Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Is The Classification Of A Film As A "Black Film" Erroneous And Limiting?

by Tambay A. Obenson
November 19, 2013 1:02 PM
  • |

I'm sick today, with a bad cold, and it'll likely be a *light* day here on S&A. So to keep you guys still engaged with the site, I thought I'd run a survey!

Following much of the conversation around Best Man Holiday, I've noticed (and understand) the effort to emphasize the universality of the film's themes, in part as encouragement for non-black audiences to want to see it, eschewing what might be considered its reductive categorization as a "black film" by the mainstream press especially (or as USA Today put it, a "Race-Themed" film).

The discussions around the movie, inspired some thoughts in me...

In the 4 1/2 years that I've been writing for this blog, I've been introduced to black filmmakers who summarily reject the classification "Black Filmmaker," seemingly reinforcing the importance of their creativity over their race or ethnicity. As some have and would say, "I'm a filmmaker who happens to be black instead of a black filmmaker;" or, "I make films that happen to have black people in them; not black films."

Discussions about how we define terms like "black cinema" have been had aplenty here on S&A over the years. Just as we are a diverse and varied people, so are our definitions, which should be expected.

Some have questioned whether we should even use classifications like "black film" or "black filmmaker," with suggestions that they are, in effect, limiting, and somehow antithetical to the advancement of the American post-racial dream MLK vocalized decades ago, and that suddenly seemed within reach (to some) with the election of Obama as president in 2008.

That black filmmakers (or filmmakers who happen to be black, whichever you prefer) have been, and really still are typically restricted in the kinds of films they are "allowed" to make - especially within the Hollywood studio system - has been well documented. And I fully understand the desire to want to be free of that kind of creative marginalization, especially when one's white filmmaker contemporaries aren't so shackled (pun intended), as even what once used to be somewhat sacred ground for the black filmmaker (i.e, black films, or films that tell stories about black people), isn't quite so anymore.

My colleagues Andre Seewood and Tanya Steele have both addressed these matters in separate posts: see Andre's Why White People Don't Like Black Movies, and Race Traitors: White Filmmakers Who Make Black Films; and see Tanya's Tarantino's Candy (Slavery In The White Male Imagination), to start.

But here are my questions for your consideration: Are we allowing someone else's myopic perceptions of us to influence how we navigate these categorizations? I think we all are aware of race as we know it being essentially a social construct, but, is it really possible to undo centuries-old *damage,* and is it even desirous at this point to reject the "black" that precedes nouns like "filmmaker," and "film," or are there advantages and even necessities to embrace instead?

And what does all that mean for a site like this that champions "black cinema," or in the case of personal identity, you and I as "black" men and "black" women? Do you identify yourself as a black man/woman, or a man/woman who happens to be black, and what does the difference signify to you? Or do you reject the classification completely, because you believe, just like the term "black cinema" it's limiting, and instead prefer to simply be referred to as a man or a woman, without the so-called *burden* as some would consider it?

If you're a creative (filmmaker, writer, actor, producer, etc), do you loathe being labeled a "black" creative, and whether yes or no, why?

Yes, we are all human beings first and foremost; Underneath the coat (or armor, depending on your POV), there are universalities that all of mankind recognizes and appreciates. But is there indeed a definitive "black experience" that unifies us as a group, or, in terms of art (specifically cinema), a "black aesthetic" that is instantly and even innately recognizable by members of the group, that contrasts other experiences and aesthetics, and is there anything wrong in acknowledging that, regardless of what the implications in doing so are to others?

In essence, is "black" limiting, and if so, to whom and why? 

Think about it and dig in... 

Now excuse me while I go take some Nyquil to knock me out!

  • |

More: Things That Make You Go Hmm...

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    


  • Solid E | December 29, 2013 8:02 PMReply

    Labels have been a part of American culture as far back as the 1600's. The labeling of all things black is no exception. The labeling of films whose theme and or production are that of black people can probably be attributed to a non-black entity however there are film organizations as well as film festivals that are created and administered by blacks that carry the label we speak of. I personally would like to see the label of "black" this or "black" that removed in filmmaking simply because this "technique" is not applied to "non-black" films. Labels such as foreign, documentary or short film I feel are apropos.

  • Mk | December 28, 2013 8:10 PMReply

    I do think the annotation 'Black film' is limiting.
    Had 'The Color Purple' and 'Roots' been marketed as a 'Black film' and a 'Black series', then they probably would not have enjoyed such wide releases.
    However, both stories originated in the hands of black writers, and both stories center around the lives of black folks. One could wonder if The Color Purple and Roots would have been labeled Black productions if they had had directors of color, say Spike Lee or Steve McQueen.
    And how about Beloved? Same story.

  • Katie | December 14, 2013 1:12 PMReply

    "That black filmmakers (or filmmakers who happen to be black, whichever you prefer) have been, and really still are typically restricted in the kinds of films they are "allowed" to make - especially within the Hollywood studio system - has been well documented."

    The reason why they have trouble in Hollywood is because they are foolish enough to keep fvcking with Hollywood. If people know that Hollywood won't give them permission, why even ask? I have no sympathies for anyone seeking reform or permission from a biased framework. Blacks need to create their own media for goodness sakes. I mean how many times are we going to ask to sit at a table with people that have made it very clear they don't want to sit with us? Black films are not erroneous, it the belief that White Hollywood CEO's will give up their total share of the power that is erroneous. They've had over 100 years to do so and still Blacks have nothing. What other proof do we need to create our own media?

    And to answer your question, I have no problem being called a black web/software developer/designer. It's the racism, discrimination, and the misogynoir that comes with it I have a problem with.

  • Walter Harris Gavin | November 22, 2013 5:19 PMReply

    My take is when one says "black" in the context of film or any 'art form,' communication vehicle one is talking, lived experience, politics in the broadest terms and POV (point of view). I use music as an example. American Popular Music has it's roots in music created by black folks in America, Blues, Jazz, R&B. I think that one could have a "black" film that had nothing but "white" actors, but was created by a black writer/director that is a commentary on America writ large and "white" America in particular. The only limiting nature of "black" is in the context of the "marketers," not "the marketplace." Black art forms have always "crossover." I think it was Duke Ellington who said "... there are only two types of music...good and bad." You could say the same about film or any media form for that matter.

  • CareyCarey | November 22, 2013 11:46 PM

    " I think that one could have a "black" film that had nothing but "white" actors, but was created by a black writer/director that is a commentary on America [writ large?] and "white" America in particular." ~ W. H. Gavin

    I totally disagree. When one removes the image of a black actor(s), I believe you'd be hard pressed to present, find, show us a film (past or present) which, in all it's numerous definitions, could or would be defined as a "black" film. I'll wait while you search your files....

    In the interim...

    Quite naturally I also disagree with this assertion-->"The only limiting nature of "black" is in the context of the "marketers," not "the marketplace."

    Granted, it's true, black art forms have always crossed over, however... the devil's in the details. For example, you used music to illustrate your point, yet, in doing so you've eliminated (maybe unconsciously) a distinct detail that in the context of films, renders your point - moot, and to a large degree made mine (more valid). The detail that's missing (of course) is the "image" of the person or persons singing or playing the music.

    Now think about that (you will not have to ponder very long) Mr. Gavin, you're of the generation who witnessed white faces on the cover jackets of record albums (LP's) of black artists. I believe that's check-mate?

    Also, when one removes the black image from their entertainment (in this case music) the listener, unlike sitting in a movie theater, can listen to said music in the comfort and solitude of his/her's own home, far removed from the opinions, cliques & clacks, bigots; fools in general who may have an influence on their lives.

    Consequently, I think it's (again) disingenuous to suggest "one could have a "black" film that had nothing but "white" actors". Granted, one COULD do as they please, BUT...

  • James | November 22, 2013 7:21 PM

    Great post

  • Walter Harris Gavin | November 22, 2013 5:42 PM

    Adding a bit to my post above. There are "stylistic" differences in the way "blacks" and "whites" communicate. But in America this isn't just a one way street. So one might say that these "stylistic" and epigrammatic offerings constitute on the whole what might just be termed American film making in black and white.

  • CareyCarey | November 20, 2013 8:25 AMReply

    I have to call it what it is, POPPYCOCK swirling in a bag of BULLSH*T. Listen, as some would say on the issue of whether or not it's "black", it's a tough titty but we have to suck it.

    I mean, come on, if you have to explain to someone the definition, or true meaning of "a black film" and what that implies, that person is either a white person or a black person who wishes they were white. And, for those who are not in the know, the powers that be will surely point out the particulars... before the film comes out or after the first week. They do it in subtle ways (they slip it by the unsuspecting) but it works if you're looking for it.

    Take for instance the words of a white reviewer who said these word about The Best Man Holiday. In his review, he said "the film was seen/supported by a predominately African American female crowd.Come on now, you better believe he was in essence telling other white folks it's a BLACK film. So if you don't wanna be called a ni**er lover, don't pass go. I am serious, they do not mention the color of the audience (white) when Pooky and Ray Ray are not dominating the screen. Hell, we saw the same thing when The Butler dropped... "The church folks appear to be the biggest supporters of this film. They're coming in bus loads". Isn't THAT a semi-code word for BLACK folks? Listen, anyone who believes the notion that The Best Man Holiday is simply a movie (not a black movie) with black actors in roles that could have been filled with white actors, is fooling themselves. And, if I have to tell you why that is, as I said, you're either a white person, or a black person who is living "white" and thus has no idea of the special flavors and nuances of the black experience (and they don't wanna know... some of that blackness might splash on them, making them TOO black for white folk's taste).

    But check this, when is a "black flick" or when does a black flick get a pass, making it okay for some whites to see it? Well, first and foremost, when the white protagonists (could be one or a few) are dominating the predominantly black cast, or he/she is their savior, that's when a "black" film gets the MPAA ratings of DT and WS and SACA. That's right, (D)own (T)otten black man who might be saved by (W)hite (S)aviors and (S)chool (A)ge (C)hildren are (A)llowed if accompanied by well meaning person of any color.

    Listen, if you don't believe me or think I'm just talking sh*t, and thus don't believe "black" matters, check out the bottom line (cash receipts)of movies in which Denzel played a black character in history, so there was no doubt the man he was playing was a BLACK MAN. If you look fair, you will find it there, those films fall at the bottom of his money tree. WHY? You know why - don't you? Dain't new math.

    So look folks, twist it, slice it, spin it around, but everyone knows when a movie featuring black people in key roles - IS a black flick, except those who wish upon a star that one day they might just be the next white man's star...

    Again, in short, tough titty is this film business, but if you wanna play with the big dogs (in their ballpark) you're gonna have to suck it. Or I pity the fool who believes white folks pay little attention to the color of the actors on the screen... and what each of them are doing to each other.

  • CC | November 23, 2013 2:20 AM

    Okay James, on second thought I'll answer your question by referring you waaaaaay down to the comment by Kriss. BUT my disclaimers still apply. You know, my MPAA rating system for black films. In other words, a black film is everything Kriss said , and thus, whites tend to treat them as the black death (they run from them) except when said films are rated DT and WS. Translation: Downtrodden black person or persons in key roles - and - a liberal White Savior rescues the poor black man, then the films are good to go.

  • CC | November 23, 2013 12:02 AM

    Excuse me James, don't be demanding nothin', sunny, you ain't my daddy ;-O

    So why don't you follow Mr. Gavin's lead? You know, if you want to chop it up (black folk's slang for having a discussion - (in case you didn't know)), why not bring something to the table? I mean, your ambiguous and baiting (and silly) questions just ain't doing it.

  • James | November 22, 2013 1:05 PM

    Just answer the question on the films I picked and tell me why they are (or not) black films

  • CC | November 22, 2013 11:44 AM

    James, now you're being down right silly. But I did just see Cat Woman (yesterday). In one word it was CHEAP!

    But while you're being silly, humor me. Why in the world would you consider the movies on your list as black films? And, what point are you trying to make? I mean, seriously, you're exhibiting the qualities of a white guy who can't hide any longer. Am I hot or cold?

  • James | November 22, 2013 8:34 AM

    "AND, when a black person appears in any film, RACE is always part of the "criteria".

    Sure race is part of the criteria but when does the film stop or start being a black film?
    When the black character says a single piece of dialogue or when his words or actions pushes the storyline?

    Just so I can get your arguement...humor me:

    Did Cuba Gooding telling tom cruise to "show me the money" make jerry McGuire a black film?
    Is halle Berry's horrible take on cat woman a black film?
    Did thug number 2 make death wish a black film?
    Is scarface/the warriors a black film?
    Is Independence Day a black film?
    Is the help a black film?

  • CC | November 21, 2013 10:44 PM

    You're right James, I went a little left. But look, there's no argument to win or lose. Tambay poised the question "Is The Classification Of A Film As A "Black Film" Erroneous And Limiting?" , then most danced around the basic issue that you just happened to stumbled upon. -->"I wanted to know what your criteria is when a film has nothing to do with race".

    See, that's the basic problem, call a film what you please but ANYTIME a black person is in said film, his skin color IS noticed by everyone. Consequently, I was suggesting the term " A black film" is in the eye's of the beholder.

    But of course the term is limiting. Listen, when I see "black film festival" or "black film", I hear "white folks, this may not be for you". Seriously, flip the script... "white film festival"... "white film". Hey, I go to film festivals, but as a black man, if I saw those words... well... lets just say I'd find something else to do.

    Going back to Tambay's question... "is classifying a film as a "black film" erroneous"... again, I believe it depends on the goal/purpose/motive of the person(s) making such claim. For some, the words are attractive, for others they serve as a stop sign. That's a nice segway to the issues of race, racism, predudice, white people and movies.

    In my opinion it's not a racist who enjoys watching films with actors who look just like them, moreso than those who do not. It's also not a racist who enjoys watching stories and engages in said story when the dialog and action is reminiscent of their life's experiences, moreso than those that do not. Granted, there's a never ending argument or notion that there's no basic difference between blacks and whites, but that's merely wishful thinking and fodder for talking heads.

    So are we not speaking of prejudices moreso than racism? Preducdice: preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

    What a minute, if I was left with an unpleasant feeling or experience from watching a particular film, or I could not relate nor empathize with the characters or action - what then? I mean, if I decide not to watch a similar movie with similar dynamics, have I not based my decision on an actual experience? I guess I am saying who knows why some white's first and favorite film choices are those that are largely absent of people of color? I do know you can't make a heart feel something that it won't. And, I also know when "black" appears anywhere on the marquee, a "limit" has been set.

    AND, when a black person appears in any film, RACE is always part of the "criteria".

  • James | November 21, 2013 10:33 AM

    It's no point getting petty with me. You already lose the arguement when u go that route. I didn't ask you about Malcolm x bcos I wanted to know what your criteria is when a film has nothing to do with race. And you say "they" make the rules which you happily subscribe to make your "intelligent black man" stand on. ..pitiful

  • CC | November 20, 2013 2:25 PM

    Well James, if that's the way YOU want to define it, okay, but read my criteria one more time. But I have to admit that I did forget to mention the trump card. As a disclaimer used by some whites to refute Andre Seewood's claim... and a porous excuse used by them to deny their prejudicial ways, they're quick to say they love The Butler, Halle Berry in monsters Ball and Django, to name a few negative and/or stereotypical black character which makes them feel superior. And see, you appear to be just the person I was referring to. You know, those who defend whites who "claim" they're not highly prejudice in their film choices. But see, fact don't lie and you cannot defend the indefensible... even if you do not like the skin you were born in. That reminds me, why didn't you ask me if Malcolm X was a black film? **BIG SMIRK** The films was a hit in the black neighborhood (you know that, right? or have you run from that one as well? You know, for fear of being aligned with a powerful black man, you couldn't let your white buddies even think that you slipped off to see that film, and white folks (for the most part)stayed away. And please, did you see "12 years"? Well, it's busting it's ass to reach 20 million, even though it featured one of their favorite subjects... the mistreatment of blacks. Do you know why? The po' slave could read and out smarted the white guy. Now that's screwed up - in their eyes. There's no love nor empathy for that type of black man.

    So lets go over what we've learned... "So in your logic, there is no standard criteria for what qualifies a black movie". NO James, you missed the point, it's they, not I, who makes the rules, so they move the line to fit their taste - as I've illustrated above. Didn't you read the details of my post? Most blacks know what time it is... but you... I have questions? In fact, I think I have a nickname for you... and I wrote a song about it... wanna hear it?... here it goes.

    "I (James) am the great pretender, pretending that you're still around (oh oh oh oh) yes I'm the great pretender. Pretending way too much that I'm doing well. My need is such I pretend too much, I'm lost being a black man but no one can tell. Oh-oh, yes I'm the great pretender. ~ Remix - The Platters: Great Pretender

  • James | November 20, 2013 11:55 AM

    So in your logic, there is no standard criteria for what qualifies a black movie. It all depends on whether the black protagonist is a positive or negative force to white ppl. That's screwed up.

  • CC | November 20, 2013 11:03 AM

    James, lets take a look at the details.

    Okay, Will Smith was the HNIC and his crew was of mixed race. There was no dominating white man to save Will and his Black son. Will also had a black wife waiting for him at home. Okay... I think I have it, in the eyes of many it's a black movie and Will's low opening numbers will attest to that.

    Denzel Washington in Flight. Okay, this is an easy one, it's rated DT and WS. Downtrodden irresponsible drunk who sleeps with a white chick he happens to meet on the fly, who takes the black man home to her dusty house so she can save him . The black man pays heavily for his crime after we see him snot coke and get blitzed out of his mind. But again, another white person comes to his add (giving his stupid ass more cocaine) before the dual addicted drunk addressed the inquiry. In the end, the black man relents, tells the truth and goes straight to jail.

    James, that movie is safe for whites to see. It's not a black movie, it's stars a black man you'd not want your son to emulate nor your daughter date. In fact, lets give that bad boy an Oscar Nod. He can put it right next to his Oscar for playing a dope smoking killer cop who played opposite the good and honorable white rookie officer.

  • James | November 20, 2013 8:59 AM

    Carey, would you say will smith movies are "black"movies?
    How about Denzel Washington in flight? Was that a black movie?

  • Troy | November 20, 2013 3:32 AMReply

    The word black is no different than the word nig.ger. We are all ignorant of the true world around us and everything is black. The only thing not black is something white and/or devoid of color.

  • Scripttease | November 19, 2013 7:48 PMReply

    "is it really possible to undo centuries-old *damage,*". I plan on trying to accomplish just that.

    Anywho, as far as writing film, I like to consider "films starring Black People", and as far as who I am, I am a BLACK WOMAN, and I AM A WOMAN who happens to be Black. It makes no difference to me. Either way, I love being Black and I love being a Woman.

  • Daryl | November 19, 2013 7:34 PMReply

    Categorizing a film as a black film is limiting because we have not had a chance to have a body of work that has a variety of films, so when you say black film, people think of sterotypes of what films black filmmakers should make because hollywood would have you believe the black audience is not complex enough to like different films. Black filmmakers should make the films they want to make and not run from who you are and not cater to somebody else racial hang ups.

  • JMac | November 19, 2013 7:22 PMReply

    Are we allowing someone else's myopic perceptions of us to influence how we navigate these categorizations?

    Yes. If you view the term "Black" as limiting then you are embracing someone else's [white majority] perceptions to define the potentialities of black art and legitimization of the black experience. We can be as diverse and as homogenous as any other group - just depends on the subject.

    For the record, I don't think MLK's dream had anything to do with discarding classifications. It was about eliminating negative connotations surrounding certain classifcations in order to fully appreciate the person. I am Black but being Black should not be viewed as a detriment. I am a woman but being a woman should not be viewed as a detriment. To ignore these aspects is to deny the complete essence of a person's existence.

  • MK | December 28, 2013 8:21 PM

    I agree that 'Black' does not have to be limiting if the filmmakers happen to be targeting the Black market. It's only limiting in cases where they happen to go for multi-ethnic markets.
    Like when you make a 'women's movie'. That's limiting, but only if you'd like to include men in the audience. It's not limiting if it's women you are targeting; in fact, than it is actually a good thing to use such label.
    I agree with you that black filmmakers should create what they want. I also like to think that are doing just that.

  • Alias | November 19, 2013 5:06 PMReply

    It's obviously difficult to reject classification if you're black living in America. And, unfortunately, because of institutional racism, and the systems in place, few of us ever get to be seen as fully, individualized human beings without the spector of race shadowing our lives because it is always there and ever present, whether we're conscious of this fact or not. Whether we buy into the reality or not. WE cannot navigate through life without this recognition.

    One individual, who immediately springs to mind, that doesn't seem bound by race, in his artistry, and who has enjoyed immense mainstream success is Malcolm Gladwell. He writes about very general, albeit unusual, subject matter that is accessible to all. Yet many of the subjects, or narratives, in his books are, primarily, connected to the lives of whites. And even though Mr. Gladwell has written on the subject of race, and has never sought to distance himself from his Jamaican heritage, I sometimes wonder how many white readers who are buying his best-selling books are actually aware that he's a Negro.

    If blacks were allowed to have more agency, and input, in all areas of life (i.e. healthcare, education, defense, economics, etc.) then, perhaps, we could, gradually, have the opportunity
    to climb out of the boxes that white society has, seemingly, forced us into. For example, throughout the month of August, as the nation commemorated the March on Washington, viewers couldn't on a talkshow or news program that didn't have John Lewis or Michael Eric Dyson, or other historians, pundits, law makers on talking about what the March meant then, and now, to our country.

    Three months later, in the midst of all the discussion about the ACA, which has tremendous implications that largely affects brown and black people, we hardly see any brown and black people asked to join the discussion. My point being, black people are, primarily, called on by white media to only discuss issues deemed "black" at specific periods of time, and then ignored for anything else that's of general importance to ALL people, regardless of race.

    We experience this, every year, in this country when Black History Month roles around, and for 29 days all the "black" experts are pulled out, like holiday decorations, to discuss the state of black America, our history, etc., and then packed away, again, in March until the following year.

    It seems to me the only way to get around these attitudes is, of course, to have more inclusion in every facet of American life so that it becomes normalized, not racialized.

    If there were two or three black female and male actors cast, annually, in strong, well-written, interesting, TV shows every year, or in two or three well-written movies every year, then, perhaps, we -- as a society -- and really I mean, primarily, white folks -- could begin to embrace black actors as just being good actors. But because really strong TV shows, or movies, that are non-stereotypical, or are serious cinematic masterpieces (i.e. 12 Years A Slave or Mandela, for example) are so few and far between we continue to have to endure a two steps forward, two steps back dance that makes our progress seem slow and sluggish.

    Ideally, I believe it's not that black people wish to ignore or condemn our blackness, experience, or the black aesthetic, but for many of us there are additional facets to our lives outside of the scope of the so-called "black experience" or black aesthetic. And, perhaps, if we weren't -- as a culture and community -- always so burdened by society by issues of racism we could be afforded the freedom to breathe and explore, sometimes, non-racial stories, ideas, content, subject matter.

    Henceforth, we, just like whites, would like to be viewed, judged, valued, rewarded, and acknowledged as individuals who have significant contributions to be made based on our individuality, not something that is based in a made up social construct that has no bearing on one's creative talent, skills, ability or intellect.

    Unfortunately, for now, artists -- and most black people, really -- seem to be stuck in this weird, nebulous realm that rarely allows us to just be, without the need to place us in a categorical space based on racial identity.

  • getthesenets | November 19, 2013 4:57 PMReply

    Is this the same site that was BEGGING for Lorne Michaels to include a Black woman on the cast of SNL just a few weeks ago?

    Miss me with this babble.

  • Natasha Greeves | November 19, 2013 7:11 PM

    As someone who contributes to this site from time to time, and who reads it daily, I still don't see the correlation. First, I haven't experienced what you call "BEGGING" for inclusion. Criticizing and challenging a dominant system that claims to champion diversity, represent the people, and congratulates itself for its liberalism, when it so clearly isn't any of that, is one thing.

    I read this post and what I get from it (I can only speak for myself) is an opening up of a conversation about how we classify ourselves or how others classify us, and the divide between those of us who seem to reject classification and those that embrace it for their own individual reasons.

    The posts about SNL's black woman problem have been, as Nadia said, questioning why black women characters on the show aren't played by black actresses, when white women characters are played by white actresses, white men by white actors, and black men by black actors. What's wrong with demanding that the same courtesy be given to black women characters and black actresses? While that may seem like "begging" for inclusion to you, it's really just plain old obvious to me and others, and just good business, as was demonstrated with the episode Kerry Washington hosted which gave the show its highest ratings this season, and other reports we've posted on this site recently about how much diversity can affect a studio's bottomline.

    I've also read posts on this site that demand that black people get together and create a system of their own, or, at the very least do for themselves instead of looking to Hollywood for a leg up, and having to play by its rules, which you didn't mention.

    Ultimately, this is a place for discussion, and diverse voices. We don't all speak the same language. There isn't one unified S&A voice here, which is one of the things that I think makes the site attractive. So it's very possible that one writer might have one opinion and another might have a completely different one. If I can speak for the others, that's actually a good thing. Readers tend to gravitate to the writers they like, and whose sensibilities jive with their own, and stay away from those that don't.

  • getthesenets | November 19, 2013 5:49 PM


    More than just one post....and I do understand that there are several S&A writers but for the past year I've been reading entries that contradict each other. Posts begging for inclusion in "mainstream" projects and posts discussing not being placed into a "box".

    I've called it out a few times and stated that the comments about not being put into a box are laughable and that SEVERAL writers and artists SAY that but they carry around their own box and pull it out when it benefits THEM.

    about SNL..I counted at least 3 posts.....
    1 quoting Michaels, 1 about Kerry Washington's hosting , and 1 about a women who auditioned for snl but ultimately didn't get hired..all three ...saying or implying the same thing

    posts about why "insert white decision maker" should hire a Black artist for "insert all white show/film/play" , the past year....I count about 30

    posts which use the term "not being placed in a box" in the past year.....I counted maybe 20...with another maybe 50 comments using the same term like it's going out of style.

  • Nadia | November 19, 2013 5:27 PM

    I don't understand how one post that, god forbid, insists that black actresses play black women on a TV show, and another that questions the perception some have about the limitations of the term "black film," have in common, so you're going to have to explain your point sir.

  • Leah | November 19, 2013 4:28 PMReply

    Which begs the question, couldn't they have come with a better title for "Black Nativity"???

  • dee | November 19, 2013 4:45 PM

    Black Nativity was written by Langston Hughes, its the retelling of a the Nativity story. It was written way back in 1961.

  • Natalie F | November 19, 2013 3:56 PMReply

    I think there is an essential difference between black films and films with black people in them. I think "Black films" say something specifically about the black experience wherever they take place and provide a perspective that revolves around the racializing and subjection of Blacks (12 Years A Slave, Fruitvale Station). On the other hand, films like The Best Man Holiday are simply films with black people cast in them. The narrative has nothing to do with how their blackness affects their experiences and those roles could've easily been played by white people.

  • Troy | November 20, 2013 3:29 AM

    What white famous pro athlete is friends with a bunch if none famous people he went to college with?

  • Travis L | November 19, 2013 3:19 PMReply

    Yes "Black" is limiting! I feel whites limit and Blacks limit themselves. Let me explain.
    When the term "Black" is applied to a profession, a culture, or an aesthetic it assumes a certain expectation by the other. The term determines the parameters--in this case--a film. When the term "Black" is applied to film then it orchestrates what can and can not be done and what should and should not be done. Therefore there is a static expectation by the moviegoer; he or she knows what they will be viewing on screen. Fortunately, it is not the Black filmmakers whom set the limits of their art. Rather it is the white power structure whom limits. They define and control the parameters of Black film in terms of what they will embrace or reject. Those Black filmmakers who desire to operate their profession in the white cinematic world must limit their art. They must free it from "impossible" story lines, "unrecognizable" characters , and "unfamiliar" narratives and replace it with that which is comfortable and palatable in the white cinematic world. Blacks limit themselves in an effort to be part of this white cinematic world.

    Let's remember, we are not living in a post racial world. Race is critical and is factored/considered in all aspects of our social lives. Things must be labeled so some folks know how to approach and engage it. Ok I'll stop here!

    Also, I would have suggested taking Dayquil, but that Nyquil as you know has an awesome left hook!

  • BEADS | November 19, 2013 1:43 PMReply

    Race is a fact of life. Embrace it or deny it. At your peril.

    . Make a choice and live with it.

  • kriss | November 19, 2013 1:27 PMReply

    I am black and if I make a film that deals specifically with black issues or a film with universal appeal that features mainly black characters then I accept I've made a black film. What do you call a black person who makes films only about non-black subjects? A black filmmaker.

Follow Shadow and Act

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Denzel Washington, Antoine Fuqua Take ...
  • Watch 'Inside Africa's' Trip to Kenya ...
  • Emmy Trophies Will Be Handed Out Tonight. ...
  • 'Short Term 12' Star Keith Stanfield ...
  • Caribbean Film VOD Platform STUDIO ANANSI ...
  • Donald Glover is Spider-Man (aka Miles ...
  • Muted, Black & White First Trailer for ...
  • Exclusive - Watch 1st Trailer for Nefertite ...
  • Ving Rhames Will Reprise His Role as ...
  • Watch 'Gotham: The Legend Reborn' Preview ...