Monday, October 20, 2008

Cool Black's Video Madness-Volume 1

Welcome to Volume 1 of Cool Black's Video Madness. These are videos from around the net that I thought had something to say.

I can't lie I got this idea from the blog VexedintheCity, but it's a good one and I wanted to expound on it. The below theme exemplifies the current financial crisis in the U.S. Don't get it twisted just because we bailed them out, and yes WE since WE the tax payer will be paying for it doesn't mean the crisis is over. Pay attention to the lyrics. They are perfect.

Political cartoon of the moment

Funkmaster Flex responds to the R. Kelly September 2008 interview on BET. In case ya didn't know, R. Kelly was acquitted of all charges on June 13, 2008 in his child pornography trial, ending a six-year ordeal. He was found not guilty on all 14 counts. The Grammy award-winning singer had faced 15 years in prison if convicted.

This is a 2008 update to the All-Star remake to Wake Up Everybody with captions of facts about the current campain.


It's coming in '09 bey bey beybay.

Notorious is an upcoming biographical film about the life of hip hop star The Notorious B.I.G. , who is played by fellow Brooklynite Jamal Woolard. It will also feature Angela Bassett as his mother Voletta Wallace, Derek Luke as flashy record producer Sean "Diddy" Combs, and Anthony Mackie as rap rival Tupac Shakur. Other roles include Naturi Naughton as Lil' Kim and Antonique Smith as ex-wife Faith Evans. The film is directed by George Tillman Jr. who also directed 1997's Soul Food.

The film is currently in post-production and it will hit theaters on January 16, 2009. The official trailer hit the Internet Friday, October 24, 2008. You can check it out below.

I reported about this film in March on my site Cool Black's Media Madness when the casting was announced. I posted links to the casting session as well as a link to our African American profile about Biggie. You can check it out here. Below are promotional pictures as well as pictures from the film.

You can see a bigger version of this slideshow here

Below is a widget from the official website for the movie where you can REALLY read more about the film.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wiggers R Us

Is it cool to be down, mockery, or just plain stealing?

September 28, 2003

A wigger is defined as a Caucasian person who dresses, speaks, or otherwise behaves in a manner that is stereotypically associated with certain aspects of African-American, Caribbean or hip-hop culture.-Wiktionary

It seems like every day a new phrase coined by African Americans has been "embraced" by the national lexicon and even in the dictionary. Bling-Bling and Dead Presidents have been added to official dictionaries this year, The Oxford and Merriam-Webster's dictionaries respectfully. In a desire to be hip and cool everyone is trying to "flip" a phrase. The posturing is not limited to personal interaction though, now the display has been propogated by the ubiquitous media.

Elizabeth Regen (pictured far left) isn't a black woman, but she plays one on TV. Well, almost: she actually plays the role of a white person who plays the role of a black person - on "Whoopi," NBC's new sitcom starring Whoopi Goldberg. Despite blond hair and rosy skin, her character, Rita Nash, wears snug denim minis and hefty gold earrings, talks "sister to sister" with black co-stars, and makes it known that the correct pronunciation is "gangstas, not gangsters."

The casting call sought "a white girl who talks, moves and acts like a sister," recalls Ms. Regen, curling her fingers to set that last word in quotation marks. "That's s-i-s-t-a-h. So I guess I assume that means a black woman." Marching into the audition armed with all the attitude she could muster, she landed the part, and became Whoopi's sidekick, a woman euphemistically described by producers as "extroverted and culturally confused."

Call it what you will - nouveau blackface, hip-hop-face, or simply an "act black" routine - the white-as-black character that Ms. Regen has perfected is fast becoming an American comedic staple. In four recent films - "Malibu's Most Wanted," starring Jamie Kennedy; "Bringing Down the House," with Steve Martin; Chris Rock's "Head of State"; and the jailhouse rap sequence in "Austin Powers in Goldmember" - ultra-white people earn laughs by using phrases like "fo' shizzle," boogieing down to gangsta rap and wearing extra-large basketball jerseys. For a sketch on his new MTV show "Doggy Fizzle Televizzle," Snoop Dogg deprogrammed a "wigger" - that now-acceptable term for a white boy armed with hip-hop slang and low-riding pants - and returned him to his white self (a Lacoste-wearing racquetball player).

One of several satirical Web sites devoted to "wiggers" offers a run-down of their uniform, which includes "T-shirt, bearing logo of clothing company that doesn't want the wigger wearing its clothes" and tattoos that "will be hard to explain to the grandkids ('grandpa - what's 'thug life'?)." Last month's MTV Video Music Awards show bubbled over with Rita Nash moments: Adam Sandler and Snoop Dogg out-shizzled each other. Meanwhile Chris Rock teased Justin Timberlake for getting "real white all of a sudden" when told he was broke; when the news turned out to be a prank, Mr. Rock continued, "then Justin gets all black again and says: 'Aw, yeah. You got me, dawg. Yeah, dawg. Salaam aleikum, dawg.' "

So what's so funny here? Why does Rita Nash - and the white-boy-dropping-slang routine - have America, to cite Eugene Levy in "Bringing Down the House," straight trippin', boo? It depends on who's asking the question, and when.

In the 1920's, adventurous white Manhattanites got a thrill by visiting Harlem nightclubs. In his famous 1957 essay, "The White Negro," Norman Mailer codified the phenomenon in hyperbolic language.. The 1976 comedy "Silver Streak" featured Gene Wilder disguised with black shoe polish, a Rastafarian-style knit hat and an arsenal of stilted slang; it played for laughs, but it was funny because it was so unlikely. His Jewish Afro notwithstanding, Mr. Wilder seemed about as far from African-American culture, or even from African-American caricature, as could possibly be. Since that time, however, the immense cross-racial popularity of hip-hop has turned the hilarious improbability of white people who experiment with blackness into a perfectly familiar, everyday fact of American life; today, Eminem is one of the biggest rap stars alive, making it hard to tell where one culture ends and another's appropriation of it begins.

So Rita and the rest of the "wiggers" populating recent comedy are funny not because they're unlikely, but precisely because they are so very likely. They're walking, rapping embodiments of a new racial frontier that shaped American culture and especially American music - the frontier that optimists call racial hybridity and pessimists call cultural theft.

Part of the fun of "Da Ali G Show," on HBO, is the chance to watch white bureaucrats and politicians respond politely to outrageous provocations by the jive-slinging b-boy host. You get the strong impression that they just don't want to be seen criticizing a black person; the fact that the character is actually played by a white comic only makes their discomfort that much funnier.
These comedies may not use identical formulas - some mock the white wanna-bes, others poke fun at hip-hop posturing itself, while others, like Ali G, play a joke on us for buying into the whole routine - but all share the attitude that the racial amalgam is a fact of contemporary life. If you can't beat it, parody it.

By Baz Dreisinger, New York Times. Title and introductory paragraph by Cool Black. Original article title "The Whitest Black Girl on TV".

Sunday, October 5, 2008

From Elvis to Eminem


April 7, 2003

For years it has been contended that African American artist Chuck Berry is the true king of Rock & Roll. He and the likes of Little Richard, who has been recently administered the title of the lesser “Architect of Rock & Roll”, started the genre that made Elvis famous and more popular than either ever was. The same can be said for Eminem. Rap was here long before Eminem, yet he’s seen by many as “the best rapper ever”, “King of Rap” etc. I’m not saying that Em doesn’t have the skills and shouldn't be praised; bottom line is that he is damn good at what he does, but the best ever? Only time can reveal that.

Many of his detractors though, see his success as yet another example of white America's refusal to embrace African-American culture unless it puts on a white face. That would be true if many of the white kids who buy Eminem's CDs have also been strong supporters of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, DMX, etc. before Em even came on the scene. It has also been long known that 60-70% of record buyers are these same white kids. I also think Eminem is also just plain ole playing the “Madonna card”. By that I mean a strategy superbly deployed by music artist Madonna, be raunchy, be raw, be controversial, sell records. It works!

I have read where people said that they don’t even like rap music or Eminem, but went to see his movie 8 Mile because of all the hype. (To date the movie has made 116 million worldwide. Not to mention it set an all-time one week sales record for an "R" rated DVD, generating consumer spending of $75 million in purchases and rental.)

In a MTV interview Raymond Scott-co-founder of The Source magazine who is also a rapper under the name of Benzino took many verbal assaults against Eminem. Benzino, whose album sales are no way equal to Eminem’s, may seem like he is playing for attention by picking on the biggest name in rap. He explained it however as, "I had a problem with 'the machine,' with the double standard in hip-hop," "Certain media outlets take to him and look at him as the savior in hip-hop and the #1 in hip-hop and [do] not recognize the guys out here that created hip hop. ... Eminem is just the hood ornament for the machine. ... You think I could grab my crotch and put my ass in people's faces the way he does? No way. But as long as the color of his skin and his eyes fits what America wants, ... it's all right."

And to a certain extent I agree. Tupac [Shakur] was just as adversarial and licentious as Eminem, but scared the majority of America. While they were afraid of Tupac and what he represented they would and did embrace Eminem. Eminem talks about "white boy stuff" acts of self contusion like cutting your wrist, getting high on prescription pills-that kind of stuff, the kind of stuff white America can identify with. The stuff that happens in thier culture. They can't identify with the "street reporting" that goes along with gangsta rap. KRS-ONE (the teacher) said that white rap fans like to listen to rap because it lets them live vicariously through what the rapper is saying without EVER having to live that life that rapper has led. This is true because I do it.

I'm not as "gangsta" as say a 50 Cent or DMX, probably oppositely so, I live vicariously through what they are saying. It’s like reading a book or watching a movie and identifying with a character even though you never been in that situation.

In the end, majority rules. If the majority can identify with it, great!, they will recognize you. If not, you will surely be ingnored.

-Written by Cool Black aka Donald Dankwa Brooks

+Orginally published at Cool Black's Media Madness

An interesting aside to this article-Eminem's own song "White America". You can watch the video below (WARNING contains explicit language)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Magic Negro

Movies' 'Magic Negro' Saves the Day, but at The Cost of His Soul

June 23, 2003

Morgan Freeman plays God in "Bruce Almighty; " [pictured above] Laurence Fishburne a demigod in "The Matrix Reloaded, " and Queen Latifah a ghetto goddess in "Bringing Down the House. "

What's the deal with the holy roles?

Every one of the actors has to help a white guy find his soul or there won't be a happy ending. Bruce (Jim Carrey) won't get the girl. Neo (Keanu Reeves) won't become the next Messiah. And klutzy guy Peter (Steve Martin) won't get his groove on.

In movie circles, this figure is known as a "magic Negro, " a term that dates back to the late 1950s, around the time Sidney Poitier sacrifices himself to save Tony Curtis in "The Defiant Ones. " Spike Lee, who satirizes the stereotype in 2000's "Bamboozled, " goes even further and denounces the stereotype as the "super-duper magical Negro."
[Filmmakers] give the black character special powers and underlying mysticism, " says Todd Boyd, author of "Am I Black Enough for You? " and co-writer of the 1999 film "The Wood. " "This goes all the way back to 'Gone with the Wind. ' Hattie McDaniel is the emotional center, but she is just a pawn. Pawns help white people figure out what's going wrong and fix it, like Whoopi Goldberg's psychic in 'Ghost. ' "

It isn't that the actors or the roles aren't likable, valuable or redemptive, but they are without interior lives. For the most part, they materialize only to rescue the better-drawn white characters. Sometimes they walk out of the mists like Will Smith's angelic caddy in "The Legend of Bagger Vance. " Thanks to Vance, the pride of Savannah (Matt Damon) gets his "authentic swing" back.

Cartoon courtesy of The Black Commentator
A case of the yips hardly seems to call for divine intervention, but then neither does Carrey's crisis in "Bruce Almighty. " He's a TV funny guy who wants to be a news anchor. After he loses out to another contender, he verbally lambastes the Lord (played by Freeman with as much dignity as he can muster), and the Lord takes an interest.
Freeman's God can walk on water. But when He first appears, God is mopping the floors. Yes, He humbles Himself to teach the title character, Bruce, about humility. He then hands his powers over to him, popping in from time to time to save the world from Bruce's bumbling.

In "The Family Man, " a 2000 version of "It's a Wonderful Life, " Don Cheadle turns up as Cash, a meddlesome guardian angel disguised as a street tough. Cash shows Wall Street wheeler-dealer Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage) how things would have been if he hadn't ditched his college sweetheart to pursue his career. When the fantasy ends, Jack must choose between love or money. Thanks to Cash, Jack has a chance to make amends for his capitalistic piggishness. Cue the heavenly chorus.

"Historically, if a black person is thrust into a white universe, it is inevitable that the white people will become a better person, " says Thomas Cripps, author of "Making Movies Black: The Hollywood Message Movie from World War II to the Civil Rights Era" and other books on African American cinema. "Sidney Poitier spent his whole career in this position. Sidney actually carried the cross for Jesus in 'The Greatest Story Ever Told. ' "

In 1943 alone, black men became the moral conscience of white characters in four World War II movies: "Sahara, " "Bataan, " "Crash Dive" and "Life Boat. " Cripps is especially fond of the example set by actor Rex Ingram in "Sahara, " the tale of a tank full of men lost in the desert. "When they decide to get rid of somebody so the rest can survive, who stands up and says, 'We either all live or we all die together'? Ingram. The black man becomes the spokesman for Western democracy. "

Like Ingram's soldier and Queen Latifah's salty soul sister, many black exemplars don't have halos, but they still work miracles. Her Highness's performance "is especially unusual because most of these characters are male, " says Jacqueline Bobo, chair of women's studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. "When women do show up, they end up in exoticized roles like Halle Berry's in 'Monsters Ball. ' "

Cedric Robinson, author of "Black Marxism" and a colleague of Bobo's at UCSB, says, "Males, more problematic in the American imagination, have become ghostly. The black male simply orbits above the history of white supremacy. He has no roots, no grounding. In that context, black anger has no legitimacy, no real justification. The only real characters are white. Blacks are kind of like Tonto, whose name meant fool. "

Audiences -- black and white -- seem to be accepting of these one-note roles, judging by the financial success of "Bringing Down the House, " which brought in about $130 million, and "Bruce Almighty, " which has raked in $149 million and was ranked No. 2 at the box office last week.
And yet other viewers and most critics were appalled by the extreme odd-couple comedy "Bringing Down the House, " in which Charlene (Latifah), an obnoxious escaped con, invades the staid bourgeois universe of Peter (Martin), the uptight suburbanite.

Charlene not only shows Peter how to jump, jive and pleasure a woman, but teaches his son to read (a nudie magazine piques the tyke's interest),saves his daughter from a date-rapist and then reunites him with his estranged wife. And she does it all while pretending to be Peter's maid.

"If you were to say to the average person playing God was representative of a stereotype, you would get a curious look, " Boyd says. "People are uninformed. They see a black man playing God and that's a good thing. The same principle is at work when it comes to 'Bringing Down the House. ' People know she had a hand in creating the movie, so everything must be okay. White people and black people are getting along and having fun. Isn't that great? '

Aaron McGruder, creator of "The Boondocks" comic strip, didn't think so. He upbraided Latifah for her "less-than-dignified and racially demeaning performance. " His character Huey e-mailed Latifah, informing her that the "Almighty Council of Blackness has unanimously voted to revoke your 'Queen' status. "

The mystic icon that first comes to mind with many of today's moviegoers and film aficionados is Michael Clarke Duncan in "The Green Mile. " Duncan received an Oscar nomination for the role of gentle giant John Coffey, a healer wrongly convicted of murdering two children. In the movie, Coffey cures the jaded prison guard of corrosive cynicism and a kidney infection. He also saves the lives of the warden's wife and the prison mouse.

Ariel Dorfman sees sinister forces, something disturbing in such portrayals. "The magic Negro is an easy way of making the characters and the audiences happy. And I am for happiness, but the real joy of art is to reveal certain intractable ways in which humans interact. This phenomenon may be a way of avoiding confrontation, " says Dorfman, a playwright, poet and cultural critic. "The black character helps the white character, which demonstrates that [the former] feels this incredible interest in maintaining the existing society. Since there is no cultural interchange, the character is put there to give the illusion that there is cultural crossover to satisfy that need without actually addressing the issue, " Dorfman says. "As a Chilean, however, I sense that maybe deep inside, mainstream Americans somehow expect those who come from the margins will save them emotionally and intellectually. "

Damon Lee, producer of the hard-hitting satire "Undercover Brother, " has come up with a similarly intriguing hypothesis drawn from personal experience. "The white community has been taught not to listen to black people. I truly feel that white people are more comfortable with black people telling them what to do when they are cast in a magical role. They can't seem to process the information in any other way, " he says. "Whoever is king of the jungle is only going to listen to someone perceived as an equal. That is always going to be the case. The bigger point is that no minority can be in today's structure. Somehow the industry picked up on that. "
Robert McKee, who has taught screenwriting to about 40,000 writers, actors and producers, says, "Try to see [the issue] from a writer's POV. He or she wants to be PC. But you can't expect writers to think like sociologists. They aren't out there trying to change the world; they are just trying to tell a good story. "

Morpheus (Fishburne), named for the Greek god of dreams, has an interesting mission, to ensure the rise of the messiah, Neo (Reeves). But Morpheus is the ultimate outsider. He and 100,000 or so others have been enslaved by the Matrix.

Morpheus, a captain in the war against the Matrix, is both a free-thinking renegade and a religious zealot. In other words, he is more complex than similar characters. But his powers are in the service of the chosen one.

Such a worthy cause is no consolation for those who would prefer a fulfilling life of their own, rather than the power to change someone else's. Especially if the souls being saved aren't really in dire straits.

Above editorial from DV Republic, “The liberated zone of cyberspace.”

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