Friday, September 17, 2021


A few weeks ago critic/pundit Angelica Jade caught some momentary flack online for her harsh (yet honest) review of Nia Dicosta’s Candyman. Not that she shouldn’t have gotten pushback. The review is written to invite dialogue and some pushback. But it’s as if she was expected to blindly like the movie just because she’s Black. Having finally watched Candyman myself, I can say that she was pretty on point (read the review here).

I understand that Jade can be harsh at times and the “let people enjoy things” crowd can get easily triggered by people like her. But, in my personal opinion, thoughts like hers are needed with films like this. Anyone can & should have an opinion on anything they want. But who better to critique something like Candyman with a fine tooth comb than a prominent & vocal Black critic?
I know folks were rooting for this movie (and it’s still a success at the end of the day) but I did find it funny that a Black a person’s negative opinion about a film concerning deep Black issues was challenged in a somewhat immature way by non-Black people (mostly White if we’re being specific). It’s that pretentious neo-liberalism that feels like an overbearing cancer sometimes. Don’t you find it odd that the same people who cry about representation and having more Black voices gets mad at an actual (well thought out) Black voice when they don’t “fall in line”? I certainly find it odd…
Some folks have even gone so far as to call Angelica Jade the “female Armond White”. For those of you that are unfamiliar, Armond White is a very smart film critic notorious of being extra critical towards predominantly Black movies & shows (history only proves this. Look it up). I do find this label a little unfair because nowadays (and for quite some time) White’s entire personality is mostly based around being a Black conservative because now more than ever, Black conservatives love to make that conservative identity their armor in an effort to separate themselves from the pack. Today’s Black conservatives get off on being so-called “free thinkers” yet they support the same people, have the same talking points and kind of all think alike. Weird how that works out, huh?
That’s not to say Black folks on the opposite end of the political spectrum are free thinkers either. But when it comes to today’s Black conservatives they really think they’re something special when they truly aren’t. They just aren’t.
Angelica Jade isn’t really part of that crowd as far as I’m concerned.


I didn’t hate Candyman, but it seems like now more than ever movies (and TV shows) with Black leads exploring Black stories are being made to please folks on social media and, quite frankly, people that aren’t even Black. We’re at a point where a form of research for a movie is just scrolling social media to get ideas (see: Zola). While I don’t make it a part of my personality or wear it on a t-shirt for fake clout, I’ve been the victim of racism, police discrimination, and fetishy romanticization simply because I’m a (large) Black man. I don’t always need a movie to reinforce these things on a surface level. I already live it in real life.

Now…in no way should the atrocities & injustices committed against folks that look like me be swept under the rug or downplayed, but at the same time, Jesus Christ - Black characters can be defined by things other than trauma and drama and pain and other things that have become a moneymaking scheme by movie & television studios.

It’s like there’s an unspoken checklist of things to have in every popular Black movie/show in order for it to succeed or be taken seriously. It’s all so surface & cheap. Shows like Them, certain specific elements of Lovecraft Country, the Watchmen series on HBO, The First Purge, etc etc etc. 
Honestly - I slowly started to give up on Lovecraft when they made Emmet Till a “fun little Easter egg” on the show. I call bullshit. Emmet Till is more than a Easter egg/bookmark in a silly science fiction story. He was a child that was brutally murdered. But “blue check” twitter and the “I am not my ancestors” sector of Black folks thinks shit like that is cute & witty. It isn’t.

And does almost everything horror and/or thriller-related have to be some subpar reworking of Get Out (a movie I like but I don’t even like to admit I like nowadays because the majority of the fanbase behind it is so cringy and don’t even realize they’re the demographic being made fun of and criticized in Get Out)?

I guess one positive of Candyman is that it does make nods to classic films that came before it.

Cinderella / Candyman

Cinderella /

Cinderella /

Bram Stoker's Dracula /

Nosferatu / Candyman

Nosferatu / Candyman

Psycho / Candyman

There's even a possible reference to Jordan Peele's work...

US /

This is totally speculative on my part but the idea of the haunted artwork on film, which we saw not too long ago in Velvet Buzzsaw, can be traced back to the early silent film The Portrait...

The Portrait /

The Portrait /

But a few cute references ain’t enough. Not even for me and that’s my “thing”…

I commend Dacosta for trying to correct certain elements of the original Candyman that didn’t sit well with some of us (the ghost of a slave murdered by white people that terrorizes other Black people is a tad bit wonky). I don’t want to give too much away or spoil anything but the big reveal towards the end is one big huge “wait - huh?” moment.
I do encourage you all to see the movie to come up with your own conclusion. It does need to be seen in order to truly grasp how much of an overall misfire it is.
And outside of the continued trend of making Black pain, Black trauma and serious internal Black issues a money-making genre, Candyman was just kind of bland, boring and messy.

I do want filmmakers like Nia Dacosta to succeed and thrive (we need more & more mainstream big budget/blockbuster directors that are Black as far as I’m concerned). But I also think we need to be more critical and expect more from certain films (and tv) that claim to “represent” Black people and their/our stories.
I’m not going to blindly like/support something just because I’m Black and it’s Black. It kind of feels like that’s the expectation these days (this is essentially how Tyler Perry got to where he is today and some folks still don’t see that they got played by him).


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