American Gangster

American Gangster is starring Denzel Washington, T.I., Common and Mos Def.  According to the movie’s website;

American Gangster is based on the life of drug-kingpin-turned-informant, Frank Lucas, who grew up in segregated North Carolina where he watched as his cousin was shot by the Klan for looking at a white girl. He eventually made his way to Harlem where he became a heroin kingpin by traveling to Asia’s Golden Triangle to make connections, shipping heroin back to the US in the coffins of soldiers killed in Vietnam. He soon made upwards of one million dollars a day in drug sales. Lucas was shadowed by lawman, Richie Roberts, who finally helped bring the kingpin to justice. The two then worked together to expose the crooked cops and foreign nationals who made importing heroin so easy.

So here’s the issue; I am not for censorship, but we must stress to our youth and to some adults (it’s a shame that some adults don’t get it) that:

1.  This is a Rated-R movie and is not for children; so please do not take your children to see this movie.  So many times I see our people take their kids to Rated-R movies thinking its ok just because they are watching it with them…

2.  Please Please explain to your children that what you see on TV and hear in music does not have to be their reality. 

Too many times we see our black youth imitating what they see in movies and in music, and we turn in eye like we don’t know where in the hell they are getting it from.  It is time to step up people.  Do not let your under-aged (17 and under) children see this movie.  It is for adults only. 

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Janks Morton- What Black Men Think

Janks Morton is a Prince George’s County native and graduate from my alma mater Bowie State University.  He has a new documentery called What Black Men ThinkThe Washington Post did a review on his docu-study.  I ordered a copy and will give my review after I watch it. 

Well I watched it and here is what I have to say…

It should have been called what Conservative Black Men Think….  The only thing that was some what objective were the stats on college aged black men. 

Anytime you get Project 21, Shelby Steele and Armstrong Williams and Juan Williams in one documentary, you know what they are going to say:  The NAACP, Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton are assisting in hurting black America. 

But they never talk about what they themselves are doing to improve the plight of black people in this country.  I applaud Morton’s efforts, but one must question how much he put into putting this together without getting different perspectives from other great black minds who are in the struggle. 

This documentary seemed to come from the black conservative realm and really offered no solutions on how to improve the current situation. 

Caged Lion  gave a great review of the movie on his blog.  Please read it.

How Bob Johnson uses the billions black people made for him

After years of marignalzing black people at BET (Bootleg Entertainment Television), Bob Johnson has moved on to create a film production company; Our Stories Films.  It is supposed to be a place where black people actually have the power to green light a movie.  Read this excerpt from the article:

Our Stories’ objective is to release family-friendly comedies with African American leads in the $10 million to $15 million budget range. Many have probed, “Why just comedies?” It’s a valid question. African Americans are more than just laughs. Yet it’s also easy to comprehend the company’s business strategy. In recent years, comedies featuring African Americans have been some of industry’s most successful. From the Wayan’s brothers Scary Movie hits, the Barbershop franchise, Martin Lawrence’s Big Momma’s House franchise and the Tyler Perry films, urban comedies make money. Family-friendly films can also stock at Wal-Mart once they go to DVD. Plus, Johnson has never wavered about who he is first and foremost—a businessman.

Sighhhhh- It’s so sad to see a black man sell out his own people for profit; espeically after he all ready made a fortune off of us from BET………. 

Johnson hired Tracey Edmunds to head up the company.  You know Tracey Edmunds; the sister who was married to Babyface and brought us the movie Soul Food.  After she sucked us in with such a great movie, she punched us in the face with the bootleg reality show College Hill; which instead of showing the positive aspects of back youth pursing higher education at HBCUs; she opted to show the most dysfuunctional misguided people she could find. 

Well the first movie these 2 trailblazers gave the green light to was ‘Who’s your Caddy?’  Here is a synopsis of the movie:

Superstar rap mogul C-Note runs into fierce opposition when he tries to join the super stuffy Carolina Pines Golf & Country Club. Undeterred, C-Note gets the brilliant idea to buy the land adjacent to the golf club’s 17th hole, which he cleverly leverages to gain membership. C-Note’s crew wreaks havoc as they bring their larger-than-life style to the club. As the club’s hoighty-toighty leadership desperately tries to revoke C-Note’s membership, our hero realizes that his family’s honor–and secret record-breaking golf history–is at stake. As he takes on the fight of his life, C-Note pulls out all the stops to bring down the club’s backwards establishment and welcome them to the 21st century.

Sigh………..

This was the first movie Johnson and Edmunds gave the green light to?  Are you kidding me?

Even when we have the power to green light our own movies, we get it wrong. Was this supposed make a lot of money?  Johnson said that he would make comedies that cost between 10-15 million dollars because that’s what black folk like to do; laugh laugh laugh (even at our expense it seems if we follow his formula).  Well guess what?  ‘Who’s your Caddy?’ debut at #10 and only pulled in only 3.5 million dollars!!!!

Tracey Edmunds said that she wants to make sure that they produce films that show black people in a positive light?  Really?  And who’s your Caddy was the best way to do this?

Bob Johnson is a complete sell out.  He can’t use the excuse anymore that BET showed rap videos and infomercials 24/7 to make money for his then struggling black cable network; he is a billionaire now!!

This would have been a perfect chance for Johnson to highlight the stories and movies of black film makers who actually have something to say, but you opted once again on the side of making money and it didn’t work. 

Black people are tired of being marginalzied and typecast in music and entertainement; especially when the culprit is one of our own.  We all saw what happened to Imus, and the show Hot Ghetto Mess on BET; black people are not having it anymore.   

Since Johnson is a business man first, and is obviously in it to make money at our expense, I decided to hit him where it hurts; his Pocket!!  I opted not to waste my time or money to see his movie.  And from the looks of it; other black people didn’t waste their time as well.

P.S. Here are reviews from some of the people who actually took a chance on this movie:

Garbage
by free2rummage

Well to all those people who think it’s only white people who hate this movie think again. I’m black and I think this movie was garbage. Tired old jokes. . .fart jokes? Blinged out rappers causing trouble? Aren’t we beyond this? This was Soul Plane on a golf course. Nothing else. It will only appeal to those people of any color with the simplest of intelligence. This would have been funny 20 years ago when gangsta rap first burst on the scene, but even 50 cent today knows how to conduct himself not only on the stage but also in the boardroom. FYI. . .to those who loved the movie and think people hate it because it’s a “black” movie – the writers and director of this movie were all white. It’s just a bad movie period. We can do better. . .LOVE JONES, BROWN SUGAR, ATL, LOVE AND BASKETBALL, SOUL FOOD to name JUST a few.

Really really bad
by mhreview
 
 
If you go see this one, be ready for crude comedy. Rap superstar C-Note runs into big time opposition when he tries to join the super stuffy Carolina Pines Golf & Country Club. Not to be denied, C-Note gets the brilliant idea to buy the land next to the 17th hole, and try to gain membership. Bottom line, you have to be in the mood for crude, raunchy, bad comedy with tons of negative stereotyping. Not worth your money…skip it.

WTF?!?!
by raptor22_02

 
Honestly, watching the previews for this was awful enough, but actually getting dragged to this pathetic, land based, version of soul plane was damn near capital punishment! The ony reason I didn’t rate the direction a failure was because if I was the director I would have killed myself. This guy actually lived through it all. The plot you ask? Black guy doesn’t get his way, finds a way to weasle his way into a golf club, finds out he’s the next tiger woods, and shows whitey how to keep it real through blasting rap music and attching spinners to a golf cart. Someone should have taken a club against “C-note”‘s head and ended the world’s misery. If your looking for a reason to finnaly kill yourself, watch this movie. Trust me, it’ll make you loose all faith in mankind.

Level of Ignorance
by davidfamilyman
 
You can tell by the grammar and spelling used by the people who gave this movie positive reviews the level of ignorance it takes to enjoy this movie.

Entertaining my A**
by pailoong

 
I went into this movie with a group of friends with a certain expectation. I knew it wasn’t going to be comedy gold, but I thought it would at least provide some material for contextual humor at the bar. God, was I wrong.
This movie is nothing but light banter interspersed with hundreds of “oh no he di’n” moments that barely pass for a movie, let alone entertainment.
This kind of movie only appeals to a certain group of people, and that’s not a racist comment about this being a “black movie” (what does that mean, anyway?). Anybody in their right wouldn’t see this movie and I have a dream that one day, all of God’s children will be spared this kind of drivel.

What chu’ talkin’ ’bout cracker?
by monaymonroe

 
Yes, my title is catchy isn’t it? Just like this movie. Matter of fact, the movie could have used the same title I used for this review. I don’t understand why anyone would make this kind of feeble entertainment unless it’s used to recruit new members for the KKK. Am I to understand that BIG BOI of Outkast, “Big Worm” from FRIDAY and Brian from EVE wanted an acting job so bad, they would settle for playing the roles of the “jive talking negro”? And the rest of the cast, they saw this as a good idea to partake in? Why does Hollywood think it can bank on Hip-Hop stars lack of intelligence and choice of ignorance? Why does Hollywood believe that the only way to reach a black audience is through black musicians? I wonder, in 2008 are we still “singin’ an’ dancin” for “mister”? How come Musicians who chose to be actors never seem to take the job seriously? How come Hollywood refuse’s to make more entertaining movies? Does Hollywood even take itself seriously? Apparently not. I know I’ll never be an actress since all the good roles aren’t even in the movies anymore. I don’t know when Hollywood will decide to rely upon good ole’ fashioned talent again but when they do, I’ll be right there.

The Pursuit of HappYness

On Ed Gordon's show,  News and Notes With Ed Gordon,  he highlighted Christopher Gardner; a single black father who was homeless and worked his way into a career on Wall Street.  Now there is a book the chronicles his struggles, 'the Pursuit of HappYness' 

Garnder's story has attracted the attention of Columbia who has decided to turn his life story into a movie with Will Smith playing the lead role.  Also co-starring is Thandie Newton.  Its release date is sometime in December.  I look forward to seeing this movie.  It is not often that we hear about single black fathers who raise their kids.  It is a well welcomed change. 

Jamie Fox on R. Kelly

That's just great Jamie.  Out of all the R&B singers out there, R. Kelly is the one that makes you want to do better?  An illiterate child molester who can barely read, makes you want to do better?  Wow, Jamie sets the bar so high………. 

When you ask Jamie Foxx to name his favorite rappers, he's all about LL Cool J. But when it comes to R&B, the Pied Piper pushes the actor/singer to reach greater levels.

"R. Kelly makes me want to do better, like, 'Wow, how did he come out with that record? I got to come out with a record like that' " Foxx said recently in the U.K. "Like, 'Damn, how's he thinking like that?'

Akeelah and the Bee

 

All I can say is wow. I saw Akeelah and the Bee on Saturday and it was on point.  I think every black parent should take their children to this movie.  Our youth need affirmation  that learning and being intelligent is historically in our blood and not a "white thing."  Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett  never stop amazing me.  Their ability to evoke emotion and passion in dramatic acting is second to none.  They have great on screen chemistry.  And the young lady who played Akeelah (Keke Palmer)  was excellent. 

This movie was produced by StarBucks Entertainment.  The founder and and CEO of Starbucks did an interview with 60 minutes a week before the movie's release, and he saw the need to make a movie for everyone but especially for people of color.  He is a white man who grew up in the housing projects of Brooklyn. 

The movie tackled some very serious stereotypes that some in the black community self inflict into the minds of our youth.  the most important message is learning and seeking knowledge is not acting or being white!!!!  It does not matter if you are from the hood or the suburbs, you and only you are your biggest obstacle.  I recommend that everyone see this movie.

I AM ABOUT TO GET VERY CRITICAL: 

While watching the movie, I also observed many people laughing at parts of the movie that were not meant to be funny.  There was one scene where Akeelah's brother is telling her that she was learning "white peoples" words.  Some in the audience laughed.  They should have been making mental notes to explain to their children what was wrong in that scene.  Some of us still just don't get it.  What will it take.

As I mentioned earlier, Starbucks Entertainment produced this film.  There were 6 Starbucks employees in uniform present at the theater I was at.  And each one of these employees were loud and ghetto.  All throughout the movie they yelled at the screen and screamed and hollered during funny scenes of the movie.  I wanted to ask them which Starbucks they worked at and complain to their managers because they were dressed in their uniforms so in my opinion they were still representing the company.  It is OK to have a good time, but they acted like a bunch of idiots

As I looked at the box office stats for the weekend, I saw that Akeelah and the Bee came in 8th place.  Every black parent should have taken their children to see this movie this weekend.  We all know how important opening weekend is for movies. So I am pissed off that we did not go out in droves to support this important project.  But we had no problem going to see Tyler Perry's Medeas Family Reunion.  We flocked to see that movie.  And this is not to disrespect Tyler Perry, but it is to show the lack of understanding of the importance of education in the black community.  Some may think I am reaching too far out there by making this accusation, but I don't care.  Most black folk today would rather be entertained instead of being enlightened or educated by movies. If Tyler Perry's movie pulled in 25-30 million its first week why not Akeelah??

Ludacris Criticizes Oprah

I first blogged about this issue when the cast of Crash was on Oprah last year (“Crash” the movie on Oprah and the “N” word).  Oprah did strongly express her opinions about rappers such as Ludacris that call females bitches and ho's in their music.  She also expressed her disapproval of the "N" word.  I agreed with her on both accounts.  Ludacris is now speaking out about that Oprah interview.  He stated that Oprah edited out most of his responses from the interview.

Well her producers and editors had the right to do that, because it ii her show.  Was she being bias?  Maybe, but the fact remains that Ludacris is one of several hip hop artist who don't have a problem disrespecting their ancestors.  If he truly appreciated what our ancestors (from slavery to the civil rights movement) sacrificed so that we could be free politically and socially then he would not use the "N" word, and he would not call females bitches and ho's.  Ludacris believed that he was on the show as an actor not as a rapper.  Ludacris claims his message is from the streets, so therefore it is reality.  There is no difference between the two.  Hopefully Ludacris and others like him will overcome their ignorance