Tuesday, March 07, 2006

My Last Word On The Academy Awards...

I took a vacation day today, and between the tasks of building shelves in my garage and organizing my work materials, I read more blogs and comments on blogs regarding last night's Oscars presentation than I can count. At this point, I'm wondering if there was something that went terribly, terribly wrong in my childhood, because I don't seem to feel even remotely similar to what the majority of black folks whose thoughts I read today seem to be feeling. You may be surprised to find that I disagree with most of those whose comments I read regarding the song "Life Is Hard For A Pimp" as well as the movie, "Hustle & Flow". Then again, maybe you won't . I will admit to being surprised both by the nomination and the win for this song; however, after the fact, I understand how it happened based on the rationale behind which songs are nominated in this category. Re: the appropriateness of the song's subject matter and whether or not it disrespects women, I say the following:

  • The song was completely aligned with the premise of the movie and thus appropriate for the context in which it was set. Would I choose to listen to it in my daily life...I'm pretty sure not, but that doesn't change that it did fit into the movie for which it was written. A pimp [and lets face it, there are black men who are pimps just as there are those who are not] singing "I believe I Can Fly" [a song that many bloggers I visited today seemed to think would have made better sense as the first HipHop nominated song] though reasonable would not have the effect that this song did, which was to bring into sharp focus what the life of a pimp was like; something that few of us [black or white] know much about.

I personally am more disturbed by the fact that it seems that many of the comments I have read by black folks seem to be based in some insane fear that we are "airing our dirty laundry" so to speak. This idea that any black person speaks for all of us drives me nuts. Neither this movie nor this song caused me any personal embarassment nor embarassment on behalf of my race because I/we as a whole have no more first hand knowledge about this particular experience than anyone of any other culture might. That in my opinion was one of the greatest wonders of the movie, it brought into my conscious mind a lifestyle I would never otherwise have had any realistic insight into. How this is different from Jaime Foxx winning the Oscar for playing Ray Charles, a drug-using philanderer or Denzel, as a cop on the take baffles my mind. FACT: the Academy did not choose the roles for which these actors did "their best work" [quote unquote]. Any or all could have passed on the work but chose not to [thankfully], so where all this conspiracy theorizing on the evil Academy's desire to portray black folk in a negative light comes from is lost on me. Each of these actors excelled in these roles because of their own talent, and the strength and vulnerablilities that coexisted simultaneously in the characters each of them portrayed and were able to bring to life on the big screen.

  • Without question, the song is derogatory and degrading to women, as is the authority pimps have over the women they control. But here once again is another point that the plot of the movie was conveying...this life is NOT a pretty one!We as a people have to come to a point at some time that we accept that like every other culture, ours is made up of everything under the sun.

I believe that by becoming so incensed, enraged, and embattled every time one of the more negative images found within our culture are portrayed, we actually give credence to those who believe that all we are is this negative image. As the saying goes, "Me thinks thou dost protest too strongly", also known as "Is that a guilty conscience I hear?". As a movie fanatic so to speak, I can attest that movies portray people of every culture in negative lights. Many feel that because there are more roles for white artists, that negative images in their ranks don't mean as much. Maybe, maybe not...though the elimination of many of the roles we as a people en mass have found "offensive" might possibly lead to the elimination of much of the best of our existing body of work. "The Color Purple" aka "All Black Men Are Abusive" - GONE! "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" aka "Sidney Poitier Is A Wannabe" - GONE! "Monster's Ball" aka "All Black Women Are Alcoholic Sluts Who Sleep With Their Husband's Executioner" - GONE! and last but not least, "Glory!" aka "Niggas Take A Lickin' But Keep On Tickin'" - GONE! Each of these wonderful movies for which the black star received the Oscar was beleaguered by the same type of outcry that the only African-American victors at the 78th Oscars have experienced. I submit that if we as a people would make our preferences known not by reacting so vehemently to incidents such as 3-6 Mafia winning an Oscar, but by patronizing the movies portraying blacks in the positive roles we want to see during the opening weekend over which they premeire [the end all be all of determining what is/is not a hit], then we might actually have a shot at seeing ourselves in more roles which are more to our collective liking. However, as long as we continue to flock to the movies to see the typical, tales-from-the-hood movies that are a dime a dozen [no offense Madea] and waiting for the "quality" black movies to hit cable or bootleg DVD, then we only have ourselves to blame when Hollywood continues to respond to the positive reinforcement we do or don't provide via the box office. MONEY TALKS...BS WALKS!


LadyLee said...

Oh My!! You have definitely given the final word on the matter, as always!

Personally, I don't even think I felt incensed or outraged about this, as it doesn't have jack to do with me paying my bills or living day to day, therefore it is extremely low on the importance scale, but just overly confused and scratching my head about the nomination and win... I remember watching the other songs being performed that night and thinking , "Hmm... those suck!" and "uh... the Pimp song may win this one!"

A friend called, who refused to watch their performance because she thought it would be one big rap video (i thought this too, i must say), and I told her that they actually did a good job on the performance, with appropriate dancers, and not a bunch of video vixens bent over in the camera, i.e., BET style... So I was suprised about that.

I must agree that, even though I wouldn't listen to this song over and over on my own time, the song was strongly related to the context of the movie, and as far as I am concerned that, and the other song "Whoop that Trick" actually authenticated the movie (in my opinion, anyway). I am still a bit confused that a song like "I believe i can fly" was not good enough for nomination... yeah, it would have been totally inappropriate for this movie, but back then, what was the problem?...But I see a trend seems to be developing... We need to do the negative in order to get recognized (look at Halle and Denzel...they've had decent pre-Oscar win performances that were not deemed good enough)

But hey, that's what we flock to the movies to see, right? I want so badly to take my grandma to a good wholesome "quality" black movie, but there is none... Afterall, we don't support those, right? So now, this is what we have... We really have only ourselves to blame...

Anyway, Oldgirl.. I won't blog in your comment section... you got your point across, and I feel like it is okay for us to agree to disagree, right??? It's all love, girl :) !

K.O. Johnson said...

Please let me volunteer when you run for office. I couldn't agree more nor articulate it better than what you've done here.

Also, thanks for the tag. I'll respond as soon as I finish Part II.

Safa said...

Hmmm. Great post as usual Sharon! I saw the movie and really liked it. I only heard the song once and that was in the movie. However, I can't remember it being that good. I mean, it was good in the context of the film as it was documenting his struggle to make it as well as Shugg overcoming timidness. I don't see it as airing dirty laundry but I do agree that at times it seems that the same behaviors and lifestyles that haunt us(as we try to get away) are the same ones that seem to propel us into fame, celebrity and notoriety. It's like we tried so hard to escape the image that has defined us negatively but at the same time it's like everything comes full circle. I can't articulate my thoughts as clearly as I'd like but I don't know. I felt 1000X worse when I saw R Kelly performing at the NAACP Image Awards. It's like black people (people in general actually) or so ass backwards about certain things.