Precious was another recently praised film that also confused me. It brought up all these emotions and feelings that honestly make me feel like I'm alone in this world sometimes. Upon receiving an article from my father about how Hollywood likes dysfunctional black characters (which is kind of true), stemming from Mo'nique's academy award win for best supporting actress in 2010, I had this to say (you may wanna read this article below before going any further):
"Hollywood Likes Dysfunctional Black Characters"
"Hollywood Likes Dysfunctional Black Characters"
the person who wrote this article doesn't completely know what they're talking about.
"Okay, so we all know that Mo'Nique deserved the best supporting actress Oscar she won this past Sunday. Her performance in "Precious" was brilliant, and there’s no way I’m going to diss my homegirl"
NO! her performance wasn't "brilliant". shes not even a good actor. its just a novelty. a comedic personality plays a serious role for the first time, and people automatically jump all over it. Actually, id like someone to point out the difference between Mo'nique's character in precious and the actress who played Ice Cube's mother in Boyz N' The Hood. Where's her academy award?? Plus, the span between those two characters is almost 20 years. that's proof right there that black film isn't really moving forward. in fact its come full circle. 20 years later, and the same angry, single, bad black mother character is still being portrayed (and praised).
another example that the person writing this article doesn't know what they're talking about:
"Of the six black Oscar winners since 2002, only Morgan Freeman and Jamie Foxx played African-Americans who were even close to normal."
no way. he's talking about morgan freeman's oscar win for "million dollar baby". its like black people don't even realize that in a pivotal scene in million dollar baby, morgan freeman's character beat up a black person to defend a white person...the same white person who called him a "nigger" at the beginning of the movie. But he's morgan freeman, so no one (especially black people) can criticize him, because hes the wise sounding, smooth talking, old black guy. but i see through that. I'm not fooled. how many role's has morgan freeman played the helpful black sidekick to the white lead? or how many times has he played the wise, mysterious black person who always helps the lead white character (sometimes sacrificing his own life)? plenty.
Black people aren't critical enough if you ask me. we accept things way too easily. its like black people are saying; "did a black person just win some shiny trophy?? well, I'm gonna automatically support that person and the movie, and not even take the time to break down what the movie is about, or break down the performance of the character." and the few times a black person does criticize negative black roles, the black community pulls that "why do black people always have to tear down other black people?" crap. i don't wanna hear that shit. and white people don't want to say anything about negative black roles, because their scared someone is gonna pull the race card.
to say Hollywood likes dysfunctional black characters is kinda vague, because how many white actors have been nominated or won oscars and other various awards for playing dysfunctional characters? plenty. There's bigger issues concerning black people in film today
Now here we are two years later and not much has changed. A lot of the things I said in that email response above still apply today. I'm sorry (actually I'm not sorry) but characters like Tyler Perry's "Madea" (which looks like it wont be going away any time soon) and Mo'Nique's performance in 'Precious' have a negative effect on the image of black women. And I'm not denying that Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis didn't give great performances in The Help, but at the same time, I'm done with movies like that. Is it possible to make a film showing black women not just in a positive light (because that's a little vague vague), but show how beautiful, attractive, complex and talented they are? Thanks to recent films like Pariah, Dark Girls (which has yet to be released) and The Black Power Mixtape (which is starting to develop quite a lil' cult following), things are lookin' up!
At the moment things are looking up for Adepero Oduye. At the golden globes Meryl Streep gave her a shout out in her acceptance speech and then overnight she got signed to a talent agency. Lets see how the film industry can use her.
In Pariah we follow "Alike"; a Brooklyn teen who isn't exactly in the closet, but isn't exactly openly gay either. She almost leads a double life. When she's home or around her parents (a religious mother who senses that Alike is gay, and tries to "fix" her; and a father, also in denial about his daughter's sexual orientation, although slightly more caring) she tries to dress and act more feminine. When she's not at home or around her parents she dresses more "boyish", hangs out with one of her only (also gay) friends and frequents a popular gay club. As the film progresses things kinda start to spiral out of control for Alike and she learns things about herself and the people around her which forces her to grow up and mature faster than others her age. Pariah walks the same path as films like Mouchette, Match Factory Girl & Welcome To The Dollhouse (Adepero Oduye's performance was also reminiscent of Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple).
THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE
I think the most unique thing about the making of this film is that even though its captured through the eyes of white Europeans, it still doesn't objectify or misrepresent black people in any way. But at the same time I shouldn't be all that surprised given that so many modern European directors like; Michael Haneke (Code Unknown & Cache), Nicolas Provost (The Invader) and Claire Denis (No Fear, No Die & 35 Shots Of Rum) seem to be the main directors making most of the progressive films concerning black people and race issues today.
Dark Girls is a complex film about the racism, struggles & pressure black women face all over the world. Duke focuses on internal racism inside of the black community (black men not being attracted to black women because their too dark, black women being encouraged by their family to be with someone lighter or white so they don't have dark kids, etc), and he interviews everyone from actresses like Viola Davis to "every day" women. Certain aspects of the documentary were summarized and wrapped up a little too nicely for my taste, but at the end of the day this documentary dealt with issues that other films haven't so its a success in my book.