Five Ways Black Movies Can Do Better

Um, yeah.

“…while there have been quite a few entertaining Black movies produced in the last decade or so, the only ones that would be categorized as “very good” or “great” in the same way a “Boyz n the Hood” or a even a “Devil in a Blue Dress” would be are films like “Precious” that deal with subjects so unrelentingly heavy and depressing that moviegoers should watch them with buckets of hot buttered Zoloft instead of popcorn.”

This quote is from “Three Ways That Black Movies Can Do Better,” an article published at Ebony.com yesterday that discusses how the best term to describe the Black movies made in the last decade or so is “instantly forgettable,” and lists some things that can be done to reverse this trend.

And, while I think the three things I listed (1. Bring The Sexy Back, 2. Chill With All The Church Scenes, and 3. Hire Angela Nissel) represent a good, safe start, my word count limit and the fact that, for obvious reasons, I can’t be as, um, “colorful” as I want to be when writing there limited what I was able to say…and how I was able to say it.

Today, here’s the rest of what I would have said yesterday if I wasn’t strong-armed by the Team Ebony Drop Squad.¹

4. Chill With The Got Damn Positive F*cking Messages All The Damn Time

Two of the three best Black movies I’ve seen in the last decade² both had cameos from numerous porn stars and strippers, both revolved around pimps who did some truly effed up things during the course of the movie, both dealt with a seedy urban underworld, and both featured dozens of hilariously misogynistic, racist, and homophobic jokes. And while “Black Dynamite” and “Hustle & Flow” were entirely different types of movies, part of what made them as entertaining as they were was the fact that they reveled in and had fun with some very “unpositive” subject matter. Yet, despite the fact that they were both good movies that featured numerous working Black people, neither got anywhere near the guilt-trip marketing push that “positive” or “important” movies like “Red Tails” usually receive.

I understand why Black filmmakers may feel burdened to always have some type of positive message in their movies. Generally speaking, we (Black film goers) are some thin-skinned motherf*ckers who will think nothing of creating a petition to protest anything less than an onscreen depiction of a “Black life” that never actually existed.

Still, despite the inevitable push back from the Black Blog Tea Party, I think there’s enough of us who don’t necessarily need to have positive and/or message-laden shit pushed down our throats to have a good time at the movies, and I think we’re ready for some Black filmmakers to start having some more quality and ratchet fun.

5. More Nicole Beharie

I don’t believe in the Illuminati, but I do believe that there’s a secret Black society led by Steadman Graham (Why Steadman? Because he doesn’t have shit else do to.) that forces each burgeoning Black producer or director to cast either Paula Patton, Taraji P. Henson, or Meagan Good in their movies. I know it seems far-fetched, but it has to be the only reason why one of those three chicks has been in every single Black movie made in the past eight years.

I know secret societies love them some fresh blood to hold their ceremonies with, so why not cast Beharie in one of those roles? She’s hot, she’s talented, she’s wicked smart, and, wait…did I mention how hot she is?

Anyway people of VSB.com, what do you think needs to happen to make Black movies less damn forgettable? What additions or subtractions would you make if you were Black Movie Czar for a day?

¹Just to be clear, I realize there are a ton of indie Black films that would definitely qualify as quality and entertaining. Today though, I’m more focused on major motion pictures. 
²The third movie? “Akeelah and the Bee”

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

***For all the folks in the DC area, this Saturday, April 7, from 930pm-3am at Liv Nightclub (11th and U Street, NW) is another edition of #REMINISCE, the party dedicated to all 90s everything brought to you by VSB, Shine On Me, and Just Cause Events. It’s FREE BEFORE 11 w/RSVP (reminiscedc.eventbrite.com), a Courvoisier sponosred open bar from 930-1030pm, and no dress code! It’s cheaper to come out and party. Last month’s party was OFF THE HINGES! Somebody shook my hand when they left and just said, “Thanks P, for throwing this party…” <—- not lying. So come and make it do what it do this Saturday at Reminisce!***

five super (and somewhat under the radar) sistas you should definitely know

nicole beharie

you know how maggie gyllenhaal almost single-handedly ruins the dark knight because there’s no way in hell that the audience can believe that the two most handsome and powerful men in the city of gotham would both be madly in love with someone so, for a lack of a better term, plain?

well, in american violet, nicole beharie has the complete opposite effect. i couldn’t completely buy the movie –a factual account of a racially charged texas court case– because i had trouble believing that someone who looked, walked, and carried herself like her could be a 24-year-old single mother of four in a drug-infested texas housing project. she was just “too” (pretty, confident, etc) everything to be truly convincing.

when you add this to the fact that i’d never seen or heard of her before american violet, you can understand why she distracted me the entire movie

i googled her later that night and learned that she’s a 25-year-old juilliard grad who played a supporting role in the express.

also, while doing some background for this entry, i read that she was recently involved in a bit of a controversy. apparently, her role in american violet earned her the AAFCA’s (african-american film critics association) best actress award. but, after hearing about a voting discrepancy (she was given the award despite the fact that precious star gabby sidibe actually finished first on the majority of the ballots), she gave back the award.

anyway, nicole beharie is just one example of the numerous super sistas who are doing their thing on a national scale, despite the fact that they’re not household names…yet.

here’s four more: Continue reading