CoffyTalk Poll: Thoughts on Film, “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man”

It was recently announced that a film adaptation of Steve Harvey’s mega successful book,  Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man is in the works. With the likes of Chris Brown, Taraji Henson, Gabrielle Union, and Kevin Hart, it is sure to be a star studded presentation. It seems, that with both criticism and praise of the self-help book, folks are on the fence about whether or not this is an endeavor worthy of our patronage.  Here at CoffyTalk, we’ve already discussed the dilemma of supporting African American representations in film, even if they don’t show us in the best light. And while we don’t know for sure which route this movie will choose to go,  we can only hope that  the writers will do both Harvey, and the black community justice. (We all know what happens when they don’t). Now, we want to hear from you. Are you excited to see Steve Harvey’s book on the big screen??

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The Great Oprah Debate, Tyler Perry, and “The Obligation”

 “I got the hook-up, holla if ‘ya hear me, uhhhhhh,” Master P circa 1998. Everyone loves a hook-up, or being “put-on.” For those who aren’t sure what these terms mean, they reference a beneficial act done for you by someone else and usually it’s done at no cost. For example, my bff hooks me up with a grande white chocolate mocha, (three expresso shots, four pumps of white chocolate, hold the whip), any day of the week when its just one of those days I can’t function on my own. Another example, which leads to my post, you may know someone who works at a company you’re vying to get a position, so you ask that person to “put you on”- “let me know when someone is available and put in a good word for me.”

I thought of this post idea when I recently read that the head of Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network, Christina Norman, was dismissed from her duties. Now, if you don’t know, Ms. Norman is formerly the President of MTV Networks, and she is also a sista. I immediately thought, “well damn, she didn’t last long, did she?”  

When one thinks of Oprah, they think, modern day Midas, the ultimate entrepreneur, talk show Queen, etc., etc. Despite her multitude of success, Oprah has had her fair share of controversy, some of which has left many in the black community off the Oprah fan train. In general, there has always been the idea floating around that Oprah has a “disconnect” from the black community. Some say that her pioneering talk show, as well as her magazine, only caters to middle-age, stay at home white women and many in the black community cannot relate.

I’ve often heard many in my family and my circle of friends who’ve expressed either their disdain or love for the talk show Queen. I personally love Oprah, I think she is a genius. However, I do understand the sentiments of those who feel that Ms. Winfrey can do more to connect to her black audience. There have been episodes of her talk show when an artist is performing and Oprah is dancing like her family didn’t get down inMississippi, like where is this child’s rhythm? But off my stereotyped-laced rant, ultimately, these sentiments really boil down to the question of, do blacks in power have the obligation to support their own?

 I do believe that at a certain status as either an entertainer, politician, etc., at some level of clout, one should consider how can they help to contribute to the betterment of their people. I am not saying that Oprah should have a black guest on her talk show everyday, but if you were to look at her magazine, there could be some more women of color thrown in the mix, fo sho for sure. Sure, she hired Norman as the head of OWN, but she was quickly dismissed from the position. And I couldn’t help but to wonder if she had any more black staff members as I watched her behind the Oprah show episodes. Without question, Oprah Winfrey represents the epitome of African-American success, but can we REALLY say she’s paving the way for anyone to come behind her and do the same? Dr. Phil, Rachel Ray, Suze Orman, Dr. Oz, Nate Berkus, Dr. Iyanla Vanzant.….need I say more?

In opposition, we may have our love/hate relationship for Tyler Perry, (Spike Lee), but you can’t say he isn’t putting his people on. While his movies may be considered sub-par to some, and some characters are stereotypical, at least Perry knows his demographic and in general has helped many black actors and actresses get more work in Hollywood, in addition to hiring black writers. Since the success of Tyler Perry, we have seen more black faces on the big screen and small screen, which is always a good thing, and as his success increase, the task that lies ahead is producing better work as his demographic grows. And not just in the case of Tyler Perry, but in all films that feature black actors.

So CT, what do you think of this issue? Should blacks in power have the obligation of supporting their own?

Is Hollywood Limiting Black Actors….To Dresses?

Martin= Shenenah (Martin), Big Momma of ‘Big Momma’s House’
Jamie Foxx= Wanda (In Living Color)
Cedric The Entertainer= Mrs. Cafeteria Lady (Cedric The Entertainer Presents)
Eddie Murphy = Rasputia, ‘Norbit’
The Wayans Bros=’White Chicks’
Tyler Perry= Madea, The Madea franchise

 

I could have went on, but by now I take it you get the connection. It seems America loves black men in dresses.Why is this a trend? If the loud, obnoxious and angry black female is the typecast role for black actresses, then the funny drag role is that for black actors, especially black comedians. You have to question the image that Hollywood Execs want to portray black men when these projects are always getting green-lighted over projects that reflect black men in positive roles, as MEN. As far as the actors who take on the roles, you have to question, when enough is enough- the drag role is quite cliche’ to me now. All the ‘greats’ have done it, let’s move on. While roles and general opportunities were very limited for black men in the ’60s, ’70s and even ’80s, the roles that black men played were strong, inspiring, heroic, and masculine and these men, (e.g., Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Lou Gossett Jr., etc.) played these roles with dignity.

When was last time a black actor played a hero? I’m thinking late ’90s- Will Smith in ‘Independence Day.’ If someone comes up with a current role, please let me know. The fact that I can’t recall a recent role says a lot. Also, when I learned that my future husband, Idris Elba (ya’ll know), lost the role as Alex Cross (think “Kiss the Girls” and “Along Came a Spider” movies, originally played by Morgan Freeman), to Tyler Perry of all actors, I wanted to start a revolt.  Excuse me movie execs, but NOTHING about Tyler Perry says: 1) Hero/crime-solver 2) Cross-over appeal, non-Madea. In addition, with the exception of a Star Trek, the only roles Perry has taken on was in his own films, which are notoriously known for being stereotypical. Hey, I’m just being honest. In comparison, Elba has experience in crime dramas, he was nominated for his role in the Luther mini-series, in which he played a Detective! Quite honestly, Elba encompasses everything that embodies a hero. Ok, so enough stanning over Idris, for the sake of this post, let me get back to my point—-> While its good that Perry is stepping out of his Madea character, I must give a side-eye to the movie execs for  the sudden drop of Elba for Perry. Will audiences really take Perry seriously, or will we see a more comedic version of Alex Cross à la Madea solving murder cases?

 I began to think about this recently when I saw a Youtube clip of Dave Chappelle on the Oprah show, (ignore the title, which will be discussed in a future post). He begins to talk about black actors in drag and his stance against it at the 1:41 mark.

So there are some black actors who refuse to go the “drag route.”  Is there really some “conspiracy” in Hollywood to emasculate black actors, much like the early 20th century minstrel shows, to which many in the blogsphere are referring to this phenomenon as such.  Furthermore, what are these portrayals of black women saying about the image of black women, particularly plus size women? Most of the roles played by these actors in drag are in fat-suits, not to mention that they are loud, obnoxious,and unattractive. Speaking of which, why is it that Keenan Thompson is the go to guy on Saturday Night Live when it comes to playing black women (i.e. Oprah, Star Jones)? Just some things to get you thinking.

Bottom line, its time for Hollywood to start taking black actors more seriously and give them more compelling roles such as action heroes, and love interests, etc.  As far as black comedians, as Dave Chappelle pointed out, your material will speak for itself, a dress and a fat-suit is not needed to induce a few laughs.

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