By Zim Ezumah
Over the last week Broad Green Pictures announced a new comedy titled Step Sisters. The brief synopsis of the movie states:
The film centers on Jamilah (Echikunwoke), an ambitious black sorority girl who, in order to get admitted to the law school of her dreams, agrees to cross culture lines and teach the exclusive art of black Greek stepping to a band of wild, Kardashian-obsessed white sorority girls whose charter is about to be revoked.
While some were applauding the casting and production choices – the movie stars Megalyn Echinwoke, is directed by Charles Stone (Drumline) and is cowritten by Lena Waithe (Master of None, Dear White People), some folks were ruffled by the description, which they see as another attempt at reducing black women to caricatures for white amusement. Pretty soon, tweets began discussing various methods of showing their displeasure, including petitions and boycotts of the movie upon its release.
If you’re feeling Deja Vu, you’re not alone – this is the same reaction folk had when the trailer for Ghostbusters was released. People lamented Jones character of an MTA worker and threatened a boycott of the movie 5 months before its release. Past the comedy world, productions such as Roots and Empire have been threatened with boycotts due to its subject nature, largely called and led by black people.
In short, this is wack. As much as our communities clamor for representation on the silver screen, it baffles me how much time and energy individuals have to promote the cancellation/failure of black movies. Here are 3 reasons why I think this ugly trend needs to die.
I’ve noticed that the majority of black movies that attract negative attention gain it in the film’s infant stages – from a trailer, synopsis or image from the set. These simple pieces of information are used to fuel months of anger and controversy. When Chi-Raq was released, folks were steamed at merely the title, forgoing actually reading the description of the movie. Others, like the aforementioned Step Sisters, take the synopsis and add levels of controversy to it, forgoing any nuance or creative flair of its Black creative team. The whole point of movies is to tell a complete story with a beginning, middle and end. To dismiss an entire movie without so much as a review or clip is pretentious and closed minded.
We all know the well documented struggles that black actors have in this industry. So why do some rush to type up a journalistically lazy takedown of a budding actress’ first breakout role? Or tackily create a video dismissing the art of a black performer? The more we preach solidarity among ourselves as black moviegoers, the more black actors and actresses have used their visibility and privilege to further studios toward the goal of diversity on screen. However, when news comes out about a movie that sounds like it stands to be offensive, those are the very people slandered to death. With comedy, a majority of black humor comes from men, with women being an afterthought in representation. So why is it when Leslie Jones was announced has one of the only black women to ever star in a summer blockbuster, her presence in the film prompted protests and boycotts so severe she contemplated deleting her Twitter? (luckily she didn’t or we’d lose her incredible Game of Thrones live tweets). I understand having concerns about her role (which carries its own problematic questions about black respectability), but to go out of your way to hate on the debut of a black actress in the lily white field of mainstream comedy kind of contradicts the demand for representation on screen. To have certain outlets dedicate their voices and presence to the promotion of Black actors then dictate how or what their art should look like prior to the release of their movie is counterproductive, unprofessional and hurtful to the folks who champion for our entertainment to be represented.
Before Black-ish’s debut in 2014, many vowed to boycott the show, citing outrage over the title. Some folks still report not watching the show and in that time it swept the TV comedy categories at the NAACP Image Awards, got nominated for Best Actor and Best Comedy Series Emmy’s in its inaugural season, and just clinched a Peabody for its incredible second season, featuring one of the best commentaries on police brutality television has ever seen. All of the folks who refuse to have an open mind are probably missing out on one of the best TV programs of their generation, probably allowing their nostalgia to hold them from appreciating the present day. Speaking of nostalgia, When Martin debuted, fellow black sitcom actors Bill Cosby of The Cosby Show and Charles Dutton of Roc slammed the show as “buffoonery”. If the majority of those folks had been swayed by their clearly closed minded opinion, we probably wouldn’t have had 5 seasons of Martin today.
My point is, by boycotting our TV shows, we’re limiting our ability to show Black talent to the world. Hopefully in the future, people can allow difference of preference of Black entertainment without calling for the failure of our attempts at mainstream storytelling. Time will tell how willing we are to put our money where our mouth is and support our black movie and TV creatives.
By Zim Ezumah
The post 3 Reasons Why Boycotting Black Films Isn’t The Solution, It’s Time To Stop Boycotting Black Movies appeared first on ComedyHype.Com | Comedy ReFueled.
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