Monday, December 6, 2010
This being my last blog of the semester I had to do something that was near and dear to my heart, which is black Hollywood. I have thought about this every day for the last 10 years and even considered getting a tattoo of it right underneath my black fist and fathers initials that is displayed on my right arm. I’m not gonna whine that black people have it hard in show business because the truth is that black people have it hard everywhere. The statistics bare true just read my blog on Oprah. I am going to reserve my banter to the issue at hand which is black Hollywood or the lack there of .There are a few black actors which can green light any project and probably the whole top five is dominated by Will Smith and Denzel which has seen his star fall a little over the years. However, like Oprah Mr. Will Smith is colorless and Denzel has that George Clooney thing going for him with that cool ass walk that drive the ladies wild.
Most black Hollywood struggle to get roles just like their white counterpart with the only difference being that there are only 15 to 18 black films in theaters in a given year as comparison to 400 or so white movies. And you may ask how I came up with that number, I actually counted and double checked the number from 2009, and out the 18 black films on the list I seen all of them. I was not surprised that Tyler Perry and Oprah were involved in three of the 18. So I’m saying this to say that you have a much harder time getting a role in a movie if you are black in Hollywood because there is just much less movies. When they are thinking of Ben Affleck’s love interest in the sequel to “Good Will Hunting” they are not looking at Gabrrelle Union or Regina King but they may go with Zoë Saldana or Thadie Newton if they were daring. So because there are so few black movies many black actresses have turned to someone like Tyler Perry or Oprah to keep working at lesser salary like in the all star cast of “For Colored Girls.”(Budget 21Million)
The other thing is Critics to me don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to black movies. Most black people I know don’t even listen to the critics because they always like some obscure foreign movie that I will never see. The critics confine blacks to only stereotypical roles and criticize material that they just don’t understand. How could these critics understand black topics because most white people were never taught black history in the same way that blacks in the this country are adulterated with mainstream white culture. So critics will have mixed reviews of Great Debaters which is a great movie because it really did not do that well in the theaters.(Budget 15 Million- Gross 30 million) Most black movies in general do poorly if they actually have a positive message. And I won’t even mention movies where the white people are saving the black youth like “Freedom Writers.” “Malcolm X” did not do that well in the theaters and that to many black people is a great movie.(Budget 33 Million- Gross 48 million) Is this because these films are just not that good or is the answer dependant on who you ask? I don’t think that “Avatar” is a great movie but it broke all records and sunk the great Titanic with almost 3 billion in gross profit. It’s all up to who is judging these movies and the critics taste. I walked out of “Juno” because it just was not funny and I thought that “Knock up” didn’t crack me up.
As a black filmmaker I understand that many of the projects that I am passionate about will not be mainstream and in turn will not have investors or studio support. I have suggest to my crew that we do a stereotypical movie to just get a major feature out there and then do what we want. However, thus far my conscious won’t let me do sell out at this time. I wrote a movie, which could be a companion to Malcolm X that I understand may never find an audience. I have discussed a slavery period piece totally different than Amistad that I may never find funding for.
About 8 years ago when I was a lot greener than I am now, I went to a pitch session at the New York Hotel for the Bravo Network. I had two ideas for a television show, one was about white characters at a performing arts school and the other was about rappers in the projects and which one did you think they wanted to hear more about? You guest it, the rappers from the projects and their excuse for why they did not like the first one is that they said and I quote “ We can’t see you producing this show.” So Steven Spielberg can make “Color Purple” & “Amistad” but I can produce a show with white people. Am I being stereotyped? Let me tell you a little about my past and why the white performing arts school may be more up my alley than rappers in the ghetto. From the time that I was seven years old I went to public schools which was more than 95% white and have been hanging around performing arts students ever since. I have never lived in the projects or rap seriously, so the rappers television show was a stretch for me. I could have wrote about white people in the performing arts school in my sleep, because I lived it. So I saying this to say that I was stereotyped like many other black movies and filmmakers to make the kind of movies that the mainstream white community want to see.
So let me go back to the Black Hollywood tattoo that I wanted on my arm and the significance of black Hollywood. I want a community of black filmmakers and investors to invest in a powerful black studio that will make all these movies that just need a little love. Oprah and Tyler cannot tell all the stories nor would I want them to. What if Seth Macfarlene and Seth Rogan were the only voice of white American.
Posted by Lawrencebcp at 8:01 AM