…life from my perspective
John Ridley (Black – Martin, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Three Kings) and Aaron McGruder (Black – Boondocks) wrote the screenplay, Anthony Hemingway (Black – The Wire, Treme, True Blood, CSI: NY) directed it, George Lucas (White – Star Wars, Indiana Jones, American Graffiti) executive produced it and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Black – Boyz N The Hood, Jerry Maguire) and Terrance Howard (Black – The Best Man, Hustle and Flow, Crash, Iron Man) are the film’s stars. And while I haven’t seen the movie for myself, Red Tails is causing quite a stir within the black community, as if we really need much of a reason to debate and start the gender wars….ALL…OVER…AGAIN. If there’s ONE thing that’s PURE RUBBISH it’s the GENDER WARS! That shit is SO PLAYED OUT…..but I digress. Regarding Red Tails, I’ve heard everything from “this is NOT a black film and just because Lucas fronted the money to make it doesn’t warrant my support” to “I only support films that capture my interest no matter the colors of those on and off-screen” to “black people should go and see this film on GP just to prove to Hollywood that we support our OWN and that our stories matter” to “highlighting a love interest between one of the airmen and a white woman while failing to showcase black love relationships is a snub to black women and the reason our plight will never improve” to “hell naw I’m not going to see this movie because there were Tuskegee Air WOMEN too! Where’s THEIR story?” Clearly, a review of this movie is necessary before I can offer up an honest critique of the storyline and its production BUT that DOESN’T mean I don’t have something to say about them there criticisms. Keep in mind these criticisms OF THE MOVIE have been shared by a few who HAVEN’T even SEEN the movie. In this post, I’ll be CRITICIZING the CRITICISMS. Trust and believe – people have a right to their opinion. Listening to other viewpoints forces you to re-examine your own. But disagreeing for argument’s sake gets tired and standing on the sidelines saying nothing gets you the guaranteed *side eye*. What I’m discovering is we’re not living during the civil rights movement or in the days of Jim Crow so black people no longer rally around “civil rights”, “integration” and “equality for all”. Our special interest groups run the gamut so the cause he defends won’t necessarily be the cause I rally around. So….if you’re looking for support from black people just on the strength, you ain’t gone get it. I think I respect this but I’m not sure if I accept it. This could be the VERY REASON black unity eludes us.
After Obama broke it down Al Green style I jokingly admitted he had the 2012 re-election on lock. Then came the criticisms about how it doesn’t take much to win over black people – we’d be happy with a coke and a smile. Oddly enough many are saying the same about Red Tails. And strangely enough I heard the same thing being said about the movie “The Help”. Pure bullshit. I know A LOT of black people that will NEVER be won over – it’s just not in their DNA. They’ll keep expecting others to deliver that which only they themselves can achieve…but I digress. There exists ENOUGH TV programming that DOESN’T tell our story but emasculates, denigrates and humiliates us though WE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT IT (RHOA, The Braxtons, Love and Hip-Hop) in the name of “it’s just entertainment”. But when the opportunity arises for OUR HISTORY to be portrayed on screen we put on our Bill Cosby and Bell Hooks uniforms and play “the entertaining but accurate and dignified portrayal of black people in this film is necessary in order for me to watch it” police . Quiet as kept, I really don’t give a damn about TV or the movies – I watch very little of either, except Investigation Discovery and FBI Files, but I understand that many DO watch TV and our children are being programmed and unconsciously influenced by the repetitive slogans and images they see daily. So sitting with our children to watch Red Tails or The Help or Malcolm X is the ice breaker. It’s the event that sparks their curiosity and gets them to questioning why things were the way they were and allows them to make the connection to why things are the way they are. It’s the segue to cultivating their intellectual minds. Granted The Help had a “white saviour”, portrayed very similarly to that picture of “white Jesus” hanging on Big Mama’s wall, who came along and made black women feel “whole again” and true there’s talk about Red Tails highlighting an interracial love affair, leaving out black wives and girlfriends without any mention of the Tuskegee Air Women but you can’t cut the nose to spite the face. Progress is cyclical and is almost always made in baby steps. Ever heard of that saying Rome wasn’t built in a day? History raves about Charles Lindberg and Amelia Earhart but THIS movie, Red Tails, tells the world “slow down bitches – black people flew too. Not ONLY were we aviators, we were military pilots defending our country DURING Jim Crow.” On the basis of THAT ALONE there is SO MUCH to be drawn from this movie. EVEN IF Lucas had to front his own guap, EVEN IF there was no side story of the Tuskegee Airwomen, EVEN IF the stories of the black wives and girlfriends of the soldiers were excluded, EVEN IF the acting wasn’t star stellar, the movie’s value isn’t diminished. It is my thought that there were a myriad of events surrounding the airmen and the war, all of which couldn’t be told onscreen during this one film. And while I DO believe it EXTREMELY bogus for black love to not be showcased in this film, whether intentionally or unintentionally, this alone doesn’t reinforce the stigma of hypersexual, loneliness, disrespect, disgrace and anger that black women must bear – Love and Hip-Hop, RHOA music videos are responsible for that.
I used to go back and forth with TJ about personal responsibility. While I think we BOTH agreed with each others point of view, I STILL believe that personal choice outweighs all else. If black women want to change the way black women are perceived in society we must quit fuckin standing in line for TV reality show auditions. If we want a voice, when we get the mic we must say something motivational, inspirational, progressive, thought-provoking and uplifting. If we want to be regarded as ladies, we must stop gyrating in music videos, stop singing about how we gone put it on him and refuse offers to pose on the cover of KING half-assed naked. Watch that Keri Hilson video and listen to Beyonce’s Party and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I don’t think we can blame Red Tails for contributing to how society views or fails to see black women – I think we must look at ourselves FIRST for the picture we choose to present. And while tensions between black men and black women are thick and our relationships are failing some STILL believe in love and couldn’t see it happening with anyone other than a black man or a black woman. I always examine myself and take a good look at the men I attract. The ones that share my space are of VERY GOOD QUALITY but that’s not by accident; I am of VERY GOOD QUALITY. But remember, it’s not what you attract – it’s what you engage. And while I believe there are quite a few dipshit men and lost in the world women, I can’t save them all. I don’t believe in change of epic proportions on a larger scale – I think the most effective change happens one on one. So stop blaming rap. Stop blaming Hollywood. Stop blaming men. Stop blaming women Stop blaming the media. Stop blaming society. Stop blaming the government. Stop blaming THE FEDS..NO. Wait. You CAN blame THE FEDS. Stop blaming the schools. Be the example. Become the change you seek. Teach and support your own. Until tomorrow youngn’s.