Monday, February 22, 2010

When Nappy Heads Were In Vogue

Ciao ciao ciao lovers!

Slick Boogie here bringing you sunshine from the bowels of hell! It's a balmy 71 degrees here in SoCal. The air is crisp, the trees are bearing fruit, jasmine bushes are in full bloom and on clear days like this I feel like I can see forever. So the heart of the city is beating ya dig? But the vitals for the blactor in world of TV and Film? FLATLINE.

 Note the sadness on Bernie Casey's face.

Think back...dig into that pea brain of yours and think back to the 90s. No the 80s. Even more the glorious 1970s where every body had something to prove. Something to fight for! Social justice, Womens Lib, Chicano Black Yellow Red Man Power! You name it.  These times were turbulent and exhilirating. And the adverse affect of these voices? Changes (big and small) came smashing thru the walls of pop culture.

As you may know, my mother was an excellent parent. Two things I learned early on in childhood.
1. Never argue with a fool in the street, simply shank him and keep on stepping.
2. That black people were everywhere. Even on my television.

I didn't even realize she was a single mom until I was like 12 years old.  You see my dad was the telly.  It was simple, mami cooked dinner and made me wash behind my ears, and Telly my dad lulled me to sleep with all 10 of his channels. From sun up until he went off the air.  Telly was my television.  And Telly NEVER failed me. In the morning when I woke up at 6am, the first thing I did was reach for him and he'd greet me with re-runs of I Spy. Bill Cosby and Robert Culp the hippest warriors on the Telly.  Followed by The Muppet Show and of course my morning cartoons.  Telly brought me all of my friends: Flip Wilson, Sanford and his son, Weezy and her forever coiffed hair, Thelma & Willona triumphed with fashion inspite of their dilapidated tenement, and George always had me wanting to 'move on up.' 

The 80s brought me Dominique Devereaux the half sister of Blake Carrington.  In the sea of glamour and white faces I was eternally grateful to Aaron Spelling for giving me a chocolate drop in sequins and shoulder pads. I mean come on! Who didn't love the slug fests twixt Joan Collins & Diahann Carroll on Dynasty? The 90s brought an abundance of color! TV& Film.  Blactors were featured on hour drama's, comedies, mysteries, and even Sci-Fi!  Andre Braugher & Yapphet Kotto killed on Homicide: Life on The Street, goofy family friendly Family Matters made you giggle, NY Undercover made us girls yearn for Malik Yoba and those sexy ass soup coolin' lips. Holly Robinson & Dustin Nguyen were incognito badges on 21 Jump Street, and Livin' Single featured the lives of ---wait for it 4 Successful & Educated Black Women! Oh the horror!

Film for the blactor in the 90s? Take your pick! Spike Lee Joint's, Hughes Brothers, Darnell Martin,  Hudlin Bros were all directors that worked constantly.  Here it is 15+ years later and we're all still quoting lines from Jungle Fever, Sugar Hill, The Ink Well, Menace II Society...I could go on and on but I think you get my point. I'm not even arguring that these were the best projects but the point is, they were there.  Just like the Blaxploitation films of the 70s-- they were not always perfect, but they were there and an audience followed.

Some of my favorite throw back films of yesteryear could WOULD NOT be made today. TheLandlord starring Beau Bridges & Diana Sands, ground breaking animator Ralph Bashki's Cookskin rocked theatres, Cornbread Earl And Me with a very young Larry Fishburne, and Claudine starring Diahnn Carroll was like watching a modern day Mother Courage. These projects should be important to the archives of our minds because at this route this so called post racial on camera programming is killing the blactor.  I mean I know ALL actors are suffering because the roles are dwindling for everyone. But I can only speak to what I'm feeling at the moment.  And at this moment I'm seriously considering taking a hike up Beachwood Canyon to spray paint the Hollywood sign black.

I'm not dismissing the work of today's pioneers. There are plenty of filmmakers working in Hollyweird today that would make Oscar Micheaux proud. And I applaud Tyler Perry. His work may not be my cup of tea, but he's busting his ass and reviving the careers of many.  I have to keep telling myself there is room for me. Otherwise I won't be able to get my cop drama produced.  I can see it now:

...And the Emmy for best drama goes to:
CSI DETRIOT Starring J. Nicole Brooks & Don Cheadle.

NEXT BLOG: Was Popeye The Biological Father of Sweet Pea? Bluto Tells All.

ciao for now kids,


1 comment:

chicagola said...

No love for "The White Shadow"?