Why Won’t Hollywood Let Black Movies Be Great? » VSB

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Why Won’t Hollywood Let Black Movies Be Great?

Universal Pictures

 

I’ve long been of two minds about Kevin Hart.

On the one hand, I appreciate that he’s a seemingly bonhomous young brother who’s built an empire for himself by selling out shows and racking up receipts at the box office. There’s little more gratifying than a black man starting from the bottom (the actual bottom, Drake) and making power moves, especially if you get the feeling that he’s good people.

On the other hand, as a funny man, Hart is painfully inconsistent. Sometimes his standup makes me laugh. Sometimes his movies are funny. For as much as he talks about his plans for world domination, he doesn’t seem to have changed up much of his core shtick after about seven years into his career: that of the bug-eyed, excitable capuchin monkey who’s always being wronged.

He’s just been Kevin Fucking Hart in everything—not nearly as versatile in movies as Eddie Murphy and not nearly as funny onstage as Chris Rock.

This piece is not about Hartbut it was inspired by Ride Along 2. I never watched its predecessor in its entirety, but I had the occasion to pay actual money for and watch the sequel in the theater (I don’t wanna talk about it). I quickly deduced that the second film is the exact same shit as the first—plot, buddy-cop dynamic and so forth.

In January, Ride Along 2 became the first film to dethrone Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ No. 1 spot at the box office, with a respectable $41.5 million opening that exceeded Universal’s projections and will likely result in us being beat over the head with an eventual Ride Along 3.

The mainstream black-film recipe is frustratingly simple: a generous dollop of a plucky, successful Taraji P. Henson type; a tablespoon of Michael Ealy (aka Pretty Yellow Nigga); a clueless white foil to taste; literally, the exact same script; and just a dash of a shamelessly beweaved Instagram model paid the industry minimum to look pretty and deliver, like, one terrible line. Bake at 350 degrees for nearly two hours. Don’t bother turning.

Obviously, mainstream black films are certainly not the only ones to suffer from formulaic repetition (see: Will Ferrell, aka the white Kevin Hart). Unfortunately, despite making significant strides in Hollywood in recent years, we still don’t have the benefit of variety in the movies about us or in which we play leading roles. And that’s not entirely our fault.

(For the purposes of this piece, a “black” film is one with a primarily black cast and black director. Will Smith- and Denzel Washington-helmed vehicles with nonblack directors, writers and love interests don’t count.)

Hollywood’s interminable unwillingness to use black leads in films or to green-light substantive black films is nearly a century-old, sustained issue that contributed to #OscarsSoWhite, which shined a light on the lack of representation in the industry’s most important awards show for the second year in a row. My biggest personal beef this year was the Idris Elba snub for Beasts of No Nation; Creed and Straight Outta Compton were both good, but not Oscar-worthy.

If Hollywood seeks a leading man, and a dude named Ryan or Chris with washboard abs and “dreamy” eyes has a clear schedule, chances are that the relatively untested black actor will fall even farther down the ladder, if he’s considered at all. Smith and Washington are aging, and it doesn’t seem like anyone outside of Michael B. Jordan is being groomed for the bankable, versatile black male superstar role. (I’m simply not counting Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s and Vin Diesel’s ethnically ambiguous asses. Sue me.)

Oddly enough, some of the hottest, most talented black actors right now—Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Oyelowo, even the little homie John Boyega from The Force Awakens—are Brits. I’ve no problem with that, but none of them are household names just yet, unlike some of their white male counterparts, who’ve been grinding for a lot less time.

But that dearth of Oscar-worthy black films is not strictly racist white Hollywood’s fault. There’s a reason there have been 1,294 Fast & Furious films and counting: At the end of the day, the films that fill seats and line studio executives’ pockets are the ones that get the green light. This is why Tyler Perry has been so successful.

For all the box-office gains Perry has attained by tapping into a previously untapped demographic (black Christian women), you can set a watch to damn near all of his films: over-the-top antagonists perpetuating the worst black male stereotypes; drug-addled or knocked-up black women in “need” of the saintly male protagonist who’s essentially a Jesus stand-in; and a church scene in the final act that rights every wrong through the power of praise.

Perry deserves props for giving work to black actors who might have struggled to find it elsewhere, including Elba and Viola “You is kind. You is smaht. You is im-po-tant” Davis. But it’s hard to appreciate him for jamming Madea down your throat for the 18th time and serving as a progenitor for knock-off material like Jumping the Broom, which is interesting only because of a scene of Paula Patton in her panties.

While quality black films are certainly more prominent now than they were a decade ago during Perry’s ascendancy, it seems as if they still need to fit tidily into a handful of prosaic categories to get within spitting distance of Oscar or mainstream acclaim. We’re talking American slavery (12 Years a Slave), the civil rights movement (Selma, The Butler), and fictional or nonfictional depictions of black folks enduring very bad shit thanks to contemporary socioeconomic conditions (Fruitvale Station, Precious).

Give me a black Sideways. A black Birdman. Hell, give me a Bill Bellamy-free Love Jones with a stellar script and some amazing acting. Give me some solid black flicks like Pariah and Dope, and Emeril Lagasse those hos up a notch so they can justifiably merit that stupid T-1000 statue.

Lest you continue dragging me with the get-off-my-lawn rep I’ve built, I can absolutely acknowledge that, much like Future records, Empire (the show that acting and singing forgot)and Real Hip-Hop Housewives for the Love of Joe Budden, paper-thin flicks have their role. No one wants to watch House of Sand and Fog on a Netflix-and-get-it-in night, and I’d be a goddamned liar if I said I didn’t actually sit through House Party 4 or enjoy the occasional 1990s direct-to-video No Limit movie featuring Master P attempting to recite lines he “memorized.”

But again, the quality disparity is pronounced … so what’s the answer, Sway? Having Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the black president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, spearhead the development of a more diverse academy is a good start. Since so many filmmakers have Oscar in their crosshairs, perhaps that will encourage more interesting and daring films made by and starring women and underrepresented minorities.

I’m looking forward to more Oscar-worthy black movies that don’t feature us in iron shackles or that aren’t biopics of dead, troubled entertainers. And I’m looking forward to legitimate wins, not capitulation from the academy, à la the 2002 Oscars, during which Halle Berry won for that overrated train wreck Monster’s Ball and Denzel Washington got his bone for Training Day after getting shit on with snubs for Malcolm X and The Hurricane.

Sure, representation in Hollywood is far from the most pressing issue facing the race these days. But as a huge movie fan, I hope things improve. Meanwhile, Kevin Hart had better really step outside of himself and do something remotely interesting before I even think of spending another penny on his movies.

Dustin Seibert

Dustin J. Seibert lifts heavy weights and plays all his video games on hard mode to find peace. He has a better ear for hip-hop than anyone else you know. He writes like the English language is going outta style because the steaks in his freezer are dependent on it.

  • LKNMRE

    As a Black woman in film, lemme tell you, it’s DEPRESSING. They tell us to create our own, but there’s not even enough of us getting gigs and experience doing everything else (outside of acting, writing–the MEATY stuff that everyone sees) to even attempt. It’s all well and good to say a Black film is one with Black directors and Black actors, but we need so much more. Black sound mixers and cinematographers, and costume designers and set designers and, obviously WRITERS. It’s heartbreaking every single time I’m the only Black person on a set. Because it just proves we’re not good enough even when we AREN’T BEING SEEN. Even invisible representation is too much for us Negroes to ask for.

    • Ess Tee

      I ended watching this past season of Project Greenlight after that whole Damonsplaining mess. I really wanted to see what Effie Brown was all about. It pleased me to learn that she does try to hire Black when she can (Black location managers, Black line producers, etc.).

      I don’t know much about the Hollywood game, but it seems like there’s this (intentional?) barrier to entry on that front. Key grips, and boom mic operators, etc. are typically white.

      • LKNMRE

        To get started in those departments (and, honestly, every part of film), you gotta work for free. Having a degree “helps” but not nearly as much as experience. A lot of the unpaid productions out here are small af. A lot of times, they want you to provide your own equipment, in addition to working for little to nothing. There’s TWO economic barriers. It’s just like the whole thing behind internships: they mostly help rich people. These gigs mostly help people who have money for a camera, or have time to take off from work, who have transportation and/or who have a degree and training in these fields.

        Even now, as a costume designer making a name for myself, I’ve run into barriers like not having a credit card. All I can get is low budget work and that means buying/returning costumes wherever you can. But I can’t even buy it.

        • Kas

          I’m assuming you aren’t in a position to raise a small amount of capital from “Friends and Family”?

          • LKNMRE

            Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

            No.

            • Kas

              I hope I didn’t come across as insulting. If I may ask one more question, what amount of revolving credit would you require?

              • LKNMRE

                Most small productions don’t have more than $300 max for the budget.

                • Kas

                  Assuming you can handle that. What is required for the next size up?

                  • LKNMRE

                    The next size up has budget. There’s no buying/returning. It’s borrowing from actual shops/brands because you have talent attached and backing. Next size up is just asking for shizz and getting it. There’s not a lot of levels to costume. It’s either zero or everything, to be honest.

                    Or less than zero. Which is “actor provided wardrobe” aka a nightmare.

                    • Kas

                      You mention above that you run into barriers for lack of a credit card. My question really is what dollar amount would remove that barrier.

                    • LKNMRE

                      Ah. Well. It just depends on the production. Any production with no budget that wants you buying and returning has no number in mind, since the idea is that you’ll just get in back. Those actually usually spend more money, and sometimes they won’t recoup you if something becomes unreturnable. So, it depends on the project.

                    • Kas

                      But if you had to through out a number that would cover your most likely need it would be?

                    • LKNMRE

                      There’s so many factors that go into that, my man. There’s a reason costumes usually starts pre-pre-production. You can have a two character project that needs 30 costumes that all need to be handmade all the way to a 40 character project where everyone is wearing T-shirts. So, I honestly don’t know. I don’t even know WHERE my next gig is coming from (well, I do, cause I just got it, but it’s unpaid), let alone how much it costs (I haven’t read the script yet).

                    • Kas

                      Gotcha. I’ll leave you alone now.

                    • LKNMRE

                      Haha, no worries. It’s complicated out here in these costume streets. Who knew making clothes for imaginary people had so much to it.

                    • Vanity in Peril

                      There needs to be a gofundme like site for black folks working in the arts to help fund each other’s projects. My thinking is it already exists, hopefully.

                      Much success to you.

                    • MsSula

                      There is Patreon. I don’t think it’s specifically black, but I support Issa Rae’s channel through it. And it works pretty well.

                    • Vanity in Peril

                      Awesome, thanks!

                    • NKORigible

                      I thought what I was reading sounded like Kas was trying to see about supporting a fund to get your costume/wardrobe career on a path that didn’t seem so dire for you.

                    • LKNMRE

                      Nah, I read it like that, too. But the main reason it’s so hard to get a fund like that going is because work is sporadic and unpredictable in terms of scope. I’ve had projects with a $50 budget and turned down others with thousands in the budget. So, I can’t come up with a number like that. But I’m doing alright, y’all, don’t worry. Costume design has a low bar of entry. Funds should be started for the grips and the sound kids and the camera people to get equipment. My job requires nothing but me showing up!

        • Ess Tee

          OK, see, the internship analogy helped me understand better. It’s a whole heyll of a lot easier to take that unpaid production gig if you have someone sponsoring things like rent and insurance and food, which generally is not going to happen with Black creatives who need to make their own money to pay for rent and insurance and food.

          • LKNMRE

            Here’s what I’m dealing with. An EIGHT DAY SHOOT. For no pay. They say you don’t have to be on set, but you absolutely do, or else you’ll have a bunch of actors changing costumes and a bunch of takes with different collars and different pants that doesn’t look good at all.

            • cakes_and_pies

              Buying and returning? Is wardrobing legal for costume designers?

              • LKNMRE

                IDK what you mean by legal. I mean, wardrobe and costume are usually interchangeable on low budget sets.

                • cakes_and_pies

                  A regular person risks going to jail for buying clothes, wearing them, and returning them. Unless you’re renting clothes? I have no idea how the industry works, lol

                  • LKNMRE

                    oh, no, absolutely, that’s not really legal and no one should be doing it, but these productions have zero money and zero time so they risk that shizz. I refuse to. Renting clothes is a different situation that’s totally legal.

            • Kas

              We are looking for someone to get us clothing/costumes for free, and in keeping in the spirit of free, we won’t be paying you either. Sadly, I’m sure they had no shortage of applicants for the job.

    • Val

      This is a big problem becasue in order to learn the skill to be on a crew you actually have to get apprenticeships. Then you have to get enough time as an apprentice to become a union member. And you have to be a union member to get real work. And usually getting an apprenticeship is based upon who you know which means it’s really hard for us.

      • LKNMRE

        EXACTLY.

        Side note: I pray to get into the Costume Designer’s Guild every single day.

        • Madelinermastrangelo2

          “my room mate Is getting paid 98$/h on the internet.”….two days ago new Silver Silver McLaren P2 bought after earning 18,512 Dollars,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k Dollars Last month .,3-5 h/r of work a days ..with. extra open doors &. weekly. paychecks… it’s realy the simplest. work. I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. 87 Dollars, p/h.Learn. More right Here!oi3050????? http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsInfo/GetPaidHourly98$…. .?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:::::!oi3050…….

        • Bethannfshelton2

          “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr.”….!oai43two days ago new Silver McLaren P2 bought after earning 18,512 Dollars,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k Dollars Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a day ..with. extra open doors &. weekly. paychecks… it’s realy the simplest. work. I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. 87 Dollars, p/h.Learn. More right Here!oai43????? http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsHourGetPaidHourly98$…. .??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??::::::!oai43…….

      • Kas

        I have a white friend who is a make up artist who I watched struggle for years. She’s in the Union now (lots of television work), but I can remember finding out after the fact that the one year she had enough hours to join but not the cash. It was a few years later before she had another year with enough hours to join. As an interesting aside, almost all her work has been on people of color.

        • LKNMRE

          God bless her for being one of the few white makeup artists who knows how to work on people of color, tho.

          Yeah, the barriers to union are crazy but the benefits are crazier. That guaranteed minimum pay is everything.

          • Kas

            She paid her dues. Tons of video work with low flat fee regardless of hours.

      • cakes_and_pies

        Are apprenticeships unpaid?
        It’s sounds like when well-off students can afford to take an unpaid internship to learn their craft.

        • Val

          Yep, I think they are. Which like you say is an obstacle for those who don’t have any way to support themselves while apprenticing.

      • John Henry

        Also in order to learn the skill, you have to have access to the technology. The means family wealth and resources. To learn or apprenticeship for any of the film technology involves owning a expensive Mac Pro, editing drives, cameras, software, and rigs. Most of the the kids I know are lucky to get a tablet (let alone an iPad or a macbook).

    • Me

      Ironically, but probably not so funny, this makes me want to see a documentary on what it takes for black film professionals to actually get a project or career from cradle to grave. I would never know about the things you’re bringing up if it weren’t for this article.

      • LKNMRE

        SO many conversations about film and TV end at the actors and directors and occasionally writers, but there’s so much more that goes into making any piece of work that people don’t see or hear about or even know exists. Case in point: Anytime I mention wanting to be the first Black woman to win an Oscar for Costume Design, someone always expresses surprise that that Oscar even exists.

        • Me

          Yea, no lie. Your comment about the CDG was the first time I heard of it. I think this may be part of the problem. Because as I’m reading your comments, the individual issues seem attainable (i.e. we could start a fund to get you through your next project), but at the same time, I can sense there’s a lot more nuance that’s creating roadblocks. So I feel like if the information about how the soup is made gets out, it would encourage more of us who want to see black films & filmmakers succeed to seek out avenues (well, first to even know those avenues exist) to contribute to their success.

          • LKNMRE

            The biggest thing about behind the scenes work is it’s not like acting: I don’t have to audition. 9 times out of ten, they have NO IDEA what I look like, that I’m Black, and if they’re not savvy on names, that I’m even a woman. So, the barriers aren’t explicitly racist. And that’s one thing I don’t think people can really get. It’s not conscious, it’s not casting directors only auditioning white people. We can all apply. But without the experience or the resources, we’re shut out before we can even consider sending in our portfolios.

            • Me

              I get you. It’s the hidden teeth of racism that gets us every time.

              • LKNMRE

                Right. It starts SO MUCH further back. A bunch of institutional factors coming to a head.

    • TomIron361

      Well, are you any good on the casting couch?

    • JennyJazzhands

      My mom said that Billy dee Williams used to walk off sets and refuse to return until there were black people in a certain number of jobs behind the camera. He refused to work on films where everyone was white. If true, that’s very cool. But, I fear today, that a person would only be blacklisted and labeled as difficult to work with.

      • Kas

        And even at his peak, he wasn’t doing a ton of movies.

      • Sherylpmartin4

        “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr.”….!oa755utwo days ago new Silver McLaren P2 bought after earning 18,512 Dollars,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k Dollars Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a day ..with. extra open doors &. weekly. paychecks… it’s realy the simplest. work. I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. 87 Dollars, p/h.Learn. More right Here!oa755????? http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsProductionsGetPaidHourly98$…. .??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??::::::!oa755u…

    • disqus_78wL58pkFN

      i work in film too and let me tell you that the barrier to entry for black people (black women especially) is all too real. i’ve been a professional in this industry for about 7 years and have worked my way up. yet i was recently passed up for a promotion as a production supervisor that was instead given to a 22 year old white boy who was a PA last year.

      • LKNMRE

        Ugh! It’s that kinda shizz that makes me terrified to be in this industry. I love what I do SO much but I just cannot stand the idea that no matter what I do, I’ll never elevate.

  • Charlotte

    I was just having this same conversation with a friend!

    I WANT to see more black movies (in the theaters) I search and look for black movies and it is disheartening to always come up short. Can’t knock KHart’s hustle. Can’t knock Mr Perry either but I’m over both of them.

    • Val

      “Can’t knock Mr Perry either…”

      I can. Lol

  • Allie

    Y’all get hip to Black and sexy TV!

    • I just started and I LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • IsitFridayyet?

      Yes. Also Andrea Lewis’ Black Actress and Beyond Complicated.

      • Ess Tee

        Yep! I try to support these smaller ventures as much as I can. It’s unfortunate that the system is such that many Black creators have to either self-finance or go the crowdfunding source to get work out there.

    • I love Black and Esexii TV! I’ve rocked with them for a while, however, I’ve found them to be a bit inconsistent with the shows I tuned in for the MOST.

      • Me

        I give them a pass on the inconsistency b/c I know that a lot of the actors/actresses they use end up getting put on by affiliation. They’re becoming a modern day In Living Color in terms of churning black greatness. But at their current scale, they can’t just pick up and go when a major player gets a better position in life. So I take it for what it is: the best grassroots progress I’ve seen in a long time. And I subscribe on sheer hope that my little duckets will propel them to greatness.

        • I feel you. I’ve been on to them since I saw the film “A Good Day to be Black and Es exy” I rented it when I worked for Blockbuster Video (LOL I’m dating myself there) So when I began seeing them on YouTube and then making kinda pay per view content I was very on board.

          • Kas

            Dayum chick, how old are you?! :)

        • cakes_and_pies

          What happened to their BET deal? It’s like it never existed.

    • kenyadigit

      Not after what they did with “That Guy”

      • MsSula

        I stayed salty over That Guy for a minute, but I understand how personalities -especially creative ones operate, so I signed back on. Rider was really against all my expectations.

  • Val

    Well, first, there are actually dozens of really good “Black” films released each year. Unfortunately most end up showing at film festivals and then disappearing into the most hidden parts of Netflix and other online outlets. It takes time and research but one can definitely satisfy ones hunger for quality Black films with a little work.

    Second, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Black folks collectively spend more money on average seeing films than any other group. So if that’s the case then we definitely are not demanding different kinds of films with our dollars. If there was a sudden drop in our spending on films while we made it known why then we’d see more promotion of Black indie films and more big budget quality Black films.

    • Kas

      I know you dig through the crates of Netflix. What would you say are your top 5 to 10 Black films?

      • Val

        It’s hard to know where to start. As I said there are a ton of Black indie films. I tend to like coming of age films. So films like Our Song which starred a very young Kerry Washington is one of my faves. There’s a film called Toe to Toe about a teenaged Black girl who plays lacrosse. Then there’s Pariah. There’s a film called Life Support starring Queen Latifah and Tracey Ellis Ross that’s a great little film.

        There are just so many. I’ll try to make a list and I’ll give it to you next week.

      • Julian Green

        Across 110th Street
        Dope
        Meteor Man
        The Mack
        Black Dynamite
        The Wood
        Attack the Block
        Don’t be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood
        Buck and the Preacher
        Bebe’s Kids

      • Ess Tee

        Mississippi Damned is a really good one that was recently released through Ava DuVernay’s distribution company, ARRAY. It’s on Netflix.

        I wouldn’t recommend watching it more than once, though lol. It’s heavy as f*ck.

    • LKNMRE

      But why aren’t they in theaters? Why don’t we get the same distribution and money backing our films? There’s dozens of non-Black films at those same festivals, dozens of non-Black films WINNING those festivals and going on to success. Dallas Buyer’s Club was indie, won Oscars. Why don’t we get shoved out there like these white led films do?

      • Val

        Like I said becasue we aren’t demanding it with our dollars. If we cut back on spending then Hollywood will look for new ways to get out money like promoting Black indie films.

        • Kas

          I would come at it from a different angle. For the few quality films that do come out, we need to make an effort to see en masse on opening weekend.

          • Blueberry01

            I think we supported Straight Outta Compton its opening week, but it still wasn’t recognized by the Academy this year.

      • Kas

        Take a look at how big films are financed these days. A lot of the money comes from overseas. Black films are perceived as being less desirable to the foreign market. That is not the entirety of it, but it does play a role.

        • LKNMRE

          It absolutely does. Look what they did to the Star Wars poster in China, completely removing John Boyega. But Oscar bait movies don’t get pushed overseas, either.

          • Kas

            Foreign audiences like big action. The rest doesn’t translate nearly as well. Heck, Americans don’t like a lot of the Oscar bait.

        • Gibbous

          They are “perceived” as such, but they actually do just as well as majority white films, dollar for dollar. (Just read a study today, bit can’t find the link. :-(

        • Cheech

          A lot of money in Asia.
          A lot of racism too.

          • Kas

            They don’t even like each other, why would they like Blacks? The funny thing is two of my inner circle of friends are Asian and quite a few in the next outer ring.

          • TomIron361

            Isn’t it said Asians like blacks even less than White people?

      • Kas

        My premise about issues with foreign markets was apparently incorrect.

        http://rollingout.com/2016/04/12/michael-jai-white-explains-rejected-roles-race/

    • Cube

      According to a recent study, it’s our cousins south of the border who are punching above their weight class. According to the study of 2014, Hispanics represented 17% of the population but 23% of the people buying tickets. Everyone else is either punching slightly above their weight class or below.

      Just google Theatrical Market Statistics – MPAA

      • Val

        Did you cut n paste this comment? I feel like you made this exact same comment on another VSB post. Lol Anyway, my point was we spend a disproportionate amount on movie tkts.

        “The MPAA presentation points out that the share of tickets sold to
        whites and Hispanics declined, while the share of tickets sold to
        African-Americans increased for the first time since 2009.
        African-Americans attended the movies on average more often than whites
        (4.2 times per year versus 3.4) in 2013.”

        http://targetmarketnews.com/storyid04021401.htm

        • Blueberry01

          Man, it seems like we’re disproportionately represented in a lot of statistics. :-/

    • Question

      Which makes me wonder – what would it take to get a streaming service going for black media?

      Different question – with the existence of YouTube – would yall pay MONTHLY for a black streaming media service?

        • Question

          Why didn’t I know about this? (What’s up with the marketing and brand awareness?)
          What about it is lacking (if anything)?

          In other words, with the UMC, why isn’t it starting to solve this issue?

          • It was founded by Bob Johnson, and it has gotten a good amount of coverage over the last couple of years. Only cost 5 bucks a month too. That being said, I don’t think there’s much of a demand for it, even though there’s been a good amount of coverage on it.

            • Question

              Yea, after you posted it I went and did some digging. It looks like they mainly acquire distribution rights to existing content (not creating content) but that could be the next step.

              “Not much demand for it” – does that mean that the issues we talk about here with black films and content creators aren’t wildly held, or that people in our community by and large look to traditional media outlets to satisfy our entertainment needs.

              Having typed all of that, its almost like Black folks, despite not being immigrants, might benefit by thinking and behaving more like immigrants – shirking traditional media outlets for those that cater to our needs and interests more openly and directly.

              • Janelle Doe

                Not a bad idea, Bollywood, Nollywood …why not here?

                • Question

                  Or why not bring all of that together in a high quality format. I would rather watch some well-produced Nollywood flicks over another film about a white couple doing boring white couple things….

            • Val

              The key words here are, Bob Johnson, NL. Considering his history with BET and the projects he’s been apart of after I don’t have much confidence that this is really what Black film lovers are looking for.

              • Kas

                Completely agree with the thoughts on Bob Johnson.

      • Val

        Yes if it was about quality films and docs.

      • Blueberry01

        There’s Black and Sexy TV.

      • Nah, Vine is free and I get much more entertainment from these amateur comedians that are between the ages of 16-25

      • I have a black and sexy membership.

  • IsitFridayyet?

    I totally get this perspective, and am happy that you mentioned the fact that Will Ferrell is a one trick pony. However, I guess that I am tired of hearing “we don’t” or “Why doesn’t” when it comes to Black Media.

    Instead of spending energy on what supposedly is not there, I personally, spend it finding and supporting what’s there already.

    • LKNMRE

      We shouldn’t have to dig, tho. We should be just as mainstream.

      • IsitFridayyet?

        I don’t consider it “digging” but I hear you.

      • Kas

        We are 13% of the population and I believe less than that of the movie going (in theater) population. “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense”

  • miss t-lee

    “I’m looking forward to more Oscar-worthy black movies that don’t feature us in iron shackles or that aren’t biopics of dead, troubled entertainers.”

    Clap, clap bravo.

    • Cheech

      When is it coming out?

      • miss t-lee

        October 7

        • Cheech

          Damn. We gotta wait that long?

          I was kinda hoping next month.

          • miss t-lee

            Unfortunately. ?

            • DB

              I would disagree. If it is being released that late, that probably means that there will be some Oscar buzz for the movie.

              • miss t-lee

                Hmmm. Good point.

  • Kevin irks the Dawg shyt outta me.. I hate the whole make myself the butt of the joke… I miss Dave Chappelle

  • I’m looking for that too. It’s tiring that black movies play like those ghetto books I read in college read. It’s ALL the same thing and I’m tired of the story.

    • Sahel

      Come on now,Soul Plane was not ghetto..i think

      • Kas

        Soul plane was just zhitty!

  • I think the bigger problem is the audience and not the filmmakers. They are dumbing down to what the audience wants. There are PLENTY of great films that are released every year. The issue is they never get the financial success that less quality movies receive. That simply comes back to business…promotion specifically. But it also comes down to the fact that people just don’t know what a quality movie looks like or how to determine what quality is.

    People have not learned to differentiate between an entertaining film…vs…a quality film. There is a difference.

    • LKNMRE

      But that’s what Oscars are for. That’s what “Oscar-bait” is. Except, our great indie features aren’t getting noticed like white-led indie features.

    • miss t-lee

      “People have not learned to differentiate between an entertaining film…vs…a quality film. ”

      I think plenty folks know the difference. I haven’t seen all of the Fast and Furious movies because I was expecting quality, I wanted to be entertained. It seems as if most of the “Black” movies that come out are for sheer cheap entertainment. No quality, no substance.
      And that’s sad (c) Hazel London

    • The thing is, not everyone wants to be a film aficionado. We just want to be able to see ourselves in QUALITY films without having to dig in the cyber crates of Netflix or frequent film festivals. I don’t think most are confused, just can’t be bothered searching high and low for a movie.

    • Ess Tee

      “I think the bigger problem is the audience and not the filmmakers. They are dumbing down to what the audience wants.”

      Who’s dumbing down what the audience wants? The audience members themselves or the film makers?

      In any case, I think there’s more nuance here. Who’s the man who did that awful Gods of Egypt movie? Apparently, his IMDb filmography is pure, unadulterated trash, and yet he got shot after shot (i.e., money from studios) to continue in his mediocrity. There’s a whole system in place that doesn’t even allow for something like that to happen with Black directors or producers.

      I also wonder a chicken-egg scenario in this instance–is that Black people tend to see these certain movies because that’s all that’s offered up in hundreds of screen across the nation or is that these films are on hundreds of screens because that’s all Black people will see? Honestly, I don’t really believe the latter true.

      • LKNMRE

        Right! A Black director or even actor has a flop and it’s all but over for them. But people like the Wachowskis, M. Night Shyamalan, Zack Snyder, etc. get to make all kinds of bull that no one likes and that makes no money back and keep. on. going.

        I know M. Night ain’t white but he ain’t Black, either, so he counts.

        • Janelle Doe

          Every time people talk about the potential flops of black movies I bring up the fact that a movie called “cloudy with a chance of meatballs” got made. Which reminds me to ask: besides boondocks is there successful black animation?

          • LKNMRE

            Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a great and awesome movie. But I digress. We had Home, recently, starring Rihanna and a little Black girl as the main character! But ALL the marketing erased her.

  • Me

    “If Hollywood seeks a leading man, … some of the hottest, most talented black actors right now …”

    Now imagine how frustrated you’d be if you were looking for the next leading black actress… Times is hard.

    • LKNMRE

      SO many of these conversations end at Black actors! But what hot, new Black actresses do we have? We have five that are getting the same nothing-azz roles.

    • Ess Tee

      Right. Like, how old is Jennifer Lawrence? Still in her 20s, right? Yet I remember hearing in the run-up to the Oscars that Brie Larson may just be the next Jennifer Lawrence. They’re roughly the same age, but that TWO OF ‘EM can exist simultaneously.

      That’s a luxury that Black actresses don’t have, unfortunately.

    • ChokeOnThisTea

      These were my EXACT thoughts as I was reading that part.

      We really need more black men to speak on this, which is why I was overjoyed when Chris Roc did it.

    • Lupita

      • Val

        Yep but that’s only one. Otherwise we get the same Black actresses over and over. Contrast that to White actresses. There’s constantly a new ‘it’ White actress.

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