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.