Of all the media coverage given to the Red Tails film within the last couple of weeks, one surprising belief that surfaced often was the idea that supporting the film at the box office would “send Hollywood a message” and somehow force studio executives to finally consider greenlighting more black film projects. Now, I can understand the average Joe saying this but a number of industry folks repeated this same mantra which, quite frankly, seemed idiotic. Why are we still trying to court Hollywood? Am I the only one who got the “we don’t do black films anymore” Hollywood memo?
Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the desire of many wanting to do something that causes change. I’m just not sure going after Hollywood should be our objective anymore. In my opinion, it’s akin to going after that old boyfriend or girlfriend, that dumped you ten years ago, to prove how worthy you are despite knowing damn well they’ve moved on.
A better solultion would be, for all those “proclaiming” to want to see more black films, supporting the emerging black indie film scene. If a third of the films we constantly profile on this site received the same fervor as Red Tails, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
I’ve survived the era of the 80’s and 90’s when supporting a black film had a huge social impact on society. Regardless, that impact never correlated into a pulsating and thriving “black Hollywood” as so many expected. It’s easy to attribute Hollywood’s disinterest in black movies to just being strictly about box office success but there are far too many financially successful black films for that to be a creditable excuse.
Blacks in the US represent roughly 13 percent of the population and, although that may seem small, that’s still a majorly significant number when you consider what we bring to the economy. Yet, just last year alone, only six films – out of hundreds of studio films – were created and marketed towards that demographic.
So what’s the good news in all this? The more people know about and support the black indie scene, the better chance of us seeing more creative and diverse projects.
Below are the black cinema film releases for 2010 and 2011 with the majority of them being indie productions. If you’d like, count how many clips are actually Hollywood studio films and see what you get.