Monday, November 30, 2015

A biblical verse by verse study of Will Smith's view on racism in Hollywood

I have to say, it feels like @brothascomics spends a lot of time bashing Will Smith and I know I don't mean to.  Of the three of us, I am probably his biggest fan but I also have become jaded a bit by his movies and his personal life philosophy which appears to be mumbo jumbo wrapped inside mumbo jumbo.

This week, THR- The Hollywoord Reporter, who got dragged by Black Twitter last week for its lack of diversity on their Women in Hollywood issue, came out with their male counterpart this week and in it, the idea of racism in Hollywood was discussed and two of the panelist were black.  The aforementioned Will Smith and Samuel L Jackson.

Now this is gonna be an old school, biblical verse by verse dissection of his comments.  I think going line by line, we can discuss what he said and what he meant.  But we can also discuss the viability of his comments because if you just read what he says off the top, everyone would nod their heads in agreement and that shortchanges his answers but also undermines the reality of the situation and industry he works in.

So put on your Sunday best, grab your Martin Luther King hand fan because we going to CHERCH up in here!  Can I get an AMEN, Brothas and sistas! And in Biblical fashion, the words of Will Smith will be in red

Will Smith said...
"Everybody is prejudiced," he said. "Everybody has their life experiences that make them prefer one thing over another -- it makes them prefer blond hair over a brunette; if you see somebody with dark skin walking down the street, you have a different reaction than you have [with] someone who is 5-foot-1 and white."

Lets break it down...  
Verse 1: "Everybody is prejudiced.  
This is very true.  We all have prejudgments about certain things and people.  And Everybody translated from the Greek means everybody so no ones gets a pass here.  And again, there is nothing wrong with what he says here.  But verse two, he goes off into that Will Smith bullshit.

Verse 2:  Everybody has their life experiences that make them prefer one thing over another -- it makes them prefer blond hair over a brunette;  OKAY STOP!  Here is where he begins to go off the rails.  Again, just reading the words, it sounds perfectly reasonable to say this. But Will Smith is making a comparison between prejudice and preferences. We all have prejudices and we all have preferences but they are not the same thing- especially when speaking about race.  His line about blonde's and brunettes is a preference. The same way a dude may like taller women or shorter ones or skinnier ones or thicker ones.  That's a preference based on what you like.  If you say, I only like white women or I don't like black dudes, that is preference but its based on prejudice against a race or group of people.  To confuse the two is dangerous and often gives people who want to use prejudice and race as non issues power to say "we all have prejudices" and then use that prejudice to do and say racist shit!

Lets look at verse three where it looks like Will Smith attempts to over correct on the bullshit he just said..

Verse 3:  if you see somebody with dark skin walking down the street, you have a different reaction than you have [with] someone who is 5-foot-1 and white." Now he takes it back to racial prejudice which is totally opposite of what he just said about blonde's and brunettes. But he shortchanges the response and undermines that, yes we all are prejudice, but we all do not act on those prejudices. His example of using a 5 ft tall white guy makes no sense and plays right into a racial stereotype.  So the short white guy is not threatening but the tall black guy is?  He shoots himself in the foot by trying to be politically correct and not to offend anyone who might watch, write, produce, or direct a movie that he wants to be a part of.  And this is Classic Will Smith!  He wants to please everyone and not offend anyone to be able to keep his money train going or to win that elusive Oscar.  Its why he does not take acting chances like Django because he is always trying to play it safe. He reminds me of Obama when he was first elected- always trying to pacify people who don't want to be pacified and don't give a fuck about you.  Now that Obama is headed out of office, his give a fuck button is broke and he says what he really thinks and feels and that is how Will Smith SHOULDA been when he was making hit after hit for these studios when he was in a powerful position to do so.  Moving on....

Verse 4:  The word "racism," he said, implies something worse: the feeling that "your race generally is superior."  Again, back to a very safe argument that when read off the page will make people nod their head and say, "Amen" because most white people don't think they are racist even tho their prejudices against people of color often leads them to do and say racist things.  But again, its Will Smith playing it close to the vest and not wanting to offend. Yes, racism involves superiority, but it also involves supremacy and privilege that many white people are subconsciously unaware of that guides their thought processes and actions on a day to day basis.

Verse 5:  "And I have to say, I live with constant prejudice, but racism is actually rare -- someone who thinks their race is superior," Smith continued. And there is the middle ground again.  Basically saying it happens but its rare, but trust me, it happens.  GTFOH Will Smith!  It happens on the daily to most people and frequently happens  to you.  You may be in an insulated bubble at times to not see it but its happening all around.  Especially now that you are not making the money for these studios like you used to.  Its why you can't get ____ movie made or produced now even though 10 years ago, people would've given you a blank check just to stare at you.

Samuel L Jackson is also on this panel and I can imagine that he is looking at Will Smith like

The THR interview goes on and Samuel L Jackson does have a response to questions about racism in Hollywood...( interview in blue and then back to Will Smith in Red for Verse 6)

A moment later, the interviewer asked if actors could do anything to fight this kind of racism. The other African-American actor on the panel, Samuel L. Jackson, answered with a simple "No." But Smith was more optimistic about their chances. 
Verse 6 "As actors, we have the ultimate power," he said. "Historically, story combined with imagery moves humanity forward. What we do -- not that it’s a responsibility, but it is the ultimate forum for changing people’s hearts and minds."  This is Will Smith at his finest bullshit right here. Basically saying movies are the vehicle to make change in the hearts and minds of racist people.  Werd? So film is the solve to all of societies racial woes and inequities?  Funny tho how black actors, writers, producers, and directors have such a difficult time getting the funding and support for these vehicles for social change.  And who holds the purse strings and influence to make these movies to change the world, Will Smith? And when given the opportunity, as the biggest movie star on the planet, what movies did you make to change the culture? After Earth? Men in Black 3? 7 Pounds?  All those movies did was make me hate you more- which was a change because I liked you alot more before I spent my money on them crappy movies.
Look, I cannot say what Will Smith has to do on the regular in his day to day.  He may be dealing with alot more or alot less bullshit that a black man in his 40's has to deal with in this country. I do know this, tho.  When giving the chance to speak up or speak out on issues that affect black people and people of color, he was either silent or offered up the same platitudes he did in this article and I think that is weak. And look we all are not Deray or Jesse L Williams nor should we all have to be.  But use the platform of influence that you have for something positive and don't try to convince me that the film you made macking down a white girl is going to change the world because its not!
The Producer

Blerds guide through Kevin Smiths Jersey Trilogy

The Producer here... I took a week off from blogging and what not to make a family trip to Philadelphia and to New Jersey and New York.  Most of this trip was family business/issues but some of it was for pleasure.  I will write about my first trip to New York City in a later post.  But a part of that trip was getting to visit Kevin Smith's comic book store ( Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash).  As a life long blerd and a former Kevin Smith fan( more on that later), I wanted to visit some of the places that are talked about in his movies and seen in his early film work.  I have heard Kevin Smith speak frequently about why there is no real diversity in the Jersey Trilogy.... he basically states there are no Black people in the Jersey suburbs hence no black people in the movies( with the exception of Hooper X in Chasing Amy).  But watching the movies, you can hear the influence of Black culture through many of the musical choices and pop cultural references.  And for general nerdiness, the movies all call back to comics, Star Wars, and other nerdly features that will make you laugh because the jokes are kinda inside jokes on nerd culture.

I came to the Kevin Smith movie party pretty late.  Clerks came out in 1994 and I probably did not see it until 1998.  Brother Beavis put me on to it and if you have never seen it, its still one of the funniest and crudest movies you will ever see. The movie is shot totally in black and white and its lack of production value as a film is almost a selling point.  Had it come out a few year later, people possibly would've mistaken it for a "found footage" movie like the Blair Witch Project.  The camera work is almost non existent and the dialogue is so quick you often need to use the close captions to understand it.  This is Kevin Smith's first film where he was fresh out of film school.  The legends of him funding the movie on credit cards are true and the casting is essentially people he grew up with.  For the uninitiated, the movie revolves around two 20 something slackers and their day working menial jobs( one at the Quick Stop, the other at RST video store). Dante and Randall,  as most 20 somethings do,  hate their jobs and meander through their day talking about things guys talk about( women, sex, and of course Star Wars).  The movie introduces us to Jay and Silent Bob( Jay played by Jason Mewes and Silent Bob by the director himself, Kevin Smith) as two dudes who hang out in front of the Quick Stop and sell weed and basically just loiter.  But Jay is a vulgarian with many funny one liners and Silent Bob only speaks once( a pattern)  After you watch it, you will never hear the number 37 again and not laugh to yourself.  This movie is the launch of the Jersey Trilogy and the following movies link back to Clerks.  Clerks is a critical and commercial success.  It makes the rounds at all the Independent movie festivals and is looked at by many as Kevin Smith's best film( I disagree).

Clerks on Netflix

On my trip to New Jersey, I wanted to visit the Quick Stop because its really the backdrop of the entire movie.  The store is located in Leonardo, New Jersey and I took my 10 year old with me.  I went inside, said wassup to the current Clerk working there, took a picture looking at the dates on the milk( gotta see the movie for that), and a picture outside where RST Video used to be.

Clerks success leads Kevin Smith to make his second feature, Mallrats.  The movie, as it name implies, is about dudes that hang out at the mall.  Its really a farce of a movie and I don't mean that in a bad way.  Kevin Smith, at the time, was making "bro/ slacker movies" that would later be copied and done( debated if better) by Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen.  Once again it stars slacker 20 somethings who don't have much going for themselves and both have been recently dumped by their girlfriends. The movie stars Jason Lee as Brodie and Jeremy London as TS. The movie makes references back to Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob also make a much more active appearance. and contribute their brand of shenanigans to the movie.  The movie actually has good actors who would go on to do solid work in Hollywood.  Jason Lee has starred in many movies and tv shows, Joey Lauren Adams and Claire Forlani are both in this movie and have been solid character actors for years in Hollywood.  Shannen Dohtery was at the height of her 90210 bitch level when this movie came out. Michael Rooker plays crazy dad as only Michael Rooker can.  Stan Lee makes a cameo to discuss super hero genitalia with Brodie. And of course, Ben Afflek stars as a sleazy, clothing store manager and we don't need to discuss the star he would become- other than to add that with all this star power,  Mallrats bombed at the box office.  All the postive press and hype Kevin Smith got from Clerks quickly evaporated in this box office dud.  If you can, find a copy of the DVD Mallrats and listen to the directors commentary.  Kevin Smith details how the movie came about and what he feels went wrong.  Plus the commentary track, in parts,  is funnier than the actual movie. As a part of the commentary track, Kevin Smith discusses how he used Mallrats as a casting call for his next, more personal and more successful movie- Chasing Amy.

For my Blerd trip, there was not much to see.  The movie was filmed in Eden Prairie, Minnesota so not alot of on set sights to see.  But I did get a chance to snap this picture of Brodie statue in Jay and Silent Bobs Secret Stash.

Mallrats on Youtube

The last movie in the Jersey Trilogy is Chasing Amy.  In my opinion, Kevin Smith's best and most complete film.  It has comedy and heart and because of the disaster that was Mallrats, its cast brilliantly with Jason Lee and Ben Afflek as the 20 something dudes.  This time, they have actually jobs as comic book artists and writers( you will never hear the word tracer again and not laugh).  Things get all turned around when Holden, played by Afflek, falls in love with Alyssa, played by Joey Lauren Adams.  Sounds like a classic, Nancy Meyers rom-com but its not.  You see, Alyssa is ( spoiler alert) Gay.  But that does not stop Holden from pursuing her and the movie is a deep, and personal love story.  It also speaks to friendship and how personal relationships often times ruin friendships that have existed for longer than that personal relationship.  The movie has heart and depth and people often are confused that the person who made Mallrats, also made this movie.  From a Blerd perspective, we do get our first, and only, Black character, Hooper X.  Hooper is a militant comic book creator who goes to comic cons to scare and intimidate people with the hopes o drumming up book sales.  Hooper is played delightfully by Dwight Ewell and he steals scenes in the movie.  His introduction into the movie is classic!

On my trip, I was able to purchase my Hooper X doll which is going on my desk at the day job tomorrow.  Also, parts of the movie was filmed at Jacks Music Shoppe in Redbank and I was able to walk the aisles in the store.

This trip was fun and conflicting all at the same time for me.  I was a huge Kevin Smith fan in the late 90's and early 2000's. I  saw all the movies, I bought and read( when they finally shipped) his run on Daredevil, Green Arrow, and Spider-Man. After this trilogy of movies, he made Dogma, which I think is underrated as a film and he also made another Jay and Silent Bob movie( Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) to put some closure to the whole Jersey thing and focus on making more adult movies.  In my 20's I could relate to Dante and Randall and Brodie even tho they wasn't brothas.  I could relate to feeling lost and unsure of what the hell life had to offer outside of living with my parents, reading comics, and gaming and talking about music and movies all night long.  As I got older, I could relate to Holden being in a complicated relationship and loving a person so much but unable to make the relationship work.  And as my 20's turned to 30's, I felt Kevin Smith making those changes and he made Jersey Girl with Ben Afflek and Jennifer Lopez.  This was right after the Gigli debacle and his movie craters and I think it scared him.  I think taking that chance and it not working, forced him to go back to the well and he cranked out another Clerks movie( Clerks 2) and then the horribly unfunny, Zack and Miri Make a Porno.  Now in my mid to late 30's, I'm watching his new movies thinking, "dude, you are better than this.  How did I grow up and you didn't?"  So after Zack and Miri, I kinda lost Kevin Smith's number.  I still follow him on Twitter but I have not seen any of his newer movies. So when I made this trip to Red Bank, it was with a bit of sadness in my heart knowing that 34 year old me would've enjoyed this much more than 44 year old me.

 I finished off my trip to New Jersey by visiting Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash.  I know most people know it now for the place where they film Comic Book Men.  I personally have never watched the show for no other reason that I just don;t do "reality" tv.  I was able to meet and take a photo with Walt Flannagan, who is one of the stars of the show and who is a capable comic book artist and writer himself.  He is also named checked often in the Jersey Trilogy of movies.  Of course I had to buy some swag for me and Brother Beavis and I took some pictures with props from the other movies.

There you have it! If you have never done so, watch all three movies.  Keep the kids far away because the language is a straight up vulgarthon!  But if you are a Kevin Smith fan or former fan like me, I would highly recommend going to the store and to the Quick Stop.  It's like walking onto a movie set without having to pay!

The Producer

Monday, November 23, 2015

8 Crazy Nights: From Penthouse to Outhouse------ Starring the Ohio Players

AUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH !!!!!  From Kegs and Eggs  to Tears N' Beer.  TOSU' s  loss to 300 will probably keep them from defending the National Championship.  MSU will crush Penn State and Iowa.  All the Bucks can do is beat the brakes off that team up North in Whore Arbor. The Buckeyes were doing the best impression of a team that just believed that putting on the Scarlet and Grey meant that they were going to win every week. Beat those guys and you will be in Chick-Fil-A Bowl 2015 playing either FSU or Ole Miss.

Now  to the other Numbnutz  that lost to the Law Office of Hoyer, Yates and Palmer.  First you only score 6 lousy points versus the AFC South Watts at PBS. That was awful. Welcome to 8-1. Then you roll down to Arizona to play New/Old Bengals also known as the Cardinals. Yes, that penalty at the end was BirdShat. Maybe the refs hate on the Bengals  like the refs hate on the Redskins. Anyway the Stealers made up  2 games in the lost column without playing a snap. Denver won with their scratch and dent back up as well. Kiss the Number One Seed in the Playoffs goodbye

Cleveland Browns- You Exist

INFORMER...... The Return of Snow

Jon Snow.

  After watching Big Pappa Stark get lightheaded during season 1, I have been hooked on this series. Several !#@%  dead lead characters later, I assumed that Jon was just another in the long line.
How could the Night's Watch betray their Commander and provide him with some extra breathing holes with the White Walkers advancing on them. I'm getting HBO somehow and watching this story unfold.


The end of  2015 is coming soon. I decided to make a list of some of the things I want or will do in 2016. Create your own list and post it to our board. Meet you at the bottom of the list

1. Go to Comic- Con  in San Diego

2. See another series of Cowboy Bebop where Spike is still alive. Spike3.jpg

3. Speak, read, and understand the Japanese language.

IV. Publish a Batman or Flash story for DC.

5. Publish A  X-Men or Spider-man story for the Mouse.

6. Have Stan Lee sign a book for me that doesn't cost 80.00. ( I met Stan Lee at Dragon- Con  3 years ago but I wasn't going to pay 80.00 bucks for his autograph !! )

Stan Lee Autographed Amazing SpiderMan 8x10 Photo GAI COA

7. Get into the Guinness Book of World Records for participating in the Largest Tabletop battle  of Battle Tech/ Aero Tech/ City Tech including  3D buildings and Dropships.

8. Meet and Greet with John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Alan Moore, and Frank Miller.

9. A Fantastic Four movie that doesn't make me wretch.

10. Win on Jeopardy

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Curious Case of Lupita Nyong'o!

Image result for pictures of lupita nyong\

I am baffled by the fact that such a beautiful, talented actress with an Oscar under her belt, still seems to have problems finding work.   I have found myself asking, why have I not seen her in more movies?  She has almost disappeared from the Hollywood radar.   In looking at Lupita’s IMDB page, she only has 3 upcoming projects and all three are in post production, two of which she is only doing the voice work and will not appear as a human character in the story.   They are Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (Voice), Queen of Katwe and The Jungle Book (Voice). HUH!  This goes to show the problem with diversity in Hollywood.  This lady has an Oscar already, and she won this with her first role in a big Hollywood movie.  Also, she gave such a moving Oscar acceptance speech about all the little girls that may be thinking that it was impossible, that it could be done.  So, henceforth, why is it that directors and producers are not knocking down her door with the opportunity to work with her.

Image result for pictures of lupita nyong\

The only reason I can think of, for her not being given the opportunity that say a Jennifer Lawrence is being given, would be her color.  Lupita is a darker hue, and even in 2015, when everyone touts diversity, Hollywood truly is not there yet.  As I have discussed with The Producer about why she was not cast as the new Storm in the upcoming X-Men movie (in which she would have definitely given the character a more authentic look), or why she wasn’t given the opportunity to appear as an actual human character in the new Star Wars movie, is ridiculous.  Those are both opportunities in which this beautiful, talented actress would have had an opportunity to shine and was overlooked.  WTF!!  Perhaps, it is because she is of a darker hue, that Hollywood truly does not know what to do with her, but the thing is, they shouldn’t have to know what to do with her, her talent should speak for itself.  

I read where Spike Lee made a comment about how Hollywood still is not diverse, and I think I would have to agree with him here.  He stated that white Hollywood execs “Better Get Smart’ because they’ll be a minority soon.  Spike Lee is absolutely correct, Hollywood still is not reflecting the diversity that represent the current make-up of our world.  What is with that?  

Image result for pictures of lupita nyong\


Here is to hoping that there are future projects in development that will allow Lupita Nyong'o the opportunity to shine.  The fact that she is still being overlooked, even with an Oscar, is a travesty!   Also, for all the other brothers & sisters that are being overlooked because of Hollywood's very narrow view of representation, here's to improvement in true diversity.  

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