CNN’s Campbell Brown: No Bias? That’s Bull!

This is what an objective journalist looks like?

Prime-time viewing for the cable news networks begins at 8:00 p.m.   The competition is high and the differences stark between Campbell Brown (CNN), Keith Olbermann (MSNBC), Bill O’Reilly (Fox News) and Nancy Grace (HLN).  

Campbell Brown thinks she’s the only real journalist working during  that hour and she doesn’t mind telling anybody that will listen.

“Some of us, like my colleagues here at CNN, are still trying to do journalism….I’m not critical of what my friends at Fox News and MSNBC do, but it is apples and oranges when compared to what we at CNN do,”  Brown said.

Brown apparently doesn’t watch Lou Dobbs and his rants against illegal immigrants and cheerleading for Birther idiots such as Orly Taitz.   If she did she might not be so smug about the quality of “journalism” at CNN these days.

During her show Wednesday,  Brown interviewed White House adviser Valarie Jarrett and quizzed her on the Obama Administration’s cold shouldering of Fox News.

BROWN: Officials have been very public about their feelings about FOX News and what they believe FOX News is and represents. And they made a point of coming out and saying it.

JARRETT: What we’re saying is, is that we want the public to understand what’s going on.

When we saw the kind of distortions this summer, particularly directed at seniors, over health care reform, it was really outrageous. And I think what the president said in his message before Congress is, we’re going to speak directly to the American people and make sure that they understand the truth.

And so, certainly, if we see somebody distorting the truth, we’re going to call them on the carpet for that. But we don’t want to take our focus away from the core issues that are so important to the American people. Now, when there’s all that chatter and distortion and false information, we have to disseminate – we have to distinguish between truth and fiction.

BROWN: So do you think FOX News is biased?

JARRETT: Well, of course they’re biased. Of course they are.

BROWN: OK. Then do you also think that MSNBC is biased?

JARRETT: Well, you know what? This is the thing. I don’t want to – actually, I don’t want to just generalize all FOX is biased or that another station is biased.

I think what we want to do is look at it on a case-by-case basis. And when we see a pattern of distortion, we’re going to be honest about that pattern of distortion.

BROWN: But you only see that at FOX News? That’s all that – you have spoken out about FOX News.

JARRETT: That’s actually not true.

I think that what the administration has said very clearly is that we’re going to speak truth to power. When we saw all of the distortions in the course of the summer, when people were coming down to town hall meetings and putting up signs that were scaring seniors to death, when we have seen commercials go up on television that are distorting the truth, we’re actually calling everybody out.

So, this isn’t something that’s simply directed at FOX. We really just want the American people to have a clear understanding. There’s so much at stake right now. We really don’t have a lot of time for nonsense and distortions.

The American people are also smarter than that. Let them reach their own judgments based on the facts. Let’s just take health care, for example. Reasonable people could differ about the right approach. So, let’s have a conversation about that. Let’s not scare people by telling them that things are going to happen that are actually not even on the table. Let’s just talk about the facts.

Brown's pretty cocky for someone whose show is dead last.

Ms. Brown’s comment in her “No Bias, No Bull” segment was:

Jarrett seems loath to admit that MSNBC has a bias. And that is where I think the White House loses all credibility on this issue. Just as Fox News leans to the right with their opinionated hosts in prime time, MSNBC leans left. I don’t think anyone at Fox or MSNBC would disagree. In fact both Fox News and MSNBC are doing quite well in the prime time ratings by doing partisan opinion.

Brown seems to be suggesting there’s MSNBC on the Left and Fox News on the right, and by process of elimination, that leaves CNN squarely in the middle of the political mainstream.

And I suppose Lou Dobbs is the second coming of Walter Cronkite?

Another problem is even if CNN is the middle of the road news network it’s a far cry from the CNN Ted Turner created. They aren’t the new kids on the block any more and their attempts to touch up the grey haven’t helped all that much.

Second, most folks aren’t watching Brown or CNN. CNN sunk to fourth place behind Fox, MSNBC and sister network HLN (Headline News). Brown’s program (648,000 viewers) at 8:00 p.m. lags behind both Keith Olbermann (1.02 million) and Bill O’ Reilly (3.39 million).

nancy_grace-web

Nancy Grace has something Campbell Brown wants: better ratings

Lately, the only thing that CNN has been the “go to” network for has been non-stop saturation coverage of Michael Jackson’s death. Otherwise, all  they’re doing is making themselves irrelevant as even the septuagenarian Larry King is getting stomped by the unlikely duo of Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow.

If Brown isn’t careful, she might find her “real journalism” replaced by the “infortainment” of the repulsive Nancy Grace, a woman so vile she even sickens Stephen King.    Brown might want to spend less time sniping at her more successful competitors and spend more on trying to improve  her own crappy ratings before she finds out she’s only keeping the seat warm for Nancy Grace.

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Spiked! Mars is mad at Madea.

When Madea throws down with Mars who will survive?

Tyler Perry has had enough of taking flak from his fellow director Spike Lee.  On 60 Minutes, Perry fired a few salvos back at Mr. Lee.

Lee had laid the smack down on Perry at the 14th annual Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference last May.

“We’ve had this discussion back and forth. When John Singleton [made Boyz in the Hood], people came out to see it. But when he did Rosewood, nobody showed up. So a lot of this is on us!” Lee said. “You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time sitting in front of the idiot box, and [Tyler Perry] has a huge audience. We shouldn’t think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee [would make]. As African-Americans, we’re not one monolithic group, so there is room for all of that. But at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and it harkens back to ‘Amos n’ Andy.’ ”

Oh snap.  But wait.  It gets better.

“Each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors, but I still think there is a lot of stuff out today that is coonery and buffoonery. I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better. I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows (Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns and House of Payne), and I am scratching my head. We got a Black President, and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?”

In a interview with Byron Pitts, Perry finally slapped back at Lee.

“I would love to read that to my fan base,” Perry said. “Let me tell you what Madea, Brown, all these characters are are bait. Disarming, charming, make-you-laugh bait, so I can slap Madea in something and talk about God, love, faith, forgiveness, family, any of those things, you know. So yes, I think, you know, that pisses me off. It really does.”

“It’s so insulting,” Perry added. “It’s attitudes like that that make Hollywood think that these people do not exist. And that’s why there’s no material speaking to them, speaking to us.”

I like Spike and I wouldn’t watch a Tyler Perry flick if I were dying of a disease and watching it was the cure.  However, Spike really ought to focus on making his own pictures better (She Hate Me anyone?) instead of ripping on another Black man trying to get over.  I can’t understand why the director of Do the Right Thing, 4 Little Girls, Malcolm X, When the Levees Broke and Clockers feels he has to talk trash about someone’s who’s greatest accomplishment so far is to dress up in drag and wave a gun around?  Maybe Spike’s got a bad case  of Little Man Syndrome or something but he really needs to dial it down a notch.

madea

What's more embarrassing? A 6'5" drag queen...

I have no use for Madea, but I do respect the fact that Perry is employing African-Americans both in front and behind the camera.  At least he was.   The roots of Lee’s beef with Perry may be tied to a letter he sent Perry in October 2008 blasting him for firing writers in who attempted to form a union.   Lee wrote:

Tyler,

Come on, man. Being a writer yourself you should know how important it is to be a union member and support union wages and benefits for those who you employ on your writing staff.

Look at the temperature of the country now with corporate greed and with the very few profiting off of the very many. Don’t fall into that trap.

“Do the Right Thing.”

— Spike

Who gets to decide which movies uplift the race and which ones drag it though the mud?  Is there going to be a board that meets to review Spike’s next joint?

Go back and look at She’s Gotta Have It. There are parts of that movie where the acting, direction and the whole nine are so amateurish and bad it hurts.   If Madea puts Black people in a bad light, what’s Mars Blackmon?  The second coming of Malcolm X?

Spike thrives on controversy.   When Miracle at St. Anna dropped,  Spike ginned up some headlines by picking a pointless fight with Clint Eastwood.  Spike complained Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers was historically inaccurate for not including Black Marines.   Eastwood slapped back saying the film depicted the Marines who raised the American flag on Mt. Suribachi at Iwo Jima and added Spike should “shut his mouth.”   Spike shot back that Eastwood was acting like “an angry old man.”

The result was Lee’s $45 million dollar epic grossed a measly $9 million and Miracle At St. Anna died a quick death at the box office.  Meanwhile, Perry’s I Can Do Bad All by Myself cost $13 million to make and grossed $45 million.  Advantage: Mr. Perry!

Is the answer for Spike Lee to dog out Tyler Perry because he doesn’t like his films? I don’t like ‘Lil Wayne, but rather than call him a “coon” I just don’t buy his music. Spike needs to clean up his own backyard first. He’s made some brilliant movies that are classics and he’s made absolute garbage.  Perry is still a work in progress. I HOPE he will make something I decide worth watching. But I don’t need Spike telling me to watch Miracle At St. Anna but not I Can Do Bad All By Myself.  I’ll make my own calls.

Spike has every right to say Perry makes crappy movies. I agree and prefer Lee’s films to Perry’s. But John Singleton’s brilliant  Boyz n’ the Hood was made almost 20 years ago.  Since then Singleton has hacked up hairballs such as the cruddy Shaft remake and 2 Fast 2 Furious, a movie so lousy even Vin Diesel had enough sense to stay out of.   Why hasn’t Spike called The Wayans Brothers on the carpet for crimes against cinema such as White Chicks or Little Man?

mars blackmon

...or a 5'6" motormouth?

It comes down to who gets to decide what’s good for Black folks and what’s bad?  That’s a job way above Lee’s pay grade and I never got a ballot to vote on who should get to choose.

I like Spike and I wouldn’t watch a Tyler Perry flick if I were dying of a disease and watching it was the cure. But Spike really ought to focus on making his own pictures better  Anyone with She Hate Me on their resume should think twice before ripping into another director’s films.

What Spike seems to have forgotten until Ron Howard dropped out and he stepped in to direct Inside Man, he had started the new century with  a losing streak of films that had flopped including, The 25th Hour, She Hate Me, Bamboozled before Howard’s producing partner Brian Gratzer threw him a lifeline.    By contrast Perry has directed eight films,  all of which have made money and grossed over $400 million worldwide.

Next up Perry is directing the first film he didn’t write, Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide (When the Rainbow Is Enuf).   Perry has said he plans to stay behind the camera which means there will be no Madea appearances here.  The film begins shooting in November but already some have begun sniping at Perry wondering aloud how the guy who brought us Madea Goes to Jail can do justice to Shange’s fiercely proud feminist play.

That’s a complaint Spike should well understand.  He faced the same scrutiny when he was making Malcom X.   Who decided it was a good idea to let Mars Blackmon/Mookie direct a biography of a Black icon?

Let’s see what Perry does with “For Colored Girls…” before damning him as a hopeless hack.   If snap judgments had been made about Lee after the amateur night that even Lee admits was She’s Gotta Have It he never would have stepped up his game to Do the Right Thing.

There’s no reason for Spike and Tyler to be knocking each other in public.  First, it’s unseemly for two Black men to be ripping each other this way.  It only makes Lee look petty and jealous and Perry appear as if he can’t take negative appraisal of his work.  Perry never screens his movies for film critics so apparently he thinks he doesn’t need them, but as long as he’s charging for his movies, they are subject to be judged.

I’ve not convinced the audience for a Miracle at St. Anna is the same as I Can Do Bad All by Myself. What I am sure is in a nation of 30 million Black folks there’s enough of them to go around and appreciate both Lee and Perry’s films.   Move over, Spike.  There’s plenty of room for another Black filmmaker even if it’s one you don’t like.

Now that we’ve settled that, where’s Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas?   These brothers need to kiss and make up.  Oh wait, they already did that…

"Oh Magic, it can never be like it was."

The “Saw” franchise finds pleasure (and profit) in pain.

Please don't make me watch another SAW sequel."

Please don't make me watch another SAW sequel."

This is not a review of the sixth Saw film.  I have never seen any Saw film and have no intention of  doing so. With the exceptions of a few minutes of the first one when it played on the SciFi channel several months ago.  Even in a severely edited version I got a sense of what these  flicks are about: bad actors acting badly playing unlikable characters who die painful deaths at the hands of the calculating serial killer named Jigsaw and his sadistic traps and torture devices.

Maybe if I were Dick Cheney I could find something to admire in 90 minutes of screaming, dismemberment and gore.  As it is, my way of looking at is I haven’t seen all the good movies made by Spielberg, Scorcese, Lee and The Coen Brothers, so why do I want  to waste precious minutes of my life watching shitty splatter flicks?

I do confess to a certain morbid fascination that for six years in a row, Lions Gate has turned this thin gruel of torture porn into a lucrative franchise.  Nobody’s ever cranked out crap like this with such a flagrant disregard for both logic and human life.  But hey, people like to watch other people meeting miserable ends.   I guess there’s something cathartic in seeing someone have to saw off their own foot or dig out their eye in order to retrieve a key hidden behind it .

Or perhaps the intention is to  simply provoke a “Wow, that’s really fucked up,” response.  That’s as good a reason as any,  I suppose.

When serial killers shop at Home Depot

When serial killers shop at Home Depot

The Saw filmsare invulnerable to the disdain and hostitlity of movie critics and other disapproving adults.  They run on the restless need of teenage boys for ever-increasing dosages of carnage.  The five films have grossed nearly $700 million worldwide.  Thats nothing to sneeze at when you consider the original Saw was made for a measley $1 million and grossed a eye-gouging $100 million.

Saw jump-started the horror genre after  Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and all the other dead-teenager-on-a-stick killers had fallen on lean times.   Even Friday the 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street and the Halloween sequels had a small degree of sick humor in their mean little hearts.  That’s all gone with today’s torture porn flicks where pain and lots of it is the selling point.

I never got the bad taste out of my mouth from one sleepless night spent watching a ugly piece of vomit named Wolf Creek which featured an outback killer by the name of Mick who took great delight in sadistically taunting, hunting down and murdering two women.  The worst moment was when he stabs one victim in the back, cuts off her fingers and severs her spine.  Before she dies from blood loss Mick says she is now a “head on a stick.”

As Wolf Creek was loosely based on several real murders this bit of anti-life/anti-entertainment was all the more repulsive for the relentless cruelty and the way it reveled and lingered on the suffering of the women.  That’s the kind of misogyny that puts the pornography in “torture porn.”   Roll all the Saw crapfests into one big bloody ball and they don’t begin to reach that kind of hatred toward women.

Horror films fall into one of two categories.  The few that want to scare and truly disturb you and all the others that only want to gross you out.   After watching some clips on You Tube and reading the synopsis of the six films, I’m confident in proclaiming Saw movies live in the “gross you out” category.   I’m not above the occasional gross-out, but I like them much better when there’s at least a thread of intelligence behind it.

Real horror doesn’t just stimulate the gag reflex.  What makes an Audition, The Exorcist, Psycho or Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer linger in the mind isn’t simply because they’re terrifying, but because it takes genuine talent to scare the hell out of grown men and women and  that has nothing to do with tricked out knife chairs or reverse bear traps.

"You're not sticking me. I'm sticking you."

By the way, here’s a Saw VI SPOILER:  the sista in the first photo is trapped in a  head harness that will drill screws into her head within 60 seconds unless she and a male victim free themselves.  The way out of the trap is whichever removes the most body weight first will live and the other one dies.   The male victim, who is overweight, cuts off fat from his stomach, but the woman cuts off her arm, tipping the scale saving herself and killing him.

Sorry if that diminished your hopes that homegirl was this closet to undergoing brain surgery without benefit of scalpel or anesthesia.  Try to enjoy the slaughter anyway.

Hasta La Vista, Vista!

Every picture tells a story dont it?

Every picture tells a story don't it?

Life is hard.  It’s a lot harder when you’re ugly and nobody loves you.

That’s what it’s like to run a computer with Windows Vista on it.  Nobody loves Vista.   If you want to make Bill Gates cry, ask him about Vista.   If he doesn’t slap you upside the head first that is.

When my old computer from Krazy Kenny’s Warehouse running Windows XP had slowed to a crawl and downloads could be timed with a sundial despite the high-speed internet connection, I put a bullet in the box (actually, I pawned it off to my younger brother where it lasted about a year before he gave up on it) and moved up to a bright and shiny Dell which was bigger, faster, stronger, better than what I had been suffering with and pre-loaded with the Vista operating system.

Not that I wanted Vista, mind you.  It was more of a situation where it was already installed on almost every computer at Micro Center.   It was a “take-it-or-leave-it” deal and I wasn’t in a position where leaving it was an option.  I sighed deeply and pulled out the plastic.  I was assured if I really hated Vista, it would still be possible to install its far more popular  predecessor, Windows XP.

Windows XP was the American Idol of operating systems.  It still is the most widely used operating system in the world.  Released in 2001, XP has sold over 400 million copies and its market share peaked at 85.3 in December 2006.   Most households and businesses are still running XP.   Microsoft stopped selling XP in retail stores in 2008, but the system is still chugging along.

Im afaid you aint gonna make it, Fido.

It ain't looking good for you, Fido.

Vista on the other hand started off with high expectations which soon went unrealized because it wasn’t different enough from XP in ways that mattered and the ways it was different didn’t matter.  CNET.com concluded in their review, “Windows Vista is essentially warmed-over Windows XP. If you’re currently happy with Windows XP SP2, we see no compelling reason to upgrade. On the other hand, if you need a new computer right now, Windows Vista is stable enough for everyday use.”

Stable enough?”  Control your enthusiasm, guys!   Coming five years after XP, the expectation was Vista would fix all the nasty security problems that nagged XP among other things.  Unfortunately for Microsoft, Vista was almost universially loathed upon its release.    Microsoft had given birth to a baby that both stank and was ugly too.

I’ve grown accustomed to Vista.  I don’t love it, but I don’t think it’s all that bad either.   All things considered, I knew Vista was a red-haired stepchild when one of my co-workers just smiled sadly when I told him I had bought a computer with it installed and said, “The way you can tell if a operating system is any good is how many businesses install it on their computers.”   When my employer decided to upgrade their systems from Windows 98, they chose XP over Vista.  Ouch.

As it would turn out, Vista became the second most popular operating system, but Microsoft aims for global domination, not second best.   The relative failure of Vista may not have hastened the impetus for 7, but it sure as hell became a priority to make it sexy and get it right.

Now that Windows 7 has been released and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive (mostly because it’s not Vista),  I’m wondering if I should upgrade.    I’m not the kind of guy who feels inadequate if I’m not rocking the bleeding edge of technology.  Hell, I still own a camera that uses film and work out with a Walkman.

What tempts me is my big brother—the quintessential techno geek—LOVES Windows 7.   He’s the kind of guy who spends a weekend formatting his hard drive for the fun of it.  He installed Vista several times on his own computers and uninstalled Vista several times.  He got his hands on a Beta version of 7 and it was love at first boot up.

With a buttload of tricked-out new bells and whistles and rave reviews proclaiming 7 as, “the best operating system that Microsoft has ever produced,”  forgive for  feeling like I’m stuck with the last six-pack of New Coke.

Maybe to go along with my wife’s laptop, I’ll get a copy of Windows 7 as well.  At the end of the day, all any operating system does is maximize the computing experience.   I’ll still get junk mail and I’ll still prefer Firefox’s browser over Internet Explorer.    Windows 7 won’t make me thinner, taller or any sexier than I already am.  It won’t even make me cooler.  It might however make me stop looking at my present operating system like it morphed from Halle Berry into Whoopi Goldberg.

Do I sense a bit of hostility?

Do I sense a bit of hostility?

Speaking With the Enemy.

FOX News vs. President Obama: Which side YOU on?

FOX News vs. President Obama: Which side YOU on?

Sophia A. Nelson is a smart and incisive observer of Washington politics who recently penned an essay for The Root entitled, “5 Reasons Why President Obama Should Go on Fox.”

I like Sophia. She’s smart, honest and outspoken about what the GOP needs to do to reach African-Americans and people of color.   I’ve been reading her essays for months now and even though she holds a far higher opinion of Sarah Palin than I do, I’m not going to hold that against her.  I’m also asking for her assistance on a project so I’m going to phrase this very delicately:  I don’t think she could be any more wrong if she tried.

The president is a congenial guy who wants to sit down and reason together.   That’s one reason he’s made overtures to Iran, Cuba, North Korea and the Republicans.   But Obama is also a politician and should take to heart John F. Kennedy’s admonishment to “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”    FOX News is the enemy of the agenda of the Obama Administration.

Political commentator Sophia A. Nelson

Political commentator Sophia A. Nelson

White House officials have instituted a freeze-out of the right-wing cable news channel with White House communications director Anita Dunn firing the opening shot when she said of FOX, “It’s opinion journalism masquerading as news.  They are boosting their audience.  But that doesn’t mean we are going to sit back.”    White House senior adviser David Axelrod appearing on ABC’s This Week took it even further when he told George Stefanopolis,  “It’s really not news.  It’s pushing a point of view.   And the bigger thing is that other news organization like yours ought not to treat them that way.  We’re going to appear on their shows.   We’re going to participate but understanding that they represent a point of view.”

Axelrod is absolutely correct.  The agenda of FOX News parallels the agenda of The Republican Party.   No network has flogged Obama on “issues” such as Bill Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright or ACORN as FOX has.  But it’s hardly straight reporting and it certainly isn’t objective.  As demonstrated by their cheerleading and promotion of the tax day tea parties, FOX doesn’t just report on the issues; it tries to create them as well.

Nelson writes in her article:

“I am a frequent commentator on Fox News and on Sean Hannity, but let me be clear: As a Republican African-American woman, I do not always agree with Fox’s coverage or the incendiary comments of Fox hosts like Glenn Beck. That does not, however, stop me from going on the news channel and stating my opinions—which are many times at odds with the more conservative point of view expressed there. My good friend/liberal black Professor Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is a Fox contributor, and he goes toe-to-toe with Bill O’Reilly regularly—the two of them make for great theater and “balance”—that’s what I like about O’Reilly.”

Past tense, Miss Nelson.  Dr. Hill was fired Friday from his contributor gig.   News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch announced at a shareholder’s meeting that Hill was let go after he was asked why the network had hired someone with “a reputation of defending cop killers and racists.”   Hill had come under attack by right-wingnuts such as David Horowitz who said of his firing, “He never should have been hired.”

Too far-left for FOX News

Too far-left for FOX News

Apparently, there’s no room for any progressive perspectives on FOX unless they come from tired, neutered in-house liberals such as Alan Colmes.

I really don’t get the point of President Obama making nice with Fox.  What is Fox doing to make nice with HIM?

The president is the leader of the free world.  What good does it do him to show up on “The Factor” or parry GOP talking points from Sean Hannity?   If FOX is truly a legitimate, mainstream news organization they need to be able to cover the Obama White House the same way CNN, MSNBC and the other networks are able to.

Between Beck, O’Reilly, Hannity and Van Sustren, that’s four hour of unabashed Obama bashing and if you want to throw Cavuto and “Fox and Friends” into the mix, that’s cool too.

Obama has to recognize Fox with it’s promotion of the tea parties, regurgitation of Republican talking points and relentless criticism of his policies and policies is not even remotely “fair and balanced” and it is folly to act as if they are.

Jacob Weisberg of SLATE makes a credible case as to why the president is right to give Fox the cold shoulder.  Certainly, it will only convince those who hang on every word of Beck, O’Reilly and Hannity that the president is barking up the wrong tree, but I disagree with Miss Nelson that this will hurt Obama in the long run.  By pointing out Fox’s demonstrable bias, it forces them to either reassess their coverage or double-down and further make their negativity even more obvious and overt.

I don’t believe the president should totally freeze out Fox by ignoring them at press conferences or taking away their press pass, but until Fox begins to live up to their own motto, there’s no reason for Obama to treat Murdoch’s propaganda machine as a legitimate, mainstream journalism outlet.  It’s not.

NOT Wanted? The Vanishing Black Actress.

Beyonce vs. Nia: should popularity trump skill?

Beyonce vs. Nia: should popularity trump skill?

Many a day goes by before my thoughts turn to Dorothy Dandridge.   Okay, I’ll be honest.  Unless my wife brings up what a tragedy it was how Dandridge was handled by Hollywood, I probably don’t think about her at all. 

I used to think quite a bit about Pam Grier.   Probably back when I was a terrible sexist I marveled over her aerodynamically perfect body in Blaxploitation films such as Coffy and the nude centerfold from Players magazine that used to adorn the wall in my dormitory when I was in the Air Force.

I haven’t thought of Whoopi Goldberg since I used to argue with a lesbian friend over whether she was a talented actress or a sell-out.  I do see her on The View on the television screen overhanging the treadmills at the gym.   I will think about Oprah Winfrey because she’s omnipresent that trying not to think abut her is difficult.   I think about Halle Berry.   Because she’s Halle Berry.

I hope to soon be thinking about all of them because they are the subjects of a new book,  Divas on Screen: Black Women in  American Filmby Mia Mask, an Associate Professor of Film at Vassar College.    By natural temperament I’d be interested in the subject.   As there is a possibility for a potential story by interviewing Professor Mask for some publication—one that pays $$$ for interviews—I’m even more inclined to learn more about Dandridge, Grier, Goldberg, Winfrey and Berry.

Writers come across attention-catching ideas that make us pause, stroke our chins thoughtfully and think, “This would make a great story.”   More often than not though they never get past the chin-stroking stage.  There aren’t enough hours in the day to act on every idea that seems promising. 

Go ahead. YOU tell Pam Grier you gave the part to Beyonce.

Go ahead. YOU tell Pam Grier you gave the part to Beyonce.

Last July I read a quotation by the actresses Nia Long that got a little play in the Black blogosphere.   In an interview with Pride, the British online magazine Long was asked by the Fatal Attraction-in-Blackface reimagining, Obsession, starring Beyonce in the Anne Archer role as the wife who defends hearth, home and hubby from  a psycho bitch trying to push up. 

A crap movie like Obsession probably belongs being ignored on Lifetime or straight to DVD oblivion, but got a  theaterical release it probably wouldn’t have enjoyed if Beyonce’s big butt wasn’t attached to it.   Nia Long wasn’t feeling the love for Sasha Fierce playing on her side of the court.

“I didn’t see ‘Obsessed,’ so I can’t comment , but it’s just not about how talented you are anymore, it’s about ‘How much box office revenue will this person generate?’  When you see certain people–we won’t name–they just don’t have the skill, and no one in their team has aid, ‘You need acting classes.”

 Oh no, she didn’t!   How could it be that the star of  The Fighting Temptations, Austin Powers in Goldmember, and Carmen: A Hip-Hopera  need acting lessons.  What are movies anyway but really long music videos with less music and more video?

Long’s remarks were widely taken as Long hating on Beyonce.  Of course, lost in the gossipy aspect was the actual truth  that Beyonce can’t act.   Singers and rappers taking time off from their day jobs are getting the leading roles  while real professionals  like Long and Sanaa Lathan are picking up a paycheck from Fox doing voice over work on The Cleveland Show.

At the time I had some discussions about what Long said and nobody seemed to care much.   It’s not like Obsessed would have been anything but trash with Thandie Newton or Kerry Washington playing the part.    I also get it that unless you’re eye candy (Megan Fox) or a beloved superstar (Meryl Streep)  it’s hard for any woman to find steady work in front of or behind the camera.   

But try to recall the last time a film with a Black woman in the lead not named Halle, Whoopi or Oprah  made any money?    If you’re only as popular in Hollywood as your last movie,  Berry hasn’t had a hit since X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).  Goldberg and Winfrey are on even longer losing streaks.

 It’s just  bugs me  how sistas can’t get a job in movies unless they’re willing to play girlfriends to White actors with a dose of jungle fever or Tyler Perry isn’t throwing them a bone.   As much as I’m looking forward to the release of Precious next month, no less than  three of the leading roles were performed by non-actors (Mo’nique, Mariah Carey and a newcomer  Gabourey Sidibe).    Perry seems to be a one-man job service for Black actresses, but even though he’s adapting For Coloured Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,  even with the names of Berry and Winfrey  rumored to be attached to the project, so  is that of the singer Jill Scott.   Even Perry has to hedge his bets with a non-acting actress in the mix.

Sophie Okonedo:  An Academy Award nomination, but few jobs.

Sophie Okonedo: An Academy Award nomination, but few jobs.

It’s strange that at a time when it seems there’s never been so many talented Black women in Hollywood, good roles for them aren’t there.    There’s something kind of screwed up when Beyonce and Queen Latifah have more future gigs lined up than Angela Bassett, Sophie Okonedo or Taraji Henson. 

As likely as not, as increasingly fewer movies are produced relying on actors instead of computer generated special effects,  Black women will reamain as an underrepresented minority within an underrepresented minority.  There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of change on the horizon when even Black actors with the clout of  Denzel Washington and Will Smith are as likely to pair off with Charlize Theron,  Rosario Dawson and Eva Mendes as a Black woman.   When Denzel and Will don’t have any love for the sistas, what do they have to do to catch a break? 

Then again, it’s been a long time since Halle Berry made a movie hugged up with anything other than Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Willis, or Benicio Del Toro, so it’s hard to get a mainstream movie out of Hollywood showing  a happy Black couple.   

I am looking forward to reading Divas on Screen.  I’m also hopeful I get a positive response to my story pitch for an interview with the author.   The thing I’m worried about is the subtitle.   Will there be enough Black women in American films for Professor Mask to write a second volume  if she chooses?

Rush Blows It.

Why, yes, I DO enjoy sucking on large, brown, phallic objects.

"Why, yes, I DO enjoy sucking on large, brown, phallic objects."

Rarely, (as in never) have I felt any need to comment on the same subject in consecutive blog posts, but I’m making this up as I go along and there are no rules to break.

The circus has left town and poor Mr. Limbaugh won’t be getting that NFL franchise he had his heart set on.  He’s been dropped as an investor in the group Dave Checketts was putting together to put together a bid for the wretched St. Louis Rams.

Boo-hoo. Wah, wah.

Rush will pontificate and pout for the next few days over how he was a righteous man besieged by a vast left-wing conspiracy. He can rant and rave and rage against all the usual suspects. He’ll warn of dark acts of vengeance against all that have plagued him. e’ll get the opportunity to wax poetic about his favorite subject—Rush Limbaugh—and the faithful will eat it up like little kids to ice cream.

All I care about is grubby little fingers won’t befoul any NFL team, even one as horrible as the Rams.

Ummm...I like em long, round and brown.

"Ummm...I like 'em long, round and brown."

It’s been a splendid sport watching how people play fast and loose with Rush’s obvious, deliberate and repeated acts of racism. Apparently, unless you’re wearing a sheet over your head and burning a cross in someone’s yard, anything short of that isn’t racism. Anyone can spot the overt bigots. It’s the subtle, sneaky ones that couch their racism and hatred upon the front of being “entertainment” that isn’t as easy for some to spot, if they can spot it at all.

I’m trying to envision a scenario where the guy who publicly proclaimed he wants the nation’s first Black president to fail then turns around and tries to entice players in a predominantly Black league to come play for his dogshit francise.

I got nothin’.

I’ve already seen on CNN some radio show mook describe what happened to Limbaugh as “a high-tech lynching” (and that’s a phrase that can now officially be laid to rest). It’s repulsive to even suggest Limbaugh being hoisted on the petard of his own words is comparable to the thousands of African-Americans who were slaughtered by lynch mobs.

Limbaugh makes for the world’s least likely and most unsympathetic martyr.

But it is a pretty impressive accomplishment for a guy who’s never held political office, holds no degrees and really doesn’t know much about 90 percent of the things he spouts off about but doesn’t let his monumental ignorance slow him down.

If Limbaugh is such a jock-sniffing, sports nut, maybe he should buy a NBA franchise and try to field an all-White team. He would only have to come up with 12 players as opposed to 53. The odds are much better.

It’s that or hockey.

Will Rush the Racist run the Rams?

Rush describes how many Black players will be on the Rams when he owns them.

How many Black players are left on the Rams now, Rush?

If starting the season 0-4 wasn’t bad enough, things got even worse for the St. Louis Rams.  Rush Limbaugh is part of a group considering buying the hapless football team. 

The news that Rush, America’s best-paid bigot wants to own the Rams is going  over like a big, smelly fart in NFL locker rooms.   It hasn’t happened yet, but some Black NFL players are making it clear they want no part of a Limbaugh-owned Rams:

Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka says that he’d never play for a Limbaugh-owned team. Daily News. “But I won’t be in St. Louis anytime soon.” 

“All I know is from the last comment I heard, he said in [President] Obama’s America, white kids are getting beat up on the bus while black kids are chanting ‘right on,'” Kiwanuka said, per the New York Daily News. “I mean, I don’t want anything to do with a team that he has any part of. He can do whatever he wants, it is a free country. But if it goes through, I can tell you where I am not going to play.

“I am not going to draw a conclusion from a person off of one comment, but when it is time after time after time and there’s a consistent pattern of disrespect and just a complete misunderstanding of an entire culture that I am a part of, I can’t respect him as a man,” Kiwanuka added.

Earlier this week, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb — the player at the center of the controversy that ended Limbaugh’s on-air role at ESPN after roughly a month — made his own views known.

“If he’s rewarded to buy them, congratulations to him,” McNabb said, per the Daily News.  “But I won’t be in St. Louis anytime soon.”

Jets linebacker Bart Scott echoed the sentiment. “I know I wouldn’t want to play for him. He’s a jerk. . . . What he said [about McNabb] was inappropriate and insensitive, totally off-base. He could offer me whatever he wanted, I wouldn’t play for him. . . . I wouldn’t play for Rush Limbaugh. My principles are greater and I can’t be bought.”

 If you’re a pro football fan does it really make any difference to you who owns a team? It’s said the only color that matters is green, but would most Black players really refuse to play for a team owned by Limbaugh? 
Would the last Black player on the Rams please turn off the lights?

Would the last Black player on the Rams please turn off the lights?

 I have my doubts. It’s easy to be principled about a situation that hasn’t happened, but there are only 32 teams in the NFL. For a lot of guys that means playing for the Rams or not playing at all.  Pro football careers are brief. Would a young kid out of college pass up millions of dollars because they disagreed with how the owner made his fortune?

Many people will stand on principle right up to the point where those principles are tested. That’s when presented with the choice between an abstract principle and a large stack of money, they just might begin to fidget.

While Mr. Limbaugh is a rather conservative fellow, NFL owners aren’t exactly wild-eyed liberals themselves and they don’t like controversy. From what I’ve read, Limbaugh would be part of an ownership group, not the principle owner. He might be able to squeak in, but I have a feeling the NFL would rather Rush enjoy the game as a guest in a luxury box, not the owner of a team.

There’s no sugarcoating Limbaugh’s long record as a racial arsonist.

  • ok, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.
  • They’re 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?
  • Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.
  • Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?
  • They oughtta change Black History Month to Black Progress Month and start measuring it.
  • Sorry to say this, I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go. I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. (on Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, 2003)
  •  

     I’m not  interested in trying to prove to anyone’s satisfaction beyond mine own that Rush is a racist. If you want to tell yourself that someone with a history of making racially insulting, insensitive and inflammatory remarks is just “a entertainer” that’s fine by me. Maybe appealing to bigotry and ignorance is the kind of crap that entertains some people.

    There is no way in a league that is 70 percent Black, the NFL can allow anyone as openly bigoted as  Limbaugh to own a franchise. While there will always be those who don’t care what the man who writes their checks thinks of them as long as they don’t bounce, others will make it clear they want no part of a team owned by an avowed racist.

    The NFL is a conservative organization whom according to Dave Zirin, the sports columnist for The Nation, over 20 years, 22 officials of 32 franchises have contributed more money to the Republicans than Democrats. Rush wouldn’t be unwelcomed because he’s a conservative. He’d be unwelcomed because he’s too divisive and controversial for the league.

    Let’s say Limbaugh is approved as the new owner of the Rams.  One of his first orders of business would probably be to sack the current coach.   New ownership probably means a new coach and General Manager.  The Rooney Rule compels NFL front offices to seek qualified minority candidates for these positions. What’s an avowed opponent to racial diversity and inclusion like Limbaugh going to do when he’s told he must consider Black candidates?

    Who’s he going to interview?  Clarence Thomas or Michael Steele? 

    It would be interesting to see what kind of players a Limbaugh-owned Rams might draft or go after in free agency. It might not be as much of an issue of Black players refusing to play for the Rams as it is Limbaugh wouldn’t want them in the first place.

    Rush Limbaugh could well be the NFL’s next George Preston Marshall , the racist who was the last NFL owner to intergrate his team. As much as Commissioner Roger Goodell stresses the importance of character, is a character like Limbaugh and his ass-backwards attitudes on race really the kind of owner the league wants?

    How it’s going to work that the guy who publicly proclaimed that he wants the nation’s first Black president to fail then turns around and expects the predominantly Black players of the NFL to come play for his team.   That’s a non-starter.  Or imagine if Limbaugh gets lucky and the Rams win a Super Bowl within Obama’s time in office.   The Rams might be the first team not to get invited to the White House.

    The St. Louis Rams can suck just fine without America’s most caustically corrosive commentator contributing to their misery. Rush should be flushed.

    Stick to baseball, Rush.  The ball is small and white.  Just like yours.

    Stick to baseball, Rush. The ball is small and white. Just like yours.