Time to lift our eyes beyond the "Hot Ghetto Mess" horizon, and get some bearings.
A post on BlackInformant.com about a new movie whose opening (apparently deservedly) flew under the radar last weekend, got me thinking: who's the enemy, and what's the objective. It begins:
From the commercials, it looked like Soul Plane 2. I kept saying to myself during Hot Ghetto Mess “Man, it looks like folks picked the wrong thing to protest against. Anyway,here is blacktalentnews.com’s take on the movie “Who’s Your Caddy?”
The link to the blacktalentnews.com piece is well worth following. Beyond the review it has a quick Q&A with Tracey Edmonds, whose Our Stories Films produced the movie that is so "full of crass racial stereotypes including crude, lewd and wantonly irresponsible black characters, fart jokes, midget jokes and never-ending slapstick humor, [that] if this demeaning movie had been made by mainstream Hollywood, it would be courting charges of racism," according to blacktalentnews.com. There was also, reportedly, enough misogyny to merit scrutiny from WhatAboutOurDaughters, who led the Hot Ghetto Mess charge.
A representative review, from Guidelive.com, is here.
"Who's Your Caddy" is the first, strange (but not entirely unpredictable) fruit of Our Stories, a partnership between B.E.T. founder Robert Johnson and the Weinsteins (founders of Miramax). I'll resist all jokes about the unholy alliance between some of the (admittedly) more ruthless players in late 20th century media. Let's just say that with the billions he made building B.E.T. with ideas like Hot Ghetto Mess and then selling it to Viacom, Johnson is proving to be a gift that just keeps on giving to America, in the name of black America.
The good news: almost nobody went to see it. But the bad news is that they could have, in droves, if the timing was right, and it had been marketed better. And, other than wag fingers of "shame on you" there's not a thing we have much right to do about it. Not quite the same as going after advertisers on an objectionable TV show.
Though he may deserve it, Bob Johnson is not the enemy. If he wants to throw his money (and some of the Weinstein's) away like this, fine. And if he get's it right, with another 'wrong' movie next time, God bless him; this is P.T. (never give a sucker a break) Barnum's America. No, the enemy, as the cartoon Pogo said, is us. All of us, from the suburbs to the hood and everything in between. It's the hardness of our hearts to our own pain when we see it inflicted on our brothers and especially on our sisters, and yet don't feel it ourselves.
So it seems to me that the objective is to duplicate the feat of the Rutgers women's basketball team (remember them?). We have to do more to identify the victims of the "Whose Your Caddie?" entertainment to come. We have to make this kind of literature unfunny, unsexy and unhip. Ultimately, we have to create a market that redefines funny, sexy and hip in a way that's also affirming of black humanity and a positive relationship with each other and society as a whole.
It's not about changing Bob Johnson (or anyone else's) profit motive. It's all about challenging our consumption motives.