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