and I love that song.

    Although I wasn’t a fan of Shanice Williams’ voice, and I really wanted to be, she performed beautifully!! I hope that she achieves everything her heart desires in the realm of the arts. I didn’t know Uzo was classically trained in voice and that was a pleasant surprise. I’m glad they opted for a black wig instead of the blonde one they showed in the promos.

    Ne-yo. He’s just not a good actor. He was terrible in Red Tails. He was terrible in Stomp the Yard. I just don’t need to see him on the big screen, ever. Idk if he has a voice coach but his accent reminds me of the accent that is used in House of Cards for “Francis'” character. The Southern accent varies from region to region and everyone seems to think that anyone that ever lived under the Mason Dixon speaks like a 1850’s New Orleans aristocrat. I don’t understand.

    All that being said, I live for musicals and theater in general. Also, irrationally angry white folks will always tickle me.

    • You can hear those subtleties, but a non Southerner can’t. It’s like explaining that a Bajan, Jamaican and Trini accent isn’t the same. People from there get it, but unless you spent a LOT of time around all three, you won’t be able to tell.

      • I guess you have a point about me recognizing the subtleties versus someone who hasn’t spent a significant time in southern regions. Still, it’s the job of whoever is over these actors to do their research and make sure that there is at least some effort made in having these accents be, at the very least, within the right time period.

      • Aly

        This is true.

    • Jennifer

      Ne-Yo was hired to sing and dance — unfortunately, the Tin Man has a lot of dialogue.

      Mary J was hired to sing…and she did that.

      • His singing left much to be desired, especially some of those runs he attempted. He’s always been a better writer/composer than actual performer in my eyes.

        • Jennifer

          I honestly think that if Chris Breezy was not such a persona non grata right now, they would have hired him.

          The casting conversation went something like this: “Well, we can’t have Chris Brown, and Usher is busy singing about his girlfriend on the pole, so who else is there? Call that Ne-yo guy.”

          • While I don’t think it’s fair to continue to crucify Chris for some of his more egregious crimes, I also would prefer not to see him shucking and jiving across my tv screen. They probably had plenty of qualified young men to play that Tin Man part but it’s much easier to sell a middle of the road R&B star to pull the kind of number you want to see.

            Usher hasn’t aged (musically) well enough for anyone to want to consider him for anything. I would be inclined to pass on anything he’s part of because of this. He’s had his run and didn’t maintain it well.

            • Brass Tacks

              “Usher hasn’t aged (musically) well enough for anyone to want to consider him for anything.”

              Long live: My Way, 8701, and Confessions.

            • Jennifer

              …and he is still getting crucified. (See: Nick Cannon’s surprise appearance on the Daily Show last week.)

              • He’s never going to be able to shake beating up Rihanna.

                • QuirlyGirly

                  Especially after seeing the pictures and she is a mega star now. And it doesn’t help that is says and does some ignorant things. But he has been pretty quiet lately.

                  • His daughter is the reason for him chilling out, ironic no?

                    • QuirlyGirly

                      Yeah it is ironic. Well, thank goodness for his daughter then.

                    • It’s sad that so many men have to become fathers to daughters in order to change their childish ways and how they treat women.

          • Brass Tacks

            I would’ve preferred C. Breezy play The Scarecrow over anyone else.

            • Jennifer

              Aw! I love Elijah Kelley. He was so good as Seaweed in film version of Hairspray. I honestly think his costume worked against him being able to communicate with the audience. I felt the same way about David Allan Grier.

            • QuirlyGirly

              Is C. Brown a good actor? I know he would have given us that Mike Jackson feel as far as dancing and stuff but do you think he would have pulled off the actual acting portion?

              • Brass Tacks

                I actually do Quirly. I like a lot of stuff he’s been in. He isn’t as wooden as a lot of these musical entertainers turned actors. I also think he has the necessary stage presence to carry the role.

          • QuirlyGirly

            Usher is busy singing about his girlfriend on the pole

            LOL! You were so wrong for this line.

          • Junegirl627

            Tears…. real tears :)

          • Vanity in Peril

            You can’t have no damb christopher brown playing a dude without a heart. A brain though…?

  • Pinks

    Amber gave me everything. EVA-REE-THANG, you hear me? Free of charge. With a Popeyes biscuit on the side. Extra strawberry jelly.

    I’ve also never seen the stage play, so my only connection to The Wiz is the movie with Diana and Michael. *iinsert you cain’t weeeeeeeeeen neck roll* There were folks on my TL saying the live version was wack because it didn’t have the toilet flush and there were no audience reactions. What? All these sanging, juking, squalling, dabbing, naenaeing, creative black folks doing the d a m n thing and you mad because there’s no applause track? Tuh!

    • I can’t stand Diana for strong arming her way into a role that wasn’t meant for her *side eye* They had to re-write Dorothy’s character because of that. Stephanie Mills deserves every good thing in life for having that part stolen from under her feet and I’m glad she got to be Dorothy’s Aunt in this recent version.

      • Aly

        Sooo happy to see Stephanie Mills! Her version of “Home” is my absolute favorite.

        • Yes and yes!

        • LadyIbaka

          I never knew a love like this before!!!??!!! Love Steph. She is phenomenal on stage.

          • Aly

            Another classic. Never seen her live, but I can imagine she’s wonderful.

            • LadyIbaka

              I saw a live performance via YouTube, lol. Sooo kiiiyute and engaging!

              • Aly

                Oh, gotcha! lol

            • fxd8424

              She is amazing live.

          • Londa

            I Feel Good All Over is my jam!!

            • LadyIbaka

              I’ll check it out.

            • QuirlyGirly

              Me too- but Secret Lady is the cut too.

          • miss t-lee

            She’s coming to San Antonio in a few weeks, I think I’m going.
            I love her whole dayum catalogue.

        • RU Scarlet

          Mine, too! You know how many times I almost died trying to hold that note? (You know which note!) lol

          • Aly

            Hahaha, yup I know it!

          • Londa

            I know EXACTLY which note!

        • PaddyfotePrincess

          She sang her face OFF.

      • Pinks

        Word, she was mad long in the tooth playing a teenager lol

        • They “altered” it so that she could be “23” even though Diana was going on 56 playing the role.

          • Pinks

            Come on now, Muva Ross. She was petty for that one.

            • I don’t understand why people can’t just let younger folks shine.

              • Sigma_Since 93

                Divas gonna Diva

                • You right, still, having that kind of attitude will only take you so far in life.

                  • Sigma_Since 93

                    It put millions in her pockets and several Black classic movies so I might need to Diva my damb self! #waitingforthemillionstocome

                • Honey Pot

                  speaking of diava’s diva-ing, something tells me keke palmer is salty she wasnt selected for Shanice’s part. But that could just be my lowkey dislike for keke

          • RU Scarlet

            You ain’t lying. Pretty sure she’s VP of the AARP-born Entertainers Club. 2nd only to Morgan Freeman.

          • Jennifer

            Yeah. Didn’t they turn her into a teacher?

            • SirKnows DevoidofPunk

              Yup. Diana was a broke 20something teacher living at home in the Wiz… it made sense.

        • miss t-lee

          Yupppp.

      • bearbear

        yeah she was wrong for this. Especially when it came to singing Home. Diana couldn’t touch Stephanie Mills’ version with a million foot pole. Stephanie definitely deserves all good things that come to her.

      • Jennifer

        Strong arming? Wasn’t that the work of her boo at the time, Mr. Barry Gordy?

        • QuirlyGirly

          It was Barry Gordy but she could have said No. Plus she had already done Lady Sings the Blues and Mahagany by then. She didn’t need to be in the Wiz. Diana didn’t make the Wiz any better because she was in it.

          • Vanity in Peril

            No Diana, no Mj…so…guess we can let her cook

        • Darylsmeadnotebook

          actually berry said no. he wanted stephanie mills. she went behind his back to arrange the deal.

          • Jennifer

            Ah! I didn’t know that. Thanks for the info.

      • Tynesha Story

        You know you talking right!!!!! I adore Stephanie Mills and why ANYONE thought Diana was a good choice is beyond me. Her voice cannot compare.

    • I haven’t watched the whole thing since Early Riser. Still, as much as I’m attached to the movie, they did a good job of remaking it without being a direct copy or getting too extra with it.

      • Pinks

        And I liked the little bit of modernization too, with the dances and slang and iPad. They did just enough without it being overkill, I thought.

    • PhlyyPhree

      I agreed about the audience reactions. As fun as it was to watch it with twitter, I think hearing the crowd reactions would have made it that much better, for me. As a former performer, I know that crowd energy is very influential in how well you perform sometimes. Also, I just would have wanted to be there.

      • Pinks

        I can see that. when Amber was done with “he’s the wiz” I was shouting for GLORAY so I know an audience would’ve been hype

        • PhlyyPhree

          Right. And with it being a live show and black audiences being what they are, the call and response with the crowd would have been everything IMO

          • mochazina

            shoo, that thing would have taken 5hrs if WE would have been in the audience. LOL

      • Jennifer

        Agreed! Or, they could have least made the transitions between the numbers smoother. Again, this is nitpicking.

  • IsitFridayyet?

    I completely agree with your third point, I have lost count of how many times I have watched that number over again.

    One thing that hit me after I watched The Wiz Live was how it seems like every ten years or so we get to see a dynamic young Black woman in a somewhat controversial role. For example a few years before I was born, Polly w/Keisha Knight Pulliam (directed and Choreographed by Debbie Allen) aired on network T.V. A little over a decade later Cinderella w/Brandy (produced by Whitney Houston) aired on network TV and now The Wiz.

    • Can I tell you how much i LOVED Polly with little Rudy? I have it on DVD (legit from the Disney vault) along with the sequel Polly comin’ Home #WhoGonCheckMeBoo

      • Tiana

        YAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSS!!! I have both as well. Those were my MOVIES!!

      • IsitFridayyet?

        This is sooo me I have both on DVD as well but I have yet to see Polly Comin’ Home. I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed.

      • Unicorn Tears

        Man that movie is top ten faves of ALL TIME! I loved Keshia and Phylicia in it….I may pull out my DVD and watch tonight!

  • PhlyyPhree

    #10. I said this several times throughout the night and the days that have since followed. Of course, if I don’t stay in the gym, I shall have to go as the entire field of poppies, but whatever.

    • But you’d be the biggest heroin on Halloween. You could even give out dope fiend sandwiches to dudes that sweat you!

      I’ll see myself out.

      • mahoganylawlady

        Hahahahaha!

      • PhlyyPhree

        ….
        I didn’t know it was possible to hatechu more.
        Thank you for showing me the possibilities Todd*
        (Yes, I know that is what she said. Still. )

    • LOL that’s excellent motivation for the gym tho.

      • PhlyyPhree

        Aint it though? Aint. It. Doe.Cause there aren’t enough Spanx in the world to hide flaws in that suit.

        • I’ma just pick something more forgiving. Like The Wizard’s robe and fuzzy slippers look.

          • PhlyyPhree

            Lmaoooooo. My daughter said she either wanted to be Dorothy or The Wiz (the glam butch Wiz). Depending on what she decides will determine if I’m the poppy or Evilene

    • Epsilonicus

      If you dressed as a poppy you would bring all the Libras to your yard ;-)

      • PhlyyPhree

        I’ll definitely be going as a crow then. Hmph

        • Epsilonicus

          Hahahaha!!!

          Bust it open like a real poppy!

    • Yay Radley

      I’m pretty sure I witnessed my son’s first man moment with those d*mned poppies. He watched in slack jawed silence for a moment, then softly gasped “They’re not wearing any panties!” I’m like, A) How do you know, and B) WHY is THAT the first thing you noticed?!

      “I don’t knoooow.” He responded, with the most confused, awestruck, satisfied and thoroughly unrepentant smirk ever. He looked like he’d just discovered the secrets of the universe.

  • Avery

    This is masterfully written!

  • PaddyfotePrincess

    “Ne-Yo’s accent fucked my head up. What year is this? Is we free?”

    LMAO!

  • Junegirl627

    “victimization-hungry fucknuggets from Mount Dumpsterheart climbed out of their uncledaddy’s bootyholes and swooped down to sound the reverse racism alarms.” –

    I am warning VSB now if y’all make me choke on one more Danish Butter Cookie……..

    • LOL I cried on that line! Uncledaddy’s bootyholes tho?! LMAO ahahahahahaha It was too much to handle.

    • Rayjulian85

      Between that and “the conviction of a Rihanna dance step”, I realize I can’t eat or drink whilst VSBing.

      • Junegirl627

        Word!!

      • Janelle Doe

        agreed. I almost fried my keyboard when I burst out laughing

  • What other shows should they do live next??

    I saw some say Stormy weather or Cabin in the Sky (I wasn’t a fan of that one, personally). I think an all-black remake of Wicked might be cool, but I honestly haven’t seen the original–I just hated having to listen to the soundtrack so much when it came out.

    • Another vote for Cabin In The Sky. The thing is that it would attract a decent number of White viewers because it’s such an Old Hollywood movie. It would be an interesting contrast.

      • Jennifer

        Cabin in the Sky? Will this be on Centric?

    • IsitFridayyet?

      West Side Story or Fiddler on the Roof would be my picks for the next live musical.

      • PhlyyPhree

        I could see West Side Story. I wonder what the criteria is for choosing shows. I feel like each of the past live shows have been things that aren’t so far removed that the younger generations have absolutely no knowledge of them. I couldn’t see it for Cabin In The Sky.

      • West Side Story would make sense from a business perspective. You gave White people one, you gave Black people one, now give the Latin folk a little something. Plus with NBC owning Univision, it would allow them to give their Spanish language stars a chance to cross over.

        • Qris_10

          Here for West Side Story live play, this time with all REAL Latinos….not some white folk brown-facing

        • GenevaGirl

          I agree with everything you’ve said, but I don’t think it’s kid friendly enough. The Live shows are supposed to be family must-see TV. I think they were talking about doing the Music Man.

          • Thinking about it, you have a point. It’s not exactly pr0n, but it would be hard for little kids to grasp.

      • So here for West Side Story.

      • Jennifer

        I saw a production of Fiddler last year and was surprised by how timely it still is. Who knew a family in Imperial Russia could teach us so much about present-day America? That wouldn’t be a bad choice down the line, but I wonder how the music would be received.

        • IsitFridayyet?

          I think the music would be well received. I consider it a classic.

          • Jennifer

            I do too, but I am huge musical theater geek, so I don’t know that my taste are in line with the millions of folks NBC will want watching.

    • Rayjulian85

      The next one is Grease. I know Keke Palmer will be in it.

      • Aly

        Oooh, Grease. Is Keke playing Rizzo?

        • Rayjulian85

          She is not. ” Aaron Tveit as Danny Zuko, Julianne Hough as Sandy, Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo, Keke Palmer as Marty, Carly Rae Jepsen as Frenchy, Kether Donahue as Jan, Carlos PenaVega as Kenickie, David Del Rio as Putzie, and more.”

          • Aly

            Thanks :-)

            • Rayjulian85

              Turn out this will be on Fox. My fault.

      • mochazina

        grease will be on fox, i think. january or so…

        • Rayjulian85

          You are absolutely correct. My bad!

    • Jennifer

      NBC announced they would be adapting THE MUSIC MAN before THE WIZ was announced. I heard the appeal of Empire, Blackish, and the Shonda Rhimes Power Hours convinced them to push production up on THE WIZ.

      My vote is for a WEST SIDE STORY adaptation. That could be interesting culturally.

    • miss t-lee

      Oooooh Stormy Weather would be cool.

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