Michael Davis: The Black Plague
There is an unwritten law in the black community: support black projects in the arts, especially film and television ventures. The thinking is if we don’t support them then it will be that much harder to get another project made with black stories as the draw.
It’s hard as shit to get a black project green lit in Hollywood unless your last name is Perry. I’ve seen one Tyler Perry film and have no desire to see any others. It’s just not my thing. Nothing but respect for the man and his work but it’s just not for me. His films are the thing for an awful lot of black people and that is the audience he and his partners at Lion’s Gate pursue.
Now, a film like Red Tails was my thing. I’m a sucker for anything WWII and the story of the Tuskegee Airmen is just so badass as soon as it was announced I was on board. Before I could see the film I’d heard it was terrible. I saw it, did not like it and that’s all I’m going to say about it.
George Lucas, who put the project together and who wrote the check for most of the $58 million dollar budget (which I think is the biggest budget ever for a film that features a black cast) said that if the film flopped (and boy did it flop) then it will be that much harder to make another big budget film with a black story line and black cast.
The film Peeples premiered last Friday. Perry produced it but he did not star or direct the film. The film bombed as Tyler’s faithful stayed away from it. I had no intention of seeing it; again, not my thing. Why did the movie fail so dreadfully among the Tyler faithful? It’s not like there were any other black films out there to watch so why didn’t it preform?
Maybe because the film sucked? Or perhaps unless Perry put’s on a dress, black audiences won’t think it was funny?
I think the movie flopped because Iron Man 3 was the film most moviegoers wanted to see over the weekend. No, Iron Man is not a black character… and that’s my point, I like millions of other black movie goers, don’t decide to just go see black movies.
We decide to go see a movie. The audience for Tyler’s movie will also go see Iron Man and to think they won’t because Tony Stark is not black, just stupid.
Iron Man, like Superman, Batman, the Avengers and Spider-Man, were born in our beloved comics media. In many ways the comics industry is much more liberal creatively than film and TV but still we lack the balls to see beyond race on many fronts.
Consider this, Static Shock was a major hit for many years on television and more than a decade after its release it’s still being shown somewhere. Yet despite that massive success on TV has never been any toys, games or fucking underoos. Hollywood and the comics industry have what seems like a written law, which is black superheroes won’t sell.
Black superheroes done badly or marketed badly won’t sell. But then again that’s true of any superhero. The entertainment industry, of which comics are becoming an even bigger part of, still follows the notion that America falls down on racial lines when it comes to creative content.
That’s even more bullshit.
The most influential person on television? Oprah.
The biggest name in sports? Tiger.
The most powerful man in the world? Barack.
Not one of the above could have gotten to where they are without overwhelming support from non-black people so clearly; comics, film and television are all missing something. Hancock was a movie about a black superhero movie and it made more than half a billion dollars worldwide. Spawn and Blade were also very successful yet still I hear black superheroes won’t sell. What did they have in common other than black leads?
They were not marketed as black movies, and they all were well made.
After Earth, the new Will Smith movie, will be out on May 31st. For the majority of that film only Smith and his son are on screen. It’s a father and son movie science fiction movie, not a black movie – although Smith and his son both happen to be black.
I’m sure some will say if the movie bombs it was because it was a black movie, others will say, if the movie succeeds it’s because it’s a Will Smith movie.
I have no wish to see it regardless, it just seems weak to me but then again, Red Tails seemed to me like a sure bet, so what do I know?
Wednesday: Mike Gold – Great Uncle Shield
Thursday: Dennis O’Neil – Tony Stark Grows Up