Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Misty Copeland Series 'I Will What I Want' Directed by Sheldon Candis ('Luv') Watch: Misty Copeland Series 'I Will What I Want' Directed by Sheldon Candis ('Luv') OWN Will Explore One of America's Most Exclusive & Historically Significant African American Beach Communities in 'Sag Harbor' OWN Will Explore One of America's Most Exclusive & Historically Significant African American Beach Communities in 'Sag Harbor' Teaser for 'Jurassic World' (4th Movie in Mega Franchise) Surfaces Teaser for 'Jurassic World' (4th Movie in Mega Franchise) Surfaces Watch Trailer For Controversial Artist Kara Walker’s Film ‘An Audience’ Watch Trailer For Controversial Artist Kara Walker’s Film ‘An Audience’ Interview: Head Writer Robin Thede on How 'The Nightly Show w/Larry Wilmore' Provides What Late Night TV is Missing Interview: Head Writer Robin Thede on How 'The Nightly Show w/Larry Wilmore' Provides What Late Night TV is Missing Watch Trailer for 'Storms of Carnage: The Black Panther Unleashed Part 2' (A Fan-Made Film) Watch Trailer for 'Storms of Carnage: The Black Panther Unleashed Part 2' (A Fan-Made Film) Rumorville - This Actor Just May Be in Contention to Play Apocalypse in 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Rumorville - This Actor Just May Be in Contention to Play Apocalypse in 'X-Men: Apocalypse' 'The Queen Latifah Show' Has Been Canceled After 2 Seasons 'The Queen Latifah Show' Has Been Canceled After 2 Seasons Watch Uncomfortable Interview Bill Cosby Gave to AP on Rape Allegations Watch Uncomfortable Interview Bill Cosby Gave to AP on Rape Allegations  Toni Morrison Breaks Down Race as a Social Construct to Stephen Colbert Toni Morrison Breaks Down Race as a Social Construct to Stephen Colbert Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne Will Celebrate August Wilson in PBS Special Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne Will Celebrate August Wilson in PBS Special Review: 'Seasons of Love' Might Be Yet Another Train Wreck of a Ratings Bonanza for Lifetime Review: 'Seasons of Love' Might Be Yet Another Train Wreck of a Ratings Bonanza for Lifetime White People Don't Get It Because They Never Had to White People Don't Get It Because They Never Had to Taraji P. Henson Executive Produces Indie ‘Seasons of Love’ (Appears Alongside Gladys Knight, LeToya Luckett) Taraji P. Henson Executive Produces Indie ‘Seasons of Love’ (Appears Alongside Gladys Knight, LeToya Luckett) Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Vices Versus Virtues - Representations Of Iconic Black Figures On Screen (Survey)

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act October 17, 2011 at 4:48AM

Watched The Black Power Mixtape again recently which led me to further research on Stokely Carmichael, aka Kwame Ture (he's featured heavily enough in the movie)...
10

Watched The Black Power Mixtape again recently which led me to further research on Stokely Carmichael, aka Kwame Ture (he's featured heavily enough in the movie)...

He passed away in 1998, but I'm not certain that he actually saw Spike Lee's Malcolm X, which was released in 1992. At least, after a Google search, I couldn't immediately find any sources to confirm or negate that.

What I did find were the following comments he made in 1993 during an interview with Paris-based African-centered weekly Jeune Afrique: "Spike Lee is incapable of making a film about Malcolm X," calling Spike a "petite bourgeois who took the choice of selling his people for a fist full of dollars."

Needless to say... Ouch!?

I couldn't date the below interview, so I'm not 100% certain that his comments in the early half of it are targeted specifically at Spike's movie, or just a general commentary.

But what I really wanted to draw your attention to are his theories on depicting vices versus virtues in filmic representations of real-life people (like Malcolm X). I focus on that especially because it fits quite nicely into conversations we've had on this site about films on Civil Rights luminaries like the aforementioned Malcolm X, as well as Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you recall, one of the reasons for the holdup in the production of 2 high-profile MLK film projects (one by Lee Daniels and one by Paul Greengrass - both which would reportedly emphasize MLK's vices, and not just revel in hagiography) was Andrew Young's objections - the civil rights activist, member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) during the 60s Civil Rights Movement, a supporter and good friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., who played a key role in the events in Birmingham, Alabama, was a strategist and negotiator that influenced the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. And also, he was with MLK in Memphis, Tennessee, when he was assassinated in 1968.

Young reportedly objected to scripts which included scenes of marital infidelity during MLK's final days, among other "vices."

Some might express concern for the play currently on Broadway (The Mountaintop, with Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett starring) that "humanizes" MLK, as the plays stars have said in interviews they've done marketing the production.

The same thing could be said for holdups in developments of maybe 1 of the Marvin Gaye projects that have been in the works for awhile; specifically, Janis Gaye, the late singer's second and last wife, who objected to British director Julien Temple's project which she reportedly said would "focus on his drug abuse, on other negative aspects of his life."

Kwame Ture suggests in the video below that Hollywood peddles vice as entertainment, and he obviously has a problem with that.

Obviously, there are those of us who prefer that films/projects like the above, about these iconic figures of history should essentially canonize them, or at least, as Kwame Ture notes, focus on their virtues and not their vices. And there are those who feel that a warts and all depiction "humanizes" them, making their achievements more accessible to those of us who hold them in such high regard.

I think this also ties in very nicely with our ongoing discussions about the "burden of representation" some expect black public figures to carry and others don't; or more specifically, the battle between "positive" and "negative" portrayals of black people on screen.

Watch the video, think about all I've said, and let the conversations continue... whether about Ture's observations about Spike Lee and his Malcolm X movie, or the virtue versus vices debate.

This article is related to: Things That Make You Go Hmm...


Shadow & ActNewsletter