This article helped to give credence to my decision to move forward with my film project, “Octavia” — which was conceived to return to my protest art roots and theatrical background. Urged by other writers who were supportive of my work, I wanted to create a role for a black actress that was at least as complex and interesting as my first cinematic character Cairo in “As an Act of Protest.”
This article only proves we are in a stranger, deeper dilemma as People of Color who may be involved in the Establishment Entertainment Complex or simply creating the advent of images under our own tables, with our own spoons. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Even maniacal Mao knew it: “All art is propaganda. But not all propaganda is art.”
I tell you: the creepy, insidious, patronizing, misogynistic racism of Hollywood in 2014 should outrage us. But how can it? We’re all slaves at the end of the day — shackled in mental slavery — and resistant to defining who we are on our own terms. I mean that for EVERYBODY. Hollywood and traditional Broadway, first and foremost, take their cue from Nazi Germany & the African Holocaust in the sense that they “break things down” and create TYPES…Didn’t von Verschuer do the same thing? And remember this if you read the article: There is something bittersweet when African-Americans win awards given by a racist industry. Even more bizarre: Hattie McDaniel, who won the Oscar for playing Mammy in “Gone With the Wind” – did more for black people in the sense of her willingness to acquiesce and suffer in Hollywood so that Halle Berry or any other flavor-of-the-month in the “rhinestone sharecropping” of Tinseltown wouldn’t have to. The Hattie McDaniels existed so wouldn’t HAVE TO debase ourselves or be conflicted as “what role to accept,” or revert to the perfunctory sexually subservient creature on screen who fulfills old White Men fantasies (isn’t that what Halle did in “Monster’s Ball”? Be honest. If that film showed a Jewess fucking a Nazi guard, you think the B’nai B’rith would’ve allowed it? Worse: they’d have burnt the ashes of the print! And rightly so.) etc.
So is there any difference between the racial dynamics of 1939 and 2014 in Hollywood? We have not even come full circle. We are simply walking backwards. And seemingly enjoying the long empty road of our demise.
Black dramatists and filmmakers and producers need to get their act together.
Instead of Denzel bemoaning the fact that he still doesn’t get scripts offered to him (can you imagine?) – he should seek out some poor struggling blind alley scribe who could write emotional majesties for him and allow him to move into a new phase of his professional acting, career. I like Denzel Washington as an actor (although I admit I prefer his hungry, lean days) and that’s why I must tough on him. I expect more. I’m glad he did “Raisin in the Sun” on Broadway recently.
But isn’t it ironic that Lorraine Hansberry’s philosophical artistic message is still not be heeded? “A classical people deserve a classical art form,” she said. Not insulting offers to play a role in “The Jungle Book.”