Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

"Black Filmmakers Are (Or Should Be) Obligated To Tell Stories Primarily About Black People" (Discuss)

by Tambay A. Obenson
May 25, 2012 1:19 PM
  • |

Slow news day, so how about a survey? :)

Revisiting a question I last asked in 2010, when the site wasn't as much of a draw as it is today, 2 years later...

Here's a conversation I had in the past with a frustrated black filmmaker friend... I'm paraphrasing here, but the gist of it is clear enough:

HIM: "I'm done! My next project, I'm casting white folks."

Silence. Not sure if he's just messing around, only to realize that he's dead serious.

ME: "Why?"

HIM: "They're more... umm... 'accessible.'"

Followed by a devilish grin.

HIM: "For real; Gotta do what we gotta do to make it."

I asked him to explain what he meant by "accessible," knowing what he likely did mean, but needed clarification; in a nutshell, revealing what I think most of us already know, and have been fighting against for decades... the notion that films with predominantly Caucasian-starring casts seem to generally have a better shot at being financed, and widely seen, than films that center around the lives of people from any other so-called "minority" group; unless your film, with an overwhelmingly black cast, fits a familiar or proven mold.

I'd like to read what the rest of you think.

In the context of this blog, are black filmmakers (or SHOULD black filmmakers be), first and foremost, obligated to tell stories primarily about black people, given the dearth of people of African descent on our TV and theater screens? Is that a fair expectation of them? And I'm really curious if the thinking of my friend in the conversation above is common among many of you black filmmakers reading this - essentially, that a lot of you are indeed frustrated with the state of things, and are feeling pressured into rethinking how you write/cast your projects, influenced by what you see are your odds at success being somewhat dependent on the skin color of the characters in your films?

I should also toss in August Wilson's argument that he only wanted black directors to direct film adaptations of his plays, as another angle to consider in this conversation.

So put all that in a pot, stir it, and let it cook.


  • |
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    


  • KDW | October 5, 2012 1:32 AMReply

    I understand where your friend is coming from a bit. When I think of "Black" film creators I get restless, same with "Black" singers, and "Black" Authors, and "Black" Artists etc. Notice how I said Black on everything. This is why I avoid supporting "Black" creations. Because we never do anything new! everything we create has black in it! or colored. It's either a comedy or hood drama or slave movie or about our struggles or recreated "White" films using "Black" actors. Why is it so hard for black creators to move out of that box? Another reason, your friend probably wanted to cast white people, may had something to do with them not being afraid to do any type of movie. I honestly think some black people refuse to do certain things if it's not black enough. There are so many genres that "Black" creators can explore yet they choose to limit themselves, due to the idea of "Blackness." or having to prove how much you love being "Black" I don't understand it.

  • Brendon | August 22, 2012 1:22 AMReply

    Interesting comments here. I am a white filmmaker, but spent the last 4 years making a Civil Rights picture with dozens of black extras and actors. While it was slightly more difficult to get black actors to commit, many willingly volunteered their time, over the course of several years. They were no less dedicated than any white actors who worked on the production.

    I agree with those who have said to "make whatever you want". Your passions should inform your direction. Not industry stigma, difficulty, or anything else. After all, when the going gets tough (and it always does), true passion is all that will keep you afloat.

  • jeff | July 20, 2012 3:26 PMReply

    I disagree I'm black trying to raise funds to shoot a teaser trailer to a post apocalyptic science fiction film/comic I have been working on for some time yes I am into dramas and urban tales but I feel that it is a over saturated market within the black community filmmaker trying to get help to fund a project I wanted you to check out the project and let me know what you think,
    Hello this is my science fiction story I have been working on for quiet some time now. I am raising money to finish the comic and to also producer a teaser trailer for the film as a project to pitch to movie studios. If anyone can help spread the word about this project and make any amount of donation it is much appreciated.

    The Story
    The alien race known as the Eons initially came to Earth in the year 2000 offering peace to the people of the planet, because humans were a primitive race destroying themselves. The world's leaders feared what they did not understand and attacked the Eons. War lasted for a decade. The Eons captured seven human hosts which they experimented on for 3 years. Only 3 survived: Jeff, John, and Kate. They have awoken from a cryosleep in the year 2112 A.I., where they must learn to adapt to a new world from the one they remember. But the Eons will make their return...and this time all bets are off.
    This book will be its own story as well as an introduction to the world, at 25 pages for the main story. In the future, my plan will definitely be to produce more of these and expand upon this series.

  • GT | June 24, 2012 4:22 PMReply

    A read of Ralph Ellison's 1949 essay, which inspired the name of this very website, will definitively answer this question once and for all.

  • JTC | June 1, 2012 3:07 AMReply

    I relate to the idea of making a film with non-black actors, though probably not for the reasons that the person the author spoke with meant. My reason is about finances and integrity. I am a microbudget filmmaker, by the way. When I decided that I wanted to be a writer/director after having been writing (not screenplays) for over 10 years. I took it seriously. I read hundreds of screenplays. Dozens of screenwriting books. Copied the screenplays I liked with the purpose of trying to understand the rhythm of screenwriting excellence. I practiced long and hard before I even felt worthy to try to put something out there. I continue to train myself, something I don't ever expect to stop. I studied my lenses, blocking, cinematic language, watched filmmakers from all over the world to see how different director dealt with a variety of situations. I did more than my due diligence. However, when I moved to LA, with the dream of trying to make some hardcore black films. I found one major hurdle. It was not cinematographers, editors, or ever sound people. It was black actors. I could not find serious black actors willing to jump on board with me. They were either focused on how much they were going to be paid, or they were so inconsistent around the structure and time of my productions that it was impossible to work with the vast majority of them. I worked on many productions during my time in LA and I saw this problem with a large number of our actors. I have lived in two other large cities since then and saw the same thing. Compare this to my experience on working on the productions of other cultures. I saw hunger. I saw a willing to strive for excellence even under the worst of circumstances. I saw these other directors get actors from some of the most prestigious drama programs to work for free because they knew that they were going to have to make those kinds of sacrifices in the beginning of their careers, or even until they worked on a project which could really showcase their talent. They didn't complain about not getting paid, rather, they were exciting at getting the opportunity to work with people who were as focused and driven as them. Last summer, I worked on a film with Latino actors. It was a night and day difference. It was fun for me because they were passionate and enthusiastic to work with me. They only thing we had for them was food, not even the greatest food. But they never complained even though we were filming outside in post 100 degree temps. The vast majority of the black actors I tried to work with, were late for rehearsal, problematic about learning their lines, complained about a variety of things, and generally lacked enthusiasm. I met some extremely talented black writer/director in LA, but unfortunately, many of the issues which impact our culture on the whole, also impact our creative community as well. If you don't look like a director (?), if you don't have the trappings of success (some of the other culture's filmmakers I worked with barely even looked presentable, the ONLY concern that people had was their TALENT) if you don't have the swagger, it is difficult to be taken seriously. However, Steve McQueen was a revelation for me. I was so fixated on making black films that I forgot to focus on excellence and passion. I love and am in love with my people, but art requires something more from the artist. It reminds me of the all the artists who had to go to Europe before they got recognized at home. I am honestly worried about making my next film with black actors because they have burned me so many times. The next film I am trying to make was originally written for four black men. I have been rewriting it to star four men of another race. I have found a group of white actors who are excited to work with me. I wish things were different but I don't know what to tell you.

  • LeonRaymond | June 24, 2012 4:43 PM

    @JTC - I have experience the exact same situation and left that entire arena of Black actors and the like alone, I like you said and experienced working with Latino actors and all they asked was "what do you need me to bring" That was it for me, after trying and racking my brains out for years to work with Black folk(actors and even production and crews I found a entire beautiful world of working with the Latino community, I am bout to put up a facebook page for my next feature which has superb well known Latino Talent and they are helping me with a tireless passion to get my project of the ground and even find funding. I was ripped back and forth for discussing this very same situation on this here same site as I guess you will be too, but the fact is I am a filmmaker bottom line. And the Latino community sees the bigger picture -"I will be in your project, it will help me so I will be happy to help you"

    I take my hate off to Latino Producers Joey Dedeio Frances Lozada, Antoine Pagan who are taking their time and energy to help me with my forth coming project.
    Joey Dedeio has a huge film that came out titled MUSICAL CHAIRS and has another coming soon titled 36 Saints and they all came forward to work with me. I know and understand what your saying. To me it's the saddest thing when Blacks don't don't support each other, don't support me or you and others. I know the angry rippers will come at me for this post but I have to tell the truth. Even as we speak one of the above mentioned Latino Producers is speaking with a well known Latina Actress about signing on to my project. For me that's huge and he's doing it because of the love of the project. That should be enough for all of us cause the money will indeed come !!!

  • Laura | June 1, 2012 10:24 AM

    @JTC, I hear you. That is the BIG FAT elephant in the room when it comes to the difficulty of Blacks making Black films. We are prone to sabotage each other. The lack of professionalism and the sense of entitlement amongst Black film people. Unfortunately it is not endemic to film. I have found that in all walks of professional life when dealing with Black people. Unfortunately, at the beginning you will meet the lay abouts --thats what I call them. But eventually you will find the serious Black film professional. One of things I figured out is that those layabouts Black film people do not interact with other film professional of different background on a interpersonal level. They ghettoize themselves in terms networking (not because they do Black plays or film). They whine, complain and drink haterade. They are perpectual victims. In the 2 years I have been working in film here in New York I have gone through my share of those layabouts. I've come to realize that people in general want to make good film. Because film projects so hard to come by. Film people want every opportunity to work on their craft. This field is not for the faint of heart in any shape form or fashion, whether you are Black, white, Asian, Latino, male or female. I wish you best of luck. You can find those Black professionals because you are one. When you drop the idea of obligation to help work with someone because you got to "help a brother out", you will see those Blacks who are true to the game. Again best of luck.

  • FilmGuy | June 1, 2012 7:06 AM

    Sounds like you met a great deal of dispassionate people. I've been fortunate enough to meet many great and enthusiastic black actors here in nyc. But for the types you speak of, I've noticed it comes down to mainly one thing: A false sense of entitlement. Some people really believe that because they have decided to pursue a profession, it is owed to them. Yet these actors fail to realize that it takes years of hard work and dedication, low-budget films, student films and perhaps even chitlin' circuit plays before they get their 'big break'. Those that understand this will approach the work with enthusiasm and passion, because they know that even the interns will become directors and producers someday. Those that don't know that do as you said, show up late, don't learn lines, etc. It's a mistake that must be corrected. The film industry is a small world and many black actors must realize that you've got to give 100 percent professionalism every time.

  • James N Smith | May 31, 2012 11:48 AMReply

    Cherish said:
    >>There is no reason whatsoever that Black people can't have movie theatres that show nothing but our movies and make it a success.<<<

    Not from a business stand point. At this point you need "quality" content first and a steady supply of it. Art house cinemas survive barely in cosmopolitan white areas because they enough people who go. I personally don't want black owned theaters if all they are going to show are the latest Tyler Perry movies and Blacploitation films. This is one of those times when unity and solidarity could spelled success, as blacks are not the only ethnic groups getting shut out of films, you have Asian and Latino markets as well as Native Americans who combined might might such a venture practical and successful. I for one would be happy to see anybodies films that are not a continuation of the white ideal.

  • James N Smith | May 31, 2012 11:14 AMReply

    That's an interesting problem, and I can easily see both sides of it. Filmmaking is expensive no matter how you cut it. Even a Canon 7D is over a grand, don't even get into adequate lens and accessories. I at one time espoused the stance of your friend, but only as a means to an end. Sure, if you can come up with a story like Dark Knight, or Kill Bill and cast the white hero, you can make a ton of cash. The question is what do you do with that cash? The profits from one Avatar, or the Avengers could helm a hundred "black" films, without having to worry about return on investment. There is no denying that, and there is merit to playing the game that way. Also if you're going to make white superman films, at least you can do it without all the subtle anti black subtext.

    As it is I don't see any black filmmakers trying to do what your friend suggests, even though I know many have thought about it. What first film by a black filmmakers can you name that didn't feature black themes or characters? I can't think of any, but I'd be curious.

  • Ghost | May 31, 2012 9:37 PM

    I think Levar Burton directing Disney's Safe House (with Peg Bundy herself) in 1999 and Thomas Carter (White Shadow) directing Swing Kids in 1993 might have something to say about that.

  • FilmGuy | May 31, 2012 9:07 PM

    "What first film by a black filmmakers can you name that didn't feature black themes or characters? I can't think of any, but I'd be curious." The answer is Steve McQueen's film "Hunger". On Netflix now. Also, Antoine Fuqua is a mainstream H-wood director who has had success with both "white" and "black" films.

  • Dun | May 31, 2012 12:20 AMReply

    Nope. Make what ever you want. If you are a political based film that. If you are history based film that. Just because you are black shouldn't mean you have to make a "black" movie. What ever that means. That is so stupid and limits creativity.

  • INTROSPECTIVE MAN | May 30, 2012 8:36 PMReply

    Let's face it: It takes physical might and a lot of money, even at the micro-budget level to make movies.

    No one is assured that there movie will earn more than it cost to make, but I think this would be a non-issue if there were more profitable alternative forms of distribution.

    Black filmmakers would tell Black stories because there wouldn't be the pressure to get your movie to widest audience possible through the only way possible.

    So does dearth of stories about Black people obligate Black filmmakers to tell those stories? I say no, but it's a great reason to tell those stories. How else will we see them?

  • BEV | May 30, 2012 1:45 PMReply

    Black artists should ABSOLUTELY focus on black stories. We need them to so that we can be shown to be as diverse and interesting as we truly are instead of this stereotypical view that most other races have of us.

  • Jat | May 30, 2012 5:50 AMReply

    Any artist conforming to what they are obligated (by others) to do rather than expressing themselves from thier heart & soul is not an artist. They are not being true to thier muse; they are not being genuine and they're projects will be of not value to anyone. I agree with part of the title: Black Filmakers Are Obligated to Tell Stories!

  • Tamara | May 29, 2012 9:37 PMReply

    *dead-horse-beating* An artist should only feel obligated to create art. And even then, there's no real obligation there but a want, a need, a desire to create truth through their artistry. If you want mainstream success/acceptance within the confines (or without if you're lucky) the Hollywood system, then conform and make your work "accessible" to the masses. If you think that is the only way to guarantee creation, then by all means do what you have to do...I guess. Not only do Black people/artists/viewers have a unique point of view; every individual person/artist/viewer has a unique point of view. There should be no "obligation" to anyone or any entity but yourself where concerns your work.

  • turner | May 29, 2012 3:22 PMReply

    Too much obsession with race here... who's black enough, what's black enough... I'm getting bored already. Damn I wish more of the posts on this site were about the creative process of FILMMAKING than all the racial posturing and bickering.

  • Turner | May 30, 2012 12:21 AM

    @Carl- Thank you! Your words illustrated my bickering point perfectly.

  • Carl | May 29, 2012 9:57 PM

    TURNER---feel free to take your bitch ass out of here anytime. We will learn to survive.

  • JMac | May 29, 2012 9:44 PM

    Then go to a film blog that doesn't focus on "Cinema of the African Diaspora." It's a legitimate issue whether you want to deal with it or not.

  • Nadine | May 29, 2012 12:51 PMReply

    Black Filmmakers should be obligated to always push FORWARD the cause of Civil Rights whatever the genre; not holding it back. If you focus on movies for a predominantly Black audience, those films should not further handicap those people. If you focus on mainstream films, you should transcend White filmmakers (who are handicapped by their White lenses). Make films that truly reflect the environment and demographic of the films setting... (a new York without ridiculous HONORABLE diversity is garbage) not whitewash. Some of the most successful films have that in common, this global perspective not based on tropes, but based on the shared humanity in all people no matter the background. That is what made "The Matrix" so beautiful to me. It would not have been the Matrix with an all White cast, plus a token. Hollywood is lazy and thinks that its audience only wants to see White people onscreen, when it reality, White people will always find that white character to identify with (Fast & Furious) despite the color around them. Black filmmakers have the power to tell stories for the mainstream that are more inclusive and accurate, for all, if Black filmmakers choose to not sell their souls by continuing to perpetuate the White standard (which is FAILING now btw).

  • Nadine | May 29, 2012 1:00 PM

    ... and by "ridiculous HONORABLE diversity"... I mean, without a great amount of diversity...

  • Cherish | May 29, 2012 11:42 AMReply

    Yes you are obligated. You're Black. Only we ponder questions like this. When you go to sleep do you just dream of white people? You should have a burning all consuming desire to tell stories of you, who you are, and your people. Only rarely should you consider stories of non-blacks, once in awhile. Damn, we really are a conquered people.

  • bev | May 30, 2012 1:48 PM

    EXACTLY !!

  • Jeff O | May 29, 2012 6:06 AMReply

    Something else comes to mind. Most white filmmakers... I don't think they consciously make "white" films/shows/etc. They just don't think about race like we (re: black people) do, and their race allows them to do so. The show "Girls" on HBO popped in my head because I read an article recently where the main writer said the show is based on her life, friends, and experiences... so when I hear there are no minority characters I get it because most likely in the world she came up in minorities were not a major part. The same way in the world of Precious there aren't many white folks. Advice I often hear from writers in this industry is to write about what you know... isn't that what we all should be doing? So then isn't the real challenge to know more?

  • Jeff O | May 29, 2012 5:51 AMReply

    I feel that black filmmakers should tell the stories they want. We all have a unique POV on this crazy world, and that's what I enjoy when I watch movies. In casting, I'd like to see more openness. The most frustrating things to me as an actor is to see breakdowns that say caucasian when a person of any race could play the role or roles that were originally of a different race (i.e. book adaptations) that are changed to caucasian for "wider appeal".

    I just want filmmakers to tell the story they want, with the actors (any race) who can best help them achieve that.

  • biwtican | May 26, 2012 8:39 PMReply

    this would be a fair question if the black writers and directors and artists were not caught up is this colonial training that if white people don't like it the project ain't no good. we have not told the story of black people in this country yet. unless we brake out of this mental slavery all our films and tv shows will based one one of three styles, does not offend whites,makes whites laugh,makes blacks look happy to serve whites. you can't tell the black experience with these restrictions. they should be trying to market their work to other black people around the world. ideas: black soldiers stationed in liberia in ww2,necklacing in south africa,black people who helped the whites during the civil rights movement,u.s. overthrowing govt. in africa, the true story of the hbcu's. with the attitudes of these black artists our future generations will never know the truth of our history. george washington was a kind slave owner? sally hennings loved thomas jefferson?, lincoln freed the slaves?, black people were content and never revolted?, this is in the new films and text books our children suffer through in school now. no wonder they drop out.

  • FilmGuy | May 26, 2012 3:59 PMReply

    How about Black people focusing on opening up a chain of Black theaters across the country? Ones that value themselves as bringing smart, well-crafted films to a black audience? A black art house cinema that caters to American Black stories and others of the diaspora. Wouldn't that solve this bs?

  • bondgirl | May 29, 2012 2:37 PM

    Excellent point, Cherish. If we can own McDonald's franchises all over the country that cost $1Million each, certainly we can buy theaters.

  • Cherish | May 29, 2012 11:37 AM

    Its all about how you frame and market anything. If you call the movie theaters "Art House Cinemas" or some other highbrow independent theater name, than yes, that would be a turnoff. But hell, if you call it simply "movies theaters to see Black movies" or something simplistic and low-brow, even though the movies aren't, people will come. In Queens there are movie houses that shows Hindi movies. In my neighborhood in Brooklyn, there is a movie theatre where two nights a week they show Russian or Eastern European movies, and they're pretty busy. There is no reason whatsoever that Black people can't have movie theatres that show nothing but our movies and make it a success.

  • M | May 29, 2012 11:25 AM


  • turner | May 27, 2012 8:36 AM

    @Filmguy-What I meant was; the majority of Black movie goers in America do not frequent art house fare and I don't foresee a shift in that practice. The folks who make Tyler Perry and his ilk successful, are not likely to go see the films like you mentioned; Pariah, Kinyarwanda or An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. That is not to say, as you wrongly inferred from my post, that Black people have no desire to see themselves or their stories on film.

  • FilmGuy | May 27, 2012 5:10 AM

    What you posit is that Black people don't desire to see themselves or their stories on film. Take a look at any 'mainstream' movie. They're largely fantasy pictures not grounded in the real world. Most independent or low-budget movies depicting realistic everyday drama is considered an art house film. One has to only look to Africa to see that there isn't a chain of theaters to showcase global or even local cinema. I'd say there are millions of would-be customers right there.

  • Turner | May 26, 2012 8:41 PM

    @Filmguy-"It could also include Latino and Asian movies if necessary..." and Caucasian films of merit too? ... wait! there already are art house theaters for "smart, well crafted" films of merit... Hey- it's called: "Show Business" cause that's what it is. First rule of a profitable business: Know your market and there just aren't enough Black folks interested in art house films to make venues targeted towards the African diaspora profitable.

  • FilmGuy | May 26, 2012 8:15 PM

    The theaters can easily be placed in neutral business zones, not belonging to any particular neighborhood. And I wholeheartedly doubt that Pookie and Ray Ray are the target audience anyway. The goal would not be to only solicit black patronage, but offer alternative cinematic options. It could also include Latino and Asian movies if necessary. As for the options you listed, it looks like those would make it difficult for a black filmmaker to persist with the craft if their exhibition is reliant on such small venues. After all, artists must seek to gain a profit for their work or at least make back their budget for the investors.

  • Ghost | May 26, 2012 6:57 PM

    The audience for the films that you speak of won't go to a black theater. They don't want to deal with Pookie and Ray Ray who might be there nor travel to the hood to see those films. Because you certainly won't be putting them in white neighborhoods. The best plan would be the filmmakers taking their film to whatever cultural center, public library. movie festival, comic con or indy theater and showing the film. That is what a lot of the whites one. Or do what TNA Wrestling did-PPV. Get a del with Direct TV and show those movie on demand for $5 bucks. Your audience doesn't have to leave home now.

  • FilmGuy | May 26, 2012 6:27 PM

    If there's no market for them, then why even make films like Pariah, Kinyarwanda, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, etc....? If there were a Black Hollywood, these films, with all their merits, wouldn't be considered mainstream. Yet audiences crave these films and they deserve to be shown. The market is definitely there.

  • Turner | May 26, 2012 4:10 PM

    Black Art House Cinema? Really? A whole chain of them? There's no sustainable market for that in the community...

  • Adam Scott Thompson | May 26, 2012 10:25 AMReply

    "[U]nless your film, with an overwhelmingly black cast, fits a familiar or proven mold" = What blacks and non-blacks have come to expect after years of Tyler Perry, aka the Prime Minister of Coonistan, and his ilk. We get what we demand -- nothing more. I don't want entertainment that shows our "blackness" (whatever that's supposed to be... drinking Kool-Aid, maybe?); I want entertainment that shows our HUMANITY... how we are really not so unlike any other ethnic group at the most basic, primal levels. That's why I fell in love with movies in the first place. Even if I couldn't identity racially with a character, I could identify with their story. "The Godfather" is about Italian gangsters, but it's also about family; so is "Boyz N the Hood," just in a different way -- but John Singleton didn't stoop to make his points. I like Issa Rae's "Awkard Black Girl" webseries because while it features elements informed by her race, it's just a bare-bones story about the awkwardness in us all as filtered through the quirky life of a [don't need a racial adjective here] woman who shows her humanity in rather funny ways. The hyperbole that dominates chit'lin theater and its film/TV spawn may indicate the hyperbole we perpetuate within our group in real life -- as if confirming stereotypes and marking our experiences as "black", "other" or "not tryin' to follow them" somehow authenticates us. Monkeys rejoice in recognizing their own reflection in a mirror -- "Whoopty-doo! There I am!" Humans ponder, "But who is that person reflected in my mirror, truly?"

  • Orville | May 28, 2012 6:08 PM

    , Hollywood is a business and unfortunately for black artists if a black film is not a romantic comedy, straight up comedy, or a serious drama Hollywood doesn't know how to market other genres. The only blacks whose films get to go beyond the cookie cutter genres are the A list stars Will Smith, Denzel Washington, or Samuel L Jackson that's it.

    So it is going to take a black artist with a lot of passion and talent to break the mold and move beyond the typical two or three genres Hollywood thinks blacks can make money in.

    I would love to see a black suspense film or a thriller, or science fiction with black leads.

    I think Tyler Perry deserves credit for his success he's reached his target market and now he has a $500 million dollar empire. Also, I want to point out Tyler Perry is going to be in an action film this fall I Alex Cross. So even Tyler is taking a chance to do something different.

  • Ryan Sharp | May 26, 2012 1:49 PM

    @WOW...your name should be "WHOA".

  • Carl | May 26, 2012 1:25 PM

    @WOW--did you give yourself that name because you knew that would be peoples first reaction to the stupid shit you type? If so, well done.

  • Akimbo | May 26, 2012 1:10 PM

    Wow, you think someone who wants black entertainment to tell nuanced, sincere stories instead of relying on stereotypes wants to be white? WOW, you are a coon and I hope to God that you are merely a viewer and not a creator, cuz I can tell you right now that your shit is garbage. You can't even identify underlying themes in a movie (i.e. the Godfather & Boyz in the Hood). Hot tip: movies aren't just about their basic plots and settings. Please read a book.

  • WOW | May 26, 2012 10:53 AM

    "how we are really not so unlike any other ethnic group at the most basic, primal levels". Primal level? "The Godfather" and Boyz N the Hood were not speaking from a "primal level". Each were telling stories of a specific culture. One, "black americans in the hood", the other, white Italian gangsters. -->"But who is that person reflected in my mirror, truly?". Good question. Only you, Mr Thompson, can answer the question of who's in your mirror. However, from reading your comment, it appears you're a blackman who's wearing blue-eyed contact lenses. You're obviously afraid and ashamed of your skin color.

  • Xi | May 26, 2012 9:25 AMReply

    I don't think artists are obligated to do anything, but seriously, why wouldn't you want to??? The other question to pose, though, is: what constitutes "black film"? Some may say Scandal is not a "black show" because her race is never a concern. The show is not about a black woman on capitol hill, just a competent woman on capitol hill. Others will say that it is a black show. A) it's based on someone's life and B) that life is a reality for some people... where (not sure how but) race never comes into play. We clearly aren't a monolith and everything doesn't have to be gospel musicals, street stories and fist in the air productions (<---by all means, bring on the fist in the air productions. I'll watch em!) The fact that there are so many facets of our being to explore, should be even more of a reason to want to tell "black stories".

  • CareyCarey | May 29, 2012 7:02 PM

    Playing possum? Well, over the last few days I've been engaged in playing horse, UNO, bicycle races, reading bed time stories and going to the swimming pool. I've been given the job of babysitting 3 knothead little boys, 8-9 years old. I have them for ONE MONTH! So in my own defense, I could be losing my mind. My task has been complicated by the fact that 2 of them are from disfunctional homes. Which means, they have little training, don't listen and might cuss like they're in a local juke joint. But wait, although they're from different homes, they're actually brothers but they don't know it. Yep, their mother gave one to her sister who has been raising him as her own. Anyway, my hands are full to say the least. So if I talk crazier than usual, blame it on the game of life, and pray for me :-). Tonight we're going to eat macaroni & cheese, turkey burgers and green beans, watch Avengers, read a little and ride our bikes. Yep, those bikes I had to buy from my local bike man (down in the hood), because their mommas sent them 200 miles from home with 5 dollars in their pockets.

  • NADINE | May 29, 2012 5:24 PM

    WHAT?!?!? CLEARLY... I was teasing. see ";)" face and appeal to S&A (really?)... you can't seriously be playing possum with this... you are out of control...

  • CareyCarey | May 29, 2012 5:18 PM

    Nadine, you'll lose that loving feeling when you say things like MRBOBB and I am the same man. Listen, when someone understands and agrees with my propositions (thus disgreeing with you) they are an imposter?! Oh lord, we've just gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. Nadine, we're going to have to call and end to this before you accuse me of being AGENT K, who by the way, also sees the ridiculous nature of "Sigh's" comments.

  • Nadine | May 29, 2012 5:05 PM

    I'm not convinced MRBOBB is not CAREYCAREY (the timing is suspect)... S&A please check on that. ;)

    Again, CAREY, you are misrepresenting my arguments ( and the arguments of others who empathized ... anyone who wants the truth can go back to the "THE TROUBLE WITH SCANDAL" post and not take your interpretation of your detractors as truth... and you never addressed my concerns with your "perception" argument (see drug usage by teens Duke study I cited), so I ask that you not use it with me given that I made it clear that it would not be considered a valid argument given the example (unless you could have proven otherwise - but you ignored). Honestly... this SCANDAL argument is fruitless. It doesn't seem that the continued arguments are going to change minds so I don't understand why it keeps coming up. My problem is that when you, specifically, bring it up, you misframe the argument of others in an attempt to validate whatever argument of your choosing at that moment and then use "getting the last word" as your coup de grace which is simply about having more time to devote to the boards than others. You drown others with numbers of postings, not clearly refuted points. I'm saying... just do your thing, but don't conveniently interpret the thoughts or arguments of those with whom you disagree in RANDOM posts (this isn't even a SCANDAL post) essentially signifying and misrepresenting them to meet your own needs... that's muy mal. I'm not trying to have a back and forth, Carey. You get my point.

  • MrBobb | May 29, 2012 4:31 PM

    @Sigh 1.) You remind me of those "just because" black people. Meaning you, as a black person, support the show Scandal "just because" the lead character is black. You've repeatedly stated that the lead character "is still black". Does it just end there? 2.) No one is saying that the "monolith" phrase is false, it's just been overused. 3.) Don't no why Tyler Perry was mentioned.

  • Nadine | May 29, 2012 3:10 PM need to stop CAREY... you keep misrepresenting peoples arguments.. where I was hoping it to have been more innocent before, it is starting to look dirty. You are twisting arguments and that's not cool. EVERYONE has been saying that there is no ONE "AUTHENTIC NEGRO EXPERIENCE"... you have been the divergent voice on "Blackness"... EVERYONE HAS BEEN SAYING that there is MORE THAN ONE AUTHENTIC NEGRO EXPERIENCE. Just stop... man... stop... "if you didn't live that, then you suck"... stop...please...

  • CareyCarey | May 29, 2012 2:40 PM

    @ BondGirl, EXACTLY! That's the exact point I am trying to express to "SIGH" and the gang. I mean, I get so upset when some infer that women like Kerry Washington's character is on one side and tyler's characters are on the other, with the middle being a no man's land. Yep, going back, as you said -->"but there are too many of us who set THEIR Black experience as THE AUTHENTIC NEGRO EXPERIENCE and if you didn't live that, then you suck".

  • CareyCarey | May 29, 2012 2:28 PM

    Nadine, you're right, I might need a good old fashion romp roastin'. That reminds me, I just wrote an article (for a newspaper) titled: Where Is My Black Belt. I spoke about issues that once where given instant "feedback" aka, ass whoopings/side-eyes/evil stares by most americans. But today, for various reasons, many of the more porous and ambiguous opinions on race, sexuality, post-racial society, spanking vs no spanking, etc, and the need (and fear) of many to remain politically correct, (for those reasons) some opinions are given a pass. To that point, you cannot deny that the phrase "we are not a monolith" is a trite phrase that reeks with ambiguity, and is frequently used to rationalize and justify the blatent misuse of black images? Granted, we are not all the same... that is true, but what is that really saying?

  • bondgirl | May 29, 2012 2:13 PM

    "There are too many of us who don't get that Blackness is portable and that we are INDIVIDUALS. There are as many ways to be Black as there are Black people, but there are too many of us who set THEIR Black experience as THE AUTHENTIC NEGRO EXPERIENCE and if you didn't live that, then you suck." - Jukebox Jones--->>You're not in a position to define other people's blackness, because if you could, we'd be in a heap of trouble.

  • Nadine | May 29, 2012 1:33 PM know Carey... I've decided that you need, what we used to call, a whoopin' (from momma and poppa). You're out of control. You write and write and write... dance around the real issues, state that you will not dignify said issues by addressing them and then claim others are in denial while always getting the last word... a switch is what you are a needin'.

  • CareyCarey | May 29, 2012 1:23 PM

    SPREAD OUT! Let CareyCarey back up in this mess. First, I have to tip my hat to MrBobb and AGENT K. They saw the smoke screens and blatant acts of denial coming from the mouths of the hoodwinked. But, as witnessed in their comments, one of the defining problems with those in denial, is that they will refuse to accept their "wrongdoings", hence the word "denial". If one can accept the truth, they will never address it, let alone fix it. So it would be a waste, and a fool's errand to explain to them why the term "we are not a monolith" is a trite and terribly ambiguous phrase that is used to defend a porous opinion. Those who use the cliche are not trying to shoulder any "guilt". Now listen, when people use the Tyler Perry reference as a depiction of "black life" I run from that fool because he's a damn fool who's been whitewashed and brainwashed to believe the black american's experience is something to be scorned and ridiculed. Lastly, as I've said a hundred times, if Scandal was written by a white woman, this would not be considered a black show. Also, who among us would champion the show? I mean, "we" have a black "lead" and other than her black skin, we get a promiscuous coughblackcough woman, sleeping with the coughwhitecough president. We surely can't run from that fact. Unless, of course, the cliche droppers wish to insert "we are not a monolith". Yes sir, Kerry Washington's character was suppositely based on a real black woman of power. So, are we to infer that she slept in the wrong bed, or didn't have a family, or any down time? Or can we rightfully assume that many black folks who are championing this series are being used like pawns on a chess board? DENIAL DENIAL DENIAL!

  • Nadine | May 29, 2012 12:35 PM

    No. @SIGH... please do not let them redirect your argument as you made valid points which are not being addressed but are being circumvented (e.g. Tyler Perry storylines). The use of the phrase "we are not a monolith" is the problem? This is what you all are deciding to focus on? We simply ignore @SIGH's points about Harold Perrineau and other actors who's "Blackness" is not up for debate but focus on tangential statements like kente cloth and babby daddy's on the DL instead of his/her major point? C'mon... guys, what are your points? You claim SIGH is " swimming in denial"... how? Please explain and provide examples. Also please explain how "we are not a monolith" is overused and provide examples. Please watch the first 30 minutes of "MADEA'S BIG HAPPY FAMILY" and then please explain why SIGH should not, given the popularity of TYLER PERRY'S FILMS and access, not use TYLER PERRY'S work as a bellwether and cite Perry's "overused", but well dispensed tropes in her arguments. ... c'mon people...

  • Sigh | May 29, 2012 11:29 AM

    Again, look up "hyperbole." By being a black woman, she IS a black woman. Some people have suggested stereotypically "black" behavior is needed to prove her blackness. I disagree. And if you really agree that "we are not a monolith" is an overused cliche, you've got bigger problems.

  • Agent K | May 29, 2012 11:10 AM

    @Sigh Well at least you admit to swimming in denial. Like Carey said why compare blackness to kente cloth suits and blaack men on the DL?

  • Sigh | May 28, 2012 6:40 PM

    I can and do deny it and the second half of your sentences makes no sense. Also, Google "hyperbole."

  • MrBobb | May 28, 2012 5:04 PM

    @Sigh But you can't deny that the "we are not a monolith" phrase has been overused and misused just to state you don't like to be compared to something out of your own liking which you've demonstrated. I mean really "kente cloth suits"?

  • Sigh | May 27, 2012 11:31 AM

    You fail to see the point because you choose not to. Just because you're tired of hearing "we are not a monolith" doesn't make it untrue. And at the end of the day, the lead of Scandal is black. This ain't Girlfriends so she's not going to be seen lunching with her girls & just like any other Shonda show, we're not seeing the family until they involve themselves in the work drama. The lead of Scandal is still black. I've never seen such undue uproar over a black character before; it's like y'all would rather us just stick to being supporting characters in mainstream projects. Never heard anyone question Harold Perrineau's blackness on Lost, but on the page he and Walt could have been any ethnicity. Never heard anyone say boo about Vanessa Williams on Ugly Betty or DH, because she's always a fabulous bitch, but never written "ethnic." Taraji on Persons Unknown, Khandi on CSI Miami, Courtney B Vance on everything, the list goes on forever. Anyway, the poster closed stating that there are many facets of us to explore, many different stories to tell. Scandal is one being explored. I get the sense that even after we have met her family & childhood friends, you still won't be satisfied...especially if she's still involved with the president. Lucky for ABC, you aren't in their key demo.

  • CareyCarey | May 26, 2012 6:48 PM

    Please SIGH, you're obviously late for the party. Look my dear, why do you associate your blackness with kente cloth suits & wondering if her baby daddy is on the DL? I am suggesting that you should check yourself before making such comments. Second, the "monolith phrase is indeed a cliche in that it's become a figure of speech whose effectiveness has been worn out through overuse and excessive familiarity. So I fail to see your point. Why the comparison between Tyler Perry and Shonda Rhimes? You have to do much better than that if you really want to be in the game. Listen, this conversation revolved around the obligation to tell black stories. Many believe Shonda Rhimes has purposely moved away from anything related to Olivia Popes "blackness"/ culture, whatever. She has a ghost family, no black friends and not even a black lover. So again, take Kerry Washington black face off the page and what are you left with? Exactly! Certainly not a "black show". The show is not about a black woman on capitol hill, just a woman on capitol hill sleeping with another woman's husband.

  • Sigh | May 26, 2012 1:01 PM

    It's not a cliche, it's the truth. We're not a monolith. So Kerry not wearing kente cloth suits & wondering if her baby daddy is on the DL. A black woman is the lead of a network series, she's not a stereotype, and not longing to be anything or one other than who she is. You say yes we should write for ourselves, but shit on Shonda Rhimes for doing just that. Her reality is not Tyler Perry's and we should be glad for that. Not a monolith.

  • CareyCarey | May 26, 2012 11:49 AM

    No flavor flav, unless I incorrectly read XI's comment, she merely mentioned the concerns of the more outspoken voices (those who ran roughshod over Steele's opinion) but was not agreeing with them. She just threw them a bone. Now, look at the qualifying/modifying words in Xi's statement---> "Others will say that it is a black show. A) it's based on someone's life and B) that life is a reality for some people... where (not sure how but) race never comes into play". FLAV, did you notice that she was not agreeing with those who are championing Scandal as a vehicle that's telling our stories. I believe that was the essence of her comment. I say that b/c of this---> I don't think artists are obligated to do anything, but seriously, why wouldn't you want to??? ~ by XI. So FLAV, many of the comments in the Steele Scandal post were vehemently ranting against Tanya's (and others) position that Scandal was absent of anything remotely related to her "back-story" and her culture. The opposing voices were stuck on the cliche " we aren't a monolith". Now, as that phrase relates to "Scandal", Xi exposed the weakness in that "defense". Just sayin' ... I hope that clears up my position?

  • Flav | May 26, 2012 10:38 AM

    Not XI. @Say it loud.

  • Flav | May 26, 2012 10:34 AM

    Yo, I have been following these threads for a minute. What I don't get, man, is how you've flip-flopped. A lot of the people who didn't agree with the Steele Scandal post were making the same argument, it seems to me, that you are making now. Just sayin'.

  • CareyCarey | May 26, 2012 9:59 AM

    SAY IT LOUD AND LOUDER..... AND PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR AND HOLLER-->"that life is a reality for some people... where (not sure how but) race never comes into play. We clearly aren't a monolith and everything doesn't have to be gospel musicals, street stories and fist in the air productions (<---by all means, bring on the fist in the air productions. I'll watch em!)" YES YES YES... A thousand times yes! I'd rather die than so no. I can exhale now. The calvary has arrived. Thank you XI, you said what 200 commenters in the Scandal post glossed over. They raved about the "success" of Scandal, but what did they really win?

  • Tae | May 26, 2012 9:23 AMReply

    As a filmmaker, I'm interested in making good films, period. And if that entails an all black cast so be it. But if a white cast is called for because of the STORY that was written, then that's fine too. We as black filmmakers get caught up in the "tell the black story thing" a bit too much. What's wrong with telling the story from the human experience? You can have great stories with an all black cast or a mixed cast or whatever. My next film will feature people of middle eastern descent, that's what the script calls for. Write what you know and feel comfortable with, but you shouldn't pigeonhole yourself by saying I'm only writing stories that tell the black experience. Last time I looked blacks folk dealt with a lot of other races besides black folk. So if filmmakers and writers dealt more diversely it may have a broader effect. And let's be real. If you're talking Hollywood you're talking sbout a machine generated by CASH. If it makes them cash they'll make or green light the film, simple as that. There are plenty of white filmmakers that I know that are struggling right along with their black counterparts, so it's not about a "white film" vs a "black film" it's about what's going to put PEOPLE in the seats. Think Like A Man made a ton of money, but didn't get mentioned in a meeting. SO WHAT! Budget 12mill. box office 181 million. Do you honestly think the people who made that film care if someone gave them a mention? Nope. They only care that people responded to their film and made it a success. and lest's be real, there are way too many alternative outlets for films to be worried about Hollywood. The vast majority of films made will never see the light of Hollywood day even if they have a white cast in white face sporting white sheets. So get off this they don't appreciate me kick. Go make your damn film with great ACTORS! If they're black, great, white, great, purple great.But make your film, rent a theater and show the damn thing. Build your own following and stop waiting on outside entities to make it happen for you. Here's to FILMMAKERS!

  • FilmGuy | May 26, 2012 1:08 AMReply

    Think economically -- make films that are going to put asses in seats! White people are most interested in White things. Black people are most interested in Black things. By simple mathematics, what stories are going to put the most asses in the most seats in America and cinemas worldwide?

  • FilmGuy | May 26, 2012 3:58 PM

    How about Black people focusing on opening up a chain of Black theaters across the country? Ones that value themselves as bringing smart, well-crafted films to a black audience? A black art house cinema that caters to American Black stories and others of the diaspora. Wouldn't that solve this bs?

  • Ryan Sharp | May 26, 2012 1:42 PM

    Spoken like a true HW exec.

  • gomezlb | May 25, 2012 9:00 PMReply

    I wouldn't go so far and say Black filmmakers should primarily tell stories about black people but shouldn't it be natural for you to tell those stories since they are stories of you burnished in your image?

  • Ryan Sharp | May 25, 2012 8:28 PMReply

    YES. As black filmmakers we are obligated to visually cement our stories and our history on film. As we've seen throughout the DECADES, HW could give 2-sh*ts about black films, filmmakers, and their stories. This is evident when Tim Story's "Think Like A Man" can come in at #1 at the box-office, but doesn't even garner the courtesy of a mention in a HW executive board meeting. This is also evident when studios like Lionsgate tell a Tyler Perry that his films won't do well overseas. HW and people from other backgrounds DO NOT UNDERSTAND the true essence of a "black" film. They can't! It's not in their DNA. Black people need to make black films geared towards a black audience. The hip-hop music industry THOROUGHLY understands this methodology. Those songs about selling drugs, getting money, and having wild relations with women are NOT GEARED towards anyone else other than the intended audience. But as we see, people ALL OVER THE WORLD embrace hip-hop as their own. Go to a Lil' Wayne concert. There will be an overflow of Caucasians that will recite EVERY word to his songs. And HW has the nerve to say that black films won't transcend nationalities?!? BS! It is OUR OBLIGATION as black flimmakers to tell stories about black people. IF WE DON'T, NO ONE ELSE WILL.


  • other song | May 25, 2012 5:53 PMReply

    I agree with what Donnie's saying and to be honest, I have no interest in writing White characters. Their stories have already been told. We as Black people have a FASCINATING experience. If I'm lucky, all I'll ever do is make films with Black characters. Maybe include other minorities if the story grabs me.

  • Donnie Leapheart | May 25, 2012 4:24 PMReply

    I primarily make films about people of color not only because there is already no shortage of films with all white people consistently appearing daily, but also because of the shear number of extremely talented black actors out there hungry for solid work and opportunities. Making a film with an all-white-cast doesn't guarantee success. If that were the case, EVERY white filmmaker in the world would be repped by CAA. I think the internal problems come when artists compare their success level to the exceptions to the rule. Everyone wants to be as known as Spike Lee, but that level of success is rare. Every black male actor wants to be Denzel, but his level of success is rare. Every rapper want to be Jay-Z, but his iconic status is a rarity. No one wants to be a "working class hero" anymore it seems.

  • Orville | May 25, 2012 4:04 PMReply

    I think the question Tambay should be asking his friend why can't he just be honest he wants white Hollywood approval. The NY Times had an excellent article a few weeks ago about diversity in entertainment. In the article, a white female author wrote a strong point she said that in America there is an attitude that being universal can only go one way.

    So I think while black directors are NOT obligated to tell black stores. I do believe the reason some black directors cast white actors is to obtain acceptance. For instance, Steve McQueen got a lot of press in the mainstream and on Shadow and Act. Tambay and his crew made a big deal that Shame dealt with a taboo subject of male sex addiction. However, as numerous posters pointed out if the Michael Fassbender's character in Shame was a black man would the film be well received? Would Shadow and Act promote a film on this site that dealt with a heterosexual black man with a insatiable sex drive?

  • CareyCarey | May 25, 2012 3:46 PMReply

    "I think the fault lies not with the artists, but with the audiences". YES THAT! "As long as white stories dominate the media and distribution channels, it's too easy to NOT see stories told from (or about) different backgrounds or points of view". YES THAT TOO! "if there is any depth to an artist that should compel an artist to want to be an alternate voice". EXACTLY! "Unless your film is set in the middle of nowhere mid west America then there should be colour somewhere". EXCELLENT POINT! "the notion that films with predominantly Caucasian-starring casts seem to generally have a better shot at being financed, and widely seen, than films that center around the lives of people from any other so-called "minority" group; unless your film, with an overwhelmingly black cast, fits a familiar or proven mold" ~Tambay. STOP RIGHT THERE... the smell of napalm in the morning! The brutal facts, most people gravatate to the "familiar or proven molds" and money rules. Consequently, we have to face other undeniable facts. First, although black folks have a "voice" -- history says -- the majority of black folks spend their money on "a familiar or proven mold". It's a fool's errand to bump heads against that fact. Second fact, a large majority of white folks are in no hurry to spend their money on films with an overwhelmingly black cast. Flip it, smack it, rub it around but all the intellectualizing, rationtionalizing and wishful thinking will not rain supreme over the history of white folks spending habits and their characterization of "black films". And seriously, in my opinion, it's their right to spend their money as they please. Which, btw, has little or nothing to do with raciam of bigotry (Another conversation for another day. Moving on...). As Justin said: "the fault lies not with the artists, but with the audiences". It's basically the old rule of "Supply and Demand". Demand dictates supply. However, on the flip side, I believe it's important to analize the words of Tambay's frustrated black filmmaker friend. He said: "I'm done! My next project, I'm casting white folks". Now, his response begs serveral questions. I can safely assume he still has a vision of films with a cast of black folks (he surely hasn't lost that loving feeling) so is his goal piles of money? If so, has he sit his bar too high? Has most of the new black filmmakers set the "money bar" too high? In short, I believe Tambay's question --> "Black Filmmakers Are (Or Should Be) Obligated To Tell Stories Primarily About Black People".. is littered with ambiquity, to say the least. What are black stories? More importantly, does black people have to be the center of black stories? Does money rule the filmmakers "obligations"? Who's obligated to whom? Is there a definitive price on happiness and success?

  • Laura | May 25, 2012 3:45 PMReply


  • Turner | May 25, 2012 3:06 PMReply

    In a word...NO!

  • Gigi Young | May 25, 2012 2:38 PMReply

    I think it's a catch-22 situation because who's to say a significant portion of black moviegoers would care to see a film like "Shame" or even the super-commercial "Underworld" series if its cast were predominantly black?

    Coming from the perspective of someone in the publishing industry, tons of black readers will count genres like SF/F, horror, paranormal romance, spy thrillers, historical fiction, etc as their favorite when not reading African-American fiction, but AA fiction is dominated by street lit, Christian or church-themed fiction, and romance novels. AA authors who don't write those types of books either remain unpublished, stuck in small presses with little exposure, struggle to break into the mainstream like the famous white authors writing for the same imprint, or just go ahead and write white characters (or go easy on describing their protagonists as black).

    If anything, I think black audiences (and readers) are so accustomed to seeing only white people doing every and anything, they box themselves and their experience in, even as they resent the fact that there are no AA science-fiction films, no serious, non-Precious-type dramas, or even no flashy period pieces like the upcoming Gatsby adaptation. Since entertainment lives and dies by the dollar, why waste millions trying to "break" black audiences into predominantly black films outside of the comedic, gangsta, action, or soul-crushing drama genres?

  • CareyCarey | May 25, 2012 4:58 PM

    "Since entertainment lives and dies by the dollar, why waste millions trying to "break" black audiences into predominantly black films outside of the comedic, gangsta, action, or soul-crushing drama genres?" That's an excellent point. Also, I love the phrase "break them in". And, I believe your reference to black lit, is also on point. Hell, your whole comment spoke volumes. Orville (above) also mentioned the dynamics of "Shame". Now -- I have to say the following. Have black folks boxed themselves or has black films in general exhibted a "lesser" quality? I believe the latter is true. It goes without question that black folks watch all genres, so why not "black films" outside of the "black box"(i.e outside of the comedic, gangsta, action, or soul-crushing drama genres?). The fact is, most black films lack in many areas (i.e, acting, writing, music score, imagination, suspense, storytelling, editing, CGI, originality). Again, it's not that we -- the viewing audience -- have conciously "boxed" ourselves, the box has been placed upon our head.

  • Jacqueline Roebuck Sakho | May 25, 2012 2:31 PMReply

    It is a matter of a reciprocal responsibility...the black filmmakers and the black community. Racial fortuity.

  • p. sloan | May 25, 2012 2:22 PMReply

    As an old-timer who's been around a lot longer than most of you have, reading your comments, it's sad to see that revolutionary spirit that once ran through the black community is gone. Especially when so little has changed since i was in my 20s in the 1960s.

  • History is his story, not hers | May 26, 2012 12:48 PM

    What are you talking about? Not once did anyone say that the lead character shouldn't represent blackness, but they DID say that she represented THEIR blackness or that of people they know. Not all black people have the same experiences, so don't even start that bullshit again.

  • History lesson & spirit's gone | May 25, 2012 11:35 PM

    Your point is well taken. It did not fall upon deft ears. Yes Mr Sloan, many in the black community have laid down their arms. They've turned into the 3 monkeys - hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil. Case in point, in this thread the question is Should black fimmakersTell Stories Primarily About Black People? Many said, to a large degree, YES. However, in the Scandal post, many black women argued in defense of Shonda Rhimes, who many beleives her leading character should not represent anything related to her blackness. Where's the fighting spirit of the 60's said said "We will fight for our blackness and we don't care who doesn't like it". You're correct Mr. Sloan, the fighting spirit is a thing of the past. How soon we forget. many blacks have forgotten their real past struggles. They's rather dress to impress and win the big prize (acceptance from the white audience)
    Our true gains and rewards can be attributed to many that are left off the current movie list. Or at the very least, there stories are minimized to a safe a sanitized version. Truth be told, it wasn't Martin Luther King who inspired the USA to change, it was individuals like Malcolm X, Angela Davis and The Black Panthers. Never in the history of mankind has the oppressor relinquished it's stronghold on the oppressed without a fight or the treat of it. On another note, how many blacks know the whole story of Dred Scott and Marcus Garvey? I wonder how many people know that Dred Scott was sent back to slavery, and how Marcus Garvey was stopped by being sent to prison on a bogus charge? Are blacks obligated? If not he. than who? But alas, the new generation are content. Give them a series with a black face in the "lead" role (not her black story) and they sing satisfied.

  • B | May 25, 2012 10:48 PM

    I'm nowhere close to your age, I'm sure. But as someone who has spent most of her childhood and adult life in the company of black folks at least twice my age, (many of whom share something of your attitude on this post), I agree. I 100% agree.

  • bondgirl | May 25, 2012 2:09 PMReply

    If it's really a slow news day, you could be discussing why Think Like A Man is *allegedly* banned in France, and how that will affect overseas sales.

  • bondgirl | May 25, 2012 2:41 PM

    Good to hear it.

  • Curtis | May 25, 2012 2:27 PM

    Will Packer and Sony already cleared that up. The film wasn't banned. I think it was Newsone that got the story couple of days ago.

  • Rajua | May 25, 2012 2:04 PMReply

    I don't think anyone should be Obligated to tell a certain story. BUT, as a member of a grossly underrepresent & often misrepresented people when it comes to media if there is any depth to an artist that should compel an artist to want to be an alternate voice. Not saying that a filmmaker should make some preachy tale of struggle but to show the infinite aspects of culture that exist amongst people of African decent. Medicine for Melancholy, is a perfect perspective of an alternate glimpse into the lives black characters that according to most hollywood depictions of black culture, are nonexistent.

    Most art is inspired by the socio-cultural influences that surrounding the artist as they grow and evolve and if you ignore the world around you, you compromise the development of your own art. Just my two cents.

  • Justin Kownacki | May 25, 2012 1:51 PMReply

    Is it okay for a white guy like me to answer this? ;)

    IMHO, I disagree. That's like saying white filmmakers should primarily tell the stories of white characters (which happens anyway), or Asian filmmakers, or female filmmakers, etc. Yes, you may be ABLE to tell a story you can personally relate to better than someone else could, or you might be so close to the subject matter that you might miss what makes it a universally relatable story. Also, that means all filmmakers (or, broadly speaking, all artists) would be obligated to work primarily in the tableu they were born into, rather than the ones they might be most interested in or best-equipped to innovate within.

    I think the fault lies not with the artists, but with the audiences. As long as white stories dominate the media and distribution channels, it's too easy to NOT see stories told from (or about) different backgrounds or points of view. But that doesn't mean we wouldn't all benefit from doing so. And it doesn't mean we can't all tell each others' stories in our own voices, as a means of finding commonalities AND appreciating differences, either.

  • Boothe | May 25, 2012 3:07 PM


    Good we go with the 'We' (complain every day; should approach it the same way)

    Filmmakers please do whatever it takes to push yourself creatively.

    If imagination and inspiration leads to great stories with all Black characters; good. If imagination and inspirations lead to great stories with some Black characters; good. If imagination and inspiration leads to great stories with no Black characters; good.

  • Nadia | May 25, 2012 1:56 PM

    " That's like saying white filmmakers should primarily tell the stories of white characters (which happens anyway...)"

    You see that's the part I'm struggling with. Even though there's no written rule, I feel like it's one of those unspoken things. White filmmakers already tell stories primarily about white people. Is there a gun to their heads to do so? No. But they do. Isn't this what we complain about every day? So maybe the word obligation is too strong, but I can't help but feel like we (black folks) should approach it the same way.

  • Ibrahim | May 25, 2012 1:48 PMReply

    I don't buy it. The same ire should be directed at black artists who exclude. Unless your film is set in the middle of nowhere mid west America then there should be colour somewhere. I think we're indulging a dangerous way of thinking. I think the typical characters in movies and their uniformal whiteness reflects an ideal rather than reality. I write white characters and I also write characters who are black. Sometimes I go a bit nuts and write characters who are neither. #sarcasm. I think exploring racial dynamics outside of the black white dichotomy is really liberating.

  • Gary C. | May 25, 2012 1:41 PMReply

    Obligated to tell stories about black people? No. Putting obligations of any kind is creatively stunting. As black film makers, your only obligation is to excel at your craft. We can't bow to societal pressures or misguided pride and only tell our stories them turn around and tell Hollywood it's unfair that we don't have equal opportunities to make films as whites. What "black" story am I to tell in my sci-fi and fantasy films? Spielberg doesn't only do Jewish films. Scorsese doesn't just do Italian films. No one puts us in more boxes than ourselves.

  • Rane | May 25, 2012 3:11 PM

    @Gary C. " No one puts us in more boxes than ourselves"... so true, frustrating and ridiculous!

  • Akimbo | May 25, 2012 1:30 PMReply

    No, but you'd be doing a great disservice if you're super talented and never ever wrote for black people. Everything you write doesn't have to be for or about black people, but if you're prolific, and you've got power, why the hell not?

  • whoopietail | May 25, 2012 1:27 PMReply

    Anyone who is having this discussion should ask themselves why they make films!

Follow Shadow and Act

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Bill Cosby Directed by Robert Townsend ...
  • Oversimplification of Her BeautyFrame By Frame: Senior Programmer Shari ...
  • 'Bad Boys 3' Still Very Much Alive, ...
  • AFFRM Announces Online Panel Featuring ...
  • Slow Jam, Experiencing Media as Love ...
  • Thandie Newton Joins Jeffrey Wright ...
  • Chronicling The Jaunty World Of Nigerian ...
  • 'Take Me To The River' Celebrates Memphis' ...
  • Abderrahmane Sissako's 'Timbuktu' Gets ...
  • Byron Hurt Seeks Hazing Victims, Perpetrators, ...