Let Kanye Be Kanye!

To admire an artist means you are at times forced to defend their non-artistic antics.  To admire Kanye West,  means you’re going to do a lot of defending because for every one memorable musical moment Mr. Kardashian creates two palm-slap upside the head ones.

Kanye’s crap  used to annoy me.  Now after years of not getting it, I’m in on the joke Kanye is playing on everybody else and I approve.

I stopped watching the Grammy Awards ages ago and stopped caring who won longer than that, so I missed Kanye step onstage and scare the shit out of Beck with what looked like a Taylor Swift flashback. Nah. Just kiddin’, folks!   It was a head fake.  Kanye was holding his fire until after the show when Kanye  (aka “Yezus” or just “Ye” to his friends) unleashed a volley on Beck and he wasn’t kidding. Or maybe he was.

I’m not bothered when Kanye jacks these stupid award shows by making it all about him. If we couldn’t depend on Kanye pulling out his dick and stepping on it all we’d have to talk about is how Madonna didn’t look as old and creaky as she did in the Super Bowl halftime a few years ago. All award shows are pompous, self-important, self-congratulatory stroke fests and anyone who needs an Oscar, Tony, Grammy, or Emmy to certify their own tastes has bigger problems than another Kanye rant.

Sing ‘Loser?” Never heard of it.

“Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé,”

I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain’t gonna play with them no more. “Flawless,” Beyoncé video. And Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé and at this point, we tired of it. Because what happens is when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. And we as musicians have to inspire people who go to work every day. And they listen to that Beyoncé album and they feel like it takes them to another place. Then they do this whole promotional event, that, you know, they’ll run the music over somebody’s speech, the artist, because they want a commercial advertising. Like no, we not playing with them no more. And by the way, I got my wife, I got my daughter, and I got my clothing line so I’m not going to do nothing to put my daughter at risk — but I am here to fight for creativity. That’s the reason why I didn’t say anything tonight. But y’all know what it meant when ‘Ye walked on the stage.

Am I the only one who wonders why Kanye is so protective of Beyonce and her divine right to win every award in the world and why he still gets invited to these shows?  This could all be easily avoided.  After Michael Moore pissed all over the Oscars after winning for Bowling For Columbine, the powers that be stopped nominating his documentaries. Problem solved.   Then we can get back to talking about Old Madonna.

Kanye publicly showing his ass has become as predictable as his wife baring hers. It’s what he does and if you can’t see this part him/part performance art, you’re missing the joke. Enter Shirley Manson, lead singer of the rock band Garbage,  who received much online love for delivering a succinct bitch slap to Yeezus in one devastating Facebook post.

“Hi, Kanye. A word?”

“Dear Kanye West,

It is YOU who is so busy disrespecting artistry.

You disrespect your own remarkable talents and more importantly you disrespect the talent, hard work and tenacity of all artists when you go so rudely and savagely after such an accomplished and humble artist like BECK.

You make yourself look small and petty and spoilt.

In attempting to reduce the importance of one great talent over another, you make a mockery of all musicians and music from every genre, including your own.

Grow up and stop throwing your toys around.

You are making yourself look like a complete twat.

P.s. I am pretty certain Beyonce doesn’t need you fighting any battles on her account. Seems like she’s got everything covered perfectly well on her own.”

Kanye considers himself a musical genius to be mentioned in the same breath as Stevie Wonder,  Miles Davis or The Beatles but he’s not about to wait until a decade after he’s dead to get his due.   He’s going to claim it right here and clearly he considers Beyonce and Jay-Z to be among his peers. Taylor Swift and Beck are definitely not.    Is is rude he said so publicly instead of privately?

I’m a bigger fan of Shirley than Kanye, but she was a little hard on him, after all he was only listening to the voices in his head.   “I was asked my opinion and I was given a platform. And when given a platform, it’s very hard as we know – and I’m going to talk in third person like I’m a crazy person – but it’s very hard for Kanye West to not be very true and vocal to what he feels.”

Whether driven by impulse or calculation, if Kanye is predictable at least he isn’t boring like the Grammy Awards are.  It’s like he told Rolling Stone in 2007,  “Rock stars can give their fucking opinion without having to deal with . . . what’s that thing I get dealt with every day of my life? Oh, yeah. Backlash.”

 

It’s Beyonce’s World. Stop It, I Want to Get Off.

“You just hate me because you ain’t me.”

Living in a celebrity-obsessed culture means you will be exposed to saturation coverage with around the clock updates of every move our best and brightest stars make and every breath they take.     Whether or not we are interested or care about the celebrity is not the point.   We are supposed to care.   We are supposed to crave fresh results to process, constant communication and breathless bulletins of what our stars are up to.   God isn’t dead.   He just needs a better publicist and a Twitter feed.

Which brings me to my point.   This is Beyonce’s World and could someone slow it down?  I’d like to get off.

I can’t be the only person in North America who is sick and tired of All Things Beyonce.

When I say “I don’t like Beyonce”  I’m not saying I don’t like her music.  She’s a perfectly capable vocalist.   When she doesn’t bleach her hair too blonde, she’s quite attractive.   She’s a reasonably good dancer, she has a rockin’ body, and even though Jay-Z isn’t much to look at, I give her a lot of respect for being married to a Black man.

But can a brother get a break from the Beyonce News Network?   Everything this woman does is not newsworthy.   Yes, I know that’s blasphemy.   Come get some if you don’t like it.

Beyonce and Jay-Z Go to Cuba.  Conservatives Lose Their Minds.    Sun rises the next day.  World keeps turning.

Beyonce releases diss track telling her haters to “Bow Down Bitches.”    You don’t say?

Beyonce sings at Obama’s inauguration and gets busted for lip synching.    Surprised?

Beyonce’s new song for The Great Gatsby is a duet with Andre3000 is an homage to Amy Winehouse.   It kind of sucks, but who cares?   It’s Beyonce!   Are you not entertained?

Beyonce reunites with Destiny’s Child at The Super Bowl and makes Kelly and Michelle sing one of her songs!

Beyonce named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people in the world.   Because she’s a diva.  And that makes her influential.  So there!

Beyonce bans photographers from her tour.   Because they took photographs of her that were unflattering.  We only want flattering photos of Bey out there.

I’m not one of those old men who spending his 50’s dumping on  entertainment that was never designed with me in mind.   Justin Bieber, Scandal,  Lena Dunham,   Nikki Minaj, reality TV,  Mad Men, Game of ThronesLady Gaga and most of the good people who have won a Grammy,  Oscar, Golden Globe or People’s Choice Award for the last decade.   I am blissful in my ignorance of whatever the current hot hip happening thing is feeling pretty content about it, thank you very much.   This is a father who forgives them for their ways are not mine.

There have always been man-made media monsters stomping across the land and filling our empty lives with all the juicy details of theirs, but nothing like Beyonce.    Maybe Madonna at her peak or Lady Gaga when wearing dresses made of meat mattered more than the music she made, but even Madonna backed off as she aged out from Material Girl to Material Mommy.    Lady Gaga certainly seems to have retreated a bit from the glare of the spotlight allowing it to swing back to pitiful train wrecks like Lindsay Lohan and talentless freaks like the entire Kardashian Klown show.

Beyonce has a social conscience.  Beyonce does not seem to carry herself like Diana Ross ghetto royalty.  Beyonce has indisputable talent as a singer and dancer  (the less said about her attempts at acting the better unless you think she her cringe-inducing “performances in Obsessed and Austin Powers in Goldmember were Oscar-worthy).     Beyonce is gorgeous.   

I still don’t need Beyonce all up in my face ALL the time.    Even beauty can be boring as hell.

I think Bey deserves a vacation.  She deserves one.   She’s earned it.   She should take it.   She should take pity on the world and allow it to  focus on acts of terrorism,  wars, economic calamity, natural disasters,  political machinations, and other mundane stuff for a while.   Every fascinating detail of her fabulous life can go unshared and almost no one will care.    Well, except Bossip, Media Take-Out, Perez Hilton and a million other Internet web sites that feed on these tidbits of trivial b.s. like a newborn calf suckling on its mama’s teat, but who gives a crap about them?

Beyonce is the 8th Wonder of the World.    It will do us all good if  she would go away for a week or two or 26 and allow the world to wonder about her.

How do I do it? Lots of talent, make-up and Photoshop.

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?