Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
utzworld

A Black Thing

Recommended Posts

This conversation has completely backfired on me.

There was a method to my madness: I WAS considering launching into the deep end of the ocean and writing my own original screenplay. The plan was to take your answers to the bold faced questions and to stir them up in the pot to see what I could come up with. That's why I was pushing those questions so hard.

However, this conversation has turned into total chaos. Therefore, I do not wish to continue the discussion.

To those who attempted to answer my questions, I appreciate you taking the time to do so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The issue at hand again:

Excessive hype and good movie/bad movie debates aside
That statement alone should have shut down any conversation & debate about your like/dislike of "Dreamgirls".

I don't think too many of you understand what was riding with this movie.

I said it before in my review and I'll say it again. "Dreamgirls" was the rarest of a rare breed: an African American event movie. Every year we get at least 4-5 (maybe more) event movies - Spidey, Superman, Pirates and so forth. Black films, on the other hand, get regulated to the "second hand" pile by the film world...unless, of course, your name is Denzel, Will, Samuel L., Morgan and (just recently) Jamie or Terrence.

The topic of my discussion again, for the umpteenth time, bolded and italicised...so any preconceived notions can be tossed out of the window...

"Dreamgirls" was that rare and epic shot for Our Stories to take a seat at the Oscar table. And, for a myriad of reasons, it missed. While mainstream (White) critics and film analysts are brushing their shoulders off and going on with their Oscar predictions, We (me and my homies in the Black film critical/analysis circle) are left pondering the big question...

"What do we have to do to insure that African American stories get a fair shot at the upper echelon of critical praise & Oscar glory? American film critics as well as the Academy has (FINALLY!) turned around and started recognizing our individual acting performances. But, as everyone knows, Best Picture - not to mention the highly worshipped Year End Top Ten Lists - is the brass ring. What must African American artists do to successfully and finally achieve that elusive Brass Ring?

Do we need to tone down our acting to make the stories more realistic (many of you felt the performances in "Dreamgirls" - and other AA films too - were/are over the top)?

Do we need to take more time to polish up our screenwriting (keep in mind that most Black films have at least 50-75% less of a budget than mainstream Hollywood films)?

Do our directors need more "proper film training" (Tyler Perry, who didn't get a film school degree, gets lambasted all the time by mainstream critics for "pedestrian filmmaking")?

Should are stories be more "interesting" to mainstream society (no more hood/ghetto stories)?

Are we as Black people (Yours Truly, Spike Lee) just too damn angry?

Incidentally, this is about much more than "Dreamgirls", believe it or not. It's about African American stories and artists who have had to climb a virtual Mt. Everest just to get onto the big screen and the constant frustration that we feel when a good team of climbers is assembled to ascend to that mountaintop only to be knocked back down again and again.

This is what we've felt like in the wake of "The Color Purple", "Do The Right Thing", "Boyz N The Hood", "Malcolm X", and now "Dreamgirls": good climbing teams who are unable to climb to the mountaintop. We celebrate those among us who have individually climbed to the top - we have 3 out of the 4 front-runners in the Acting categories this year. But, politically influenced or not, messy and half-baked as it may be, the Academy Award for Best Picture is the mountaintop. The day when I finally see one of Our Stories get to that mountaintop will mark my proudest day as a cinephyte.

With that, let the discussion continue in peace. I apologize if my tone was interpreted as non-peaceful. For the aforementioned reasons, this is one of the most important dialogues in my lifetime. I believe that the challenge may rest on my shoulders (and mine alone) to see if, through the power of God, I can create an African American story with the depth, clarity and universality of the 5 Best Picture nominees that grace the halls of Oscar every year. I crave your comments and participtation like water. I only ask that you stay on topic, please. Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chris, what do you want to write about? What ideas are you mulling over?

I can't answer your questions re. what will get an Oscar nomination - I don't think there's any formula, and I'm not sure the question is relevant to what you want to do.

Again, I'd argue for a separate thread on this, especially given the current thread's subtitle...

I will leave the questions on the table in hopes that someone here will be able to get past their preconceived notions about them (not to mention me!) and simply answer them. What I'm REALLY looking for is for folks to honestly share (as you did) their likes and dislikes about the AA films they've seen. The opinion of this community are crucial research for my project.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chris, what do you want to write about? What ideas are you mulling over?

I can't answer your questions re. what will get an Oscar nomination - I don't think there's any formula, and I'm not sure the question is relevant to what you want to do.

Again, I'd argue for a separate thread on this, especially given the current thread's subtitle...

I will leave the questions on the table in hopes that someone here will be able to get past their preconceived notions about them (not to mention me!) and simply answer them. What I'm REALLY looking for is for folks to honestly share (as you did) their likes and dislikes about the AA films they've seen. The opinion of this community are crucial research for my project.

I don't think I had any preconceived notions about the questions or you, and I tried to answer the ones I felt I could answer. You don't seem eager to respond to those thoughts though, in the way that is necessary for a dialogue of any sort to occur, and instead may just be looking to compile a list of peoples' answers and not actually dialogue on them at all. Or you may be just waiting for comments from those whose opinions you feel are more valuable, in which case you could try PM'ing those people.

Perhaps more people haven't responded because the people who have have either been 1) ignored, or 2) told that their explanations of why they don't feel the questions can be effectively answered aren't valid, and that they should really just answer the darned questions...


"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since you asked ...

: What do we have to do to insure that African American stories get a fair shot at the

: upper echelon of critical praise & Oscar glory? American film critics as well as the

: Academy has (FINALLY!) turned around and started recognizing our individual acting

: performances. But, as everyone knows, Best Picture - not to mention the highly

: worshipped Year End Top Ten Lists - is the brass ring. What must African American

: artists do to successfully and finally achieve that elusive Brass Ring?

Plenty of critics put Black Films on their top ten lists, so the real question here is the Oscars. And I frankly don't think the Oscars matter that much. And I especially don't think you can get a "fair shot" by trying to manipulate your own artistic impulses, etc., etc., in order to achieve such a dubious goal. Fairness, if it exists at all, is ultimately in the hands of the people who hand out the awards, not in the people who receive them. So, the simple answer is that you CANNOT do anything to "insure" that your stories get "a fair shot". You either get one or you don't.

: Do we need to tone down our acting to make the stories more realistic . . .

On the contrary, as I noted in my review of Dreamgirls, it is quite possible that Jennifer Hudson will win for going over-the-top just as Sean Penn did. The Academy can be a sucker for over-the-top-ness.

: Do we need to take more time to polish up our screenwriting (keep in mind that

: most Black films have at least 50-75% less of a budget than mainstream

: Hollywood films)?

I don't think budget has much to do with the quality of the WRITING.

: Do our directors need more "proper film training" . . .

No, just talent. Quentin Tarantino, to cite the first example that comes to mind, never went to a film school; he just knows how movies work, and he's got the sort of instincts that make for really effective movies.

: Should are stories be more "interesting" to mainstream society . . .

If your goal is to win a mainstream award, then yes, you must make more stories "interesting" to the providers of mainstream awards. But this does not necessarily mean you have to tone down the non-mainstream aspects of your story; you just have to frame them in a way that a mainstream audience finds accessible. The Oscars have always valued exoticism, to a degree. Just not too MUCH exoticism.

Remember how Peter Jackson, when he accepted his awards for The Return of the King, thanked the Academy for finally recognizing fantasy films? There was a whole "geek" community that applauded the fact that one of "their" stories finally got the "Brass Ring" (after near-misses for Star Wars, Sigourney Weaver's performance in Aliens, and so on). But there are hardcore "geeks" who also complained that the film reduced J.R.R. Tolkien's novel to an "action movie".

Well, there you go -- that's the balance that it sometimes takes to win the Oscar. A film that is "different" enough from what you think of as a typical Oscar-worthy film, yet also "accessible" enough to attract mainstream critical, commercial, and awards-season attention.

: Are we as Black people (Yours Truly, Spike Lee) just too damn angry?

Oh, maybe. But at times, that can make you more "interesting". :)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't seen this anywhere on the board, but might be appropriate here:

Disney introduces its first black princess

POSTED: 6:25 p.m. EDT, March 15, 2007

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- The Walt Disney Co. has started production on an animated musical fairy tale called "The Frog Princess," which will be set in New Orleans and feature the Walt Disney Studio's first black princess.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/Movies/03/...s.ap/index.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to admit I'm not sure how I feel about that. "Princesses" as we understand them -- and certainly as Disney has understood them, and will apparently continue to understand them -- are essentially a product of European culture. I'm all in favour of an African "princess", in the sense that Pocahontas may have been a Native American "princess", but the costume they've designed for this character suggests that they're putting the African girl in European clothing. Then again, the story will apparently be set in the United States (specifically, in New Orleans), so who knows what sort of "princess" she'll be.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...