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"Case Depart" French Star Thomas Ngijol Says... "African Americans Have No Fight Anymore"

by Cynthia Reid
September 15, 2011 9:51 AM
26 Comments
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"When I see some black Americans I see the end of the world. Lil Wayne is a sign of the end of the world to me. Blacks here started as slaves, move to independence and success but now you’ve crossed the line. Obama killed rap. You don’t have a cause anymore. African Americans have no fight anymore. In the music videos, all you do is party. Everyone says they’re rich, in the club poppin’ bottles."

That's what writer and star Thomas Ngijol of the controversial French comedy Case Depart, a film we've covered extensively here on S&A, said to Chloe Hilliard for Loop21.com when asked what he thought of African Americans during an interview to promote the movie. The flick transports two modern day, half brothers back to the slave era. Fabrice Eboué , who co-stars as Ngijol's brother, co-wrote the script as well.

Grossing more than $15 million already, it's the number one comedy flick in France. Ngijol, who's been a stand-up comedian and actor for the last ten years, makes it clear what the film is about saying it isn't about slavery..."It’s about not very intelligent people with an identity problem. Black men who blame the system."

Of course, it was only a matter of time that Ngijol made a request to clarify his above quote which I'm sure was due to all the backlash he received. He later stated..."First, I respect and love African-Americans. They inspire me in my work and I have nothing but love for people who fight for their rights.. I respect black culture but it's just funny to see the evolution from slave to bling bling. Second, I love hip-hop and Lil Wayne but it's just sad that the industry doesn't have a lot of other alternatives in the spotlight. I came in peace so please spread that to your reader. Thanks."

He also claimed that, as expected, Hollywood came calling and someone "big" will be starring in the American version although he couldn't give any details.

You can read the complete, insightful interview HERE.

I have to add, as an African American, I was in no way offended by his statement. In fact, considering the lack of minority and female representation in this "liberal" entertainment business which the LA Times reported on yesterday, his remark deserves examining. Have we become too complacent? Below is the trailer.


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26 Comments

  • tyrone mixon | September 17, 2011 6:32 AMReply

    Seriously!! You gauge your views on a bunch of coons running around in videos?

    There is a subculture of Black people that fight this beast every single day. To have a outsider pop off about somethings he has no clue about is just so French.

  • Just Visiting | September 17, 2011 2:09 AMReply

    @darkan: I never said that black America does not have problems. I'm saying this particular actor, based on his own quotes, does not seem informed enough for me to take his opinion seriously.

  • The Journalist | September 16, 2011 9:53 AMReply

    We're tired . . . we've been fighting for too long and we are tired . . . We built the damn country, fought in all its wars, fought for our rights, fought to survive during the crack epidemic, fighting right now with everything we got to keep our jobs and homes, dealing with driving while black, flying while black, shopping while black . . . and how in the hell do you deal with all that and still keep your dignity, beauty, ferocity (Which we have done)

    there aint nothing like us on this planet, so brother Ngijol, forgive some us for taking a break and celebrating . . .

    'If you escape what I escaped you'd be in Paris getting fucked up too . . ."
    Jay-Z, Niggas in Paris

  • misha | September 16, 2011 9:17 AMReply

    @darkan, what on earth are you talking about? Because I don't espouse this guy's narrow-minded viewpoint, I'm in denial? LOL! If only I had a penny for everytime someone said that...

    Listen, I can believe this guy is a moron (thanks for that description, JMac) AND believe that black America faces serious problems. The two aren't mutually exclusive. You see, I'm capable of utilizing nuance. ;)

    This guy is brave? WTF? Do you think he's the first black person to "call out" black folk? I think not. Lambasting black folk has always been popular...so has thinking black folk need a "strong kick in the ass." Yeah, that's the solution to what ails black America! NOT! I've discovered that people who support such thinking can't or refuse to recognize that what ails black America is much more complex than they realize and thus will call for much more complex solutions.

    HIs viewpoint can only be based on what he sees? Huh? How about he go out and do some research instead of relying on the mainstream media to give him an accurate, more complex picture of black America?

  • darkan | September 16, 2011 8:03 AMReply

    @JMac, I feel you brother but my point is we ALL need to start being accountable. I take responsibility for anytime I don't speak out or act against things that make black people look like buffoons or coons. You all must understand that his viewpoint whether ignorant or not can only come from those that you mentioned who unfortunately is indicative of black people in America to foreigners. Anyone that supports the guilty pleasure of Lil Wayne or Snoop is directly and indirectly responsible for how this brother sees us. I learned that when I went overseas to Europe and saw what was on their television screen... MTV. So, they thought that calling me nigga was cool. This was in Romania. When you listen to the radio it's predominately RAP & HIP HOP! So, if that's their perception of us, we have to STOP SUPPORTING the clowns that unfortunately represent us.

  • JMac | September 16, 2011 7:05 AMReply

    I'm sorry Darkan but if this guy is judging the whole black race on popular culture, he is a moron. What's really wrong with black people is that we keep looking at athletes and entertainers as role models when most these people never even finished high school or got passes for being great at extracurricular activities. Some do good things and give back but we don't hear about it unless it's part of a marketing plan. How many of us would know about Danny Glover's work or Harry Belafonte's unless we go online to certain spots? Hollywood will make films like the Blind Side but won't do stories on black people who adopt entire families - which happens pretty regularly. Change is not going to come from celebrities but from us. Many of us haven't supported people like Snoop and Lil'Wayne but they'll get their money and fame anyway because white people are fueling them as much as if not more than blacks.

    He knew better or at least he should have. Considering all the other silliness he was spouting in the interview, I can't take any of his comments seriously-- esp. if he likes Lil' Wayne. And please let's blame Obama for some other mess he wasn't responsible for. I bet if you look closely in the Bible, Obama killed Jesus too.

    I really wanted to see this film but now I just want to watch for the sake of curiosity. The one question they should have asked was how does he feel about the angry response blacks in France have against the movie. I'd be surprised he can walk out in public w/o getting a beat down.

  • darkan | September 16, 2011 5:46 AMReply

    @ Just Visiting & Misha, I guess I shouldn't expect you guys to make any statements about what's wrong with current Black American culture and what could be changed to make a difference. Again you guys prove the point of what's wrong as you deny that there is a problem and go the route of the ostrich. At least this man was brave enough to make his VERY VALID viewpoints in regards to what he SEES and has seen. @ Misha "Nuance" ? Damn that, black people need a strong kick in the ass right now for losing momentum and falling behind after all our ancestors fought for! Entertainers and athletes are just throwing it away. His viewpoint can only be based on what he sees but it's our fault for supporting coons like LiL Wayne, T.I. and Snoop just be cause they are black and by saying "I ain't mad at him" and "You gotta respect his hustle though." Like I said, if I am angry at him it would be for apologizing. SMDH

  • geoffrey thorne | September 16, 2011 3:47 AMReply

    luckily, since he's not an african american and has no idea what we are, we don't have to give a shit what he says about us.

    clean your own house, mon frere, you got plenty to deal with at home.

  • Nia | September 16, 2011 3:46 AMReply

    Wow It's always interesting to hear how blacks abroad view American Blacks. I also thnk it's easier for one to make a generalized and grossly misinformed observation about of group of people if they aren't from the country. I have now idea where Lil Wayne's huge album sales have come from myself. Not every artist is Lil Wayne though. Not every artist raps about bling and the same stale topics. People in America gt tired of hearing it so there has been an influx of new and vatly talented artists. We have so much new talent in film as well from indie film to major motion pictures. I agree so much more can be done, but I think it's easier to miss the moves African Americans are making unless you constantly research it or are directly familiar with it.

  • Just Visiting | September 16, 2011 3:37 AMReply

    Oh, and his quote "I love the ghetto but I don't care about the ghetto" because he doesn't want any responsibility tells me all I need to know about him.

  • Just Visiting | September 16, 2011 3:32 AMReply

    I think it's interesting that black people who don't live in the US and get most of their information on African-Americans from mainstream sources feel like they're qualified to say we've "crossed the line."

    It's not like black people in France aren't struggling with their own problems.

  • misha | September 16, 2011 3:30 AMReply

    Misinformed. Narrowminded. Arrogant. What a dangerous combination! And this gentlemen illustrates the level of ignorance said combination produces.

    Sorry but just because there may be some "truth" in his comments (I fail to see it) doesn't mean he shouldn't be dismissed for painting a group of people in such broad strokes. How very unfortunate that "truth" and "tough love" have taken precedence over nuance and complex thinking.

  • Jennifer | September 16, 2011 1:40 AMReply

    Obama killed rap? Whut? I am quite sure that ppl were yacking on about blingbling long before 2008? Re: the rest of his critique, I just feel that African Americans need to band together to wrest control of our image from mainstream corporate jackasses. Because there is a lot going on under the surface that is never going to make it into the open if its up to corporate money. I am not surprised that dude is deluded by Hollywood claptrap.

  • darkan | September 15, 2011 12:15 PMReply

    It's sad that it took a French man to notice and speak the truth on the state of Black Americans in this country. What he said is completely correct. It's what WE ALL KNOW to be true but are too afraid to admit or say it. We have lowered our standards and morality just to succeed and be rich. If you disagree or have an opinion against foolishness or coonery performed by black athletes, actors or singers/rappers in the world or entertainment you're labeled a "Hater". Everybody has the attitude that everything is good and to each his own as long as you ain't hurting nobody. You you gotta "respect their hustle" is the most used phrase. Its all bull and a cop out to not have responsibility to advance a beautiful culture that is misused, constantly neglected and in continuous struggle. It's too bad that he apologized because I wouldn't have. I accept the responsibility of those who struggled and died to give me the chance to have liberties and freedoms and to be the artist that I am today. As long as I am alive their memory will not pass away. Their losses and deaths will not be in vain. If the truth hurts pour some salt on it and rub it in with alcohol. It the words of Laurence Fishburne from School Days "Wake up"!

  • CareyCarey | September 15, 2011 11:58 AMReply

    Oh no, not the old divide & conquer trick. Well, maybe in this case it’s not a calculated ploy, but it seems like as of late we’ve been flirting with the US vs. “Them” themes.

    I mean, who hasn't heard the tragic story of Othello and his trusted - not to be trusted - ensign Iago. Because of its varied and current themes of racism, love, jealousy, betrayal, and deceit... well, short of death I can see the same dastardly deeds happening to the relationship between black Brits and black Americans. Follow me now...

    See, Iago is upset with Othello for promoting a younger man (Cassio) above him. He bends the ear of Othello and convinces him that his loving, adoring and faithful wife, who treats Othello like a god, is slipping and sliding - creepin' - with another man. Damn! I even hate thinking about what happened next, however, Othello strangles his wife to death.

    WOW! He killed his wife because of a false rumor! Anyway, as I was reading the opening to this post my knee-jerked and I was ready to blast this dude. However, knowing that patience is not my best virtue, I slowed my roll and read the rest of his words...

    …”First, I respect and love African-Americans. They inspire me in my work and I have nothing but love for people who fight for their rights.. I respect black culture but it’s just funny to see the evolution from slave to bling bling. Second, I love hip-hop and Lil Wayne but it’s just sad that the industry doesn’t have a lot of other alternatives in the spotlight. I came in peace so please spread that to your reader. Thanks.”

    Ut oh, I’d be a special kind of fool if I hated on the brotha for saying that. Check this, he also said...


    “it isn’t about slavery…”It’s about not very intelligent people with an identity problem. Black men who blame the system.”

    Good lord, the man is making sense. Who is the real enemy... out there, on the case, in their war rooms, plotting and strategizing? The real enemy (not black Brits) have always been on the case, for their team! It's time for us to think, stay focused and understand what is going on and what the stakes are and always have been.

    Choose a team! And remember what our ancestors knew, "It was never just a game!" Just cause some folks say it's only "movies" and it’s only an “interview” doesn't mean it‘s that simple!

  • JMac | September 15, 2011 11:58 AMReply

    Ha. I came across that article weeks ago. Was wondering when it'd pop up here. My favorite bit is about us (women) having squeaky voices. Maybe we have more estrogen than european women, lol. Just kidding. He needs schooling that's fo sho. Alternatives are there if you look. In future, It might help him to talk about things he actually knows about rather than look on the surface and assume things that aren't necessarily true.

    Please don't start with the African vs. African American crap. Most blacks here don't know about the specifics of blacks living abroad and vice versa.

  • artbizzy | September 15, 2011 11:49 AMReply

    @L.A. Proper "Truth is, although we are much maligned and quite flawed, from a global cultural perspective, no group has had as lasting an influence on the world as us descendants of slaves."

    Beautiful, accurate and 'Nuff said.

    @Malikom "An arrogant African talking as if hes superior to black americans…hmmm…now where have I seen this before?"

    Oh-KAY...!

  • Duncan MaNutz | September 15, 2011 11:04 AMReply

    From the outside looking in...what do other countries see when they see black folks in American Media....I'm not sure who's at fault. Is it the mainstream media that continues to market the stereotype or is it Black Folks that perpetuate the stereotype ?

    I think, overall, we can do better, a lot better.

  • Malikom | September 15, 2011 11:00 AMReply

    An arrogant African talking as if hes superior to black americans...hmmm...now where have I seen this before?

  • L.A. Proper | September 15, 2011 10:51 AMReply

    This guy is just silly. "Everyone says they’re rich, in the club poppin’ bottles.” Seriously?

    As the black writer/director of the award-winning comedy "L.A. Proper", I'm offended: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzpR7-HQZ78

    I think it's unfortunate when people choose to focus on a small portion of a group to make overly broad statements about the group as a whole. Simply claiming that we as black Americans have only gone from "slave to bling" displays a true lack of understanding about the strides black folks have made in this country since being openly and systematically discriminated against only 50 years ago.

    If Ngijol thinks there aren't many alternatives to Lil Wayne, he is very misinformed about the thriving and diverse world of hip-hop performers in this country. Problem is, Europeans and other non-blacks respond favorably to the thuggish version, so that's what gets exported abroad.

    Truth is, although we are much maligned and quite flawed, from a global cultural perspective, no group has had as lasting an influence on the world as us descendants of slaves.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzpR7-HQZ78

  • AccidentalVisitor | September 15, 2011 10:28 AMReply

    Should have written : "was in a screenwriting magazine INTERVIEW with the writer of ‘Soul Plane”.

  • Sigh | September 15, 2011 10:26 AMReply

    I am sure Sankofa did it better.

  • AccidentalVisitor | September 15, 2011 10:25 AMReply

    Of course since I have yet to see "Case Depart", I can't be so sure if Monsieur Ngijol is part of the solution or just another part of the problem. The last time I read such cocky comments was in a screenwriting magazine with the writer of 'Soul Plane". Hopefully Ngijol's work is a lot better than that masterpiece.

  • tambay | September 15, 2011 10:23 AMReply

    I fear this will not end well... but don't let me stop the conversation :)

  • AccidentalVisitor | September 15, 2011 10:19 AMReply

    The collapse of rap into an artform that mostly promoted the bling-bling and thug life happened long before Obama. I get some of his points, I think he simplifies others. But if we're talking about black folks in movie. film and music business I concur that there are lingering, major problems. Collectively we seem to lack ambition in terms of scope and storytelling. That's something I've been meaning to write about for awhile. Perhaps I haven't done so yet because of my own lack of ambition :)

  • Jug | September 15, 2011 10:09 AMReply

    His comment is too ridiculous to even respond to made more ridiculous by his "Deion Sanders" back peddle.

    Whatever....

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