In analyzing popular culture, one has to take a critical viewpoint on what is being promoted and why. 2013 has seen a noticeable shift in focus in Black films. This in of itself, sounds like a good thing, except when you factor in many of these films being based upon either slavery or servitude. The stream of these films, with them being relatively close together have forced many to sit up and take notice of why films of this nature at a time like this.
Many Black people have decided not to view these films. Whether it be for reasons of not wanting to support such films, or not wanting to be depressed. Everyone has a right to decide what kind of media they consume. Many say that Black people should view these movies as a way of embracing our history. To that, this writer says, should we really be learning our history from Hollywood anyway?
I have a theory of my own. Hear me out on this for a minute. In this time of austerity and uncertainty, there is always a certain amount of nostalgia that tends to emerge during rough times. On one hand, a venture into the past via film can mean viewing a time period with clear right and wrong. Since it is often easier to see the wrongs of yesteryear than to comprehend and/or face the issues of the present, we get morality tales steeped in history via cinema. Also, one subtle underlying message to Black America is that despite the harrowing issues that we face today in terms of unemployment, incarceration and association with criminality, our collective lot in the early 21st century is far better than that of our ancestors. As John Henrik Clarke once said “If you start your history with slavery, then everything else will look like progress.” Contemporary Black suffering is supposed to be ameliorated by pointing out “how far we have come” today.
To get further perspective on this, Polite On Society reached out to independent film maker and founder of the Bringing Conscious Back movement Nicholle La Vann to get a sense of why the avalanche of these sort of films. Nicholle had this to add.
“Hollywood doesn’t hide their agenda, if they want to give an overall message, so what better way than to use the medium of film? These slave movies released now are by master design. The agenda is to reshape history as white america sees fit. ROOTS was disturbing, so they had to make (these films) It’s obvious in movies like Django and the Help pose the overall message “nigga stay in your place”.
Ms. La Vann also added: “Our country has never appreciated ROOTS or what Alex Haley did to provide a history to a people whose history has been purposely erased. To push films that promote white privilege is the american way. Films like “Fruitvale station” which portrayed a great story and dealt with the racism didn’t receive the green light unless they are produced independently. Racism is aggressively encouraged in all the recent released films such as The HELP, 12 Years a Slave, Django and etc.
At the end of the day Hollywood wants to put their sick twist on the Black holocaust making it in to some type of comedy with inaccurate history timeline. We still are having repercussions of racism even in media and if folks don’t stop in their tracks and get on the ball of “Bringing Conscious Back” in what we read, watch and take in we are doomed to be a robot with no mind of our own.”
Whatever your opinion of these films, it is important to be watchful of the underlying messages within our contemporary media. Now, I turn this conversation over to our readers. What do you think? Am I way off? Let me know in the comments.
Marc W. Polite
Prefers contemporary Black films