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The monitor of the film(s) listed above is farther down in this eNewsletter. Although not initially on our official film monitor list, we decided to monitor Transformers, which included non-lead roles by Tyrese Gibson, Anthony Anderson, and Bernie Mac, because of its many subliminal messages – and these three actors fall right into stereotypical role play. Its box office gross is well over $260 million in just three weeks, which means those messages have been passed onto millions of people who didn’t even notice what they subliminally digested through two and a half hours of entertainment; and those same messages will continue into millions of homes – unless you’re forewarned – with the sales of its upcoming DVD to unsuspecting and non-critical thinking consumers.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had its symbolic burial of the N-word during its 98th annual convention held earlier this month in Detroit, Michigan. While this word should never be forgotten and cannot literally be “buried” (or “banned” or “abolished” for that matter), any and all efforts by individuals, groups, and organizations to keep the use of the word in its proper historical context and perspective are welcomed. But we must ask these questions: why did the NAACP let the issue get this far? why didn’t they step-up more vigorously when C. Delores Tucker and others were fighting against this very type of escalation 20 years ago? shouldn’t the NAACP have confronted music company executives and owners long, long ago? If none of us did or currently do anything, shouldn’t an organization like the NAACP have a standard “something” that they do to protect our image?
It’s certainly better later than never but, frankly, the NAACP should have started non-stop campaign activities on this issue with the rap group NWA (Niggaz with Attitude) back in the 1980s. Had they put up the proper resistance then, perhaps it wouldn’t have overflowed with Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, and the cascade of followers – including the many one-hit and forgettable rappers and new school R&B singers. Most of these entertainers won’t have music that will last for decades, which artists such as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, and Marvin Gaye, to name just a few, have successfully proven can happen. When the smoke clears, very few artists created and marketed in the past 20 years will be remembered. Nevertheless, it’s good that the NAACP is doing this and for the naysayers who want to act as if this is a waste of time, H. Lewis Smith, author of “Bury That Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair With the N-Word” and founder of the United Voices for a Common Cause ( UVCC ), wrote this interesting editorial: Scrutinizing the NAACP’s Burial of the N-Word . In it he writes a truthful dichotomy about this word: “As long as African-Americans were disrespecting and holding one another down with the derogatory ‘friendly reminder,’ not a word was murmured. Now, with an effort in place to discard the diabolical N-word, and restore these invaluable, positive mindset ingredients, people are springing up from various places to protest the seriousness of the N-word and its adverse effects on the mindset.”
During this annual convention, the NAACP also did some follow-up to its November 2003 Out of Focus, Out of Syncreport on the film and television industry, which reported on the lack of opportunity and diversity that existed inHollywood at that time. Four years later this trend – surely to no one’s surprise – continues. Gil Robertson IV, president of the African American Film Critics Association ( AAFCA ), says “t he recently announced fall TV season and ‘soft’ summer film lineup certainly indicates a disconnect on some level when it comes to minority talent” and he adds that “the major agencies in Hollywood have long failed to employ minority agents, and this environment has created an insensitivity to the importance of diversity at the networks and throughout the entertainment industry.” Here’s the complete article by Kam Williams .
In closing on this NAACP convention issue, Professor Michael Eric Dyson – as of July 1, now at Georgetown University– is still at it with having to continue on his journey to justify the use of the N-word amongst Black people. Will he ever back down? Rappers such as 50 Cent, T.I., Jay-Z, and others have albums revolving around the use of the N-word and misogynistic lyrics, so it’s easy to see why they are fighting to justify that history of CD sales, videos, and tours. What else can they do early on, except to hope it all blows over? But even they may eventually come around? What’s Dyson’s reasoning? According to Dyson, it’s just fine for Blacks to call one another “niggers/niggas/niggaz” but Whites better not dare do it!! Now, does that really make sense? Why would Blacks want the “honor” of calling themselves by that word? How has that word been empowering for Blacks? If you think the word’s use works to the benefit of Blacks, send us an email with at least two ways you feel it has empowered us since its escalation through mass marketing over the past nearly 20 years? Any results we get will go into the next BN-W eNewsletter. In the meantime, take a look at these videos with Black men arguing over whether to use or not to use this word: Michael Dyson/Roland Martin and Jason Whitlock/James Peterson . It’s really a disgrace that this is still debated when the necessity to stop its use is so evidently clear. Dyson was also recently on Democracy Now! promoting his new book as well as running the same tired rhetoric on the N-word. You can get the text and video with his views on the N-word, hip-hop, Bill Cosby, Don Imus, and more.
On a more positive note from people who get a media spotlight, actor Chris Tucker, who releases the third installment of his Rush Hour film next month, regrets his use of the N-word in a scene he shared with Samuel L. Jackson in Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 Jackie Brown film. Tucker tells Playboy magazine, “Back then I wasn’t even thinking that much about how words like that affect people. But I do now. I wouldn’t do it (make Jackie Brownnow). I don’t know how old I was then, but I’m a different person now. Hopefully, we evolve as we get older. Hopefully, we better ourselves. No, I wouldn’t do that dialogue now.”
A final story on the N-word is about Ralph Papitto, former chairman of the Roger Williams University board, who was forced to resign after using the N-word to describe the recruitment of more Blacks to diversify an all-White 16-member board that includes 14 men and two women. Before being forced to resign and having his named removed from the law school, Papitto kind of made light of the situation by saying it “kind of slipped out”; that he “apologized” and “What else can I do? Kill myself?”; he made a reference about not being able to say that word because of Don Imus; said he had never used the term before; and that the first time he heard the word “was on television or rap music or something.” What makes his last comment so interesting is that Papitto is an 80-year-old White man (born circa 1927) who definitely grew up during America’s Jim Crow era and Civil Rights Movement when America was still in its prime of unconcealed racism, prejudice, and hatred. Here’s the full CNN story.
INTERESTING WEB SITES/LINKS/ARTICLES OF THE DAY :
Chocolate Brides is a new Web site and magazine that represents a wedding marketplace that focuses on information and sources that cater to the desires and wants of Black women when planning their wedding. Will deep pockets eventually try to buy yet another Black enterprise out (e.g., BET, Essence)? And will it work? Time will tell.
The Jena Six (Two Races, Two Systems of Justice) is a story about 21st Century racism at Jena High School in Jena, Louisiana, where in 2006 three nooses were hung from a tree that was unofficially designated for “White students only” after a Black student asked the school’s permission to sit under the tree. Other incidents after that included fighting between Blacks and Whites, which now has six Black students facing 22 – 100 years in prison on trumped up charges of attempted murder. Here are two more detailed stories on the incident: The Case of the Jena Six andParents of the Jena Six Speak Out.
July 12, 2007 marked the 40th anniversary of the Newark Rebellion. This date was also chosen to indict Sharpe James, the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who was in office for 20 years, on corruption charges. Coincidence? Highly unlikely. The 1967 Newark Rebellion led to uprisings against oppression across the United States and “a presidential commission into the unrest later famously concluded that the United States was ‘moving toward two societies, one Black, one White – separate and unequal.’” Well-known activist, poet, and playwright Amiri Baraka; Larry Hamm, head of the People’s Organization for Progress (POP); and others speak about their first-hand experience with the Newark Rebellion.
In addition to his recent N-word debate with Michael Eric Dyson (above), in April 2007, Roland Martin wrote a column aptly titled “Rap’s True Profiteers Stay in the Shadow of Lyrical Debate.” Those “profiteers” are the individuals who head the four major record conglomerates – EMI (Eric Nicoli), Universal Music Group (Doug Morris), Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Andrew Lack), and Warner Music Group (Lyor Cohen) – and sign off on the music that gets promoted and mass marketed to the international public. In this piece, Roland gives an appropriate analogy in describing their part in the promotion of the sexist images and demeaning language: “ Only focusing on the rappers is like arresting the street drug dealers and saying nothing about the cartel leaders. The guy on the corner might have $1,000 in his pocket, but that cartel leader is pocketing $100 million.” In BN-W #78, we provided background information on most of these individuals mentioned in this article and plenty of others as well as the corporations for our readers to get a better understanding of who’s running this business and behind the promotion of the negative image of Blacks that’s being marketed globally.
More on Michael Moore and his Sicko film. Since our last eNewsletter, Moore’s been on CNN several times, including with Wolf Blitzer, Sanjay Gupta, and Larry King. He’s also appeared on the Colbert Report. All of the interactions are in this Alternet link and all are quite entertaining.
As we mentioned in BN-W #54 the conclusion of Part II: Black-Jewish Relations will be included with our new bi-monthly Music Monitor. As we also stated, we’ve got a lot of information, and, for that reason, until Part II comes out, we’ll be filtering stuff to you so it won’t be too overwhelming in the buildup to Part II’s conclusions. Refer toBN-W #53/54 if you need a repeat of our feelings on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
As a follow-up to the Jimmy Carter book, “ Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” this is a video describing Israel and the [illegal]apartheid wall that separates Israel and Palestine and keeps the violence and hatred alive.
Adult children of the Jewish holocaust filed a class-action lawsuit in Germany demanding payment for their psychiatric care. “The suit seeks to set up a German-financed fund to pay for biweekly therapy sessions for 15,000 to 20,000 people, or about $10 million annually for three years….Since many cannot hold steady jobs, they cannot pay for their treatment, and aid from the Israeli government and health insurance have been inadequate….the Tel Aviv suit was a first step aimed at winning recognition that Germany bears responsibility for the suffering of survivors’ children….Since the 1950s, Germany has paid more than $60 billion in reparations to concentration camp survivors, families of some of the 6 million Jewish victims, and to the state of Israel.” Is that how it’s done? Blacks for Reparations, there’s the blueprint. Just follow it diligently and to the letter.
If you missed any other BN-W monitors, just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and request that it be sent to you. As always, we highly encourage you to see these films for yourself and, if applicable, make your own judgment call on the N-word usage – appropriate/inappropriate? necessary/unnecessary? sensible/nonsensical? does it add to or take away from the film’s concept? does the N-word have to be used at all? is there a valid reason for doing so? is it mandatory for the scene(s) to be effective? what are the circumstances/situation that necessitate any use of the word? is it just thrown in for humor, fear, crime, insult? are other culturally insulting slang terms used as much as the N-word in the film? Lots of questions and a whole lot of reasons to wonder what’s the real purpose and thought process behind why these entertainers, writers, directors, producers, executive producers, distributors, and studios/studio heads and executives give the “greenlight” for these crews to liberally use (or allow to be used) the N-word.
FEATURE FILM(S) :
T R A N S F O R M E R S
[Release Date: 7/3/07]
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Anthony Anderson, Bernie Mac; screenplay written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman; directed by Michael Bay; produced by Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo diBonaventura, Ian Bryce; executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay, Brian Goldner, Mark Vahradian; studio – Dreamworks Pictures/Paramount Pictures
|NONE ||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : This film is loaded with America’s favorite theme of death and destruction; it referenced women as “ho’s,” had a “Bee otch” car air freshener, and prominently displayed blue eyes (and associated that with the “good” transformers) throughout the film. There were also plenty of ethnic/racial stereotypes: Black males shooting hoops, of course; Black males primarily used as comic relief in addition to being disrespectful to an older Black female character (Bernie Mac’s character describes his mother as “Mammy/bitch”); Tyrese Gibson and Anthony Anderson also played characters that were frightened most of the time; a law enforcement agent character also states “eyeballing my piece, 50 Cent” in reference to a gun; the Hispanic character being told to speak English and he was also into voodoo; the concept of the machinery was described as “way too smart for Iranian scientists” while the super advanced technology was associated with the Japanese; and, as usual, only the White guys get the girl, love, and/or familial happiness at the end.
T A L K T O M E
[Release Date: 7/13/07]
Starring Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Taraji P. Henson, Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Martin Sheen, Vondie Curtis-Hall; screenplay written by Michael Genet, Rick Famuyiwa; directed by Kasi Lemmons; produced by Mark Gordon, Sidney Kimmel, Joe Fries, Josh McLaughlin; executive produced by William Horberg, J. Miles Dale, Joey Rappa, Bruce Toll, Don Cheadle; studio – Focus Features
|NONE ||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : Excessive N-word usage – at least 35 times – by the Black characters while the Martin Sheen character, portraying a White guy, states “we don’t use that term.” Berry Gordy is thrown into the Dreamgirls category again and referenced as a hustler and a pimp. How films (even when directed by and starring Blacks) keep pushing Blacks as happy N-word users and Whites as against it and pushing Black music executives and owners as trying to swindle their own people (especially during the 60s) while Whites somehow are represented as upstanding, righteous, and fair is just astounding. Overall, the film had some positives, including the relationship between the Cheadle and Ejiofor characters, which reflected two men living vicariously through each other. Taraji P. Henson also does an excellent job in her role, which is similar to others she’s done for a while now. Alas, however, the excessive N-word usage makes it impossible for us to pay to see it a second time and that high usage definitely makes it a no-go for purchasing the DVD as well. For the record, most reviews of this film made no reference to the N-word usage, which is what’s been common in film and music reviews/critiques over the past many years in promoting the N-word as okay or cool. This has been our contention all along about how the media subtly supported the avalanche of this word.
H A I R S P R A Y
[Release Date: 7/20/07]
Starring Queen Latifah, John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken; screenplay written by Leslie Dixon; directed by Adam Shankman; produced by Craig Zadan, Neil Moron; executive produced by Adam Shankman, Jennifer Gibgot, Garrett Grant, Toby Emmerich, Mark Kaufman, Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Bob Shaye, Michael Lynne; studio – New Line Cinema
|NONE ||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : We saw the Broadway version of the movie a few years ago and thought it was so-so, as we do this film. It is, however, good that the film touches on the “race” issue because it’s so big in this society. It does have the usual stereotypes of the detention class having mostly Blacks (who are portrayed as cool, hip, and, of course, dancing fools); there’s also the Blacks who want to “unite” after a little push and encouragement by one lone White teenage girl who wants to make the world better for all; and then you have all the happiness and cheers from mostly Whites when integration occurs. We all know that didn’t happen then as it doesn’t happen now. While it’s no longer officially called segregation, what we have today is known as White flight, gentrification, reverse discrimination claims, the media’s new and quick “race card” categorization for anyone who legitimately claims racism, and 21stCentury separate but unequal qualitatively and quantitatively throughout education, housing, employment, and more that haven’t changed much since centuries past. Although this film touches on only a very small part of racism inAmerica, it’s good that it makes an effort (you can even feel the discomfort from the audience) to discuss “race” because that’s America’s biggest problem – facing up to its past and present demons on that issue. For the record, contrary to what this film portrays along with an educational system that grossly miseducates, Blacks have done and can do much more than just entertain.
BN-W Monitor Coming Soon : “Home of the Brave” [Samuel L. Jackson, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Victoria Rowell]; The Kingdom” [Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner]; “Rush Hour 3” [Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan]; “The Invasion” [Jeffrey Wright, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig]; “Resurrecting the Champ” [Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett]; “The Comebacks” [Carl Weathers]
Also Coming : Part II: Black-Jewish Relations; Bi-Monthly Music Monitors