Michael Davis: Once You Go Black, Part Four
I got the idea for this series when I received a call and was told a project of mine was turned down because “Black doesn’t sell.” I was told to my face more than once by a certain asshole “when it comes to entertainment, black means death.”
Really, Bruce? How you living now, motherfucker? I’m going to guess it’s nowhere as good as I’m living, bitch.
Yeah, I tend to hold grudges but in my defense I’ve been pretty good lately. I’ve been known to rant like a mad man from time to time. In fact when I first started in the industry I did and wrote some shit that got me tagged as the “bad boy of comics.”
You know what I did upon hearing that? I changed the name of my studio from, Michael Davis Studios to Bad Boy Studios and, yes, this was before Diddy.
Why embrace what many think is a negative? Anger. I was very angry back in the day. I figured if people wanted a bad boy I’d be a bad boy.
How that work out for me?
Very well, actually.
Now, young creators, just don’t think you can develop an asshole, take no prisoners, attitude and the world will beat a path to your door. That road is paved with the bodies of many mofos who think that personality equals talent. It does not. People put up with Harlan Ellison’s shit because Harlan is the real deal, or to put it plainly, Harlan is one of the greatest writers to ever pick up a pen: Harlan once told Frank Sinatra to fuck off.
This was during the time when Frank was not only the biggest star in the world but he was also hanging out with more than a few wise guys, if you know what I mean. Harlan takes no shit and he calls a spade a spade. Harlan’s opinions are bigger than life but there is not a single publisher on this planet that would not love to publish a Harlan Ellison project.
But if you think that just being a bad ass is a great way to secure a rep and thus secure a career, you are an idiotic asshole or a Right Wing radio host and that shit will not work in comics.
How did (do) I get away with the occasional rant? Because I deliver the goods. I’m real good at what I do and I generate revenue and it’s all about the revenue.
I’m nowhere, even remotely in Harlan’s league but the people I work with know what they are getting with me and either they don’t care about my rants or they don’t think about them.
Why don’t they care? Would you care if the million dollars someone was bringing you were old or new bills?
It’s all about the money folks. It’s all about the Benjamins. It’s all about the cash. It’s all about revenue.
One day I realized that even though it had worked for me, anger was not the only way to fight against what I thought were injustices some wanted me to endure.
I figured I’d just cool out and not let little things bug me. Why be angry?
So over the past few years I’ve been mostly “rant free” on the comics and entertainment front. Politics is another matter; I regularly lose my mind about that over at www.MichaelDavisWorld.com.
While working on this series of articles I started to get angry. Angry like the Michael Davis of old. The Michael Davis of old that was the “I don’t give a fuck” Michael Davis.
My plan when I started writing these series of articles was to make my case in parts one through three and bring in some of my heavyweight black entertainment friends to underscore that black does indeed sell in this, my final installment.
So much for the plan.
I was on the phone with the director Bill Duke when the anger I’ve tried my best to curtain over the last few years returned with a fury. I told Bill I’d call him back and sat down to write this last segment and, yes, the old Michael Davis is back.
Back and I’m mad as fuck.
Hollywood’s unofficial “Black doesn’t sell” attitude is simply bullshit and the more I think of it the madder I become.
It’s all about the revenue and black properties and people generate revenue in every category of entertainment. Hell, in music and sports we are the rule, not the exception. You don’t see anyone saying that the white players in the NBA who fail is because they are white. No, they fail because they are not good enough, just like the black players that fail.
I don’t have to call my Hollywood black powerbrokers to underscore that black does indeed sell. Take a look at what has been done across all entertainment areas. Every single one of the people on my list to call has made a grip in Hollywood and not just selling to black audiences. The Cosby Show was the most successful sit-com on television. Will Smith and Denzel Washington are two of the biggest box office draws ever. In fact, Samuel L. Jackson is the highest grossing film actor…ever.
Black doesn’t sell? Give me a fucking break.
Black projects sell like crack… if done right. That’s goes for every damn project in Hollywood. If done well, the project will do well.
Every time a black project does not do well Hollywood makes black creators in effect show their papers like a freed slave at a southern checkpoint. The black President of the United States of America has been vetted by the CIA, FBI and scores of other agencies. He has showed his birth certificate time and time again and yet some on the right continue to insist he show his papers, again, like a suspected slave stopped in the middle of Alabama in 1850.
Well it’s not 1850 and Hollywood is not Alabama. It’s 2012 and there’s a brother in the White House and Samuel L. Jackson is the highest grossing film actor… ever. If the leader of the free world and the king of the box office are both black don’t insult the intelligence of the people who buy those tickets you sell Hollywood with your “Black doesn’t sell” lie.
I am under no misconception that the Far Right inbreeding bastards will stop the attack on the President, but I still harbor some hope that the entertainment industry and hell yes this includes some comic book publishers will stop condemning projects because some black projects have failed, its stupid and has to stop.
In comics it’s not just a black thing either, projects that feature women fail and that’s reason for some publishers to be wary of the next project featuring women no matter how bad ass the idea is.
That’s just stupid.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
The new Static Shock series was not cancelled because Static was black. It was cancelled because Static was fighting a giant fucking fish.
Grow the fuck up, Hollywood. It’s all about revenue and any project that succeeds or fails in this day and age does so on its creative merits or many other factors, bad marketing, horrible word of mouth, opened on the same weekend as Avengers II.
Reasons for a movie failing or succeeding are many. Making the reason black people is a bullshit reason. Granted if there is ever a movie called Kill All White People and it starred an all-black cast of white people hating black militants and the story line was to kill all white people and that movie failed then Hollywood would have a point.
Then, yes, if that was a real project, black meant death… on more than a few levels, if you think about it.
I know how hard Hollywood hates change, so here’s my idea. Ready, Hollywood? Keep that silly black doesn’t sell bullshit line when a film that features a black storyline or actor in a leading role fails. Keep that but the next time Will Smith or Sam Jackson star in a film that makes a zillion dollars say the reason it did so is because they were black.
I’d be OK with that, but somehow I don’t think you would be.
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Emily S. Whitten
WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold