Let's Finally Address the Claim That the "Majority" of American Films Starring Black Actors are Slave Narratives...

April 20th 2017
hmm   In response to my piece challenging the call to boycott the broadcast of History channel's remake of "Roots," which premiered last night (read that article here if you haven't), I received several emails, read a lot of comments on this blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter, and even argued with a few folks, all making the claim, in one way or another, that the vast majority of films starring black actors that have been financed, produced, and/or released by film studios/companies here in the USA in recent years, have centered around slavery. "When is Hollywood going to tell stories about black people that aren't about slavery?" was a common question asked, followed with, "All we ever get are movies about slavery. This is BS! I'm tired of this. I'm not watching 'Roots!'" Or some variation of that... as Snoop Dogg, who shared a video on his Instagram page yesterday, said in an expletive-filled rant, "I'm sick of this... They just going to keep beating that sh*t into our heads as to how they did us, huh?" There was more than that, but you get the picture. It was headline news, as many media outlets picked it up (I did as well, and commented on it in the piece I referenced earlier here). I replied to a few of the folks who challenged my argument (more like my facts) that the "majority" of films backed by Hollywood (or American film companies) in one way or another, that star black actors, have, in fact, NOT had anything whatsoever to do with the slave trade. My response was to essentially do the work, and find out for themselves, confirming or denying their perceptions; because, as I said before, perception is not reality. Just because you think something is the case doesn't make it so. If I may, in jest, #BlackFactsMatter! A few argued that the burden of proof was on me (some even said I was being lazy) - meaning, I should do the work for them, and prove them wrong. Maybe they weren't expecting me to do so, but, I did! So I'll just drop this list of films, going back 10 years (a full decade), which include every film released theatrically in the USA (no matter how limited the release was), that starred black actors, for every year since 2006. Now take a look, and tell me again about how the vast majority of movies that star black actors are always set in the slavery era, or are focused specifically on that subject. I've gotten you this far... surely you can do the rest... The fact that I actually had to do this is a mystery to me. This is something that should be evident for anyone who's seen more than a couple of films each year, and not require much research to prove correct. Alas... I did the work. There are a number of things you can deduce and argue about black representation in cinema, based on this long list of films released since 2006; but the "mostly about slavery" claim is not one of them. And I can go back further than 10 years (I actually have) and the argument still would have no merit. To be clear, I'm not "defending" the American studio system (or even the minis/indies). I'm one of the more critical voices of the studio system as I think those who've read this blog over the years would know well. Hollywood is certainly guilty of many things, especially when it comes to the lack of variety and volume in terms of the stories it chooses to tell about people of color and women (I broke this down in my article yesterday); but just be sure that you're fighting the right battles, and that you're well supported in your calls for action. In closing, I'll ask this question of those folks who challenged me on this: how many of the films listed here did you actually see and support? Especially those smaller indie and non-American films, and documentaries, that could've really used your dollars, or even just your shout-outs on social media. 2006: The Pursuit of Happyness Big Momma's House 2 Déjà Vu Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion Waist Deep ATL Akeelah and the Bee The Last King of Scotland Idlewild Dave Chappelle's Block Party Phat Girlz Tsotsi Kinky Boots Steve Harvey's Don't Trip…He Ain't Through with Me Yet! Black Gold Been Rich All My Life Favela Rising Masai: The Rain Warriors Herbie Hancock: Possiblities The Empire in Africa 2007: I am Legend Dreamgirls Norbit Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Are We There Yet? Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls The Great Debaters I Think I Love My Wife Talk To Me A Man Named Pearl The Salon Bamako Darfur Now Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror Dirty Laundry Antonia Daratt 2008: Hancock Seven Pounds College Road Trip Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins Tyler Perry's Meet The Browns Lakeview Terrace First Sunday The Secret Life of Bees Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys Soul Men Meet Dave The Express Cadillac Records Miracle at St. Anna Redbelt Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom Trouble the Water Ballast 2009: The Princess and the Frog Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Jail Michael Jackson's This is It Obsessed The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself Precious Notorious Not Easily Broken Next Day Air Good Hair Sugar Tyson American Violet The Limits of Control Black Dynamite Soul Power 35 Shots of Rum Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love Medicine For Melancholy Teza Streetballers Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha 2010: The Karate Kid The Book of Eli Why Did I Get Married Too? Takers Death at a Funeral For Colored Girls Just Wright Our Family Wedding Night Catches Us N-Secure

2011: The Help Tyler Perry's Big Happy Family Big Mammas: Like Father Like Son Jumping the Broom Colombiana Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest Attack The Block Pariah Mooz-lum The First Grader Being Elmo: A puppeteer's Journey The Interrupters The Black Power Mixtape Gun Hill Road Thunder Soul I Will Follow Life, Above All 35 and Ticking Rejoice & Shout Viva Riva! Crime After Crime Kinyarwanda Brenda Bilili! Frankie & Alice A Screaming Man 2012: Joyful Noise Sparkle Brooklyn Castle Django Unchained Flight Think Like A Man Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection Red Tails Tyler Perry's Good Deeds Alex Cross A Thousand Words The Man with the Iron Fists Beasts of the Southern Wild Woman Thou Art Loosed: On The 7th Day Unconditional Undefeated Chico & Rita Red Hook Summer The Central Park Five Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap Middle of Nowhere Wuthering Heights Deitrick Haddon's A Beautiful Soul Ballplayer: Pelotero Tchoupitoulas Dysfunctional Friends Dreams of a Life Restless City The Last Fall Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story 2013: 42 12 Years a Slave 20 Feet from Stardom A Band Called Death A Haunted House After Earth American Promise An Oversimplification of Her Beauty Baggage Claim Better Mus’ Come Big Words Black Nativity Blue Caprice Call Me Kuchu Fire in the Blood Free Angela and All Political Prisoners Fruitvale Station Gimme the Loot Go For Sisters God Loves Uganda Holla II I’m In Love With a Church Girl Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain La Playa D.C. La Pirogue Lee Daniels’ The Butler Let the Fire Burn LUV Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Mother of George Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary Newlyweeds The Best Man Holiday The Call The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete The Iran Job The Square The Trials of Muhammad Ali The We and the I Tyler Perry Presents Peeples Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor Una Noche Venus and Serena War Witch Welcome to Pine Hill Winnie Mandela

2014: Ride Along The Equalizer Think Like a Man Too No Good Deed Selma About Last Night Get On Up Addicted Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club Belle Dear White People Repentance Frankie & Alice Jimi: All Is By My Side Anita NAS: Time is Illmatic Finding Fela 12 O'Clock Boys Through a Lens Darkly Half of a Yellow Sun The Retrieval Horses of God On the Other Side of the Tracks I Am Ali Flex is Kings Death Metal Angola Evolution of a Criminal 2015: Home Straight Outta Compton San Andreas Creed War Room The Perfect Guy Focus Dope Chi-Raq Timbuktu Tangerine Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution Brotherly Love Freetown The Man in 3B Carter High Chocolate City Samba A Ballerina’s Tale Beasts of No Nation Blackbird Girlhood Difret Lila & Eve 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets Rubble Kings Horse Money Mediterranea Black November Salvation Army blackhats Sembene! Sneakerheadz Ayanda Out of My Hand Call Me King My Friend Victoria Five Star Concussion
by Tambay Obenson on April 20th 2017

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