HELLO AMERICA!—The horrible killings which took place at Virginia Beach only enhanced a level of urgency which is clearly adding to the human challenge of being able to survive today. Most films and TV dramas are filled with images of people and situations which spotlight the loss of hope and faith and wondering if life can be better. Because the economy is being touted as supreme by those who have made sure they are the beneficiary of the new tax laws passed by a fellow member of their “buddy-rich” club, ideas and images are continually being promulgated that life in America hasn’t been better. The obvious question is for whom? When we seem so divided and polarized into small tribes, a reality of what really is seems trapped in a continual graying cloud.
I openly contend that, as usual, those of color with exceptional comedic talent, at times, do more damage socially in raising respect for the group. As a whole, when making TV appearances with the expected performing handle of just another “cartoon” character which laced theater, films during the old days of entertainment. Remember the brilliant Bill Robinson, Willie Best, Nick Stewart, Steppin Fetchat, and Rochester (Jack Benny Show)? I knew all of these fantastic talents as a young student making my way in the business.
The same thing applies to the women of color who were extremely powerful talents, both in the theatre, as well as film. Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen, Louise Beavers all delegated to images of servitude and these were women who were intelligent and well educated, but seldom permitted to project what kind of roles they genuinely were able to handle. Producers at the time were quite satisfied when they could sign another person of color who could easily create the clown faced character with the expected grin and white teeth and, of course, the attitude to boot.
Unfortunately, most of the young and relatively new writers, producers of color who don’t understand their responsibility in changing the “fractured” image created during those early days in our business, believe they must simply present their truth. Usually, their socially truth represent so much of what is expected i.e., women with angry attitude, sexually loose and proud of it, young black boys and girls who believe they can only reign when they can appear tough in speech and in physical attitude. All stemming from films written by other hungry-needing talents of color and white writers who feel what they wrote and depicted might satisfy those of color when they can identify with what they viewed on the wide screen.
Even with the hit series “Empire,” the leading female star had to be presented as a former street, tough female who would cut your throat in a second. What makes one a bit upset is that it was created by a young man of color. He could have easily created her character as one with intelligence and determination that her family would survive, no matter the sacrifice. However, the writer played into everything he thought might sell this show to Hollywood as well as the general public. He missed an opportunity to present a different image of a people who needed a much reshaped view worldwide as a matter of fact. There are times when we do more damage to ourselves than anyone else.
Sadly, because we are a nation of people who enjoy being entertained and mesmerized by overpowering TV images, we become prisoners of utter ignorance and deception. As a result we have ended up with a leader in the White House who represents everything we fought against during the Civil War. Unfortunately, those who were born and grew up in the programming of those who believed they were the god given leaders and rulers of the world attempt to reemerge when they feel it is safe and accepted as “good” people and “Let’s Make America great again!”
It is obvious what is being pontificated, utter ignorance, smothered in no knowledge of history or how it affects who and what we are today. When a leader yells proudly, “I am a NATIONALIST” it represents “white” supremacy rule. That is when we still have much work to do as writers, producers, teachers as well as columnists. It is paramount to remind our friends, neighbors and anyone else that we are STILL a Democracy!