On NPR’s Code Switch podcast, I joined NPR’s Karen Grimsby Bates as well as The Atlantic’s Gillian White and Goldie Taylor of the Daily Beast to talk about the controversy surrounding The Birth of a Nation direction Nate Parker.
Whenever some seismic event in pop culture is going down – some celebrity feud or drama is “breaking the internet” – there’s always a contingent insisting that there are “more important things” to care about than the entertainment story du jour.
If you are one of these folks, allow me the honor of telling you that you’re annoying, condescending and a self-important jackass. You know, the Ted Cruz of everything outside of politics. The same goes for those who feel compelled to announce that they “don’t care” about whatever pop culture moment is happening at the time. If I had a big batch of cookies – ideally, really stale ones – I’d throw it at them and encourage the group to eat their treats as slowly as possible so that they each can enjoy the attention they’re so clearly seeking.
The first complaint – “there are more important things to care about” – grates most on my nerves. It’s not like celebrity news fans are claiming that Taylor Swift v Kimye is the most seismic event in history. If anyone says as much, they are probably headline writers at entertainment media sites using hyperbole to get the clicks that will keep them employed.
Also, in a year like 2016, which is drowning in melancholy, violence and strife, maybe – just maybe – some of us need a break. Some of us want to enjoy a bit of levity in these emotionally trying times. If you are black and living in America, you are subject to constant reminders that those who look like you are unjustly dying at the hands of the state, typically without any consequences for their killers. As if that weren’t enough, this year has also brought the death of legends like Prince and Bowie in addition to Donald J Trump’s so-far-successful candidacy.
To that end, do some of us want to laugh at Kim Kardashian dragging Taylor Swift on a Sunday evening? Or cackle at Blac Chyna scoring one up on that entire familyby locking down the only boy of the bunch? Or be entranced by whatever Beyoncé is doing at any second of the day? You’re damn right we do. We need that escapism badly.
Read more at The Guardian.
Unless you have been living under the largest rock in the world with no cable or internet access, when it comes to the Kardashians, you know what it is.
If anyone asks you what they do for a living, they’re being insincere and smug. We know what they do: They tell us every tidbit of their personal lives in front of a camera crew for professional gain. Everything they do and everyone they surround themselves with is readily available for public consumption. This has been the case for several years now. One doesn’t have to like that they make a living this way, but the cheapening of celebrity has happened and that family was shrewd enough to monetize it.
To that end, anyone who enters any of Kim Kardashian’s or her kinfolks’ spaces knows what they are signing up for. So when I heard Tyga’s recent interview with Los Angeles radio station Real 92.3, my immediate response was, “Negro, please.” My follow-up comment was, “You gotta shut your black ass up.”
On how the relationship impacted his career, Tyga said: “When you’re in a very public relationship like that, it’s hard for other people to see you differently than that. Being in that … it took a lot, careerwise, everything. It overshadowed a lot of my talents and a lot of things that I worked hard for.”
Tyga went on to add: “She’s young. When you’re young, you’re going to make mistakes. All of those mistakes are going to be in the public eye so that puts a lot of strain on the relationship. Right now, I want to focus on what I need to do. I just wanted to get back to just me. I think for her as well.”
Indeed, Kylie Jenner is young—she’s 18—and Tyga is 26. Although Kanye West once said, disgustingly, that Tyga was “smart” for getting in “early,” I join the likes of Amber Rose in being disgusted by his relationship with Jenner starting before she turned 18. There is a reason West made that claim, though. As much flak as the Kardashian-Jenner ladies (minus Kourtney Kardashian) get for dating famous (black) men, the reality is, many of these men are just as opportunistic and strategic as the women.
The Kardashians like to date men who just love being part of a much larger family setting. If they’re not dating that kind of guy, they’re dealing with men with marginal fame compared with theirs who wouldn’t mind an upgrade. The kind of guy who feels like he’s sitting in coach and wants more than just free nuts in his cramped middle seat. Tyga is that man in the middle who can’t wait to move on up. Why? Because the second he dates someone like Kylie Jenner, he becomes instantly famous.
This man was willing to risk his own episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for the sake of netting more headlines than his rap skills got him. Yeah, as catchy as “Rack City” is, Tyga ain’t exactly going over people’s heads with his incredible vocabulary, penchant for metaphor and overall great skill. Even if we’re going to pretend that Tyga does care about his music career being overshadowed, if that is the case, why is he still talking about a relationship that’s apparently over?
Read the rest at The Root.
There were many ways to handle frustration over the Oscars being whiter than a Donald Trump political rally, or you know, as white as the Academy Awards typically are any given year. Some created art as a tool of advocacy in response while other others used their star power to shed light on matters in which racism has more haunting consequences. Personally, instead of watching the Oscars, I danced to “Formation” multiple times with Latinos, Blacks, and drag queens — the sort of intersectionality Hollywood stubbornly fails to produce.
Still, like many of these people angry over our erasure, I did have hopes that the host of this year’s Oscars, Chris Rock, would serve as an echo of those feelings directly in front of the people who needed to hear it. Rock, who has long possessed the ability to make white people squirm as much as he does laugh with his thoughts on race and race relations, seemed like the perfect person for the perfect moment. Unfortunately, he failed and I found myself fidgeting more at home than the white people in the audience who actually deserved uncomfortability .
There was an outright pandering in Rock’s remarks that one wonders was there any intent there besides pacification of a primarily white audience?
At one point, Rock compares the Oscar protest of 2016 to ones of yore, quipping that “we had real things to protest at the time, you know” before adding “we’re too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer.” I don’t find a room full of white people gleefully cheering such lines to be at all amusing. Not only is it ahistorical to act as if Black people haven’t leveled protest of discrimination on multiple fronts, it doesn’t give Black folks the credit we deserve. We can two-step and chew gum at the same time. We can be mad about what’s happening in Flint, Michigan and our own communities as much as we can be pissed our contributions continue to be viewed as less than.
Whiteness is centered in each of these examples, hence the problem, so who is anyone, much less a comedian of all people, to downplay the importance of calling a wrong a wrong no matter its level of “seriousness?”
Then there is the matter of Rock’s comments about two famous Black women Jada Pinkett Smith and Rihanna: “Jada said she’s not coming. I was like, ‘isn’t she on TV show?’ Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!”
Motives aside, Jada Pinkett Smith used her platform to bring awareness to a longstanding barrier that Blacks in Hollywood face. To his credit, Chris Rock has recently spoken out about the plight of Black actresses, but Smith’s efforts didn’t need to be downplayed. It speaks volumes that a Black man failed to hit hard at Hollywood’s racism directly in its face, but managed to invoke Rihanna’s name for a sexist joke.
Chris Rock is hilarious. Chris Rock has said many astute, important things about race through his comedy. Chris Rock last night at the Oscars felt like a missed opportunity to be the aforementioned.
I did enjoy Rock’s observation that “Hollywood is sorority racist.” He explained, “It’s like, ‘We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’ That’s how Hollywood is.”
And though Blacks may never actually bet let into the sorority, last night proved Hollywood might invite us to the party every now and again, but they’d prefer we not make too much noise.
Last week, it was confirmed that Abigail Breslin will play Baby in ABC’s Dirty Dancing TV movie musical. My immediate response was, “Oh, I’m not watching that.” However, for a person who does not like musicals but will occasionally watch one – i.e. The Wiz – I have a few suggestions on musicals that ought to happen sooner than later. Before you even say “Enough musicals!” give it up, turn it loose. They’re happening throughout 2016 and beyond. Let’s just all get a piece of the action.
SWV: The Musical
For one anyone that’s watched the new cancelled WeTV reality series, SWV Reunited, you know those women are basically three aunties who love each other but don’t always like each other. I, for one, would love a musical version of their journey complete with Coko cursing out LeeLee and Taj in song. And vice versa, of course. I also want to see them perform “Downtown,” “Can We,” and all of the other sex songs it took Coko years to start singing again after she got all extra Christian on the world.
Bebe’s Kids: The Musical
I would say the members of Mindless Behavior could star in this, but I assume, 1. they’re 45 now, 2. that wouldn’t get this green lit in 2015. Round up some badass kids who can sing or lip sync for their lives to do this. Oh, wait. I know: book those kids who play twins on Black-ish. They are everything.
Read the rest at VH1.com.
I believe in calling things what they are.
I am a black man. I am a black writer. I’m not afraid of these labels because they accurately represent me. More importantly, no matter what I call myself, my race will always be part of the equation. I could be “Puff the Magic Dragon,” but the inconvenient truth is that people would still likely refer to me as “Puff the Magic Black Dragon.”
Being a black writer and owning that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of relating to those who aren’t like me. For those who feel differently, however, I shouldn’t carry the burden of changing their small minds. I refuse to downplay myself to win the approval of those who can’t get past how I look.
That’s exactly why I was disappointed by actress Sanaa Lathan’s comments in a recent article titled, “Why The Perfect Guy Isn’t A Black Movie.”
“I have heard people talk about this film as an urban film because we’re black. The truth is … all races love watching us if it’s a good story,” said Lathan, who stars as lobbyist Leah Vaughn in the film. “If it’s a good movie, it’s a good movie, regardless of our color. We’re brown, but we’re just making movies. We don’t have to comment on our race.”
She added, “I was reading about Straight Outta Compton, and it’s interesting how the journalists talk about it. The way that they talk about the success is very marginalized. It’s like, ‘This is a specialty film.’ No, it’s not. This is an American film about American history. Hip-hop culture is world culture now. It is universal.”
While I agree race should not dictate whether someone enjoys a movie or not, what good is it to pretend that a film with a predominately black cast is not a black movie? And why should we avoid calling something a “black movie” just to encourage non-black people to see films like Love & Basketball? Trying to be colorblind when categorizing a movie puts the onus of combating racial prejudice on black people, rather than on those who should overcome their prejudices.
Lathan’s The Perfect Guy co-star, Michael Ealy, also chimed in, saying, “I understand why people want to label them black movies. But … if you watch The Big Chill, I don’t think they talk about their whiteness.”
The problem with that argument? White people don’t declare their whiteness because whiteness is considered the norm. It’s the standard; everything else is an outlier.
Read the rest at ntrsctn.
Last night’s Love & Hip Hop Atlanta opened with a prayer, some chicken wings that looked like they were fried in bronzer, and unsettled beef. I think Scrappy’s side-eye at Momma Dee’s lengthy and rather ridiculous prayer sizes up my feelings on this dinner quite nicely. Scrappy hasn’t said a whole lot this season, but I appreciate him shooting his mom a look that loosely translated to, “Momma Dee. Jesus ain’t trying to hear all that bullshit, ya feel me?”
After the prayer came the convo—leading with Ernest’s mama, Bernice, explaining to Momma Dee that she remains somewhat upset that Momma Dee put her son in jail. To her credit, Momma Dee continues to maintain “Yeah, I ain’t shit for that” but won’t necessarily linger in that sentiment for too long. She’s very, “You know, I put him in jail because he was treating me bad, but we off that. Why aren’t you?”
Bernice looked like she was crying, but since there were no visible tears, I wonder if it was emotion or just too much Slap Ya Mama seasoning. Whatever the case, Momma Dee’s daughter, Jasmine, then spoke on her beef with Ernest—basically, she can’t stand him—resulting in Scrappy having to hold Momma Dee back before she went oops, upside her daughter’s head and her plate. Later, Momma Dee stressed to Ernest that he needed to prove to her “crumb-snatching kids” that he loves her. I wouldn’t be surprised if this relationship ends with multiple folks being hit over the head with a Crown Royal bag filled with nickels and neck bones.
In related family news, Stevie J was released from rehab only to head to New York to deal with his child support issues. Now, as much as I love the Puerto Rican Princess and respect her right to continue working out her daddy issues by way of sex with Stevie J, question (read in Beyoncé’s voice, please): If your husband is facing prison time over charges of unpaid child support and just got out of rehab, what makes you so antsy to procreate with him right now? Then again, she’s not getting any younger and I’m pretty sure those two would create a gorgeous kid. But let me say this about Stevie J: Thus far he has shown himself to be truly evolving.
Kaleena, who joined Joseline on the set of her wedding-themed magazine shoot (they’re running this six-feet-deep into the ground at this point), wanted to get Stevie to tell her husband, Tony, not to do business with the dude Stevie once opened a business with. You know that place he opened with Benzino a season or so ago. Yeah, I don’t remember it either. Point is, Stevie J has become the voice of reason.
And if you saw him last week on Love & Hip Hop Live: The Wedding (that ends in denial of conjugal visits, but I digress), you see that Stevie might be able to add another revenue stream to his arsenal by way of TV hosting. I’d still like for Stevie J to reunite with Mariah Carey in the studio, but you know, get your money, Steebie.
Besides, it could be worse for Joseline: She could be Rasheeda. Look, I’m increasingly fed up with her and Kirk’s storyline. Yes, they’ve added disrespectful Ashley Nicole into the mix, but second verse, same as the first. It’s like the universe is yelling, “GET A DIVORCE, WOMAN,” into Rasheeda’s ear with a megaphone, yet she continues to be Helen Keller to the shit.
As for Rasheeda describing Ashley Nicole as a “no buzz having bitch,” uh it wasn’t that long ago she was being told, “My name is Rasheeda/I rap like Shawty Lo.” I’ll leave it at that.
Read the rest at Complex.
Unfortunately, for so many women, every day they step outside is considered an invitation by some men to speak to them as if they’ve only discovered women and erections seconds prior. Even worse is the new reality that these same parasites have since carried over their thirsty ways to social media– spurring so many women to shout out “Can I live?” in horror. Though I can’t do the Lord’s work, (i.e. instantly make the penises of the guilty parties fall off) I can at the very least inform you folks how not to hit on someone online. Grab your sippy cups and settle down. I’m here to help.
Stop Showing Your Dick
There are some pretty widely acceptable ways of greeting someone you’re interested in. Say, “Hello,” “Hi,” “What up, though,” “Hey,” and “Good morning, afternoon, evening.” Then maybe you can follow with a “How are you?” These are all pretty standard and not remotely aggressive. You know what’s the total antithesis of all of this? Immediately sending someone a shot of your dick. Your dick should not be the greeting as it’ll likely spur a prompt goodbye.
Lesbians Don’t Want You, Dude
For the slow people in the back of the room, if a woman is a lesbian she’s not interested in your dick, how big it is, or whatever sexual magic you think it has. Why? Because she likes vagina, fool. Women, some of you are guilty of this with gay men, too. I don’t know if you’re inspired by Liza Minnelli and Star Jones (allegedly), but your box ain’t the Hocus Pocus either.
Read the rest at Complex.
It took her long enough, but on the Scandal season finale, Our Lady of the Trench Coat finally had some self-realization. That manifested itself into Olivia Pope finally saying these four magic words: “I am the scandal.” Damn right you are. As much as I’d love to focus on just that and what Olivia Pope could do to stop wrecking so many of our last nerves, since it’s Scandal, we’ve got to focus on the seven million other things that happened, too.
The episode kicked off exactly where we left off — Fitz and Cyrus in the Oval Office, reviewing Fitz’s eulogy as the church was on its way to being blown to smithereens thanks to Mama Pope’s bomb. Suddenly, Cyrus started to feel a little guilt about not warning the president about the bomb because he wanted Sally to get drop-kicked by Jesus into hell. Whatever, Cy, because Jake stormed into the Oval Office to warn Fitz about the terrorist plot.
That bomb went off not long after and a still very much alive VP Sally Langston almost won the presidential election after a wonderfully crafted PR stunt. Just as Sally was about to hop in her limo and get the hell out of dodge, her campaign manager stopped her, rubbed some black marks on her face, ripped her suit and told her, “Be Jesus. You go in there and Be Jesus.”
Sally then played saint and started helping the injured in the name of Jesus winning the presidency. Her “her heroic duty” was so “compelling” that news organizations did a split screen between the presidential briefing on the bombing and Sally Save-These-Hoes (I’m terrible, but I couldn’t resist). Then they just switched to Super Sally and left Fitz wasting his breath. After this, Olivia Pope told Fitz, “Dude, you’re about to lose, B. Sorry, I know this sucks for you.”
Or something to that effect.
Mellie Mel, with fresh vodka in her hand, rightly blurted out, “I want a refund. I want our money back. Whatever your fee is. Whatever ridiculous amount of money we wasted on you. Why did we hire her, because I thought we hired her to win?” Damn right, Mel. Olivia Pope is a terrible campaign manager. Who tells the candidate they’re going to lose even if you think it inside? Why not follow Tisha Campbell’s advice and push until you get it right?
After Fitz’s hopes and dreams were dashed, Gladiators were subjected to yet another nauseating discussion about “Vermont.” Yo, shut up about Vermont. I’m so sick of hearing about that damn state and what all it represents to these two. Either move or stop talking about it! Olivia & Fitz are the best thing to ever happen to Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. Ditto for Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union. Those two couples have a much better follow through game.
Now, as Fitz talked about what a horrible woman Mellie was and she never loved him, only wanted his power, blah, blah, Olivia thankfully broke girl code and cracked Fitz’s jaw by revealing that the reason why Mellie treats him like his dick is the anatomic equivalent to the Snow Queen’s poison apple is that his awful ass father Big Jerry raped her. When Fitz found Mellie to discuss what happened (this felt rushed, but whatever), Mellie blurted out, “Olivia Pope can’t do anything right.”
That woman is shade in its best form. Mellie went on to tell Fitz that Jerry is indeed his son. Fitz didn’t care—though with Mellie’s secret discovered, naturally, there’s no way in hell Fitz can divorce Mellie now without truly being the worst person ever. He told Olivia as much and she understood, but if you listen very, very closely, you could hear the tracks of her tears, and an ice box being installed where her heart used to be.
As much vilifying that Mellie suffered at the hands of Fitz, I’m glad he finally understands that if there’s anyone around him that truly loves him and is willing to make sacrifices for him, it’s his wife as opposed to his girlfriend.
That said, Mellie, you should still look into divorcing Fitz and making VP-elect Andrew your new bae.
Oh yeah, y’all knew Fitz wasn’t losing that election. Unfortunately, he won due to his son Jerry collapsing on stage and dying due to bacterial meningitis and the nation feeling just plain awful about it.
Rest in peace, Jerry. You were a brat (understandably so), but you didn’t deserve that.
Before Jerry dropped dead at Fitz’s campaign event, Olivia and her mother had a final confrontation in Rowan Pope’s hospital room. There, Maya explained that everything she’s done was for her. She explained, “That man hurt you. He uses you and he will throw you away when he’s done with you. I just wanted to give you the chance to be free. To be happy.” Mama Pope wants to murder Fitz because he hurt her baby girl. A little abrasive, but sweet for a sociopath when you really think about it.
When Olivia pressured her mom to answer whether or not any of the first 12 years of her family life was real, Mama Pope said, “I didn’t kill him and we both know I could have.”
Read the rest at Complex.