Eventually, You Come to Realize and Make Peace With the Fact That They Don’t Care About You…

Eventually, You Come to Realize and Make Peace With the Fact That They Don't Care About You...

That was my response to a friend who wondered why I wasn’t more upset and enraged over the dearth of black actors cast in Hollywood feature film projects, as well as the tiny percentage of *black films* backed by the studios, as we both looked over the lengthy list of new feature film projects announced in the last few weeks, as well as the onslaught of recent Cannes Film Festival updates, via other non-race-specific sites.

"As someone who writes about this stuff, don’t you get really annoyed… and depressed when you’re going through these sites and it’s nothing but whiteness, and more whiteness everywhere, with a few sprinkles of color scattered about," was essentially his inquiry.

If he’d asked me that question 6 to 7 years ago, when I was running a little-known personal blog called The Obenson Report, long before Shadow & Act was born, my response would’ve been entirely different. In fact, he wouldn’t have had to ask me that question because my *raging* would’ve been evident.

But, eventually, as stated, I realized that I certainly wasn’t the first black person to rage against the machine, so to speak; black people have been doing just that since D.W. Griffith unleashed Birth Of A Nation onto the world. It’s kind of sobering when I read critiques by black writers, of black films and TV shows (or black characters in films and TV shows), from 50 to 100 years ago, and I realize that I can say almost the exact same things about black films and TV shows (or black characters in films and TV shows) in recent times – suggesting how little has changed over the years, and how very far we still have to go.

As much as the institution called Hollywood pats itself on the back for how liberal it thinks it is, is it really?

Eventually, you have to realize that, the product of an entire industry that’s run by white men primarily, will reflect its makeup (their POV) for the most part, especially when they haven’t demonstrated much of a desire to broaden their horizons, and take what would be described as "risks," and, like most in industry, are almost entirely profit-motivated.

You also realize how powerless you really are to challenge the status quo, especially as a single voice. Collective power is another thing entirely, however [see AFFRM’s recent push]. But that’s another conversation – one we’ve had a number of times in the past on this blog.

And I’d rather invest all that energy (as well money and time) into projects and initiatives that I think fill the gaping hole Hollywood has long ignored, or has convinced itself doesn’t exist, or, frankly, just doesn’t care about.

So… life isn’t fair. Mother Teresa isn’t running Universal Pictures nor Warner Bros. There are stories to tell and lots of money to be made, but, unfortunately, you don’t really have a seat at that coveted table. You’re invisible – haven’t you heard? And nobody gives a shit about you and your plight, and your laments about how *invisible* you are (other than you; you meaning, "us").

But whatever the reason is, I actually really don’t care anymore. It’s pointless. The bottomline is that the results are evident, and have been for a long time, despite the tiny bursts of progress that have been made over the years.

So I’m tired of *raging* if you will, and reacting to every questionable casting decision, every *problematic* project made, the lack of awards show representation, critical analysis of "what’s wrong with Hollywood," or "why black films aren’t [Fill in the blanks]" or "why black actors are [Fill in the blanks], etc, etc, etc. 

Our collective resources are better utilized in what I feel are more productive ways [like ensuring that the crowdfuning campaign Haile Gerima launched yesterday for his latest feature film is a success].

But, to my friend who inspired this post (thank you by the way), don’t let any of what I’ve said stop YOU from raging though.

A luta continua.



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Comments

Someone

Omg. Thank God you wrote this piece Tambay!!

molasses jones/SWEET Entertainment Group

The door is open.

LeonRaymond

@FOOD FOR THOUGHT with that stated you are superbly right about your point below

"And, finally, black businessmen. Dr. Dre just donated $70 million dollars!! to USC to form some new media technology college. Of course, its his money to do with what he will, but think how much more powerful it would have been if he pooled that money with, say, Ava DuVernay to support AFFRM and the work she's doing. … And, obviously, what you need from the audience of color is to boycott crap and demand better — which is really difficult."

Exodus Animator

OUR BIGGEST PROBLEMS
– Lack of Black owned theaters and theater chains (Magic Johnson Theaters are owned by AMC)
– Lack of distribution ownership (Companies that make the deals to put movies into theaters, on video, on cable, on demand, and streaming.)
– Lack of ownership of TV networks(fully autonomous), video stores, and streaming networks
– Lack of ownership of film and DVD printing companies.
– Lack of ownership of major (international) advertising firms.
– Lack of ownership of financial institutions.

WHEN, AND ONLY WHEN WE HAVE OWNERSHIP OF EVERYTHING I'VE STATED, THEN WE WON'T HAVE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT OUR LACK OF OPPORTUNITIES AND IMAGES…

derrick mathi

You know, the US has a pretty large latino population. You don't here them complaining as much as black people complain about the lack of latino films. Matter of fact, I don't think I've ever seen anything in print about latinos complaining about lack of latino movies produced here. Might there be a possibility that we're tripping too hard?

MASTER BLASTER

The bottom line is that we have to go out and get our own projects done on our own terms. Period. Love this piece. My favorite thing on S&A since I've been reading the blog.

Donella

I like the approach of Marlon Wayans. He and the Wayans family have proven themselves time and again. But every once in a while, a Wayans gets "done" in closed door meetings and finds themselves on the outside looking in. Marlon Wayans played the long game that took years on the grind to pull off. He won on his own terms with Haunted House. One of the best ways to channel rage is with long, hard, dirty, frenzied, sustained, passionate work. Very proud and happy for Marlon's efforts to beat the Hollywood machine at its own game.

Addison Witt

I agree with everything you say in this article. I would add to it by stating that "Hollywood" doesn't care about any group as far as I have experienced. I have worked with them all, diversity of every stripe. I have been fortunate to have achieved success with every group, and it has been a challenge at every turn. Whether disabled, actors from other countries, American whites, blacks of every shade, red, or yellow. "Hollywood" is a follower. Whatever is hot, whatever breaks through. Whatever is attention grabbing at the moment, "Hollywood" finds a way to profit. "Hollywood" is not a social, intellectual, or spiritual leader. The system is set up to profit from trendsetters, people and groups that find a way to break out of a stronghold mold. The cookie cutter "Hollywood" design is a very expensive endeavor that is limited and restrictive. The "Hollywood" formula works. And why does anyone want to change something that works for them? Certainly not because it is the right thing to do.

david

THEE BEST article I've ever read on s&a! Thanks a lot, and although I can't stop raging just yet, I'm on my out…lol

da

Tananarive Due

Preach! Tired of raging too. Doing my own thing. :) Thanks for posting this.

Akym Sims

As BLACK PEOPLE in America we expect handouts on uneven ground. WE NEED TO DO FOR SELF, NOTHING ELSE WILL SUFFICE. Every race thinks they can be 50/50 with their white brethren. BLACK PEOPLE are less than 17% of the American population. We hand over our art and culture to people that don't share our backgrounds and expect that second hand info to be told to the populous correctly. The Asian Studios and Bollywood don't make white or black movies because they invested in their own people. We need to do the same and get out of this slave mind state of letting white people define us.

julius hollingsworth

im glad your past the rage and moved on to making your dreams come true.celebrating ind. black film.

urbanauteur

BURN HOLLYWOOD BURN!

1992 -Rodney King -Beverly Hills- The FIRE That Time…almost…almost made it.

PrinceToddyEnglish

I love this website primarily because, instead of raging, you shed light on all the films, movies, and television featuring black: writers, directors, actors, and actresses that ARE out there. Were it not for this site I would not know about 90% of these projects!
I'm most definitely a loyal fan.
Shadow And Act even gave me the inspiration to start my own movie blog. Let's give voice to our auteurs who are doing it, no matter how quietly.
Cheers!

April

They Die By Dawn- by Jeymes Samuel – research it- great A list Black cast being made into full feature length film. Brilliant by the way. English African man loves American west, cinema and contacted every one of these fab actors who agreed- no agents, BS, red tape. Great untold stories about Black American outlaws brought to life. The story on how this short film was made (with help of Bulleit Bourbon-Samuel's band is called The Bullets) is a film in itself- Stop wringing your hands and make it happen. Jews never waited for someone to give them a leg up, nor the Irish.

VichusSmith

Fuck. Yes.

L. Michael Gipson

This is a surprisingly cynical piece from the publisher and editor-in-chief of a blog that manages to find fresh content daily about new black films, videos, webisodes, casting, etc. I do agree with your central premise: "They don't care about you…and your invisibility." That's true. But, Shadow & Act has single-handedly restored my faith in the future of black cinema across the Diaspora by covering each and every day the black cinematic renaissance that really is in our midst. It's just not a renaissance backed by Hollywood, and maybe one not corrupted by Hollywood isn't so bad after all. I owe that faith to you and your S&A team. So, cheer up!

Slem

Here. Here.

Adam Scott Thompson

Two tears. One bucket. That's all I've got.

ScriptTease

Excuse me if I sound NAIVE, but I have to believe that one day in the near future, someone will take that step and encourage black folk, we have to be there for one another. We have to have each others back because no one else does. I have to believe that soon, in the near future, black folk will be spitting out a minimum of 6 films a year at the theaters. We can do this, we have the power, but for some reason, IMO we feel that it is limited, so we're reluctant to help one another. Again, sorry for being Naive, but I am a believer, and all it takes is one person to get the ball rolling, and it will be like a "domino affect". And please you naysayers don't look at it as being the crabs in the barrel affect either. Movies are just the tip of the iceberg, but that is another story for another day.

Daryl

This is something that realize a long time ago, if you are black filmmaker hollywood only wants to give you money to do sterotypical films about black people. That's why I have been telling black filmmakers that want to tell other stories to forget hollywood and build our own film community. Hollywood only has power if you give it to them and that's by waiting on them to give you your big break or waiting on them to be a post racial industry. When enough black filmmakers and black actors, actresses, cinematographers, production designers, sound people stop waiting on hollywood co-sign and do for self then things will change because the thing about film is it a process of collarboration, the filmmaker can have their stuff together but a couple of people doing the jobs I mention can mess up your film if they not trying to do their best. You can only do so much alone as a filmmaker. This is what's hurting black film not hollywood but too many of us buy into the stuff they sell us on who black people are and how we suppose to act, now if you are doing a stertypical black film you will have a line around the corner and not have no problem getting the film made. I would love for you,Tambay, to do an article on why do so many black actors, filmmakers, writers need hollywood co-sign to feel like they made it and why do so many struggling black actors, actresses, and crew not take a project serious if it's not a typical black story that has been offer to black people forever.

ALM

Yes. Collective power is excellent, but you have two many people who either can't properly come together to form a collective or too many who will abandon the collective at the first sign of hope from those who historically have shown they could care less about more balanced representation.

In the mean time, what are some of the more productive ways that all of us on this site can use our energy? Some are directors, writers, actors, etc., but what about the people who are in the audience? What do you need from the audience of color in order to help?

Jason Pollard

Hell of a headline and article..good work sir

Damone Williams.

I think I needed to read this today. Thanks, Tambay.

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