**Commercial for Red Tails airs for the 34th time**
Her: Oh! Red Tails comes out this weekend. Let’s go see it!
Me: You think that movie looks good? That preview was kinda lame sauce…
Her: It’s not about the preview. It’s about supporting the movie. We don’t get many opportunities.
Me: It didn’t really move me though. I’ll wait for Rotten Tomatoes.
Her: Support black actors and black movies before they go extinct! Did you not see what Tyler Perry said about the state of black films?
Me: **Finishes game of Snood and looks slowly to the right** I’d rather see DuckTales. Ou-woo.
Her: Grrrr. You’re soooo Republican.
Me: You’re soooo pushing it and I don’t mean that in no nice way.
Today marks the opening of Red Tails, a much acclaimed and supported movie that brings an adapted part of (African) American history to the silver screen. And with the forty something previews I’ve seen for the flick, I haven’t been moved once to purchase a ticket. I’ve tried to stir the motivation within and it’s been to no avail. But before someone goes on Youtube and says Slim Jackson doesn’t care about black people, let me elaborate
in Barackian style.
I found myself thinking about the way we approach black goods and services in general. Much like the big bosses in the white-run Hollywood studios, we have a habit of leading with skepticism and finishing with surprise when it comes to stuff for us by us and coincidentally viewed by them. Aside from music, sports, hair, and a few other categories, we hear the word “black” as a descriptor for an event, product, or service and cast a cautious side-eye. Put more simply, we expect the worst and hope for the best. It’s like an inferiority complex that we remove ourselves from in the moment before carrying on with our regular lives.
I mention this because after I defended my right to not see the movie, I wondered if I’d been subconsciously programmed to expect less from people that look like me? Did seeing Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. in the trailer blackwash the purity of my desire to support?
After several reassuring words to myself, I took my concerns, let go, and let the Oracle from The Matrix have her way. It turned out that my apathy for the movie had nothing to do with my expectations of
BET black productions, and everything to do with my affinity for quality (Subjective, I know). This isn’t to say I expect the movie to tailspin. It just means the trailer didn’t convert my curiosity to Fandango dollars, which means I’m not excited to see it. First impressions are everything.
The thing is, I don’t walk around expecting black goods, services and productions to suck. That was decided long before I came to Alvin Ailey’s Revelation. It’s just that I like good products and services period. I support what appeals to me. And if it happens to be black-owned or black-produced, that’s like mocha icing on the cake.
When it comes to a production like Red Tails, I don’t want it to be us blindly promoting an artist from a friend’s label. I don’t want us to resort to buying all of the artist’s CDs just so we can see his or her name on the chart. Yes, that looks good and allows us to say “we did it!” But at the end of the day, it’s the same product. It’s also what many of us did when we elected the POTUS, though I think that was a good decision. Anyway…
Let’s make sure we’re supporting it because we expect it to be good and not just because it’s black and needs our support.
I understand that we’re trying to pave a road, but we need to remember that it’s coated with more than melanin. It’s coated with high expectations, potential, and hard work. Whatever the case, I hope this movie does well. The price is high and I’d hate to see our collective Hollywood stock drop.
Will you be checking out Red Tails this weekend?
Is it more important that we have a movie with an all black cast or that we have good black actors and actresses in good movies? (Both is the obvious answer, so I’m taking that one off the table.)
Do you believe in supporting good black productions or all black productions regardless of what you know about them? How does this translate into the way you make other decisions?
And as usual, all other thoughts are welcome!