Category: Entertainment


So I just watched Will Smith’s new movie “Hancock” two nights ago. I don’t mind telling you that it was somebody else’s bootleg copy and I’m glad I didn’t spend any money. Maybe somebody else might have really enjoyed this power-packed, action flick but somebody with my racial-sensitivity issues and my sometimes out-of-control “What’s the real message here?” angst…well, maybe I should explain.

shining example of a Black superhero

Hancock: shining example of a Black superhero

First of all, Hancock is a superhero, a Black superhero. Great! Someone our children can relate to, right? Sure, if you don’t mind the ragged, unwashed, alcohol-guzzling, profanity-laced, irrational, out-of-control dysfunctionality of the character.

And, considering that he seems to be the only one of his “kind,” you can almost understand him. He’s lonely. He’s confused. He’s isolated. All that stuff. He inadvertently finds a kind of mentor — a PR man named Ray whose life Hancock saves. But for some reason, Hancock seems to be “drawn” to the man’s wife Mary: your typical tall, blond, slim white woman whose wiles have been making men go crazy on (and off) the big screen for longer than I have been alive!

Take, for example, the slick way that the writers managed to elevate these white women to sainthood. Mary is actually Ray’s second wife, and his son’s stepmother. As the story goes, Ray’s first wife died — giving birth to their son. Pretty good way to get rid of her, I had to grudgingly admit. There is no more saintlier way to die. And that saves the writers all the problems of divorce, alimony, child-support and the bitter legal battles that can make the average woman look considerably less than sweet. Mary (I don’t think that name is a coincidence!) swept Ray off his feet when he was the confused single-father of a brand new infant (how touching), trying to figure out diapers at the supermarket (we all know how hard THAT can be — I think any non-movie dad would be insulted at this point). And the rest, as they say, is history. Mary and Ray fell in love and Mary generously raised the son who was not her biological child — the only mother he ever knew! She’s no scheming homewrecker, instead she’s Ray’s saviour.

After one excrutiating scene after another where this “tension” between Hancock and Mary is played out, finally we are let into the mystery: Mary has the same powers as Hancock! A cruel trick of amnesia has separated the two: she is his powerful alter-ego and wife!

Unfortunately, when the two are together, they are like Kryptonite to one another: causing them both to weaken and lose their powers. So Hancock is safer and better off living his life separately and leaving her to continue to live her own.

The picture-perfect suburban family

The picture-perfect suburban family

My frustration with the film was not really built around the fact that this white woman is the center of all power, beauty and desirability in the film — come on now, I get that on a daily basis just from your everyday shampoo commercial! What concerned me is that the film continued to portray this loving, happy, functional white family with angelic mother, devoted dad and spunky son. Hancock had no such situation. Even when all the drama had passed with Ray finding out about his wife’s hidden superpowers (total deceit!) and matrimonial link to Hancock (umm…that had to be a shocker!), at the end of the movie, they were still able to pull it together (magically?) and come through as a stronger, still functional family. Hancock, of course, was the lone ranger, cast out on his own — and pretty damn happy about it all the same.

And you wonder why it is so hard for Black actresses to find quality roles. Whether lead character or sidekick, the Black man almost never has a quality life-partner, wife, girlfriend, whatever. Anyone remember Hitch? Would it have been so crazy to have Will Smith fall in love with a Black woman instead of the usual “pseudo-mixed-maybe-Latina” symbol? Anyone see “The Game Plan” starring The Rock and Morris Chestnut? Morris was all good playing the functional family man. The only problem is that his family was never once shown on screen. I just experienced the disappointment of Jennifer Holiday’s nothing-role in the Sex In the City movie. Maybe SHE could have played Hancock’s wife; turned that poor sucker around.

Well, at least I can take comfort in the fact that the real Will Smith is married to a real strong Black sistah and not selling out in that regard (thank you Ms. Jada Pinkett). But, with as much influence and bang for the buck that he has in Hollywood (or maybe I’m making a big assumption here), I just think that he could do a lot more to help portray images of functional Black families in movies. And that’s my rant of the day. What’s yours?

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CNN will premier a series, ‘Black in America with Soledad O’Brien’

http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2008/black.in.america/

Wednesday July 23 at 9pm – Black Women and Families

Thursday July 24 at 9pm – Plight of the Black Man in America.

I’ve heard it said that you should watch it with your children (or record it, if they have to be in bed!). It might make a good showing and discussion piece for a youth group. We may not all be American but there are sure to be commonalities that affect us all. I’ll be back on the blog to let you know my thoughts after the series. I hope you also do the same. Let’s keep the lines of communication open. Visit the site too, it’s powerful.

Last night I was reading (re-reading for probably the millionth time) Pearl Cleage’s book “Mad at Miles” where she talks about her personal struggle, loving the music of Miles Davis knowing that he was a proud and self-confessed woman beater. Two quotes from the book really stand out for me:

Miles Davis Album“I wonder how much good all those poems about beautiful African queens can do in the face of a backhand slap across the mouth and a merciless rape in the bedroom of your own house.” (p. 2)

“Can we make love to the rhythm of ‘a little early Miles’ when he may have spent the morning of the day he recorded the music slapping one of our sisters in the mouth? Can we continue to celebrate the genius in the face of the monster?” (p. 19)

QUESTION: Is the music separate from the personal behaviour of the person? Rappers are being hauled up on gun crimes every day, R&B crooners are doing the dirty with underage girls and drugs are a rampant part of the industry. How do you feel about the music when you know about the artists’ personal lives?

I admit it: I am still struggling with R. Kelly – do YOU see something wrong with a little Bump and Grind? Help me out here people!

Click on the heading to leave your comments.

On Saturday night, I took my children to a holiday dinner at my mother’s church. For the record, church is something like I no longer “do” for a variety of reasons, most of which have to do with the lack of analysis and participation in most churches. I grew up during the era of “don’t ever ask questions, just pray and have faith and trust that God has all the answers even if you don’t know what is really going on in your life and a lot of things just don’t make sense. Keep your eyes closed and stay on your knees!” Thankfully there are churches today that allow for just a little more participation that that! I have been to some of those and find them to be a good start. But I digress…

At this holiday dinner, there was good food and an excellent program! There was modern dance, spoken word, singing (good and bad!) and a whole lot of other fun activities — even breakdancing! Very positive. But one thing that struck me on the negative side was the way that many adults felt about the little children playing.

My three children along with three other youngsters were having a ball, running and playing in the hallway (outside the main room) and sometimes laughing and waving and joking (inside the main room). For their antics, they received many a disapproving frown, a lot of “shush!” and my husband and I were both approached (at two separate times) with a strongly-worded request that we keep the children quiet. It seemed to me that adults had a great appreciation for the children, as long as they were on-stage singing, dancing or otherwise looking cute and performing for the Lord. But outside of that, the children were seen as a nuisance and a bother.

Now I went to church for many years and I remember a lot of the Bible and the lessons that were taught. One that stands out for me vividly is “Suffer ye the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Is that verse out of fashion these days? I don’t remember Jesus saying “Suffer ye the little children to come unto me but keep their little behinds quiet or you’ll be asked to leave.” No disrespect but if they have as many stringent rules and regulations in the Kingdom of Heaven as they do in some churches these days…well, let’s just say that the experience left me feeling not too joyful. ‘Nuff said.