Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Butler, Sheryl Underwood, Bob Marley and my Yin&Yang

(Reuters) - Civil rights drama "Lee Daniels' The Butler" continued to serve up box office victories with $20 million in ticket sales over the long U.S. Labor Day weekend, leading Hollywood's box office for the third straight weekend.

My Ying

This is very good news for a very good movie. In fact, I have been on a three week black consciousness art high. After watching the emotionally riveting "The Butler" (TB)  not once but twice -- believe or not I may have been more teary-eyed the second time -- I felt a new level of black art had been reached.

First, TB featured an all-star Hollywood ensemble cast: from Oprah to Jane Fonda; from Robin Williams to Cuba Gooding; Forest Whitaker to John Cusack; from Mariah Carey to Lenny Kravitz and much more...

This cast of stars, by placing film above ego, made an instant classic. A movie inspired by a real
White House butler to eight presidents. A proud self-made butler who witnessed the Civil Rights movement from the dual perspective: A freedom riding college son and from the perch of the most powerful men of the world -- U.S presidents.

Second: TB -- with a brilliant script -- was supremely directed by Lee Daniels. This movie, narrated by an African-American protagonist, told the story from our perspective without using a white surrogate to appease white audiences -- yet it maintained an universal appeal.

As a black director, Daniels has to inspire the likes of  the Tyler Perrys to step up their game. The bar has been elevated. Madea in proper doses is cool; but, a steady diet of Madea is too much junk entertainment/food for our souls.

The black audience demands and deserves no-less. Go see this flick.

My Yang: Sheryl Underwood calls black hair nasty

Just when I see an alignment of the heaven stars for black actors, directors and writers, Sheryl Underwood happens:

Snapping on “The Talk” co-host Sheryl Underwood’s Dollar Store doll baby wigs or her remarkably uncanny resemblance to Arsenio Hall’s drag queen character in that club scene in Coming To America is too easy—like shooting fish in a barrel.* So I won’t go there and be mean. But I will, without hesitation, say that it absolutely infuriates me that she would fix her mouth on national TV, while wearing a ridiculous waxy wig, to wonder with disgust why a mother would save the first clippings of a black child’s afro.

You read that right: in Friday’s episode of “The Talk,” Underwood tossed black folk under the back wheels of the bus for kicks and giggles while making fun of our natural hair. Her comments came after it was revealed that Heidi Klum saved the clippings of her bi-racial sons’ first haircuts—clippings that happen to be afros.

“Why,” Underwood asked, a look of mild disgust peeking through her nervous giggle, “would you save Afro hair?” She continued: “You can’t weave afro hair. You never see us at the hair place going ‘Look, here, what I need here is, I need those curly, nappy beads.’ That just seems nasty.”

Even worse: when co-host Sarah Gilbert chimed in saying that she, too, saves her children’s hair, Underwood suggested that Gilbert was right to do that because it’s “probably some beautiful, long, silky stuff.”  source

My thoughts and feelings regarding natural hair are well documented. But to see this bizarre outburst of self-hatred, so causally expressed, on afternoon TV is daunting and sad. Sheryl is a reminder of how far we still have to go to emancipate our minds from mental slavery (thank you Bob Marley and Carter G Woodson).

Instead of linking Ms. Underwood's foolishness -- you can google on your own dime -- I will feature Mr. Bob Marley crooning to Redemption Song -- with his defiantly royal locs.

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