Send In The Clowns, by Michael Davis

Michael Davis

Master Of The Universe, Lord Of All Media, Most Interesting Black Man In the World, Sexiest Man on Earth, Mentor, Writer, Artist, Producer & Uppity.

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22 Responses

  1. Mark Behar says:

    Nice column, Michael. I wish I had stuck around at the Con on Friday night to catch this panel. Mike Gold nails it when he mentions that the guy could have spoken up at the time and didn't. Even failing that, he could have tried to express his concerns with you at Target in a reasonable way. You're not likely to think much of your critics' opinons if they call you the n-word and challenge you to fight (while standing with a group of three buddies, no less). Legitimate criticism of B.E.T. programming hardly speaks for itself when one is stalking a man and his dog food through a parking lot.

    • Michael Davis says:

      Mark,Thanks Mark. To your point-there are Legitimate reasons to criticize B. E. T. and if he would have stepped to me and simply told me that he had a gripe against me, B.E.T and Denys I would have respected that. But clearly this was an attempt to show his friends how big his penis was. I would have loved for this guy to voice his comments at the panel. Heck there was a young lady in the audience at the panel who asked Denys a pretty hard B.E.T. question and got a pretty hard and straight answer from Denys. Her question added to the panel in a very positive way. I guess he did not step up because his boys were not sitting with him.

  2. Michael Davis says:

    Mike, wow. Thanks! Wait a minute… what you mean 'from time to time.?' Yo, man I work hard at that 24/7. BTW I'm sure this guy thinks Louis Armstrong is the name of the guy who owns the company.

  3. Russ Rogers says:

    Michael: This fellow's ignorance was compounded with interest. He was upset that creative control of a character, created by Reggie Hudlin, was being put in the wrong hands, namely Reggie Hudlin's. OK, so he didn't know who created Black Panther. He didn't know Hudlin (who he respects and admires for creating–he thinks– the Wakandan King) also runs B.E.T., which he despises. I don't see how you are connected with all that. Are you writing any of the Black Panther animation scripts? What's his beef with you? You KNOW people? You were on a panel with… You had dinner and drinks with… You are friends…? I don't get it.Even if this Bozo had his points straight, I still don't think he could connect the dots and see the picture.And nobody can dis Louis Armstrong, not after he won the Tour de France seven times!

    • Michael Davis says:

      Russ,He's just really disgusted with the way I am. He made it clear that he thinks I'm a clown and hates the way I write. There are just some guys out there who think if you don't act like a stone faced thug then you are not a man. Nope- as far as I know I'm not writing any of the Black Panther series. I say as far as I know because it has not been offered to me. But that would be mad cool if I got a call. Or maybe not, I'm developing my answer to The Black Panther-be on the look out for Negro Kitty!! TM. Oh BTW-what is with the stupid comment about Louis Armstrong, winning the Tour de France seven times? DUH-everybody knows Louis Armstrong went to the moon!

  4. Michael H. Price says:

    You'd think that a public forum, with its built-in opportunities to take part and agree or disagree, would be sufficient. Not so, when an audience includes members who'd prefer to initiate a confrontation outside the arena without so much as a civil prelude.I've encountered much of the same, now and again, in connection with my participation in the development of the Tyler, Texas, Black Film Collection at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The Tyler Collection dates from the 1980s — a warehouse discovery of movies from 'way back when, long presumed lost — but remains relevant on account of its documentation of the very origins of black independent filmmaking as a riposte to Corporate Hollywood. (Next week's installment of my ComicMix column touches on the Tyler Collection, incidentally.)The earlier years of the Collection involved quite a few formal presentations. In times more recent, I've included various titles from the Collection in film-festival and curatorial museum exhibitions. Most members of an audience seem to appreciate the simple fact of long-term preservation as a window opening onto times past. Some others seem to get the impression that our original crew had undertaken to safeguard the films as a means of "perpetuating stereotypes." (Yes, the black-indie sector of the early- to mid-20th century dealt in some of the same images that Warners and MGM, etc., imposed on Willie Best and Ethel Waters.) This assumption might stem from the preservation team's having consisted of white-guy perfesser-types — not that I think of myself in such terms.Anyhow. I've been followed outside this auditorium or that by such personalities, whose idea of discourse has more to do with name-calling and threat-dispensing than with any exchange of ideas. None of which has compromised my belief in the value of the Tyler Collection. And the last time I staged a public screening of one of the Tyler pictures — Spencer Williams' "The Blood of Jesus," from 1941 — the post-discussion confrontation came from some white guy who found it "reprehensible" (quote/unquote) that writer-director Williams had cast himself as a hog-rustling sinner AND WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS DEMEANING PORTRAYAL?!?! Of course, I informed this loud objector, then and there, that I probably should just zip back to 1941 and order that great artist of the Harlem Renaissance period and beyond, Spencer Williams, to scrap the film lest his bad-guy portrayal cause any discomforts sometime in in the next century. The affronted viewer was not amused. No accounting for taste.My recent biography of Mantan Moreland addresses comparable concerns, including the black-on-black disagreements that served to put Moreland out of work in Hollywood during the post-WWII years. Lately, I've been working with the Black Gospel Preservation Project at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, which involves thousands of obscure phonograph records of significance not only to their immediate realm but also to mainstream popular music.Bound to be some disagreements waiting to happen as to whether such artifacts (of less-enlightened times, naturally) bear preserving, and whether any white-guy perfesser-types should be involved at all. Bring 'em on. Preferably without the threats and the name-calling.

  5. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    If it weren't for people like Butterfly McQueen, Willie Best, Mantan Moreland and Otis Beard, we would have no Bill Cosby, Halle Berry and Spike Lee. Casting those performances to the vaults or worse, the trash heaps is a crime. And don't get me STARTED on "Song of the South"…And can I just point out the irony that it was a well-meaning (a phrase which here means "guilty and with a feeling of obligation") white guy who felt the need to bring up the portrayal? I love the people who bring up things to complain about, not because THEY are offended, of course, but because there may be OTHERS who are offended and cannot speak out.

    • Michael H. Price says:

      Oh, yeah, the Popular Culture is a mess of contradictions and ironies — and as such, all the more worth preserving as a map suggesting where to head from here. Its interpretation is a matter of anybody's guess.That one screening I mentioned of the Spencer Williams film, by the way, had attracted an unusually well-integrated audience; it took place at a museum of 20th-century American art. The showing was generally well received as part of an "American Cinema" series, mingling familiar major-studio pictures with low-budget indie rarities. (Williams' series of 10 films for Texas-based Sack Amusements range from mad-doctor horrors to slapstick to crime and religion, capped by a wild knockoff of Somerset Maugham's "Rain.")One of my most reliable news-reporting sources from the late 1960s through '70s was a West Texas chief of the N.A.A.C.P. Dr. Richard W. Jones and I developed a friendship early on, having largely to do with a shared interest in jazz and the blues. He expressed a hostility toward Mantan Moreland at one point (triggered by one of Moreland's late-in-life comedy-tour appearances in Dr. Jones' and my hometown), and from that we found a basis for a recurring argument — in cordial terms.Following Dr. Jones' death (during the late 1970s), I learned that he had willed to me his collection of phonograph records. There, among the Gillespies and Monks (and Louis Armstrongs) and so forth, I found copies of Mantan Moreland's LPs — Bible stories, on the one hand, and bawdy "party records" on the other. A fascinating mystery, ideally in keeping with that view of the Popular Culture as a mess of contradictions and ironies.

  6. Adrienne Brailsford says:

    I am crackin up over here at work reading your claim to intellectual victory over the target goonies. Backed by Alpo and NRA affiliation… thats just great, so funny (Louis Armstrong on a bike }8? )

    • Michael Davis says:

      BTW-I love the term ‘Target Goonies’ With your permission I would like to make them the super villains in my new book. ‘Parking Lot Homies and the women that avoid them."


    • Michael Davis says:

      I'm not claiming intellectual victory over anyone Adrienne. The smart thing to have done was to walk away. Staying like I did was pretty stupid and could have been made worst if just one of the 5 people there (me included) would have made a wrong move, resulting in violence. That said-clearly I felt that these guys were capable OF and would HAVE made that wrong move if I would not had dropped that bag and stood my ground. So, no I claim nothing except my right not to be bullied by thugs and yes that could have been stupid. I make light of some of that in the article but when these guys were in my face I assure you it was not funny at all. The last thing I was thinking is rather I was smarter than they were. In hindsight thinking of how it could have turned out I bet the dog's picture on the Alpo bag was smarter than all of us.

      • Vinnie Bartilucci says:

        "Staying like I did was pretty stupid and could have been made worst if just one of the 5 people there (me included) would have made a wrong move, resulting in violence."Aaron McGruder gave a name to this type of situation in the Boondocks series, which I will not repeat. Suffice to say he makes clear that they can be avoided entirely by about a half-second of rational thought, which obviously, you were the only one able to supply.Damn, I'm sorry we missed meeting up at the NYCC. I don't suppose you'll be strolling through WWPhilly?

  7. Russ Rogers says:

    This piece bookends nicely with Elayne Riggs' recent essay, "We Become What We Deserve to Be."…There she details how just one fan's seemingly random words of thanks and praise rescued Elayne from a Comic Con weekend of existential angst and self-doubt. How the kind word's of one person changed her perspective on her life and career and really made her day.Compare that to Micheal Davis' experience of having a unexpectedly wonderful time at Comic Con, only to be met by Mr. Parking-Lot Buzz-Kill and his cronies.By the way, "Mr. Parking-Lot Buzz-Kill" is a name I'm now claiming copyrights too. I'm hoping this new super-villain will get a chance to fight Luke Cage and the Thing outside a Target in an upcoming Giant-Sized Annual Marvel Two-in-One!

  8. MARK WHEATLEY says:

    I take this as a good sign. I mean, think about it. Comics are so much a part of life these days that you can give a talk at a comic convention in New York and then have people who attended the talk "interact" with you at a Target in LA. There was a time when this would have been amazing. On the other hand – I’m glad you came through with your sense of humor intact!

  9. Adrienne Brailsford says:

    Your ability to bring levity to that situation amuses me. (I know I and most others would call upon the help of some Depends in that situation…)

  10. Alan Coil says:

    The ignorance about the origin of the Black Panther character almost completely voids all the complaints of the goon. Is the goon going to start hating the character when he finds out it was created by 2 white Jews in the mid-1960s? What about Black Lightning? Black Lightning was created by a short Italian guy from the Cleveland area.

  11. Kevin Huxford says:

    The whole BET debate seems to have quite an effect on folks. I'm not sure that the employment argument makes a huge difference. I mean, all the folks creating and perpetuating stereotypes on the network are employed…but that doesn't outweigh the damage they're doing. Just magnifies it by the fact that they're making a buck from the damage they're doing.I think people that try to get involved in the debate when they don't have either the mental acuity or the dedication to get the facts are just hurting whichever side they believe they favor. These ignorant fools that approached you just managed to give "anecdotal evidence" that BET haters are ignorant fools. Doesn't help that they're every bit as damaging to the image as they seem to believe BET is. FWIW, I think you did a great job running the panel at NYCC. Well, 'cept for the few times you stepped on poor Cheryl Lynn trying to get a word out. ;) She does have a great energy, though, doesn't she? But seriously, it was a great panel and, as no huge fan of BET, I have to say that Denys always makes me hopeful that things are slowly improving over there. All it takes is more hirings like him and less hirings like the ones that built an empire out of airing T&A videos and things can't help but improve.

  12. John Ostrander says:

    MichaelOne of the things you alluded to and that scares me was the "potential for violence" in that encounter. Part of me has a deep down conviction that, sooner or later, someone is going to show up at a Con and shoot a creator and then possibly go to shoot others, as has happened at so many schools. The clown you wrote about, with his ignorance and his anger AND his need for confrontation, is not that far away from the profile of some of the shooters we've seen go on killing sprees. At a con, costumes could provide cover. I'm hoping I'm just being paranoid and it could never happen — but what was unthinkable increasingly appears to be coming commonplace, isn't it?Sorry. Talk about buzz kill!– John

    • Kevin Huxford says:

      I don't think you're being overly paranoid, John. I'm almost surprised we haven't seen it yet. I'll tell you this: if the Siegel lawsuits eventually lead to DC losing Superman completely, I'd recommend that no one in their group show up as a convention. I've seen such a level of irrational hatred thrown at them for taking advantage of their legal rights that I'd think they'd be greatly at risk.

    • Adriane Nash says:

      I agree with you John! The actual security of conventions is rather lax. While there is always someone demanding to see your badge no one demands to see whats in all those backpacks. I have to go through a basic search of my purse and person and wave of a metal detecting wand to go to MSG or Shea but at the Javitz (or any of the cons) people attending are literally masked and carrying weapons. Not only could the killing of a creator and/or con-goers be easy, but I doubt the security teams the conventions hire would even know how to handle a violent situation.

  13. Shane Kelly says:

    Well, now I know why I haven't received a call back from you. You've been up to your eyeballs in conventions, meetings, Alpo, and "Target Goonies".Seriously glad to read that you are all right. Though, it wopuld be nice to receive that call back. Don't you love me anymore Mike?

  14. Shane Kelly says:

    If you call me back, I will also promise to learn to slow down while typing as to avoid typos, and missed commas, and/or bad punctuation.