The buzz about The Birth of a Nation, the movie about Nat Turner’s slave rebellion and actor Nate Parker’s project has been active for almost a year since news first broke out about it. People have anticipated a film about a revolt against slavery that was named after another much earlier film that depicted the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. The first movie was released in 1915 was popular among white movie goers showcasing racist stereotypes of African Americans. Despite that, it is still considered an important piece of film history to this day.
But just like the original film, it’s modern incarnation is not without controversy, especially surrounding the producer. Several weeks before its release, past sexual assault allegations have surfaced. Parker, along with his friend and co-author Jean McGianni Celestin while students at Penn State, went to trial for rape accusations, but was ultimately acquitted two years later. Sadly, in 2012 Parker’s accuser committed suicide. And despite news of her death reached Parker, he generally doesn’t seem fazed enough to apologize.
The resurfacing of Parker’s rape accusations has become a side-story whenever Birth of a Nation is discussed, usually praised. Movie fans and critics alike contend that it’s a must see film. For Black Americans, it’s a changing of the norm. There are no white saviors to step in and save black folks and even though it’s another film based on slavery, the slaves rise up against oppression. Why not see it?
Even though Parker’s moral character has come into questioning since news surfaced about his allegations from the past and his current reactions toward them, not all black people are on board with the movie hype. Some expressed anger towards his indifference and victimhood, disappointed that one of their brightest stars is sounding more and more like an unfeeling douche bag unwilling to do anything to tackle the issue responsibly.
But like anyone else, there are black people who blindly support such people, because their art and talents are more prominent than their misdeeds and crimes. Men like Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Mel Gibson, Robert Downy, Jr., Charlie Sheen, former-President Bill Clinton and Presidential-hopeful Donald Trump are still beloved, adored and praised among many people. Their great accomplishments have largely overshadowed their most heinous sins.
Black people are like anyone else. Some of us still show support for icons through thick and thin. We still love Bill Cosby, Mike Tyson, Afrikaa Bambataa, R. Kelly, Chris Brown and even O.J. Simpson. (Well, maybe not quite O.J. Simpson.) Part of that is due to the history, past and contemporary, of racial hoaxes which resulted in the lynching of scores of black men in the South. It’s made many of us suspicious of accusations of violence against black men, especially if the victim and accuser is white. Nate Parker’s victim was reportedly a white female. News about his rape accusation surfaced weeks before the release of the movie. So, many black folks theorize a racist conspiracy against a famous black man who produced an anti-slavery film to bring him down.
But there’s another depressing side to this. Nate Parker was a rising icon among the black community. We saw him an innovator or revolutionary of sorts. Black people see the successes and failures of individual black people as successes and failures of the entire race. When some of us hear of Parker’s rape accusation, we felt disappointed. And his attitude towards it when being interviewed is rubbing salt into the wound. Watching a famous black leader of any kind fall slowly but surely is upsetting and even embarrassing. We fought so hard to smash racial stereotypes about us only to have someone, a famous someone, become that stereotype. And we fear that that individual will make things hard for the rest of us.
Nate Parker is becoming the stereotype we want to erase. His accusation of raping a white woman is bad enough. His responses to it are even worse. Will it be enough to affect the film’s status as a powerhouse or his reputation as a budding producer? Probably. Nevertheless, the culture of toxic masculinity must be addressed. If not, men will continue to get away with murder – in some cases literally – and more women will suffer for the sake of male power.
By Lavern Merriweather:
The backlash from some black artists against the Oscars for – yet again – ignoring the acting contributions of black performers has stirred up another debate about how “Hollywooden” likes to whitewash stories.
Recently, there was the $140 million dollar flop with Christian Bale, Ben Kingsley and John Turturro called “Exodus: Gods and Kings”. Ridley Scott of “Alien” and “Gladiator” fame tried in vain with the explanation he pulled out of his ass as to why he didn’t cast brown and black people. Mr. Scott seems to believe that Negroes and other folks of color aren’t big enough box office draws.
Okay Ridley, then why the fuck did your overblown, over-budgeted little epic fail miserably if that were the case? Plus, he obviously has short term memory loss as white males are completely full of shit.
Call me kooky, but I could have sworn that Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Samuel Jackson, Chris Tucker, Forrest Whittaker and one time powerhouse Eddie Murphy had NO problem getting butts in the seats. Hell, even upstart Chadwick Boseman, who was a stand-out in “42”, the movie about Jackie Robinson, brought in acceptable numbers. A shitload more than that Exodus shit did. And no, Ben as the token melanin man doesn’t qualify. He was there as pure window dressing for the sake of ‘Hollywhite’ to claim how liberal they are while at the same time justifying screwing over actors of color. God Bless America!
Technically, Bale and Scott are both from England. Yet, they have no issue continuing the very arrogant and racist mindset so prevalent in America, which is that white people are more qualified than everybody else at everything, including playing people assumed to be non-white.
Granted, we don’t really know what Moses looked like. However, he did come from a region that is known for dark haired, brown eyed olive to brown-skinned people. Still, Scott made a feeble attempt to defend his bullshit casting by saying that he does know Egyptian people who are blond hair and blue-eyed. Oh pray tell old Ridley boy, where the fuck might these phantom folks come from?
Funny how white people can make declarations like that without offering one shred of proof. Where are these so-called white Egyptians, because even Western media tells us most people from Egypt have darker skin than either you or Bale. Then again, that has become the new buzzword for full-of-it white folks. Hey I am part fill in the blank. Get your Rachel Dolezal having ass out of here! That is such crap as to rival the big pile of shit from the sick dinosaur in the first “Jurassic Park”!
To add more insult to injury, Bale, whom I used to like, whined that it was unfair he be denied – as he put it – an exceptional role, because his skin won’t tan. Hate to break it to you Christian, but ‘Hollyweed’ is notorious for overlooking better, more talented folks in the name of the bottom line.
I find it deliciously laughable at their hypocrisy considering the white people protecting their whites only legacy were singing a much different tune when Idris Elba played a Norse god in “Thor” or when his name was bandied about to play the next James Bond. Angry white bitches came out in droves to protest. You would have thought that the Apocalypse were on us the way they were acting. Never once were they taking into account that white folks use every chance they can to rationalize white folks portraying people of color, real or not.
I just found out that the lady very pale British actress Juliette Binoche played in the movie “33” based on the trapped Chilean miners was, you guessed it, Chilean. In addition to being overweight and having wrinkles, that woman also had skin so brown that she could get mistaken at my family reunion. Yet, that means zero to the ‘Hollywhite’ apologists.
In the picture“21” starring Kevin Spacey, the main protagonist of the story came from Korean born parents and looked extremely Asian. In fact ALL of the people the real tale was about were Asians. Still, the powers-that-be decided it would be smarter to cast pasty white male Jim Sturgess in the lead. It wasn’t. The movie tanked just like “Exodus” did the same way Jack Black playing a Mexican man in “Nacho Libre” or Mike Myers playing an Indian man in “The Love Guru”. They too were box office bombs.
Any time I bring this argument to certain white people, it – of course – falls on deaf ears. It’s perfectly okay if they don’t like Rue from “The Hunger Games” being played by a girl of color or the new Doctor Who possibly being a black male. But if we don’t like them being cast in roles rightfully reserved for a non-white person, well then that is our tough luck.
They are always, and only, the true stars of the planet Earth, and damn if a bunch of inferior, runner-ups will tell them otherwise. Even when their being hired is not only stupid and ludicrous, it is no gateway to guaranteed riches. I could somewhat understand and probably even agree with their point if all the films they condone are unstoppable money making machines. The truth is though that they are often times not. The failure of many of these whitewashed movies prove that their mentality about white actors being an automatic bigger attraction is wrong, not to mention unfair and hypocritical.
There aren’t going to be many black actors stealing parts from Bale. So his complaint makes him sound like a self-absorbed, entitled brat. His slice of the pie is huge compared to everyone else’s, but he wants to bitch because there is a slight chance he won’t recieve a cut of the latest one. How selfish and arrogant of a prick can you be? As big as many of the white entertainers and their fans I suppose.
By Lavern Merriweather:
There’s been a big brouhaha about this year’s Oscars omitting black people – hell people of color period – as nominees. Led by power couple Will and Jada Smith, several prominent black artists including director Spike Lee have said they will join the couple’s boycott of the 2016 ceremonies. Even a hashtag called #Oscarssowhite was spawned by this complaint. The main snub that has caused so many tongues to wag is the biopic “Straight Outta Compton” which is a film about the original gangsta rap group NWA based out of California. A number of black folks are mad that this particular film failed to get even one possible Oscar nod.
That may very well be a legitimate beef. I don’t know, because I haven’t seen the film, nor do I have any intention of doing so. I also have no dog in the battle black people are having with the Oscars. The movie industry is racist and has been for the longest of times. So black people should not act shocked all of a sudden.
Still, that is not what I have a problem with in regards to this picture. It’s the criticism the movie and the group have gotten.
I am forever DONE with a capital D of the holier-than whining from high minded Negroes! I’m sick to absolute death of black folks and two-faced white people thinking it’s their job to save the soul of hip-hop. Self-righteous prick Macklemore even had the nerve to say that he got into rap because he was bothered by the negativity. I wonder then why isn’t he as troubled by the sleaze in country, metal and 80’s rock music.
Some pious hypocrites blasted the movie for the groups’ raunchy lyrics and lead rapper Dr. Dre’s past abuse towards women. Granted, I don’t support violence against women. However, if this were a film about Motley Crue and they left out drummer Tommy Lee’s history of violence towards ex-wife Pamela Anderson, would anybody be as upset then? I doubt it the same way I don’t believe anyone would cry foul if this were a bio about the legendary British group The Beatles. Not only did lead singer/songwriter John Lennon beat his first wife Cynthia, he wrote about it in one of his songs. John once punched a young woman in the face and gave her a bloody nose when he was 18 in the late 1950’s after she refused to have sex with him. Yet, amid all the accolades he gets, that aspect of his life is overlooked. I get that a lot of white folks hold John in high regard because he died so young and tragically. Still, the guy was a woman beating thug. Nobody had any qualms about pissing on Ike Turner’s grave due to his history with singer/wife Tina. Yet, we aren’t supposed to go there with John Lennon? I say fuck that!
On top of the woman beating, many are giving the film grief because of misogynist words uttered by Ice Cube, Dre and the late Easy E. Okay black folks, how many times do we have to go over this? If we are going to be upset about sexism in entertainment then we need to call out EVERYBODY or nobody. I don’t recall hearing a peep from either black or white folks’ mouth when the movie about
con artist mogal Jordan Belfort called “Wolf of Wall Street” came out. I couldn’t tell if that were about the life story of Jordan or Playboy creator Hugh Hefner with the generous amount of white female flesh on display. Then again, that’s always the sticky wicket ain’t it? We are very forgiving about white female sexuality rammed down our throats. But we are quick to get disgusted if the same thing is coming from black people.
Memo to black people: don’t give me that crap about rap or hip-hop going too far. Nobody said jack when Led Zeppelin did the song which contained this little gem “Squeeze my lemon until the juice runs down my leg”. Yes I know that was previously sung by a black male blues guitarist. Yet, why is it when a white male from England says it, we are supposed to giggle with glee while happily knowing that he pulled a fast one on our parents. The aforementioned Motley Crue once did a song where lead singer Vince Neil warbled “And now, I’m killing you. Watch your face is turning blue”. Forrest Gump would know what that fucker was saying. Yet, the high and mighty black folks committee of morality were silent as usual.
Another thing I’m tired as fuck of Negroes thinking is it ain’t our place to critique white people’s music, movies, commercials, graphic novels, girlie magazines, books, etc. I don’t give a shit if it comes off as tit for tat. So what!? They can reprimand us for our musical preferences, but we have to stay quiet about theirs? I don’t think so. As for those Negroes who moan that black kids are much more influenced by black imagery than anything else, I call bullshit. Black kids – like black adults – do not live in a damn vacuum. Whatever offensive shit made by white folks that we see, they see too. We can’t keep pretending that by ignoring it, it will automatically protect young black sensibilities from white music.
Another thing that fries my eggs is the notion that popular rapper Jay-Z should stop using the word ‘bitch’ since he has a daughter, Blue Ivy, with wife Beyonce. Puh-lease! People were very hushed about white rapper Eminem using then abusing the word ‘bitch’ despite him having a little girl as well. Hell, Eminem’s offspring Hailey is almost a grown woman. So he has had his child longer than Jay. Yet not one person has ever called Eminem to the carpet for saying despicable things about Hailey’s mother and grandmother respectively. This is why when Negroes try to act so sanctimonious about rap I refuse to take them seriously.
There are even some black women on the web that claim they love metal music. Hold up, wait a minute! So those heffas can appreciate songs from white men that degrade women, yet act like the second coming of Jesus with rappers? Black people can’t have it both ways. The bottom line is that nobody gave a rat’s ass until white kids started listening. Black people should have been disgusted before the white people showed up. Either that or be just as disturbed by what they see coming from white people. Such as people like “Boondocks” creator Aaron Macgruder who trashes rap while praising the HBO hit “The Sopranos” and Quentin Tarantino’s movie series “Kill Bill”.
This is how we can be often times, become humble when massah tells us that what we are doing is wrong even as he does it his damn self! I for one will no longer allow black performers to be held to a different standard of what visuals they choose to express. Unless we hold the dominant society as accountable as we hold each other then it’s our ridiculous, insincere moral mindset that we really should be boycotting.
From ABC News:
Wes Craven had died.
The horror legend had been battling brain cancer, according to a statement from his family. He was 76.
“It is with deep sadness we inform you that Wes Craven passed away at 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 30th,” the statement began. “Craven was surrounded by love, in the presence of his family at his Los Angeles home.”
Click here to read the rest of this article.
By Lavern Merriweather:
Actress Zoe Saldana has found herself embroiled in some serious controversy recently for agreeing to play noted soul singer Nina Simone. Many black folks are up in arms about the film company’s choice to hire her and to some extent, I think they are right.
First off, it’s extremely irritating and insulting for her to have to darken her skin to embody the part. There are a number of talented dark skinned actresses that would have made a much better decision to pick.
Second, Ms. Saldana has declared in several interviews that she doesn’t consider herself a black woman. Mind you, I said a black woman, not just a black woman since she does have a multicultural ancestry. Yet, although she doesn’t think she is black she takes this role and the role of Uhura in the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise. She also played the daughter of Bernie Mac in the 2010 remake of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”. If Ms. Saldana doesn’t want her range of offers to be limited, then stop taking acting jobs specific to black women, especially when an acting gig requires you to black face your skin for a woman that had a lot of issues with her skin tone.
Much of Nina’s legacy as a songwriter was centered around her pain at being a severely dark woman of color in a world that hates women like that. Nina, who died sadly at 70 years old in 2003, never shied away from making the hurt she felt public knowledge. She wore it bare for all the world to see through her music in a very unapologetic fashion.
I don’t know Zoe personally, but I doubt seeing how much lighter she is that she could relate to what Ms. Simone was singing. That’s another thing they will most likely get, another woman to lip-sync for her. And really, do the studio executives funding this honestly believe that getting Zoe for the role was the best idea? She hasn’t truly pulled her acting chops by what I could see starring in stupid romantic comedies or doing voice work as a creature. I guess Zoe doesn’t see anything wrong with her other films where she doesn’t have to be the ‘black woman’. She is the color of a fucking crayon.
The reason why I am on the side of the people who didn’t want Zoe to play Nina Simone is because of Hollywhite’s notoriously bullshit attitude towards black women. (Well, all women of color, actually, but especially black women.) White males in Hollyweird prefer to pick someone that is kind of black but not too black. This means they just need her to make it look good enough as not to step on too many toes. But that is exactly what they are doing by hiring Zoe. If Nina were alive today and knew about this, she would probably go outside and practice turning over in her grave!
Little miss ‘I’m not really a Negro’ taking this role is a slap in the face to the lady who bravely dealt with the worst type of discrimination. At least 80’s multi-racial actress Rae Dawn Chong played women that were very ambiguous in their racial make-up. Yes, she did star in “The Color Purple”, but there were any number of light skinned black females that resembled her. Rae never said one thing then did another, and she certainly didn’t make a career out of playing puppets.
A memo to Zoe; if you aren’t black, then stop taking jobs from other black women who proudly identify themselves as what you refuse to. Zoe is almost as bad as that embarrassing “SNL” token that doesn’t even look like a token Maya Rudolph. Yes I know that Maya’s mom was the great Minnie Riperton and that she has a white father, which is why she has that skin color but damn! Kate Winslet makes a more convincing black woman than Maya does or Zoe for that matter.
She reminds me of NBC anchor Soledad O’ Brien in that they want to have it both ways. They want to marry white males and live like white females all while saying, Hey I’m maybe, sort of, will pretend to be black. Granted Hollywood is a place of fantasy, and I don’t for one second buy that this movie will tell Nina’s story in any way that is accurate. They already don’t respect what she stood for by who they picked to portray her. However, that doesn’t absolve Zoe who isn’t practicing what she’s preaching.
There is a very rich history to the songs that people like Nina Simone created that shouldn’t be sullied by Hollowood bigwigs. If it feels like I’m throwing shade on Zoe, then that’s precisely what I am doing. She isn’t some babe in the woods; she knows how difficult it is for other black women. She doesn’t want to be associated with them. Yet, she has no qualms always trying to steal their thunder.
I know that Ms. Saldana is not responsible for the racism hierarchy that exists in her chosen profession. What she is responsible for though is selfishly profiting from it because her skin is brighter and her figure that much smaller. Zoe’s attitude reminds me of an excellent point made by a woman in the poignant Bill Duke documentary “Dark Girls”. She said that she was so sick of black folks whining how they are Haitian or Jamaican and not black because when the Klan showed up they weren’t going to care about those folks distinctions.
I wonder how Ms. Saldana thinks she would get treated in a situation not protected by the Hollyweird limelight. Actually, now that I realize it, those feelings are IN Hollywood and come from the very white people with all the power. Whether Zoe cares to admit it that is exactly why she gets picked for the roles that she does. It’s also why much as she imagines that those white males love her, she will never be competing with the likes of Reese Witherspoon or Jennifer Lawrence for the big movies. Perhaps they will suddenly decide to trade white skin for fuzzy blue fur, but I highly doubt it.
adversity, America, black, business, celebrity, crime, education, entertainment, history, internet, media, men, misogyny, movies, murder, music, police, poverty, racism, religion, sexism, sexual assault/rape, sikh, sports, white, women
By Lavern Merriweather:
A while back, I wrote a scathing post about late film critic Roger Ebert. It was about the fact that as much as he pretended to be so liberal, he, like a lot of like-minded white folks, was anything but. There are several examples I could use to support my mindset, but one I hated the most is the whole ‘black’ whatever description for a character.
Case in point, look at the Oscar winning film “Driving Miss Daisy” starring noted actress Jessica Tandy who won an award for best actress with Morgan Freeman as her sometimes chocolate lover/driver hired by the other star of the film Dan Akroyd playing her son. I noticed that Ebert, like every white male who reviewed the movie whenever they described Ms. Tandy’s character of Miss Daisy, were practically writing novels with all the adjectives that they used for her. Yet, when it came to Mr. Freeman, he was written as nothing more than the black chauffeur. They might as well have said that it was a great, starring triumphant for the beloved Ms. Tandy and some black guy next to her. Despite their supposed love affair with Morgan Freeman in his breakthrough 1987 role as the pimp Fast Black in the movie “Street Smart” when he played a subordinate, he became just another random Negro, being the loving always long suffering nursemaid to a white woman who, from all purposes, seemed perfectly capable of taking care of herself.
My big stinking problem with the film’s ridiculous “Song of the South” view on race relations aside, my main gripe here is with white male film critics. The ones who supposedly speak so highly of talented actors from other races, yet don’t want to see anyone that resembles them upended by said POCs. They forever want to be the star/ hero/ love interest.
Even as they pretend to think so much of us darkies, their real feelings are reflected in how they mention us in their columns or magazine articles. Most of the time, it’s with obvious reluctance, as if they would really enjoy this picture, if there wasn’t one of them colored people in it. They seem to not want our presence ever period. And don’t dare be a Will Smith, Wesley Snipes, Denzel Washington. Be any black male star, and they will go out of their way to find something wrong with the picture, all while praising the same subject matter or performance when it’s a white male.
There have been countless dogs starring white males such as Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey. Yet, it’s almost without fail the films of black men that are just the absolute worst. I have seen some of the movies they are so damn quick to criticize, and most of them aren’t that bad. The only bad thing is the biased perspective coming from the person reviewing the film.
Speaking of Mr. Smith, the few times I do see him get praised for his performances is when he is playing a subordinate or subservient like in the Matt Damon movie “Legend of Bagger Vance”, which I still don’t get. Just what the hell his character was supposed to be, besides a well-worn stereotype that is making most white male movie critics giddy with delight? Or when he was starring as their ultimate thrill of emasculation for a black male, a homosexual. It seems that being a caricature, which makes them feel the most comfortable, is the one time they can tolerate a black face on screen.
That must be why it’s still so much easier to find work and get praise as a black actor/actress, if you are playing a white person’s servant. Or in the case of Mr. Freeman a driver, obviously since he is too old to play the pimp role. He fits right into the magical Negro. I’m surprised they didn’t find a way to make him a great-great descendant of Uncle Remus from the banned Disney film, seeing how that’s basically what he is portraying only in a slightly less overt and offensive way.
As I have stated previously, I get that the past for black folks is a most hard pill to swallow. But why is it that those same folks i.e. white people who keep telling us to get over it have NO qualms about waxing nostalgic for a bygone era when it paints them in an inaccurately pleasant light?
When the breakdancing craze took off in the mid 80’s, Hollywood attempted to capitalize with several hit movies. Famed movie critic Gene Siskel of the Ebert and Siskel duo was not too pleased. He lamented that the advent of black urban faces in an inner city setting listening to hip-hop music would leave white teens out in the cold, obviously oblivious to the many years of white films that focused on the lives of teenagers with nary a black face in the bunch. Yet, because Siskel and other white males felt slighted, or as he put it, “There was no one that his kids could relate to,” that meant those films were lacking.
He didn’t seem to have a problem with the lily white dance flick “Footloose” starring a very young Kevin Bacon. Hell, even the break dancer in that movie was a white guy. Then again, that’s how most white males, particularly ones that have a voice in the media, operate. If it doesn’t pertain to them or reflect some aspect of their lives, then they ain’t interested. Thankfully, he and the rest of them didn’t determine the box office dollar, seeing how some of those pictures, a few spawning sequels, became smash hits despite his objections.
I recall an interview with comic legend Eddie Murphy. He opined that even as the critics were tearing down his films and performances, somebody had to be watching his pictures, because he was still getting work. And we all know fully well that the executives in Hollywhite aren’t about promoting black culture or stories any more than the white male critics enjoy watching them. So, Mr. Murphy must have a point, because I’m certain that the higher ups who greenlight his movies aren’t his friends. In fact, far from it. He, like Richard Pryor and Sidney Poitier before him, had to work twice as hard to be hired.
That’s why it really burns my butt that white men are usually the final say in regards to what films do well and which ones don’t. Lucky for me that I don’t listen to white male critics, especially since I know the place where it comes from. And that’s one where we are still at the back of the bus, eating in the kitchen, serving their drinks or playing insignificant drivers for their mommas.