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Weed & Racism Sends A Woman Running For Cover - Film Review

Updated on June 4, 2016
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Eloquent. Aesthetic. Starter. Magnetic. Spiritual. Strong. Determined. Ambitious. Freethinking. Leader. Confident. Adventurous. Managerial.

It's "White Chicks" meets "How High" with a Message about Racism

Rising star,  Tannisha Moneè -also known as Tan Moneè, transforms from a White woman to a Black woman for her new role as Amy in her new film entitled, "What's Underneath" (Black Power Weed).
Rising star, Tannisha Moneè -also known as Tan Moneè, transforms from a White woman to a Black woman for her new role as Amy in her new film entitled, "What's Underneath" (Black Power Weed).

Premiere at Warner Bros. Studio

Brief Summary

I recently saw What's Underneath (Black Power Weed), after it was released for public viewing last month, and I was very pleased with the short film.

It premiered at The Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, California in 2012.

This satirical stoner dramedy, directed by Galo Semblantes, depicts a naïve,White girl, named Amy, who becomes inadvertently immersed into Black culture.

This immersion takes place soon after she willingly partakes of a special type of marijuana, called "Black Power Weed".

Amy (played by Tan Monee) gets herself into various sticky situations involving her skin color, family, figure, friends, boyfriend, etc.

These problems are exacerbated due to the unsuspecting catalyst, namely the "Black Power Weed".

Long story short, Amy ends up facing obstacles that she never expected, and she ultimately learns a few lessons along the way.

I guarantee that the problems Amy must face after she smokes will have you in stitches.

There are so many twists Amy encounters in the subsequent of about 12 minutes, all of which may send you into inevitable fits of laughter or possibly make you a bit upset.

Either way, you will find it hard to resist getting so into this film, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat wondering what Amy's fate will be in the end.

Check out the film for free below or anytime via Youtube. (Warning: Strong Language)

"What's Underneath" (Black Power Weed) by Tan Monee

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The Message

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Violence Against Black Women

Film Analysis

One of the best things about this film is the director and producer's way of engaging in a bigger conversation about racism.

The conflict in the film also shines light on social inequality and does a good job of addressing issues of diversity.

A unique perspective on some cultural differences between Black and White women is offered in this film via Amy's dramatic and rapid transformation from White to Black.

The film uses her separate life experiences to satirically illustrate the construct of race in America, in that it's all about hierarchy or stratification.

Amy literally walks in a Black woman's shoes for a day and experiences discrimination, obstacles, oppression, and prejudice at every turn.

But, the film ultimately illustrates that change of any kind can be positive; it all depends on your perception of your "condition" or "situation".

Amy eventually rethinks the knowledge she's acquired about race from a White woman's perspective and filters it through a new lens, particularly that of a Black woman.

Essentially, she's faced with daunting tasks of trying to assimilate into society as the polar opposite of what is familiar to her (e.g., being White and having power/privilege because of it).

Initially, she experiences denial, as well as, confusion when her skin changes and she has to figure out how to simply "fit" into her old environment as a Black person.

Amy began to feel the stigma associated with being Black after she dealt with social alienation from her peers, her significant other, and society (e.g., friends laughed at her, boyfriend denied knowing her, and a bouncer refused her entry to a nightclub all because of her skin color).

She then turned to isolation as she began to avoid the world and hide in her room, self medicating to hopefully erase the horrible curse of Black skin.

This was a solution suggested to her by her friends but it was really Amy's ploy to combat the grief associated with losing things, such as her relationships and status, due to simply being Black.

Although, smoking the "Black Power Weed" again did not reverse her condition, instead it momentarily slowed down Amy's cognitive thought processes and relaxed her muscles, which led her to carefully retrace her steps.

She then pleaded for help from the same Black woman (the dealer) that she insulted in the beginning of the film.

This woman sold Amy the "Black Power Weed" in the opening scene because of the condescending comments she made and questions she asked about the dealer's hair texture.

A Black woman's hair is salient to her and representative of her culture; therefore Amy clearly overstepped her boundaries but she seemingly did so out of pure ignorance or cultural incompetence.

It seemed like the dealer wanted to teach Amy a few lessons about valuing diversity by selling her the potent "Black Power Weed".

As a Black woman, Amy becomes self conscious of her hair and body.

She tried to formulate a new identity for herself (e.g., new clothes that were more flattering) and she later experienced some positive judgments about her image because of it.

Amy started to accept the possibility that she may be Black and have to stay that way; but she truthfully did not want to.

So, she sought out the dealer to reverse her situation and encountered much negative contact along the way.

The accumulated negative contact Amy encountered throughout the film led to some devaluation of her White culture (e.g., a White woman accused her of taking her ring and she immediately felt the collective plight of Black people by saying, "All of us are not criminals", despite the fact that her identity was that of a White woman the previous day).

Luckily, all these types of encounters aided her personal growth and development.

Amy then displayed empathy toward others in bad situations (e.g., She stopped a sexual assault from taking place in an alley, which she may not have done if she was still White because then she wouldn't necessarily know the feeling of being "down on your luck"; therefore, she would also feel no need to help).

Sadly, the victim urged Amy to quickly leave and not to press charges because the assailant was White and the police would "never believe their story".

This brings up another interesting topic that is hardly discussed, often overlooked, and shamefully disguised, namely police brutality against women; Black women in particular.

Nevertheless, Amy misses the time slot allotted to meet with her dealer because of her heroic efforts in the alley.

She then goes home and begins to block out the nuisances of the day and those particularly associated with being a Black woman.

In doing so, she started to accept her situation and deal with her inner tension of no longer subscribing to society's norm (e.g., White is Right).

She begins to admire herself in the mirror rather than judge, which brought some congruence between her private & public self; meaning the Black woman on the outside and the White woman on the inside.

"What's Underneath" really elicits a sense of shame from the audience as it illustrates how hard it is to function as a Black woman in America, especially when everything and everyone around is a constant reminder of their "imperfectness" or inadequacy.

However, the film provides a bit of catharsis at the end as Amy finds some peace with herself regardless of her outward appearance, which I think is the moral of the story.

Amy had a more realistic evaluation of her situation at the end of the film; in that you have to be OK with who you are at the end of the day.

That's the only way to get a good night's rest.

Overall, this is a great short film with a mix of laughs and hard truths all rolled into one.

"What's Underneath" (Black Power Weed) is undoubtedly the film to consider viewing at your leisure or to recommend to a friend.

"What's Underneath" Starring Tan Monee

Tan Monee: NYFA alumni

Tan Moneé (Compilation of Scenes)

Tan Monee (Voice Over)

Sylk-E Fyne feat. Chill - Romeo & Juliet - 1997

SPOTLIGHT: Who is Tan Monee?

"What's Underneath" (Black Power Weed) is filled with fresh faces, which certainly give the audience a fresh wind.

Most importantly is the lead actress, Tan Monee, who not only gives a thought provoking performance in this film but is hilarious to watch.

She even showed versatility in her talents by also being the writer and executive producer of the film; not to mention, performing the background music for it.

Originally from Georgetown, South Carolina, Monee is alumna of the College of Charleston, where she majored in Theater Arts.

After graduation in 2010, Monee relocated to southern California to attend New York Film Academy (NYFA) to further pursue her career in acting.

In 2012, she graduated from NYFA with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in acting, film, and television.

Monee currently resides in Hollywood, California where she is heavily involved in the entertainment business as a writer, producer, actress, model, voice over talent, and recording artist.

She currently works for Hustle Zombies Ent. LLC., alongside her partner, William "Black Chill" Warner.

Black Chill is best remembered for his hit duet with rapper Sylk-E. Fyne, called "Romeo and Juliet", which was released on January 27th, 1998.

Their song peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Hot Rap Singles; it reached gold status two months after its release, as well.

Since then, Black Chill has produced countless records for artist, such as Eve, Beenie Seagal, Ludacris, E40, YG, Nipsey Hu$$le, Rick Ross, Wc, Nelly & The St.Lunatics, Fabolous, Domino, and several other well known hip hop artists.

He and Monee transform into a new age Bonnie & Clyde type duo, in Black Chill's music video for his latest single, called "RESPECT".

The video has great visual impact, which can be attributed to the director, Christian "Concrete" Guiterrez. But, it is truly another testament to the many talents of Tan Monee.

Check out the music video, which is featured below, to watch her in action and follow her on social media to keep abreast of her upcoming projects.

Tan Monee in Black Chill's new music video, RESPECT

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