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The Great Debate: “The Help” vs. “Shame” – Really??!!

by MsWOO
September 18, 2011 4:01 AM
17 Comments
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I've taken a bit of an S&A hiatus over the last few months, only to come back and wonder what the hell's going on? I missed the whole The Help and Shame debacle until it (well, the Shame posts) were brought to my attention recently.

What is it with all these knee-jerk reactions to films we haven't even seen yet? Yes, I've been guilty of that myself from time to time but long, essay-like comments citing everyone else's erroneous opinions (i.e. ones that conflict with yours) and then descending into personal insults and tit for tat name calling in a bid for one-upmanship should never have to be par for the course. In viewing the comments sections on any recent post related to Shame on S&A, my reaction has gone from initial amusement to eventual embarrassment that anyone would go so far to excoriate the cast, crew and supporters of a film they haven't even seen.

Not having seen The Help myself yet nor read the comments on many of the posts relating to that film, I have to say that it’s a film I want to see and no amount of reverse race-baiting finger-pointing will make me feel otherwise. A 1960s small town Mississippi set film about the relationship between black and white women… So the black women are playing maids to the white women. And…? Yeah, we've seen this all too many times before, but give Viola Davis some credit before consigning her to the trash can of failed expectations of holding up the race - a job which is not hers alone to bear, by the way. She's a discerning actress, a talented discerning actress, an intelligent, talented discerning actress, and if she hadn't seen some merit in the role, something she could bring added depth, nuance and dignity to, I hardly think she'd have accepted the part.

Playing a maid doesn't have to be any less dignified than the women who actually had to be maids and still hold their heads up high. They deserve to have stories told about them too, even if it's going to be done by a white woman who still can't grasp that she doesn't have to be the centre of attention and the driving force behind the action. Then again, how many black maids would have succeeded in getting a book about their experiences under the tyranny of white female employers published back then (or would even dare to) without the help of a white person? But, hey, it's not a documentary, it's fiction, a white woman's fiction at that. However, amidst the maelstrom of outrage from black academics, social commentators and web surfers, I'm also reading stories of women who actually went through the indignity of having to hide their feelings and quiet their voices in order to feed their families. Oddly enough, even today, it's not their voices that are being heard the loudest or put at the centre of all the moral indignation, but the voices of people with public profiles to promote and/or who have been afforded better opportunities than the women whose dignity they purport to defend (thanks, in no small part, l would imagine, to some of those same women). Next time I read about someone's great aunt, mother, or grandmother, who was a maid and went to see the film and loved it, I'll remind them how ashamed they should be for not kow-towing to the ideals of the most indignantly vociferous defenders of the race who fight so valiantly on their behalf.

And why is Shame even being mentioned in the same breath as The Help? They're poles apart! Oh, I forgot, Nicole Beharie is in Shame, playing a degrading role as a single-parent black 'ho' to a white man... Or maybe not… But where did this snippet of information come from anyway? As at the time of my writing this, how many people have seen the film? A handful who were at either the Venice or Toronto films festivals. To the best of my knowledge, none of them have come back (not here to S&A nor anywhere else online that I've come across) to say that Beharie’s character is a skank. From what I’ve read, if anyone falls under that description, surely it's Brandon, the lead character played by Michael Fassbender. For those of us who haven't seen the film but have read the script that’s been floating around, there's nothing in there to suggest that she plays a character of particularly low moral integrity, and certainly not one that has the potential to bring down the whole race - human or black! In fact, if the script I read is to be believed, of all Brandon’s sexual encounters (and there aren’t even that many as he spends most of his time on porn and self-gratification), Beharie's character is the only one Brandon wants, and makes the effort, to form an emotional attachment to but fails, due his own issues of emotional and psychological insecurity and inadequacy. Has anyone seen pictures of him on a date with anyone else? No? Hmmm, I wonder why that is. Or maybe that’s just something that only I read into the script due to my sycophantic need to embrace an arty British director whose real intent is to lead me to moral bankruptcy and destroy the image of black women the world over… The film deals with sex addiction. Big deal. So the film shows full frontal nudity and graphic sex. Who here over 16 (the film has received a NC-17 certificate in the US) hasn't seen a naked pee-pee and/or moo-moo (I would use their real names but wouldn’t want to offend); or engaged in sex, even if it was just with yourself?

This isn't church, it's Shadow And Act, a blog site dedicated to cinema of the African diaspora. Life can be uncomfortably raw, it's often miserable, sometimes gritty, and black people often, but not always, get the short end of the stick. Yes, it’s nice to have escapist films that make us feel better and help us bury our heads in the sand about the true, often brutal, vile and seamier, side of human existence but, personally, I think it’s important to also reflect on the true nature of life’s sometimes weird, depraved, unctuous ways, and that’s what good films, and all honest art, should do. Reflect. If we can’t handle that, it says more about us than the films under scrutiny.

Don’t like a film because it portrays a black, overweight teenager who is sexually molested by her father? I’m guessing any teenager in that situation could do with more than your race conscious outrage at a work of fiction. Don’t like black women playing maids in period dramas? I doubt the black women who were maids in real life were overjoyed at their lot in life but, somehow, many of them managed to carve out for themselves lives in which they still found love and dignity and who would - heaven forefend! – even look back on those days with a sense of pride and nostalgia, perhaps for having gotten through it, perhaps for small events that remain vivid in their minds and touch them in ways we’ll never understand; and, no doubt, there will be those who, opportunity permitting, would happily go back and kill the white b!tches who made their lives a living hell, or at least give them a good seeing to. There are lots of films out there, not all of them as good as we might like them to be, and not all portraying themes we find appealing. Some of these films will be lazy and rely on stereotypes and clichéd tropes, others will have high ambitions but fall short in their efforts to portray difficult subjects, but I’d rather they at least try and fail rather than stick to the tried and tested, often black and white (no pun intended) banality that so often passes for entertainment and ends up touching neither mind nor soul in any meaningful way; and it would be great, too, if our discussions and debates about these films were enlightening and mind expanding rather than spiteful and headache inducing.

We all know black people are generally under- and often poorly-represented in films and so we tend to want to look at every role under a microscope, even before we have the specimen. But since when did slurs and mud-slinging (directed at each other and the films' director, cast and crew) take the place of constructive criticism or critical analysis? I mean, who wouldn't love to see Beharie and Davis in meatier and leading roles?! But, hey, given their training, intelligence and obvious talent, I like to at least see what they bring to a role, regardless of what that role is. But if the notion of what they might portray offends my sensibilities too much or doesn’t pique my interest, I’ll just refrain from seeing it, as well as try and refrain from bashing anyone else who wants to spend their time and/or money on it.

I wasn't keen on Steve McQueen as a choice for directing Focus Features’ yet to be made Fela film project and even did a blog post in which I aired my reservation, even after seeing Hunger (which I found riveting), but that doesn't mean I'm not eager to see how that project, and this current one, Shame, pans out. The Help hasn’t come out yet in the UK but I’ve read the book (and yes – shock, horror! – race traitor that I am, I liked it) and plan to see the film when it hits these shores. People I know, love and respect have no intention of seeing the film but that won’t stop me from seeing it any more than I can force them to see the film for themselves. If they choose to take umbrage at my decision, again, it says more about them than about the film. Each to their own – I know we’ll agree about some other thing some other time.

We're all adults here. We're all interested in film. We're all interested in film by, for, about, or involving, black people. Let's not accuse directors and actors of denigrating the black race even as we open ourselves to public ridicule and spew forth ill-informed judgement and prejudiced speculation. We don't all have to like the same films, we don't even have to like each other, but please, let's at least respect ourselves, and each other’s opinions, enough to agree to disagree from time to time. Most of all though, let’s not make those silly “either/or” judgement calls when it comes to things pertaining to black people and culture. You can give your reasons for liking one, the other, both, neither, or even a multiple of options without having to stamp anyone else’s choice(s) into the ground or call their character into question. Having favourites is cute but, from my personal observation, without due consideration, it can also lead to a closed mind and lack of growth and objectivity. If you must have favourites though, at least try actually giving other options a look for yourself first so you can make an informed decision. We all have opinions, and many of us like to share them, but how about we all try to share them in ways that don’t involve personal put-downs and puerile insults? Both you and your opponents deserve better – we all do.

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17 Comments

  • CareyCarey | September 18, 2011 11:21 AMReply

    JMac, as usual you're comment is a welcomed reprieve/relief from the standard ambiguous affair. For sure there are double standards.

    Having said that, the overwhelming majority of posts receive 3 or less commits, many many receive none. Which are the most relevant? So huuuummm the hands of justice ....

  • JMac | September 18, 2011 10:36 AMReply

    So basically opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one. Check. I'm not quite sure why The Help and Shame posts are being touted as examples of what's wrong with debate and comments on this site. I haven't been here since the beginning but let's not pretend the issue of "accus[ing] directors and actors of denigrating the black race" has not been a constant theme in many if not most posts here.

    There's never been any pushback when people kept calling Tyler Perry a coon - I REALLY dislike that word and feel no one should be called that but hey, not my blog and it's a free country. Nobody stood up for Byron Allen when people called him a sell out who hates black women therefore why give a damn if he's working on new projects. Not many complaints about how rapper turned actors are ruining cinema for real black actors and are insults to the black acting profession. Nor any warnings given on opinions regarding how British blacks starring in American film and tv shows will just screw up everything because they have no idea what it means to be black in America and thus would never be able to represent us as well as a black actor born and raised in the USA.

    If anything I find it a bit funny people are getting their panties in a bunch now that criticisms are being lodged against actors/directors they respect and like. I won't go as far as to say this is an elitist vs. plebeian feud but there are several double standards going on around here. Want to set ground rules on behavior for any future posts, go ahead. But be consistent. Don't play favorites with topics. And don't let people who write the posts engage in the "eventual embarrassment" either.

    Personally, I think criticism concerning either movie partially hinges on the idea of living in a post-racial society. Most agree that we aren't there yet but then we also want to go out and do whatever the hell we want with absolutely no limits and without suffering any "burden of representation" with our projects. So black artists do what they want (and some of us are proud they're out there hustling, often getting paid hand over fist for doing terrible shit) but we get mad if some black French person condenses black America down to a Lil Wayne video. I didn't like that either but then I'm in the burden of rep camp.

    Every film made by or featuring POC will receive scrutiny on whether it or not it fits our version of good black cinema. If it doesn't according to some individual(s), good luck with trying to keep the conversations from sliding into sell-out, coon, whore, mammie, house nigga, etc... territory.

  • CareyCarey | September 18, 2011 10:30 AMReply

    "But feel free to give us your full count. Although, you’d just be missing the point entirely"

    Nope, no full count needed. subtle is cool but blunt is better. I got you point the first time but it implied only a few had commented on the posts, so I had a need to clear that up. I mean, even if I was the "epicenter" many replied, not only to me.

    Now that takes me back to MsWoo's post. If she would have simply given her opinion without the opening paragraph that I quoted, we probably would not be having this discussion. Her tone in that paragraph suggested that those who did participate in the Help and Shame posts (regardless of the number or the lengh of their comments) they had done someone wrong. My point being that their opinions are just a valid as hers.

  • tambay | September 18, 2011 9:55 AMReply

    @ Carey - I tried to be subtle, but I'll just be blunt this time.

    I'm fairly certain that Wendy (as I am) is speaking primarily to the those few folks who have dominated these SHAME vs THE HELP debates. And yes, that number is minuscule, compared to the number of what I call "passersby," compared to the number of folks who actually read this site and never comment!

    As I'm sure you'll agree, there's been a core back-and-forth debate between both films in the last maybe 2 weeks that has involved a very specific small group of folks, which, for all intents and purposes, you, my friend, have been the epicenter of.

    Your 1st comment on this thread suggested that a whoooole bunch of people have been involved in the back-and-forth SHAME v HELP debates, which is nonsense.

    Definitely not hundreds. Definitely not even several dozen people.

    So, no I'm not counting every single darn comment on every single darn post on THE HELP and SHAME going back the 12 months since we started writing about both films. That's useless and not of any value to the point being made. And even if I did, I still doubt the number of unique commenters on both posts is anywhere near 300.

    But feel free to give us your full count. Although, you'd just be missing the point entirely.

  • CareyCarey | September 18, 2011 9:23 AMReply

    Now Tambay, we're gonna take a little walk down this dusty road to talk about this number thang. Now you have to know I did my homework before mentioning those numbers. So, although I am not a betting man, are you prepared to stand by your words that there has not been over 3 dozen (I'll even give you SIX DoZEN) different people who have commented on all the combined Shame & Help posts? Granted, some my not have written long responses but they did chime in with a jab a poke or drive by to keep the fires stoked. Don't do it Tambay, don't make that claim, I've counted them. Hell, over 20 of those individual have posted today.

    To say that a significant percentage of those comments are really coming from maybe 5 people, is woefully incorrect. I can name 15 as fast as I can name the first presidents of the United States, and I can name them all from the start to the present.

  • Orville | September 18, 2011 9:02 AMReply

    I don't see the big deal about Shame so what if it is about a white guy with a sexual addiction? Yeah, the Black British director is getting some buzz. But the movie is still about white people NOT black folks. I am not saying a black director has to director has to direct movies about black people. However, I am suggesting that I don't think this movie Shame would receive so much acclaim if the protagonist and the majority of the cast was black and not white.

  • tambay | September 18, 2011 8:33 AMReply

    Somebody call my name? :)

    @Carey - not to spoil this party, but... these figures that you're throwing out with regards to how many people have commented on the SHAME vs THE HELP posts aren't even close to actual numbers. You'll be lucky if more than 2 dozen folks have commented on these posts; I'll even give you 3 dozen, but not more than that. So, "300 or more people," is fiction. And, if you look closer at the numbers - the maybe 200 or so comments combined, from those 3 dozen max commenters - you'll notice that a significant percentage (not all) of those comments are really coming from maybe 5 people, which includes you of course. And an even closer look will show that of those 5 people, comments from Carey make up a good chunk; and if we were counting words, by far comments from Carey take the cake.

    So, really, the point is, I simply can't let you get away that. This hasn't been some wide-reaching debate involving hundreds of people as you are implying; the vast majority (myself included) have stayed away, opting to actually see the film first, leaving the pugilism to that handful of folks who seem to revel in it.

    Not that there's anything wrong with you commenting as frequently and as verbosely as you do; that's been your M.O. since day one, and it hasn't been challenged. So I have no problems there. What was bothersome was what you suggested in your first comment in response to this post, which was disingenuous.

    Carry on :)

  • CareyCarey | September 18, 2011 8:21 AMReply

    YEAH YEAH YEAH. yadah yadah yadah, let the choir say AMEN! No MsWoo, I may have voiced my opinion in my usual “incendiary ” fashion and I‘m sorry for that b/c you know I respect you to the 10th degree, so the following is more directly related to what I wanted to express.

    Here’s what I am suggesting to the “younger” crowd; filmmakers included. There is not a single voice that has all the right answers. Consequently, when a person has lived a little, listened to the many voices of others, fallen down and got back up and fallen down again, while listening to all the rhetoric of the pompous peacocks, theorists, naysayers, the in crowd, the it crowd and those who proclaim their way is the right way, they will eventually discover that everyone has an agenda that is largely fueled by emotions, personal advancement and their own moral beliefs and character.

    After living a few years a mature person will find out that most of the proposed “solutions” and “right” ways - to travel this road called life - are largely theories and/or just plain empty talk. A person who’s just beginning on their journey are naturally impressed by those in authoritarian positions or those who appear to know what they are talking about, but as time goes by, they will learn that the championed proposed solutions may have been nothing more than empty suggestions, and porous opinions which were used to move persoanl agendas. We learn wisdom by going through our trials and tribulation, not by depending solely upon the opinions of others.

    To that I say - again speaking to the younger crowd - whenever listening to disagreement between two differing “camps/mindsets” give your keenest eyes & ears to the voices that are not agreeing with the most popular opinions. Because in the popular crowd - frequently the loudest crowd - their emotions and fears ( some unconcious-hidden-surpressed) will not allow them to voice an opinion that might rock the boat or find them out of favor. However, the smaller-pointed-dissenting opinions are the ones that see something wrong with the proposed solutions and thus they might see a link in the chain that could make the whole issue/solution/program come crashing down. Those eyes should get the most attention.

    In short, in my black man’s neighborhood vernacular... Watch whose ass your biting on or hanging on because the life you save may be your own. When a person advises or suggests a solution, asked them what fruits they’ve received from their own suggestions. Seek first to understand. Ask them if they’ve gone down that road and what they came back with. Tell them to show you their errs and fruits of their ways, not talk about it!

    I leave with my favorite quote:

    “Many people fear nothing more terrible than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody” -- Rev Martin Luther King,Jr. ...............................careydarnell@yahoo.com

  • MsWOO | September 18, 2011 7:14 AMReply

    @ Carey

    Wait... I can't write a post on this blog airing my views and suggesting a level of decorum and responsible criticism that advocates respect for the opinions of others but you can sustain an argument over several posts that does't actually advance your argument...?

    I'M the in the one in the wrong place? I think not. There's nothing wrong with visitors hanging out on the stoop, but getting so comfortable you have to tell the tenants to go elsewhere for telling you to keep it clean and turn the volume down takes the biscuit!

  • MsWOO | September 18, 2011 6:54 AMReply

    @AccidentalVisitor

    Point taken about "Precious" but, as I noted in the post:

    "We all know black people are generally under- and often poorly-represented in films and so we tend to want to look at every role under a microscope..."

    How many black films must there be before a black filmmaker feels free to just make a film about what they want to make a film about?

    Does this mean we must advocate a parochial view that black films can only be positive rather than exploratory? Doesn't this stunt black creativity somewhat?

    I want to see more people like me on the screen doing things that are interesting, gritty, innovative, out of the ordinary, weird, mundane even... but I don't want to have to wait until there are thousands of positive images of black people up on screen before I get to see these other films. I'd love to be able to spend more money on films by black filmmakers telling intriguing stories than I currently spend on white filmmakers telling intriguing stories but a spate of positive black films isn't necessarily going to make that happen.

    And like I said later on in the post: "...let’s not make those silly “either/or” judgement calls when it comes to things pertaining to black people and culture." We do ourselves a disservice by suggesting that until several films of a certain kind have been made, we shouldn't have films of any other kind.

    The point is, and I think we're pretty much saying the same thing, we need choices. Thing is, those choices might not come in the order we'd like or expect to see them in.

    I became a Spike Lee fan not because I think he's a great filmmaker but because he gave me something new to look at in relation to black people in film at the time. Can most/any of his films be considered positive and uplifiting? Not really. Different, challenging, gritty, unconventional? More so. I've not seen "Miracle In St Anna," the one where he made a concerted effort to make a positive impact on the part played by African Americans in WWII, but it didn't come off too well, from what I hear.

    Who knows, maybe a spate of black sociopath films perpetuating negative images of black life and culture will spur others to make more uplifting films. But if black artists feel more inclined to make films that speak to them about the nature of life's mysteries rather than fulfill an obligation to their race (as Curtis, for instance has suggested in with his work), I'd like to think we won't want to make them, or their supporters, feel guilty about it.

  • Orville | September 18, 2011 6:42 AMReply

    I don't see the big deal about Shame. Yes, a black British director is getting major press BUT the STAR of the movie Michael Fassbender is a white German. So basically a black director has to make movies about white people in order to get acclaim in Hollywood. I wonder if Shame's leading man was a black man that was a sex addict would it receive the same universal adoration? Somehow I doubt it. Now as for Nicole Beharie her role is Shame is extremely small. I guess because Beharie is known to the editors of this blog why they are hyping her perfomance. I have read numerous reviews of Shame and Beharie is NOT getting much attention.

  • CareyCarey | September 18, 2011 6:28 AMReply

    I thought long and hard before I decided to reply to this post. I checked my motives and emotions to see what I was feeling while reading this. But first, the posts in question has inspired several hundred comments from - I can safely assume - over two hundred different people. The Shame posts alone has seen over 75 different individuals leaving comments of verifying lengths and multiple positions. Obviously everyone wasn’t agreeing, but isn’t that to be expected in the comment sections of any blog.? I mean, when one of the first post hit - concerning Shame - the blog’s host, Tambay, was right in the middle of the heated discussion. And often times Sergio’s posts are setups for such exchanges.

    But now, the emotions I was feeling while reading this post was dismay and a slight “wth” because I felt as if 300 or more people who have participated in the threads in question were being chided by an overly imperialist mother, who was embarrassed by her rowdy kids in the basement of her blog. I mean, to even imply that there’s a set standard or neatly packaged way that discussions should ebb and flow is beyond comprehension.

    Listen, any blog worth talking about, there is going to be disagreements, side issues, fights, farts, personal debates, cussing, and issues way off topic.... if a person can’t deal with that or understand that, they are in the wrong place. You can’t control human’s emotions or reactions, or expect them to abide by your standards of verbal exchange. It’s simply not reasonable to believe that’s possible or should even take place.

    Listen, the opening to this post is (in my opinion) a condescending-back door-back-handed pimp slap... “children, how dare you rowdy American Negros embarrass me like that”

    “What is it with all these knee-jerk reactions to films we haven’t even seen yet? Yes, I’ve been guilty of that myself from time to time (I have black friends) but long, essay-like comments citing everyone else’s erroneous opinions (i.e. ones that conflict with yours) and then descending into personal insults and tit for tat name calling in a bid for one-upmanship should never have to be par for the course. In viewing the comments sections on any recent post related to Shame on S&A, my reaction has gone from initial amusement to eventual embarrassment that anyone would go so far to excoriate the cast, crew and supporters of a film they haven’t even seen” ~~ MsWoo

    Yes, I agree, the post was well said, but it read as if the author was chiding one hundred or more people who didn’t or does not agree with her positions on The Help and Shame, and how individuals should/can respond/react/ and voices their opinions in comment sections of blogs.

  • Vanessa Martinez | September 18, 2011 6:19 AMReply

    "In viewing the comments sections on any recent post related to Shame on S&A, my reaction has gone from initial amusement to eventual embarrassment that anyone would go so far to excoriate the cast, crew and supporters of a film they haven’t even seen."

    "Embarrassment" YES. EXACTLY.

  • Batare | September 18, 2011 6:12 AMReply

    Thank you so much, MsWOO. I was confused by the whole debate myself.

  • AccidentalVisitor | September 18, 2011 6:03 AMReply

    {{{ ! In fact, if the script I read is to be believed, of all Brandon’s sexual encounters (and there aren’t even that many as he spends most of his time on porn and self-gratification), Beharie’s character is the only one Brandon wants, and makes the effort, to form an emotional attachment to but fails, due his own issues of emotional and psychological insecurity and inadequacy. Has anyone seen pictures of him on a date with anyone else? No? Hmmm, I wonder why that is. }}}

    This is an excellent point that I’m surprised so many people on S & A keep overlooking. Beharie’s character may be the lone female in the film (outside of possibly his sister) that Brandon doesn’t treat solely as a sex object/whore. The females he screw at the drop of a hat are white. Frankly if a white or black director made a film in which a black male protagonist was treating black women like meat but only became opened to the idea of having a real relationship with a woman when pursuing the lone white female character of the story, black people (particularly black women) would be having a fit. Articles and columns galore would pop up deploring the presentation of black female companions as sex playthings all the while making the white female out to be a desired prize worthy of a more romantic approach. If the problem some on this site have is that it is another example of a one-sided presentation of interracial relationships between whites and blacks on the screen (in other words white men-black women being easily represented more) then they should come out and just say it (I myself have objected to such one-sidedness at times). But if they are hiding those feelings behind some accusation that Beharie’s character is being singled out and disrespected as a black woman, then maybe they should see the movie first (or read the script) before jumping to such conclusions.

    {{{ Don’t like a film because it portrays a black, overweight teenager who is sexually molested by her father? I’m guessing any teenager in that situation could do with more than your race conscious outrage at a work of fiction. }}}

    Ah, the problem with this argument is that there is a limited number of portrayals of black people on the big screen and that particular year the most prominent one happened to be “Precious” which did not paint a flattering picture at all about the black community. Its kinda like the debate that breaks out when the lone black character of a TV series dies and someone bemoans the choice of killing off the only black person. In response a few folks feel compelled to remind that someone that one or two white characters were killed off as well. But what these folks fail to register is that even when one or two white characters are eliminated there are still ten or more white characters left on the show; but when the lone black character dies there isn’t anyone else to fill that particular void.

    Many black folks bemoaned Precious because it was one of the very few so-called black films of the year and arguably the lone serious one that could be taken into consideration for the awards season. As a result whether it was fair or not it stood as a representation of the black community. An individual film about white people never is saddled with the burden of representing the white community because virtually all Hollywood films could be classified as “white films”.

    So if one came along that was as negative and raw in its portrayal of the white community it would be not as big a deal because there would be PLENTY of other movies with white protagonists to more than counterbalance it. In fact I don’t know if Hollywood makes such films in which the vast majority of the white characters are presented as disgusting, sick, savage perverts in the first place.

    To take it a step further as a black male I was disgusted that during that year the only major motion picture that had a black man having any sexual contact with a female at all happened to be in “Precious” in which a black father molested his daughter. When I brought this up to a co-worker (who was black) she remarked that black men do abuse black women like that. No kidding. Every race of men is guilty of abusing females in that fashion. But why should the representation of black men on the screen be so far more limited than their white counterparts? Give me a measly ten films per year in which a black male is “allowed” to have a love scene/kissing scene with a woman and I’ll be more inclined to overlook certain depictions such as those in “Precious.”

  • Curtis | September 18, 2011 4:55 AMReply

    Very well said indeed. Though I'm not fan of The Help (which I'm not about to go into) it really makes no sense that it's being compared to Shame. Especially since most of us haven't even seen the latter yet.

    What really rings true is your mention that, "I think it’s important to also reflect on the true nature of life’s sometimes weird, depraved, unctuous ways, and that’s what good films, and all honest art, should do. Reflect. If we can’t handle that, it says more about us than the films under scrutiny." I'm actually choosing to focus on those aspects of 'our' society with my work even though I sometimes fear it will be met with super scrutiny. But as an artist, you have to tell the stories that only YOU can tell.

    Serious as all that is, I can't help put LOL at "moo-moo"!

  • nyc/caribbeanragazza | September 18, 2011 4:20 AMReply

    Well said!

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