Is Laziness and Greed Crippling Black Storytelling in Hollywood?

Actor Anthony Mackie in a recent interview espoused:

“I think right now [blacks] are being kinda lazy on our game,” Mackie said. “There are enough brothers with distribution deals and production deals where we should be making our own movies.”
“Oprah got her own network,” Mackie said. “Michael Jordan own a franchise. We got black money. So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to tell the stories that we want to tell and portray ourselves the way we want to be portrayed.”



Good points Mr Mackie. There is a reason that the messages in Robert Townsend’s “Hollywood Shuffle” are as valid today as they were in the 80’s when it was released. In HS Paul Mooney coolly states “If they keep playing Sambo, they’ll never play Rambo.”

I don’t believe that laziness is the culprit however, there are two much larger, more ominous forces at play:
Incentives and Miscategorization.

The incentives for black roles in entertainment (meaning MONEY) is in the big show. To his point there is still a core imbalance in the quality of image for black roles. For every “John Q” there are 100 paying roles for “mugger #3” or “villain in alley.” For a greater example recall that Denzel received 3 Best Actor nomination before winning his Oscar for playing Alonzo in “Training Day.”

The second force is less of a force and more of an error in thinking. One of the major resultants of integration is the dissipation of the “African American” category in just about every measurable category. African Americans have since been making the steady migration away from the ability (never mind preference) to spend along color lines. I believe, however unfortunately, that the masses of African Americans are spending, voting, socializing along the lines of common lifestyle interests or are still investing is a dead or dying value system.

I don’t disagree with Anthony, we SHOULD be making more authentic movies with characterizations that we consider to be valuable. We disagree on the ability to still say “We.”

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  • Tan Williams

    Reply Reply March 10, 2011

    Anthony Mackie vocalized the question many African Americans are asking themselves while watching television; movies; and cable nowadays: “where are the people like us on the screen?” Apparently, this is a deep concern that has evolved from the era of the NAACP; Bill Cosby; and so on. More and more people of influence are saying the same thing.

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