Sunday, February 22, 2015

What is it with all the Black Pain movies?

The weekend the film was released, my family and I went to see the movie “Selma”. It was great acting all the way. I thought the actors and actresses who portrayed their respective characters were awesome. I encourage that parents take their children to see the movie as it is inspired by an actual event. I say inspired instead of based because with every Hollywood picture, there always is an element of fiction. Nevertheless, the march from Selma to Montgomery was real as was the pain and suffering of those that fought and died for the right to vote.

And in talking about Hollywood, I’ve noticed there has been a certain trend. It seems that the most critically acclaimed movies that the press and Hollywood push featuring an all black cast have to do with pain and suffering. When we look at movies such as “12 Years A Slave”, “Django Unchained”, “Precious”, “The Help”, and “The Butler”, these movies have a certain theme where Black Americans are portrayed as being in pain or suffering some how.

Why don’t we see more movies like “ This Christmas”, “Crooklyn” or “The Best Man Holiday” where we see the love of a black family, a successful black family? Not to suggest that the characters portrayed are perfect, but they tend to avoid stereotypes we are so accustomed to see in a prejudice medium. These movies were not pushed or promoted, as were the other movies by the mainstream press.  In some instances, a theme promoting the love of a strong black family or couple has been ignored by the mainstream.

Now, my review is not to discourage people from seeing this film. All of the actors, including David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Wendell Pierce and Oprah Winfrey did a fantastic job. The movie highlights the struggle that Black Americans had to overcome as human beings. As I was watching the film, I was reminded of how far we still have to go, vis-à-vis Ferguson and New York.  

My commentary is to point out that as Black Americans, we should be demanding to see our own stories. Why can’t we see the story of Mansa Musa, the richest king that ever lived from the Kingdom of Mali? Why not tell the story of the Carthaginian General Hannibal, who defeated the Roman Army by marching through the Swiss Alps.  When movies like “Exodus: Gods and Kings” are released that “white-out” the role Africans made in developing the world, we often complain why we are not in the movie. Maybe because we let someone dictate who we are and what we should watch instead of doing the exact opposite.  

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