All Articles Tagged "Hollywood"
When you have a father at the top of the box office or an Emmy-winning mother, it can be intimidating when trying to decide if you should follow in your parents’ footsteps or journey out and do your own thing. These celeb kids decided to follow the lead of their parents and prove that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Everyone likes a good clapback but everyone loves watching a celebrity set their haters straight. From singers and actors, all the way to the President of The United States, let’s take a look at 15 celeb clapbacks that had us screaming, “B***h, you guessed it!”
Yesterday, I finally had the chance to watch the 2012 Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, and Ray Liotta flick, Killing Them Softly. And while I won’t ruin it for you, let’s just say that it is your typical Boston-area mafia-related heist film. (Which is no surprise considering that it features both Gandolfini and Liotta, right?) You know, it’s about White people engaged in criminal activity while looking cool doing it.
Also of no surprise, the cast is all White – well, most of the cast is White…
The film’s only person of color comes by way of a Black prostitute. What is her name? We’re never told because obviously it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that she is there to service Gandolfini’s character, an alcoholic hit man on the verge of losing his freedom and his lady, in a dusty motel room. She’s also there to take his abuse. And during her brief appearance in the film he tells her that one day, she is going to get cut up into pieces by one of her johns. It is violent as much as it is dysfunctional. Yet, her only response is to make some wisecrack comment about how if that happens, it will likely be the first time that she can reach orgasm.
Now, I have nothing against who women are often forced, for economic reasons, to engage in sex work; but when it comes to the White imagination, Black women are routinely painted as jezebels, sapphires, and mammies and never fully actualized human beings with names or multi-dimensional identities of our own. And quite frankly, it is offensive, and I am sick of seeing it.
But in spite of my personal disgust of watching a Black woman once again be demeaned in the most violent of ways for the entertainment and enjoyment of mostly White America, the question always remains: Why do we keep taking these roles?
This question becomes an especially poignant one as I read the article from Indian Country about Native American actors who decided that they had enough of how White Hollywood portrays them.
According to the publication, a dozen Navajo Nation actors and actresses, as well as the Native American cultural advisor, walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s newest film production called The Ridiculous Six. The film, which is being produced for Netflix, is supposed to be a parody of 1960 Western classic The Magnificent Seven, however, the Native American actors and actresses just saw it as another example of mostly White Hollywood exploiting and mocking their culture. As the paper writes:
Among the actors who walked off the set were Navajo Nation tribal members Loren Anthony, who is also the lead singer of the metal band Bloodline, and film student Allison Young. Anthony says that though he understands the movie is a comedy, the portrayal of the Apache was severely negligent and the insults to women were more than enough reason to walk off the set…Anthony says he was first insulted that the movie costumes that were supposed to portray Apache were significantly incorrect and that the jokes seemed to get progressively worse.
Actress Goldie Tom would go on to say that poor treatment from production and crew was the final straw.
The consultant, Bruce spoke to the crew and told them we should not have braids and chokers and he was very disappointed. He asked to speak with Adam Sandler. We talked to the producers about other things in the script and they said ‘It’s in the script and we are not going to change it.’ Overall, we were just treated disrespectfully, the spoke down to us and treated everyone with strong tones.
The Gawker-run website, Defamer, has a copy of the script, and in addition to getting the Native American clothing all wrong, the film is also filled with jokes like “Beaver Breath” and “Sits-On-Face,” which parodies Native American traditional names.
Now, some folks may want to shrug their shoulders and claim that the Navajo actors and actresses decision to walk off set is just the result of an overly-sensitive people being upset over what is supposed to be a comedy. And I’m certain that some folks have been this dismissive. But we see white Hollywood do this to the culture of people of color all the time in ways that it will not do to cultural and historical events that are of importance to them. In particular, Black culture — how we dress and our use of certain mannerism down to our sexual prowess — is turned into fodder for their entertainment. And rarely is it funny. To the contrary, the best way to devalue a culture is to “other” it as something other than normal. This cultural othering, through mockery, is not only how White culture defines itself, but it is also how the culture retains its domination by further perpetuating that there is an inherent “right” way to be a civilized human being.
Unfortunately, many of us buy into this. And no, I’m not talking about those who personally embody the stereotypes in real life. I’m talking about those of us who know these roles are offensive and dangerous, but will accept and play them in film and television anyway. Black actors regularly discuss their frustrations with playing drug dealers, prostitutes, maids, butlers and other domestics. And yet, there are very few Blacks in Hollywood who do not have a couple if not more, of those characters on their professional reels.
I get it: There are not a lot of options available for a working Black actor or actress in Hollywood. Therefore, beggars can’t be choosers. But the same could be said for the Native American actors and actresses. Heck, the only time we ever see them on screen is when a film has to do with the past. Yet, these actors and actresses were willing to put their careers on the line and never work again for a bigger cause, one that may seriously alter how we showcase Native Americans in future films.
Now, I don’t expect that tomorrow there will be a massive boycott in Hollywood over these demeaning roles – although it would be nice. However, I do hope that when material in a film is super questionable and outright offensive, some of us will also be brave enough to walk away.
Before all the TV shows, movies, commercials, and endorsement deals came through, some Hollywood celebs had to wake up in the morning and get their customer service on like the rest of us. With jobs ranging from a Burger King cashier to a singing waitress on a cruise ship, these stars have paid their dues. Check out 15 celebs who went from being sales associates and food service workers to becoming Hollywood stars.
Who would have thought that Taraji P. Henson could have been gladiator Olivia Pope? Or that Lindsay Lohan could have had a much different role in “Mean Girls”? Well it’s true and Hollywood is full of stories of well-known stars loosing out on high-profile gigs. Here we take a look at some of the most shocking
It seems that Hollywood loves a good biopic, particular on Black people. What can we say, we’re just that entertaining and interesting. Currently there are several biopics in production including a flick on Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor (said to be directed by Lee Daniels) and even a film on Nat Turner called Birth of A Nation. This is on top of a list of about 50 biopics about Black people, which are said to still be in consideration.
This is great but what about made-up stories? I’m talking about films based on literature produced by Black people. As many of us know, there are so many great Black writers out there beyond the likes of Morrison, Walker, Baldwin and other favorites. And their novels and stories have yet to receive the Tinseltown treatment. And just for some perspective here, Hollywood has turned 33 books into film last year. None of them were written by an African American.
So in an effort to help the status quo help us, by producing content outside of another Dr. King or even Nelson Mandela biopic, I present a list of 10 classic books written by Black people, which would make great films. For reference purposes, I made this list partially using the African American Literature Book Club list of Favorite 100 African American Books of the 20th Century as inspiration.
So Michelle Rodriguez put her foot in her mouth this past week – or did she?
According to TMZ,
“Rodriguez was cruising out of Katsuya Friday night when she shot down rumors she’s in talks to play the Green Lantern … while also throwing shade at minorities who play white superheroes.
Michelle has evidence it’s happening. Cases in point … Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury … and the online campaign for Idris Elba to become Bond.”
Naturally folks got upset about the comments, particular the part about “minorities” supposed appropriation of White artistry. And eventually Rodriguez issued an apology, if she offended anybody, and explained that she has a tendency to speak without filter. And just like people who don’t know they are already in a hole, she continued to dig even deeper by elaborating on her theories about the rampant misappropriation of White culture being committed by minorities:
“What I really meant was that ultimately at the end of the day, there’s a language. And the language that you speak in Hollywood is successful franchise. And I think there are many cultures in Hollywood that are not white that can come up with their own mythology. I mean, we get it all from the same reservoir of life, the fountain of life.
And it doesn’t matter what culture you come from. I’m just saying that instead of trying to turn a girl character into a guy. Or trying to turn a white character into a black character or latin character, I think that people should stop being lazy and, you know, and that people should actually make an effort in Hollywood to develop their own mythology. And if American is your mythology and the American culture is deep embedded into who you are and what makes you, or the archetype you are trying to portray, in a hollywood feature or a comic book, so be that…”
Girl, just stop!
But she didn’t. Instead she waxed poetic about all the different “minorities”that are represented in Hollywood – and she even did the air quote thing around the word “minorities” too. And then she advised those same “minorities,” concerned about the lack of characters representing them in Hollywood, to “start focusing on my making that a serious priority. You know?”
No girl. We don’t know about you. Also who are you, now? What happened to the raspy New York accent we had grown to love? Now, she sounds like one of those condescending whiny-voiced yuppy White girls pontificating on all that colorblind and post-racial, airy New-age crap over grass wheat and chai shots at the local Yoga Pants bar.
I don’t know where Rodriguez has been (probably hanging with those whiny-voiced White girls at Yoga Pants bars), but folks, particularly the minorities, have been making the lack of diversity in Hollywood a priority for a long while. Likewise, the whole “why don’t you make your own”-mantra folks like to throw out there to excuse their own apathy fails to consider how the lack of investment – as well as access to distribution platforms -acts as major barriers for why we don’t get to see those mythologies based around people of color on the big screen.
The last I checked, Danny Glover is still hoping to one day get his “epic” film on Haitian revolution leader Toussaint L’Ouverture made and distributed. The same could be said for any of the production teams behind this list of 50 biopics on Black figures currently in limbo. That list includes such notable figures as Paul Robeson, Lorraine Hansberry, Oscar Micheaux (the father of Black cinema) and Mahalia Jackson.
Independent filmmakers go broke trying to produce content outside of the Hollywood structure. We can talk about Kickstarting a film all we want, but once you get it made and produced, where is this independent film going to screen? Why there aren’t enough church basements at a person’s disposal, which could produce a return worthy of the investment. So if Black filmmakers (and those doing projects on Black subjects) can’t even get support for these projects about real-life human beings, then what chances does a mythological superhero have? Probably as much chance as Spiderman at a Raid factory.
And we’re talking about producing an independently-created minority superhero. I have no doubt that this character and it’s lore would be pretty bad-ass. But the only way a film about a minority superhero, which doesn’t involve a White savior, will ever see the light of day is if a crazed Black man with a gun highjacks the projector room in an actual movie theater and runs the flick himself. And before any starving Black filmmakers get any ideas: Do not do that! You’ll be dead before you could reach for your popcorn during the opening credits.
More to the point, Rodriguez should know how hard it is for a “minorities” and woman to find work outside of racialized characters. Seriously, she hasn’t starred in a film since Girlfight and we barely see her in supporting roles either, outside of the Fast & Furious franchise or some bit part in another action flick. And when she is working, she is typecast as the hard-as-nails sexually ambiguous Latina chick from New York, who knows how to take a punch as good as she can give one. I’m talking, this is her character in every single film. Surely she can see the lack of diversity in that? But some folks are just happy to be working, I guess…
Although I will say that Rodriguez does have a decent point:
The whole color and gender cast-switching trend, which has become so pervasive in mainstream filmmaking, is all kinds of wack. I wrote before of my outright disdain at the idea of a Black James Bond, mainly because the Bond character is kind of a racist. Therefore, why would we want to put a Black face on that? Not to mention that studio or production company will use color/gender swapping in film as a way to deflect criticism about its true lack of diversity, which often happens behind the camera.
Still, it’s those rudimentary and dismissive views of racism as well as sexism, which irks me the most. And if she as well as others like her (and yes, I’m talking about Anthony Mackie) weren’t so self-involved, spaces for Black filmmakers to dream up, produce and eventually distribute their products might open up in Hollywood.
Like Rodriguez, I would rather see new characters on screen which have been created from the minds and in the voices of real “minorities.” However I also don’t think it is rather lazy to blame the “minorities” for trying to move-in on White people’s game, while completely ignoring the fact that it is the studios who are making these color and gender swapping decisions in the first place.
Does Hollywood always play fair? Actress Mo’Nique has been outspoken about her post-actor struggles. And these former Hollywood hitmakers say she’s not alone. They too are among a long list of stars blackballed after their big hits.
Yesterday, when we watched Sheryl Lee Ralph’s “Access Hollywood” interview, discussing Mo’Nique being blackballed in the industry, we left scratching our heads. Ms. Sheryl has always been a pretty uplifting and philanthropic figure in our community; and these words, seemed to be a bit out of character. So, in an attempt to get to the true intent of what she was saying we spoke to Ms. Ralph today on the phone. And she clarified a few things.
See what she had to say.
After the media started picking up your interview, you reached out to Mo’Nique last night via Twitter, what did you want to let her know.
You know sometimes media can make things seem like what they ain’t. And I was just like girlfriend, ‘Now you know…’ And she was like ‘Diva, now you know I know.’ And then she made me laugh. She made a reference to my very first film, Piece of the Action. And the character Barbara Hanley has a very famous line in terms of when people try to turn things on you. So she made me laugh out loud. In fact, I told her I’m rolling on the floor, laughing out loud.
What was your intention going into the “Access Hollywood” interview?
We all know that in every walk of life–I don’t care if you’re sewing dresses, I don’t care if you’re an adjunct professor, I don’t care who you are–there is a game of life to be played. What might it be? They were talking about the fact that Mo’Nique had done an interview saying that she had been blackballed and Lee Daniels said ‘Look, you’ve been blackballed or you’ve done some things and maybe you didn’t campaign as strongly for Precious and folks remember that.’ And I thought it was very interesting how, in this game of media, she’s being chastised, blackballed–whatever you want to call it– for not being able to promote the film. And I just said you never ever know what the state of someone’s mind is and their ability to do the job you need done at that certain time. And you heard me say it. Would they have done the same thing to Tom Hanks? It’s a different game for women, no matter what color you are. And it’s different, especially when you put color on it. We know this. I just want folks to know that sometimes folks can’t always do what people are expecting of them. You can’t.
Like Dave Chappelle. He just could not do what people were asking him to do. He was not in that state of mind. And he had to walk away from a few million dollars. And everybody thought ‘Well, why would he do that?’ He had to do it to save himself. And sometimes people don’t understand that, they just want to throw you under the bus or throw you out there when really what you’re trying to do is take care of yourself.
Some interpreted that to mean you knew that she was in a bad mental space…
We don’t know what her state might have been. I’m just putting that out there, what if. I don’t know but what if. What if she needed a break after shooting a very intense film like that?
Folks should be paying attention because anybody who watched the interview, knew exactly what I was saying. Anybody who read a headline completely did not get what I was saying because the headline was misleading and taken out of context. So anybody went off of a headline and then just judged me on a headline has learned that sometimes you need to read, sometimes you need to dig deeper. Sometimes you need to look for the truth. But realize the game has started. And we are winning because people are talking.
You know how there is the Bechdel Test, that analyzes fictional film and television series to see if there are at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man? Well, I feel like we need one to help us gauge how we relate to Black women engaging in revolutionary acts.
Perhaps a comparable test would be: a Black woman, who can be defiant and oppositional to the status quo without championing for a Black man, and be called revolutionary?
Not saying that there aren’t any. However when we think of revolutionary Black women, we tend to envision women whose entire existence centers around Black men specifically, or the entire community in general. Rarely is it about women who look out for their own interests, or the interest of other women. For instance, we talk about Harriet Tubman risking and sacrificing her life to free all Black people, but rarely do we pay homage to her work for women specifically. The same could be said for Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King and a sizable amount of other revolutionary Black women.
This thought came to mind when I read Comedienne Mo’Nique Imes-James’ interview in the Hollywood Reporter. No, I’m serious.
I know she annoys folks and her name is not something we would normally associate with revolutionary. Heck, some of you might argue that her routine, career choices and personal philosophies around women and relationships might be a bit regressive. I won’t stand in the way of those arguments.
However, she has also proven to be pretty progressive in some areas, particularly around the issue of body positivity (both the heavier Mo’Nique and her recent weight loss are examples of that). And yet, when she told the Hollywood Reporter that she had been allegedly blackballed from the industry, even after winning the prestigious Academy Award, very few people came to her defense.
In fact, most folks I’ve seen have argued that she deserves her banishment from the Hollywood community. And the term “difficult” is the most cited reason why.
In particular, it was her remarks related to how she felt she should be treated after winning the highest honor in film for her role as Mary in the also Oscar-nominated film Precious:
“And that your husband was “outbidding you.” What was he referring to? You know what I learned? Never to think what somebody else was thinking. That’s a question you would have to ask Lee Daniels.* There have been people that have said, “Mo’Nique, she can be difficult. Mo’Nique and her husband can be difficult.” They could probably be right. One of the networks said to [Lee] that I was “really difficult to work with.” And I said, “Well, that’s funny, because I’ve never even worked with them, but OK.
Whoever those people are who say, “Mo’Nique is difficult,” those people are either heartless, ruthless or treat people like they’re worthless. And that’s unacceptable. They’re set to say, “Mo’Nique is tactless, she’s tacky.” That’s why I have my beautiful husband, because he’s so full of tact, ’cause I’m a girl from Baltimore. I come from a blue-collar town — and being from that place, you learn not to let anybody take advantage of you. You don’t let people mistreat you. You stand up for what’s right.”
As many have noted, the money issue might have been the central reason to why we didn’t see Mo’Nique actively campaign for the film. And as Roger Friedman in Showbiz 411.com writes: “ She’s blaming Hollywood. She says she was blackballed. She is completely incorrect. She blackballed herself. During the Precious Oscar campaign Mo’Nique thumbed her nose at the process. She demanded to be paid for promotional appearances. She didn’t turn up to accept other awards. She showed absolute disdain for everyone and everything associated with the process.”
However in the HR interview, she contends that she simply did campaign for an award because she did not ask for it. And when you think about it, it totally makes sense. So because the Academy (and other behind-the-scenes politics) decided that you should get nominated, you have to interrupt your life and your job to go do press conferences, industry parties and butt-kissing parades, all so that you can persuade people to vote for an award you didn’t necessarily go after or even want?
Sounds like a page out of The Hunger Games series.
Nevertheless, Mo’Nique won on merit because she was just that damn good in the role. And as she tells the HR: “The members of the Academy proved it. They said, “You know what? We’re going to judge the performance, not how many parties she can come to.”
Winning on merit.
It sounds like something that is supposed to just happen. But in a world of privilege and favoritism, merit still remains pretty revolutionary. After all, this is the same industry, which regularly and frequently fails to put Black actors and filmmakers both in front of- and behind -the cameras. The same industry, which makes good-gobs of money off of ridiculing and distorting our image yet won’t allow us access to the platforms to create our own. And this is the same Academy Award that folks were ready to protest last night because of not only because of the Selma snub, but the continued lack of Black creatives listed on its nominating slate in general. There should be more of us refusing to bow to the status quo.
In fact, for years we have been advising our Black creatives to not take Hollywood’s crap and seek validation elsewhere. And yet Mo’Nique did that very thing. She did not campaign for an award that historically hasn’t cared about us. And now we’re saying that because she refused to play a rigged game, being banished from the industry is what she deserves? Something doesn’t quite add up right here.
In particular, the wrong here is how many of us have been unwilling to even consider the roles race and gender played in her banishment. Why, only a few months ago, were the studio executives calling Kevin Hart a “whore” for demanding additional monies to tweet? Although many of us have the same regressive thoughts about Hart, we also shouted him out for standing up for himself. We had no problem seeing the revolution in his individual act.
And just last month, we were raising our fists in the Black power salute for our brother Marshawn Lynch, running back for the Seattle Seahawks, who refused to answer journalists’ questions during mandatory team conferences, citing “I’m here so I won’t get fined.” Although Lynch’s act was purely self-motivated and self-serving, the collective we understood and appreciated his defiance to “playing the game.” As this editorial in Vox.com passionately articulated:
“He’s arguably redefining the traditional confines of a black player’s role. As Peter Odell Campbell, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh and an expert on public arguments about race and sexuality in the media, put it, this athlete’s selective silence has put him in control of his labor and freed him from the “racist double bind” that is black NFL players’ relationship with the press.”
None of Lynch’s actions affected the interest of the collective Black community. Yet no one called him “difficult” for his rebellious acts against the system – or if they did, they were immediately dismissed as Uncle Toms and coons. Instead, we all sort of rallied around him. And held him down and up as a symbol for authentic Black masculinity.
And yet Mo’Nique was a Black woman who was telling the studios to pay her what she was worth. They scoff. And for some reason, we scoffed with them. To conceptualize the words of Gloria Huff, Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith: all the men are revolutionaries; all women are just difficult…