Black Films Need Major Improvement

Wayne Hodges, Topeka Democrat Examiner, April 18, 2011

In a few days, two African-American films, for better or worse, are set to hit the box office. ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ will reach the big screen on April 22nd. And ‘Jumping the Broom’ will premiere a couple weeks later on May 6th. Haven’t seen the trailers. Haven’t read a synopsis.

But I’m willing to bet your paycheck (and mine) both films will showcase the typical, boring, mundane relationship theme that has dissolved into the comical norm of contemporary black films.

QUESTION: Are there any black writers in Hollywood mentally capable of putting together a decent movie script?

Gimminee Christmas!

How many relationship flics do we need?

Perhaps the excess supply of romance films would be a little easier to stomach if we weren’t forced to endure the same damn cast of characters over and over again. If you watch a black film today, it will most likely feature an actor or actress from a short list of candidates that includes Loretta Devine, Mike Epps, Angela Bassett, Morris Chestnut, Regina King, Anthony Anderson, Gabrielle Union (which is ok, lol), Taraji P. Henson, Jenifer Lewis, Bow Wow and a few others.

Film producer Tyler Perry must have them all on speed dial.

Speaking of Perry, my opinion of the soon-to-be billionaire is bittersweet. For starters, I commend his efforts in addressing the black unemployment problem (something the Obama Administration refuses to do). Word on the street claims Perry has an African-American staff managing his operation.

With black joblessness marinating at a swollen 16%, Perry is obviously the only one hiring Negroes.

{snip}

Conversely, Perry’s movies depict the same, tired “lonely woman meets desperate male darkhorse” theme. My goodness. Dr. Seuss has written more intricate storylines than Perry. And it’s really getting old.

{snip}

Why not write about business, parenting, education, sports, action-adventure, etc.

After all, building healthy relationships is obviously not our area of expertise.

author

Wayne Hodges.

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  • sbuffalonative

    “Why not write about business, parenting, education, sports, action-adventure, etc.”

    Blacks want to see themselves portrayed as they are in real life. The phase they used to use was ‘keepin’ it real’. In other words, they want to see themselves as stereotypes.

    How popular was The Cosby Show with blacks?

    Tyler Perry tried to make a serious black film based on a popular black book called For Colored Girls but it was panned.

    Perry was in Buffalo recently doing a stage version of his Madea character. According to the Buffalo News, there was much hootin’ and hollerin’.

    Buffoonery on the stage and in the audience; just how blacks want it.

  • Jeff

    This makes sense and sounds very good to me.

    It would be nice if they were to incorporate it into their day to day lifestyles too.

  • john

    This guy Hodges certainly makes some valid and not often stated points. I mean, really, is this the way blacks see themselves, or the way they want others to see them?

  • Bill R

    “Why not write about business, parenting, education, sports, action-adventure, etc.”

    Because, Wayne, NONE of THOSE are areas of expertise for blacks either, excepting sports. They fail at everything but sports, and if you count their extra-curricular criminal activity, they fail at sports also.

  • William Hendershot

    I knew he was black when I started reading this article. Only blacks are allowed to criticize blacks like he did.

  • Tim in Indiana

    Can’t really find too much to criticize about this guys piece. I have no problem with blacks having their own film culture as long as they don’t attempt to force it on whites.

  • Jay

    White entertainment runs the gamut of themes and ideas because whites are so diverse and generally endowed with enough patience to sit through 1-2 hours of a film without needing a laugh or gimmick.

    I know A LOT of blacks and latinos. I would say that over 70% of the latinos and 95% of the blacks cannot sit through a serious movie, especially if there is nuance, innuendo, metaphors, deep trains of thought, etc.

    Almost all the Black people I know cuss and curse without a thought. They also guffaw and jive a lot. Writers, black writers included, write for the money, and black people like comedy above all other forms of cinema.

    You’re not going to get some deep, visually stunning and philosophical production out of a black writer, because black people don’t live lives like that. They live in the ‘hood and want to ‘keep it real.’

  • Anonymous

    I commend [Tyler Perry’s] efforts in addressing the black unemployment problem (something the Obama Administration refuses to do). Word on the street claims Perry has an African-American staff managing his operation. With black joblessness marinating at a swollen 16%, Perry is obviously the only one hiring [black people].

    No, Tyler Perry is not the only one hiring blacks. FedGov and every other kind of Gov do that on a daily basis thanks to AA preferential-hiring policy. What Tyler Perry is, is the only LEGAL, FREE-ENTERPRISE employer of blacks. One of very few black entrepreneurs who creates jobs and wealth for others, and (unlike pimps, drug traffickers, etc) does it within the limits of the law. THAT’S what makes Tyler Perry unique. Not that I particularly want to watch any of his minstrel-shows myself, but I will give the man his due as a rare and welcome wealth-generator within the otherwise perpetually impoverished and pathetic Af/Am community.

    Tyler Perry is, in that respect, a far preferable individual to Pres. Obama. Perry knows how to create wealth; whereas Obama, like a typical socialist, knows only how to redistribute it.

    PS. Since when do newspaper columnists use “LOL”?

  • Anonymous

    I teach 9th graders. Most of the black kids love the movie *Friday*. Bernie Mac is dead, so not so much interest there (some of the best writing for the Bernie Mac show was done by white guys). They think the height of cinema is when black men dress as women, and people get hurt. Getting hurt is funny to them. Our cultures are so far apart–we’re not even on the same planet sometimes.

  • Anonymous

    Every black person says they want serious black entertainment yet when actual serious black entertainment comes out they don’t see it or reject it. The only time they state their opposition to black-made buffoonery is when they know white people will see it. Otherwise they buy their tickets and have a ball watching. They don’t want white people to see it because knowledge is power. Black people rather white people be ignorant of their ways so white people can’t make thoughtful judgements.

  • Madison Grant

    “Are there any black writers in Hollywood mentally capable of putting together a decent movie script?”

    Probably not, due to their low IQs.

    And like William Hendershot (#5), I figured this must be a black man since a mainstream newspaper wouldn’t print this piece were it penned by a white writer.

  • Ben

    Jumping the Broom made me laugh.

    Really?

    Both African American economic groups will date each other?

    African Americans who are intelligent rarely hang around their ghetto counterparts. Do you know what African Americans call other African Americans who are rich, talk with no slang, dress appropriately?

    Oreo.

    Get it (two black cookies with a white filling)? And I thought we’re racist…

    If you look on youtube there are whole video rants of the people talking about what it means to “act white.” Many smarter and well thought Africans Americans will not associate with latter ghetto African Americans.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWduourbKkU

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehq2NvMzYuE&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBTEcxeTRss&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivf7DcihsoQ&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LyOzmTqIt0

    NOTE there are THOUSANDS OF THESE…mind opening…

  • Anonymous

    If Hollywood portrays blacks as they really are, they call it “stereotyping.”

    If Hollywood portrays blacks in a positive light, they call it “blacksploitation.”

    You can’t win. Nothing will satisfy them. Everything is “racist.”

  • Anonymous

    TV used to reflect reality now it’s just a bunch of bizarre social engineering and contrived situations that only exist in lala land. Perhaps these romantic relationship movies are meant to program blacks in a positive way instead of being “playas” and welfare queens who jump into bed with anyone who’ll look at them and squirt out another welfare check and future criminal.

  • olewhitelady

    Another black-themed article by an Affirmative Action writer, throwing together two or three ideas into a piece that’s supposed to constitute journalism! I always wonder if these monstrosities are the results of assignments or easy-to-toss-off brainchilds of the writer himself.

    This black writer NO DOUBT knows that black film creators make movies that black people like if any amount of real money is to be made. It’s the same kind of movies that were made by blacks decades ago when all-black-cast flicks called “race films” were a sensation. Blacks find the same themes interesting and the same things funny that they always have. And, of course, many white people find black comedians to be a riot.

  • Anonymous

    I think that our TV series need some reality in their content:

    1. Stop depicting all the violent criminals in cities like NY, Miami, Chicago, LA etc.as White. Law & Order SVU NEVER depicts a Black rapist. Whom do these producers think their fooling?

    At times there is a Black arrested for something but at the conclusion it’s always discovered that he is innocent and a White guy is arrested and charged.

    2. Stop depicting Blacks as DAs, police chiefs, Judges, professors and scientists.

    3. Stop depicting all mobsters as Italo-Americans. That is SOOOO yesterday! Most are Black, Hispanic and Russian.

  • Bud

    In fairness, it should be said that all movies are becoming increasingly intellectually pinched. It seems like at least a third are based on comic books and aimed at making pimply-faced 14 year-old boys say “ke-e-e-e-w-l-l-l”, and another third lame romantic comedies aimed at making 14 year-old girls (of all ages) say “o-o-o-o-h-h-h.” Most of the blame can go to television where no subject is taboo any longer. I mean, what was “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolff” but Jerry Springer writ large?

  • Anonymous

    Strange, all’s I see is a middle American complaining at someone he looks up to is selling their soul to become rich.

    BTDT.

    Do you want the billion or not?

    Black Film is not poor because it’s black made or because it’s exploitative of stereotypes. Black film is poor because it appeals to a tiny market percentage that the rest of the population increasingly has no interest in whatsoever.

    Black film is black. That a man can make a billion dollars off that is the real miracle here.

  • Anonymous

    “what was “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolff” but Jerry Springer writ large?”

    Exactly my take on that horrible novel, play and movie. I watch TCM mostly to avoid the 3 minutes of show and 3 minutes of commericial on the other channels.

    Here’s my loglines on some of the great “intellectual” movies that the idiot intelligentsia thinks are so insightful and intellectual.

    Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. 6 adults yell at each other while 4 kids try to occupy themselves as best they can.

    Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff. 2 drunks yell at each other for hours as 2 idiots who are too stupid to get up and leave sit there like fools.

    Streetcar Named Desire 2 male homosexual stereotypes disguised as women named Stella and Blanche lust after a good looking piece of what 1940’s gay men called rough trade.

    Stella is the typical middle aged gay man who takes in and supports an exploitative younger gold digger and puts up with all sorts of abuse in exchange for regular sex with a young hottie.

    Blanche is the typical flirtatious young bisexual or ambivalent gay looking for a forceful gay man to push him from ambivalence to full fledged gayness through pretend rape.

    All three are gay stereotypes who have been featured since the ancient greeks learned how to write.

    Breathless?? Thief and murderer rides his motor scooter around.

    Jules and Jim? Who knows what is going on.

    Last Year at Marienbad? Who knows what is going on.

    All of Fellini? I hated my catholic school and this is why.

    12 Angry Men? Communistic hard left ACLU propaganda that all criminals are innocent victims of evil police. Outdated today as the criminal on trial is White.

    Anything featuring Sidney Poitier? 1950’s hard left commie propaganda that all blacks are Saints. Poitier was dropped as soon as the civil rights acts were passed and his propaganda function ended.

    My favorite TV show of all time is The Nanny. It is basically a re make of I love Lucy with kids and a more expensive house.

    Same characters, zanny wife and uptight husband in the entertainmen industry. Zanny wife always tries to get in with celebrities. Husband resists and loses the battle.

  • Question Diversity

    19 Anonymous:

    When Ebert or Roeper go to the Great Movie Theater in the Sky, I’m nominating you as the replacement.

    Like you, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof had a banal plot. And the Tennessee Williams play really wasn’t much better — He actually wrote not far from where I went to middle school. I never grokked Liz Taylor with a Southern accent, but as over the top as it was, at least she tried, unlike Paul Newman. Burl Ives wasn’t that good either — He should have stuck to Christmas songs. The best part of the movie was the beginning, when the kids go to pick up Big Daddy at the airport and wave Confederate flags along and someone’s playing “Dixie” on that coronet. 1958 was probably the last time Hollywood could make a movie about the South, with Southern symbols involved, without feeling the need to editorialize about slavery and segregation.

  • Anonymous

    Like so many issues for American blacks, the problems are of their own making. These black genre films sell because they get large black audiences. The better avenue of inquiry is why do blacks find these films so entertaining? And conversely, why do whites find these films uninteresting.

  • SKIP

    “After all, building healthy relationships is obviously not our area of expertise”

    Quite the enlightened comment from a black man, don’t ya think?

  • SKIP

    The Rev. David Manning is a black preacher who’s sermons on youtube are very critical and damning of the black ghetto way of living, pimping, drug dealing and such as we know to be the usual conduct of blacks. He is worth watching and listening to, a very enlightened and straight forward black man, most refreshing…he also has a HUGE congregation.

  • Maitre’D

    The “black film” genre is always the same in most modern films, the obsese, obscene, stereotyped black comedy or a Hollywood “her” like Denzell Washington (used to be Wesley Snipes, but I digress) that acts responsibly in a world of goofy whites.

    One is a reflection on reality, the other a reflection of Liberal Hollywood doing their best to “form” the minds of the uneducated.

  • Anonymous

    The last “serious” predominantly-black film I can think of was probably Precious. Despite getting excellent reviews and a lot of positive media attention, most of the people going to see it were whites.

  • Anonymous

    Bud, I think that part of the appeal of comic book heroes is that they’re some of the few remaining white characters that it’s still socially acceptable to respect. It’s not okay to admire the Founding Fathers (we are told that they were all racists). It’s not okay to admire European inventors and scientists (we are told that they all stole their ideas from other cultures). It’s not okay to look up to the people who settled this country (because they stole the land from the Indians). It’s not okay to look up to religious figures (you might offend someone with different beliefs). However, it’s still okay to look up to white characters like Spiderman. Even that is under attack though – there has been a huge push in recent years to have non-white actors cast to play well-known white comic book heroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. and lesser-known characters (like the Norse God Heimdall in Thor) have already been replaced with black actors.