Friday, March 17, 2006

Where Have All The Black Girls Gone?


Can somebody please make this brother a sandwich, pronto! (And pour him a tall glass of sweet lemonade while you're at it.) This is Mark H. Harris. He writes a column for PopMatters.com called Yelling at the Screen and he wrote this great article last December (don't know how I missed it) called Where Have All The Black Girls Gone?

He has some great advice for black actresses to use for solving their perpetual M.I.A. status in Hollywood:

The quality of black women's roles have reached dire proportions. There's something inherently wrong with the fact that there've been more movies this decade starring Nick Cannon than Angela Bassett. And as great as Kimberly Elise was in Diary of a Mad Black Woman, it doesn't make up for the fact that the main draw of the film was a dude in a dress. The way I see it, there are a few options that black actresses can pursue:

Solution #1: Kick black actors' asses. The few who might actually have some say in casting haven't always shown much sympathy for the cause: Will Smith in Hitch, Ice Cube in Next Friday, Denzel in Out of Time and Training Day. Jada Pinkett needs to climb up on her husband's shoulders and box his ears. Does he not care that his wife can't get a job unless he gives it to her? Does he not care that the less work she gets as an actress, the more work she gets as a singer? I'm sure Denzel's wife must've told him that if he puts Eva Mendes in one more movie, she'd cut him off at the knees.

Solution #2: There's no quicker way to get a black man's attention than to not date a black man. Ask Garcelle Beauvais, Kerry Washington, Aisha Tyler, Thandie Newton, or Tyra Banks. The goal is twofold: one, you'll get noticed by the few black men who have some pull in the industry. Two, you'll infiltrate the non-black power structure; it's the Hollywood way (Near Vine way; take a right past the hooker.).


Solution #3: Being black in America is like being gay in that you can't be "a little black" or "a little gay", so the solution is simple: try not to look black. Witness: Vin Diesel, The Rock, Jennifer Beals, Mariah Carey, and Rashida Jones. And if you can't pass for "other", at least try to be light-skinned enough to play the love interest in an Eddie Murphy film.


Solution #4: Boycott. Who are they gonna get to play their attitudinal hookers, their attitudinal welfare mothers, and their attitudinal authoritarian cock blockers (loan officers, judges, DMV workers, et al.)?

Solution #5: Try not to make movies like Woo, B*A*P*S, or Glitter.

Hopefully, my advice can help black actresses gain some leverage in the industry and put a positive black female face on Hollywood so that black women worldwide will take pride in these roles and feel more secure about their future in this world.


Pure genius...

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8 Comments:

Blogger P said...

Very nice.

Very good.

I love this post.

I have innumerable thoughts on this. I do know that for one, black actors AND actresses have it hard in hollywood. Even though our Denzels, Don's Cheadles, and most recently Terences and Jamie have quasi penetrated the AmeriKKKan way, as we call it, there are countless others who, for some unknown reason, just cannot breakthrough the barrier.

They are beautiful, talented, warrior men who deserve recognition (Giancarlo Esposito and Mykleti Williamson being two of such), but just can't get those meaty roles.

Hollywood makes me sick. (That's the only phrase I could come up with). They can have countless number of actors, but we've got to barter for ours like we're in a flea market.

For more on that, and who I love as black men, you can look at my post on black men past and present who I love.

http://pattyopolis.blogspot.com/2005/11/men-i-love.html

As for the women. Well, of course, we constantly get ripped off, so that's about it.

And Tyra: She is too much of a grand talent to be wasted on those kinds of movies. But I get the distinct impression that her roles are dried up. There is still aesetically pleasing issues that probably go on in Hollywood, and I have a feeling she is deeply typecast.

Jennifer is on negrowatch. She has been for years and years. She pulls from it when necessary (L Word, Devil in a Blue Dress).

She is a Hot Mess. ..

http://pattyopolis.blogspot.com/2005/12/million-dollar-broads.html

March 17, 2006 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Cocoa Girl said...

I SO much agree with your assessments! They're absolutely hilarious!

What gives with Hollywood - black women are so fabulous. It's such a shame how we continually TRY to give us the short end of the stick.

We'll get around this barrier just like we have WITH ALL OTHER OBSTACLES.

We are truly the best women on the planet.

March 17, 2006 at 5:24 PM  
Blogger Cocoa Girl said...

Sorry, meant how *they* continually try to give us the short end of the stick.

March 17, 2006 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

P: Thanks P!

I read the post on the men you love...

I'm with ya on everybody except Iverson...not my type

Love Jesse L. Martin -- especially since we share a birthday. If I ever meet him, that's the first thing that's coming out of my mouth! (I'm not going to tell him that Ciara was also born on our birthday...)

And I still love Billy Dee (BILL-LAY!!!!) One of my first posts was on my mini-obsession with the film Mahogany. http://anovelista.blogspot.com/2005/07/do-you-know-where-youre-going-to-did.html

And no you didn't have Calvin Lockhart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My God, that man was SO FINE I couldn't look him straight -- too powerful!! I was IN LOVE with him back in the day! That's why I know R. Kelly is wrong because if ole Calvin had stepped up to me and my know-it-all 13 or 14 year old self, well... I wonder if he has a son somewhere...


Hollywood makes me sick too, but I'm determined to be a part of the solution (as a writer/producer). Some day we gone be FREE!

Oh, and I agree with your observations about Tyra Ferrell and Jennifer Beals. I agree that Jennifer "pulls from it when necessary" I HATE that she was in "Devil in a Blue Dress" -- she didn't want anything to do with being black before that! If you're biracial, fine -- that's legit to me. But don't downplay black and call it up when it's convenient for you. Such an insult...

March 17, 2006 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Cocoa -- thanks. But they weren't my assessments, they were from Mark Harris' article -- I just agree with him wholeheartedly!

And yes, I agree that we'll get around this barrier just like we have with every other obstacle -- it's what we do.

March 17, 2006 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Actually P, I was wrong on Jesse L. Martin. I don't know why my brain keeps telling me we have the same birthday! We have the same birth year -- big difference! I share a birthday with the actor Michael Boatman, who is a good actor, but nowhere near as cute as Jesse L.

Oh well, I still share a birth date with Pablo Picasso!

March 18, 2006 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Miss Ahmad said...

P~I'm gonna have to second the Jennifer Beale thing, although she was the baddest broad on the block in Flash Dance, she don't want no parts of the black community when it comes to Hollywood.

someone should mail her a copy of Imitation of Life.

She's on Tom Watch!

March 19, 2006 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger eric said...

I'm way late to this, found it on a blog strolling about after learning of the site from jack and jill, but it's still way on point, unfortunately.

2008 hasn't seen many solutions. I believe that casting folks across all of entertainment have actually bought the fear that black people = less appeal and thus less money.

I have sat in many rooms hearing - "nah, too ethnic," when ethnicity was not a necessary factor in the content, e.g. in a haircare ad. That means being locked out of Americana. There's not much on the other side of that besides the dwindling wasteland of stereo-roles.

thx.

i'm sure we'll keep hustling to get over this, too.

hustleandfloe

September 20, 2008 at 10:52 PM  

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