Why Today's Movies Suck, Part 4: When Spike Lee Met Madea

This sorta thing is getting kinda boring, don't you think?
This sorta thing is getting kinda boring, don't you think? | Source

We've already touched upon CGI and 3D, now it's time to tackle the next biggest issue in today's movie market: Black movies.

Much like the rest of Hollywood, black cinema has also experienced the side-effects of today's horrible decision-making when it comes to putting out what should be a quality product.

Gone are the good old days of innovators like John Singleton and Spike Lee. Now comes the era of cross-dressing comedians, racist stereotypes, and cookie cutter messages.

New Crap City

It may be an argued point that is ages old, but it's the honest to God truth... the old stuff is better than most of the new stuff. The same argument applies when it comes to today's black films. Now I'm not saying the old school days never had their own share of stupid black comedies, but it seems like that's all we get nowadays in the 21st century.

Where is our "Boyz 'N The Hood"? Where is our "Malcolm X"? Where is our "The Color Purple"? Where is our "Boomerang"?

All we get nowadays are 'Madea' flicks, sequels to "Big Momma's House", 'Barbershop'-esque comedies, generic Denzel Washington action flicks, racist and gross-out Eddie Murphy comedies, generic family-friendly Tyler Perry films, lackluster Ice Cube comedies, and so on.

Granted, we have had our share of worthwhile black films after the millennium hit such as "American Violet", "American Gangster", "Antoine Fisher", "Training Day", "Precious", "Romeo Must Die", "Bringing Down The House", "Radio", "Hitch", and "The Pursuit of Happyness" to name a few, but all we mostly get is what I mentioned above.

Everybody say cheese!
Everybody say cheese! | Source

Movie Poster vs. Family Picture

In case you haven't noticed, "Barbershop" has shaped the look of film posters for recent black movies within the past decade or so.

The concept? A standardized backdrop with all of the cast members posing in front of it. What a great way to advertise everybody who is in it -- From the famous professional black actors gone to waste, the rappers and singers, right down to the comedians.

As a result, instead of a thoughtful ("Boyz 'N The Hood") or really cool-looking movie poster ("New Jack City"), we have a one note family picture. Now, almost every black film has adopted this horrible cliche... From the 'Madea' movies to "Lottery Ticket" to just about anything with Ice Cube's name on it.

The Token White Guy

I guess racism will never end, no matter how many years or new millenniums past, no matter how black presidents we have... Racism will prevail... even in Hollywood.

Today's mainstream black filmmakers have turned the token black guy into the token white guy. Now, don't get me wrong, I was never a supporter of the token black guy idea to begin with. I usually like to approach things from an equally diverse angle as much as possible. However, in this case, do two wrongs really make a right?

Now, they aren't intentionally racist in these newer flicks, but they kind of softly hint at it. Think of it as PG-13 racism. The token white guy in today's mainstream black cinema is usually a good friend of one of the main black characters but only by association, never is he given any promotion or recognition, he is simply cool by association and that's it. He is also flawed and clumsy or which ever way the filmmakers can find to make the token white guy look dumb or stupid compared to the black main characters.

One of my favorite examples is in "Like Mike 2". There's a token white guy nicknamed Miracle Whip (Really? Wow, we're off to a bad start with this film already), he is the only white guy on the basketball team but none of them really pay him too much mind or involve him in any of their extra-curricular activities, he is neither offensive or non-offensive to them, he is simply cool by association. He is also clumsy, says stupid things at times, and has a problem macking it to the ladies. Gee, what a way to downplay the white guy for the sake of your personal feelings.

The token white guy is never really important or do anything significant in these films, unlike the white lawyer in "American Violet" for instance.

So, as a result, black youngsters who go to see these movies will have these images and concepts ingrained on their minds and think the same way about people of that particular color in real life.

If racism is to ever end, one great place to start is in Hollywood. After all, a great deal of these black films as well as rap music videos happen to be directed by white people (Francis Lawrence and Diane Martel anyone?), so maybe it's time to start showing some respect...?

Dollar Store Characters

There must be a screenplay library somewhere that is filled with these one dimensional character templates. They're used for almost every black film nowadays. Whether you're watching "Madea's Family Reunion" or "Norbit" or "Lottery Ticket", you'll always find all or a combination of the following characters:

  • The likable protagonist who has everything going for him.
  • The sophisticated love interest who is usually not too ghetto nor too artsy-fartsy, but right in-between.
  • The video girl-esque slut who is trying to get with either the protagonist or every character in the film.
  • The annoying pimp who is usually played by a rapper or a comedian.
  • The loud and nosy, over the top, ghetto neighbor who won't shut the heck up.
  • The villain who is usually a street thug or a gangster who is also ghetto and over the top.
  • And, of course, the token white guy who might as well not even exist in this movie...

I'll stop at those, because if I go on to name the rest, it'll just make me sick to my stomach.

Auto-tune Acting

It seems as if the only sole reason for these horrible black films that have been spoon-fed to us lately are to supplement the acting careers of established black rappers and singers. It's as if that's the only place they can find work. If it's not a Tyler Perry flick or an Ice Cube comedy, it's usually a remake of an older film or video game adaptation.

This is not to say that all rappers can't act, but most of them just can't. I highly doubt Ashanti, Rihanna, or Ludacris could ever stand toe-to-toe, performance-wise, up next to somebody like Tupac Shakur.

So instead of looking for a young black professional actor fresh out of film school, somebody who actually studied the craft, they just go for some no-talent idiot who already has an established fan-base of retards.

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Comments 4 comments

randy360 profile image

randy360 4 years ago from Greeley, Co.

Agreed, how many Tyler Perry movies need to be released intill people finally realize he's a cinematic thief, the fat woman suite, the crazy in laws, his work isn't that funny to me, I've already seen it so where's something new. The whole token white guy reminds me of that movie soul plane, the token white guy was played by Tom Arnold, the movie wasn't that funny and the ending was horrible, who ends a movie with everybody dancing? Now don't get me wrong, but a lot of movies now a days seem to be going down hill, I just feel Tyler Perry is an over payed idiot who exploits black sterotypes because he can get away with it when there's not a lot of black directors, producers, and so on. What happened to the movies you mentioned, why is it that now we're left with as long as it sells and we get a pay check it'll be good. No heart warming stories, no heroes, no pure drama, just over payed people making crappy films because if its the only thing out there people will be forced to watch it.


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

Today's movies suck because they are a reflection of society. That is why they sell.


destinycampbell 4 years ago

White directors continue to produce their fair share of sucky and cliched films. Every stereotype you mentioned from the happy go lucky protagonist, video 'slut' girl, player, and token white guy can be found in most white comedies ( dorky but lovable 'jewish' comedic protagonist, slutty ditzy blonde, douchbag frat boy best friend, and token black, latino, or Asian friend). Unlike white films, VERY FEW black casted films make it to the big screen and the ones that do are usually rom coms and low brow comedies because they are easier to rely on for a quick buck than dramas. This is true of films with predominantly white casts. There are more 'fluff' films put out than serious ones b/c they do better at the box office. However, since white films are given top priority the more dramatic ones get a better chance to shine than dramatic films directed and casted by people of other races. Its simply a numbers game. As far as this token white dude thing, its funny how when the shoe is on the other foot, people want to start complaining. Ever since cinema was created in the US blacks have been depicted as slaves, savages, violent, ugly stupid, helpless or simply invisible in films, always dependent on white people to be their hero and turn their situation around. Its seems as though this writer is more upset that whites are not given a more prominent position or shown the 'respect' they supposidely deserve in black films. How ignorant, condescending, and self absorbed to think that black directors/screenwriters should bend over backwards to create meaty and prominent roles for white actors in films that are particularly ABOUT the lives of african americans when white directors/screen writers RARELY ever extend that same courtesy to black actors! Besides I liked some of Tyler Perrys films and others listed. Every movie made doesn't need to be a cenematic masterpiece. 21 Jump Street, Transformers, Knocked Up, Super Bad, Borak, Jack Ass, Pirahna, American Pie , most horror movies and MANY MANY other very lucrative white directed/casted films weren't so why should black directors/actors be held to a different standard and have their movies panned and degraded when they are following the same lucrative comedy fluff model as everyone else?


SPomposello profile image

SPomposello 4 years ago from NY Author

To Destiny Campbell:

W-O-W… Talk about misreading what I wrote. Ok, here we go…

"White directors continue to produce their fair share of sucky and cliched films. Every stereotype you mentioned from the happy go lucky protagonist, video 'slut' girl, player, and token white guy can be found in most white comedies ( dorky but lovable 'jewish' comedic protagonist, slutty ditzy blonde, douchbag frat boy best friend, and token black, latino, or Asian friend). Unlike white films, VERY FEW black casted films make it to the big screen and the ones that do are usually rom coms and low brow comedies because they are easier to rely on for a quick buck than dramas. This is true of films with predominantly white casts. There are more 'fluff' films put out than serious ones b/c they do better at the box office. However, since white films are given top priority the more dramatic ones get a better chance to shine than dramatic films directed and casted by people of other races. Its simply a numbers game."

Ok, have you read any of my movie reviews at all? Because I have reviewed and ripped PLENTY of "white" movies to shreds as well as black ones. All the movies I review are particularly bad movies. So if you're thinking this is a race thing, you're wrong. I'm very well aware of similar stereotypes in white movies, but in ***THIS*** article I'm talking about black movies. WHY? Because there used to be some worthwhile ones about 15-20 years ago. Hence the title When "Spike Lee" Met "Madea". Past vs. Present. Get it?

"As far as this token white dude thing, its funny how when the shoe is on the other foot, people want to start complaining."

So people weren't complaining about the token black guy? Is that what you're implying? My point is the ENTIRE token crap should be put to rest. Many idiots jumped on the token black guy bandwagon, reusing him over and over again. I don't care if the token white guy is being reused now for revenge purposes or whatever, two wrongs don't make a right and both of them should stop.

This is 2012, right? Why must this go on when we have a MIXED (yes, mixed and not JUST black, get over it) PRESIDENT in office?

"Ever since cinema was created in the US blacks have been depicted as slaves, savages, violent, ugly stupid, helpless or simply invisible in films, always dependent on white people to be their hero and turn their situation around. Its seems as though this writer is more upset that whites are not given a more prominent position or shown the 'respect' they supposidely deserve in black films."

I'm guessing you must not watch a lot of movies? It's okay, allow me to put your false learning of cinema history to the test. Once upon a time in 1968, there was a little independent movie called "Night of the Living Dead" and the hero… yes the HERO… was a BLACK guy. And the director… was WHITE. Ben (the black character) made it to the very end of the film. While his character died an accidental death, he was the only person who was smart enough to stay alive while the 6 other people (all white) died at the hands of zombies. Token black guy? Not even close.

Fast forward 10 years later to 1978. George Romero (the white director) returned with the sequel "Dawn of the Dead", again featuring black character named Peter as the hero alongside a cast of 3 other white characters. This movie depicted him as the most awesome and badass black character depicted in any horror movie. He had leadership skills, he was calm, cool, collective. And guess what? HE SURVIVED THE MOVIE!

And those are just two films featuring black guys as prominent leading characters. Excuse me, two VERY GOOD films. So are you sure you want to stand by your quote and tell me that blacks have ALWAYS bend depicted the way you mentioned in cinema?

"Every movie made doesn't need to be a cenematic masterpiece."

Why does it have to be a masterpiece? Why can't it just be "good", "great", or "decent" at the very least? Now, what I'm about to say applies to all movies, but since we're talking about black movies… There is a very fine line between "Coming to America" and "Norbit" in terms of 'quality'.

"21 Jump Street, Transformers, Knocked Up, Super Bad, Borak, Jack Ass, Pirahna, American Pie"

May I ask how old you are? Those movies are a tad too recent which gives me the impression that you haven't seen a lot of movies from the 20th century. Sorry, again, I'm just basing this on that selection of movies. And by the way, I wouldn't even label any of those movies "decent"… with the exception of "American Pie" because that film is a staple of the teen movie genre (which has both good films and bad films, but this is actually one of the better ones), it's a teen classic of the 90s just as "The Breakfast Club" was a teen classic of the 80s.

"most horror movies and MANY MANY other very lucrative white directed/casted films weren't so why should black directors/actors be held to a different standard and have their movies panned and degraded when they are following the same lucrative comedy fluff model as everyone else?"

Why? Oh gee I don't know.. probably because Hollywood used to be interested in making GOOD black movies way back? Gee, maybe because Tyler Perry and friends have a lot to live up to when it comes to the likes of:

New Jack City

House Party

Coming to America

Boomerang

Beverly Hills Cop

King of New York

Glory

Do The Right Thing

Don't Be A Menace

Waiting to Exhale

Menace II Society

The Color Purple

Boyz 'N' The Hood

The People Under The Stairs

…. Just to name a few? Those movies feature casts that are predominantly black or/and or black leading characters.

Because that's what's going on here in this article. Those well-written black films are going up against the likes of Madea and co. You should rent a few of those movies because not only are they VERY good but there won't be anything like them ever again or at least for a long time.

I'll tell you what, DARE me to give you a list of "white" movies made between over the past 40-50 years that feature black actors in a role that involves:

1) Great importance to the story.

2) Is not a token character.

3) Doesn't die in the film.

Let me know and I will accept the challenge.

Sincerely,

White Guy from Interracial Marriage

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