Wondering About Black People and the Movies

So check this out. 

There are a FEW more movies coming out that feature black producers, directors and stars little by little, by the year, however, we still are not in the stratosphere of blockbuster status….. Why?

Only a few black film entertainers have made it to the top to where they are in any role, that would easily be played by a white person…. Jamie, Denzel, Will, Laurence and Halle come to mind first.  The directors are an even smaller batch… Singleton, Lee, Perry….. at least of recent, meaning the past 10 years almost. 

So where are the rest of us in the top blockbusters or the multimillion dollar earnings off of the films?  That’s a good question.  As I am an aspiring screenwriter, I wonder if I am limited to particular genres:

  • Heavy drama (life in the streets, slavery, extreme dramatics of life)
  • Romance (sex stories, finding that someone, etc.)
  • Comedy (banal or stupid situations and potentially ignorant behavior)

In parentheses, I have outlined the modus operandi of these genres as depicted in black films.

Coming off of the feud between Spike Lee and Tyler Perry brought a lot of this to my attention.  Lee felt that Perry’s films promoted a negative image through the characters of Madea and Joe Brown.

“I think that there is a lot of stuff out today that is coonery and buffoonery,” said Lee, “I see ads for ‘Meet the Browns’ and ‘House of Payne’and I’m scratchin’ my head.  We’ve got a black president and it seems like we’re going back. The image is troubling and it harkens back to Amos and Andy.” ~ During a May interview regarding the state of black entertainment in an interview with Ed Gordon.

Here is Perry’s response.

“All these characters are bait – disarming, charming, make you laugh bait. I can slap Madea on something and talk about God, love, faith, forgiveness, family, any of those.”
Perry said characters like Madea are based on real-life members of his own family. He told Pitts, “It’s attitudes like [Lee’s] that make Hollywood think that these people do not exist and that’s why there’s no material speaking to them.”

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“You’re born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you’re up in the rarefied atmosphere and you’ve forgotten what shit even looks like.” ~ from the film “Layer Cake”

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