So I am trying to write a paper that I should have started a month ago but I am also checking my Twitter feed periodically.
What I have learned tonight via Twitter is that Precious/Mo’Nique won some Oscars tonight. I also have read a series of complaints about the film winning surrounding these victories perpetuating stereotypes about Black people and or women. I do not disagree with most of these complaints and I did re-tweet some of them. I also acknowledge that when Denzel Washington and Hallie Berry won Oscars a few years back I was VERY irritated for the same reasoning. How Denzel did not win for some of his other performances where he played characters that uplifted Black people i.e. Malcolm X (love him or hate him he did help wake up Black America to action against decades of discrimination and self hate) but won for being a corrupt cop highlights SO much of what is wrong with Hollywood. Additionally, the same can be said of Ms. Berry, she won for playing a strung out, deadbeat mother who was “hoish” in some of her actions and choices (I take full acknowledgment of the controversy of the term “ho” but I do have a paper to get back to so…just know that “ho” helps perpetuate the stereotype that women are to act angelic and not express their sexuality openly and men are free to put it where they can fit it whenever they can fit it. Take a feminism or sexuality course to dig into that!).
So moving from the controversy over films like Precious, Training Day, Monster’s Ball with a splash of all the push back I have read over the last year over Tyler Perry’s films and TV/TBS takeover, this is what I am reminded of this evening – the old adage “Actions Speak Louder Than Words.”
Sounds simple and it is easier said than done (no pun intended) but if you did not like what you saw this evening at the Oscars or in previous Oscar years don’t just tweet about it – do something about it. Some suggestions include:
- Find out your gift and then work it (related to film or not).
- Support independent films (most of the good cinematography that does not perpetuate negative stereotypes about people especially black and brown people will not show up at the megaplex).
- Make a film or support an organization that encourages historically marginalized groups to do so (check out Black Girls Rock or Reel Girls)
- Get into the industry or support those with such gifts to do so (The Oscars are decided by a committee/The Academy. The more diverse this body becomes the better the nominations and the higher the probability that films like the ones listed above will not win).
- Stop supporting “garbage” however you define it. Now this is where the idea of Catch 22 comes in because on some level some may feel that its best to support something so that something does not turn into nothing. Some “garbage” I no longer support is mainstream hip-hop music, the Big 6 mainstream media (ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and NBC) and BET or Black Exploitation Television as I like to call it. I like to plug TV One, NOW on PBS, Grit TV and Democracy Now as much as I can as to date these programs do a better job of representing Black America (US) or the news than the programs I now boycott).
- Educate someone/share with someone one of the above actions. Now, do so with the spirit of love and openness and not with a spirit of superiority or as a lecture. Dale Carnage said it best, “criticism puts people on the defensive,” so share with a smile. An example of this is share a link to an interesting news story like this one: Hundreds of Thousands Take Part in National Day of Action to Defend Public Education)
The six items above should get the ball rolling. Do you have other suggestions? What is the “garbage” you no longer support?
Finally, my hope is that this wave of dissatisfaction with the status-quo of Hollywood and the films by people of color that get mainstream recognition turns into something more fruitful than a great tweet or a trending topic. Now, back to that paper I’m supposed to be writing…