No Justice, No Peace and Enough is Enough
We Need to Talk About Gugu Mbatha-Raw Playing Self-Discovering Women: A Case Study of “Belle” and “Beyond the Lights”
So are any of us Black enough?
By: Rob Bonnette
Monday, October 27, 2014
The locker room gossip about the Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson being called 'not black enough' by some teammates is stirring up the same old garbage about who is and isn't black enough. This same thing happened with RG3 a couple of years ago when Rob Parker, formerly of ESPN, opined that Griffin might be a 'Cornball brother' because, among other things, Griffin was marrying a white woman and might be Republican. Wilson apparently has failed to pass one of the arbitrary litmus tests for black enough. Maybe it's his choice of women (his ex-wife is white), or his choice of music or his speaking vocabulary or something else. Whatever it might be, it's just dumb.
It seems none of us are immune from this, from us regular folks to professional athletes to the President of the United States. All it takes is for someone who believes themselves to be the arbiter of what is and isn't black to make a judgement call and you too can be labeled not black enough. Come from a two parent home? Grow up in the non-black suburbs? Listen to rock music? Date outside your race? Play a sport other than football or basketball? Speak too proper? These are just a few of the things that can be used to pass judgement on your adequacy as a black person. And they are all equally stupid. Of course if you do jump through all the hoops then you run the risk of being labeled...wait for it....too black.
It's 2014, people. We all come from different places. Even people who grew up on the same street in the same neighborhood and went to the same school have different tastes and perspectives. People who grew up in the same house don't even have the same view of the world. That doesn't make any of us any more or less black. Wilson and RG3 are every bit as black as Doug Williams and Warren Moon are. Not more, not less. The Rob Parker's of the world need to wake up and figure that already.
Actor-ology: Nicole Beharie
By: Shala Thomas
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
I love looking back the careers of actors who have suddenly stepped into the big spotlight of Hollywood because of one reason or another and have a certain blerd (black+nerd)-esque quality about them.
I usually do a small survey on twitter for Blerdnation to see is on everyone’s mind for the purpose of this profile; no need to do that this time (though I love to hear your feedback for next time!). I’m taking a moment to talk about my girl crush of the moment, the smart and adorable Nicole Beharie (cue women trying to discover her secret to getting their own tall, goodlooking, European arm candy):
Born and raised in the south, Beharie hails from West Palm Beach, FL and finished high school at the well known South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities. She then attended the famed peforming arts conservatory Juilliard where she was granted a fellowship to continue her dramatic training in England.
From all the interviews, panel, and photoshoots I’ve seen her in, Nicole Beharie is the ultimate bestie. That’s what makes her so great; she is bubbling with happiness, appropriate sass, and infectious laughter that makes her relateable and makes you feel good in the process. And as they should, big and small screen has taken notice. Here is a retrospective of what I consider the high points in her career for anyone would like to get up on their Behar-ology.
She is most recognizable from…
…the critically-acclaimed, historical-mystery-sci fi-buddy-comedy TV show Sleepy Hollow, where she plays Lt. Abby Mills, the “contemporary” half of a supernatural investigative duo along with Brit Tom Mison’s legendary Ichabod Craine. Don’t let the small package fool you, the girl is tough! If you have witness their natural chemistry, witty banter, and obvious affection that comes through on the small screen and in interview and panels, you can see why their are very dedicated fans (“Sleepyheads”, if you will) of “Ichabbie”. Those two just can’t stop being cute together.
You may remember her from…
…the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 (2013) where she played the woman behind the man, Rachel Robinson. There is sometimes pressure to portray someone who is still alive but Beharie does it with beauty and grace.
And you probably forgot she was…
…the woman who romanced Michael Fassbender (on and off screen) in Steven McQueen’s Shame (2011), a story of a man named Brandon who is on one hand sexually obsessed and on the other totally ashamed of this obsession, which manifests itself into profound loneliness. In some key moments of the film, through Brandon’s attempts at a meaningful relationship with Beharie’s, Marianne we get important glimpses into the depth of his fear of intimacy.
She has shown off her talent in small independent films… …where she won media attention for her breakout role as a struggling single mother falsely arrested opposite Alfre Woodard in American Violet (2008). She has also showcased her vocals, playing a Brooklyn singer-songwriter in My Last Day Without You (2011); her vocals were used on the titled song.
We don’t have to give her the title, she already considers herself a blerd…
On a red carpet interview for Sleepy Hollow: “I’m a little bit of a nerd, so I like [genre shows]. I always thought that there were black nerd girls […] who would be interested in [Sleepy Hollow].”
Talkback (What some of my fellow blerds had to say about why they love Nicole Beharie)…
J Quin (@InHollywoodland): I first saw Nicole Beharie in the film American Violet and the TV movie Sins of My Mother shortly after. Both are dramatic roles acted fearlessly and wonderfully by Beharie. I’ve followed her impressive filmography ever since. I instantly became a fan of the tiny actress with big talent. She has a undeniable on-screen presence and I’m looking forward to seeing where her gift takes her. Best believe that this woman is just getting started. I’m currently waiting on news about her being cast in a major action film, because she has proven on Sleepy Hollow that she can kick ass! I really wanted to see her as Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four reboot opposite Michael B. Jordan, but that’s a topic for another day. Until then, I’ll be watching her on Sleepy Hollow on Monday nights! A Juilliard graduate and now a TV and film star, Beharie is an inspiration not to just black girls but to all young women, and because of this she is easily one of my favorite young actresses.
Are you as enamored with Nicole Beharie as I am? What is your favorite role of hers and why? Leave a comment below.
More Comic Book Shows Please
By: Denzel Lamar
Monday, October 20, 2014
Hey everyone how's it going? It's the Black Chivalrous Nerd Denzel Lamar coming to you once again with another blog post and this one is a good one. Now as everyone knows, comic books are taking over in a big bad way and we are all excited because this is something that every nerd has been waiting for since they've been little nerds and nerdettes. We have Gotham on Fox, The Walking Dead coming back on AMC, Arrow and the Flash on CW, Constatine on NBC, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter on ABC, a rumored Live Action Teen Titan show on TNT, a rumored Supergirl show in the works with TNT and a rumored X-Men live action television show in the works with FOX. Not to mention that Netflix has Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and a Defenders show lined up just as well
Now there are some people that believe that there are too many Comic book shows being produced and that t's turning into overkill, but I for one would like to disagree with them and here's why. Now to the non comic book fan, it is a little bit of overkill but to the Comic Book fan, we are only scratching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the years of stories that these comic books have. Not to mention that there are so many super heroes and heroines throughout the years that have yet to be portrayed on TV and could benefit from it just as well. For example, I wouldn't mind seeing a Sci Fi show about Blue Beetle done on CW or NBC or a show based on DC super hero Icon, The Question, Mr. Terrific, Blue Devil, Birds of Prey, or Hawk and Dove being done. Plus on the Marvel side I know there are people that wouldn't mind seeing a show featuring the Daughters of the Dragon featuring Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, or Spider-Woman, or Black Panther, or Moon Knight, etc.
My point is this, there are so many comic book stories out there that we are not being over-saturated with the few that we have right now. If anything, it's just the beginning and it's only going up from here on so sit back relax kick back and enjoy the ride because these Super Hero shows are only going to get better with time.
Alright guys, that's all for now but until next time this is the Black Chivalrous Nerd Denzel Lamar signing off saying Love Peace and Bacon Grease Smoke Bombs Out
Monday, September 29, 2014
I had no idea how I was going to react to ABC's new show, Black~ish~. My skepticism began with the title of the show. "Ish" is often added to a word to mean sort of, or close to. Being a person who has been called Oreo, a poser, a phony (Blerds you feel me?) etc, I really didn't warm up to the idea that I automatically attached to the word, "Blackish."
I must say though, I was somewhat (pleasantly?) surprised at the show. Anthony Anderson does a wonderful job of contextualizing the word "Blackish" when he asked the question, "Do Black people have to shed some of their culture when they ascend the class ladder?" Honestly, my Grandparents would probably say "yes." Ascending the ladder during the times of Jim Crow, it was not easy, and "assimilation" was a matter of survival. But today? I am not so sure. I did like that Anderson pointed out that things that were once inherently Black had been appropriated and no longer were associated with just black people, adding to the idea of the term "Blackish".
Throughout the premiere there were many instances where I felt as though I could relate, and I think, the show walked the graceful line that many other black Americans (no matter how we all differ in our identifiers) could relate to too. I do wish that the show had a family who were all aware of their "blackness," and were equally as frustrated by the ignorance of their peers, but perhaps that is me wanted my own perspective projected on the screen. It would be nice to have a Huxtables-ish (see what I did there?) family that faces challenges of maneuvering around a environment that doesn't fully see or understand them.
But I also agree with the show’s creator, Kenya Burris, that this show reflects many of his and the show’s writers' story:
All of our writers bring their own stories to the table because we feel like that’s how you make them as real and germane to what’s going on today compared to anything else that’s out there. Anthony Anderson and myself and Laurence, we sat down and we said, "These kids are growing up differently than other kids." Definitely different than us, but being little black kids in this experience, no one’s telling their story. And there’s a lot of people who are sort of now seeing that the generational tide is moving enough where a huge of immigrant and minority people have sort of taken some steps into becoming a bigger part of what the Zeitgeist of Americana is.
It is important to show the transition of people too, perhaps to better help the general public process the idea of transition and complete change.
I only have two bones to pick: The treatment of Anderson’s co-star, Tracee Ellis Ross’ character. She plays a mixed-race woman who almost appears to be clueless about race in general, or, race is not something she feels attachment to. This sounds beautiful (although I believe race is something to be celebrated, but it is tricky when there a connotations attached to the word), however, I do think it is possible for a person to be of two different backgrounds and cherish them equally by at least acknowledging those identities (she does briefly when talking about her hair and her butt, but that's it).
Finally, aesthetically speaking, I think it sends an interesting message to viewers when looking at the hue of the family’s skin. This seems like an minor thing, and yes, it does make sense based on the cast, but I cannot help but worry about the black hues we regularly don’t see on TV in successful, positive positions (regarding the invisibility of people who are darker in skin tone).
Overall, the show is relatable, funny, and has people discussing race in a very different way given recent events. I can't wait to see how it evolves.
Interesting conversations were made via Twitter:
What are your thoughts?
Tune in for Blackish-Wednesdays at 9:30pm EST.
When are fans culpable?
By: Rob Bonnette
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
In light of all the Ray Rice business this week, and the other cases pending and previously involving NFL players and some college athletes, a real question needs to be asked of all of us fans: how complicit are we? How much do we contribute to the problem by giving our support to these various entities? In sports a popular view often espoused from fans of struggling teams is that 'we need fewer choirboys if we want to win'. Of course this doesn't apply to teams that are littered with legal troubles. But a lot of schools and pro teams that are getting manhandled on the field are often labeled wimps who need to get tougher, and the suggested solution is often to employ some more people who may live on the edge a little (or a lot) morally.
This applies to all forms of entertainment, really. You a TV or movie watcher? Several of those actors and actresses are physically and emotionally torturing themselves to reach and maintain the level of attractiveness required to play their roles for us. Drugs, crazy diets, insane workout routines, etc which sometimes result in mental breakdowns, drug busts, overdoses, eating disorders, you name it are par for the course. Music lover? A lot of those acts don't make it through a 60 city in 75 might tour on good old fashioned willpower and a good night's sleep, and many of them also face the same physical appearance demands that fall on their Hollywood brethren. And we don't even need to mention the fashion industry and all it's long documented problems.
I'm a wrestling fan. The conditions that those guys endured during the 80s and 90s are why so many of the guys from that era have been dropping dead at early ages ever since. Cross country travel in cramped rental cars, an almost nightly schedule running all year, no time off for injuries, and a pay schedule largely dependent on being able to work big shows no matter you condition were all the norm. And meeting those demands brought with them a reliance on painkillers to recover and steroids to build and maintain one's physique. As I got older, it became more difficult to ignore all of that. If the WWE hadn't taken the measures it has in recent years to make things better for the performers I wouldn't have a leg to stand on if I were forced to defend my fandom. And it took Chris Benoit killing himself and his family to spur a lot of those.
I'm not prescribing any answers here, or trying to shame anyone into dropping their entertainment choices. But as we further examine things like Ray Rice and domestic violence, a deeper look at how we as fans may help make things better is definitely in order.
Who should The Rock play?
By: Rob Bonnette
Friday, August 29, 2014
It's been revealed through several media outlets that Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is going to be playing either Shazam or his nemesis Black Adam as part of the DC Comics Film Universe, but there's been no official announcement as to which one. Just about everyone I talked to wants it to be Black Adam; of the two, Adam is more complex and interesting character so it makes more sense to use The Rock's talents there than on Shazam, who will likely spend half the movie in his guise of teenage boy Billy Baston. Shazam is also, by comparison, more of a one trick pony. He's all hero, and has some similar abilities to Superman (flight, super strength, etc.). It would be an easy job, one that he could nail down without a whole lot of effort. So which one should he play?
I agree that Black Adam would be the better role to see him in, but if I were a studio head there's no way I'd sign off on that. You want to get the most bang for your buck out of a big star like the Rock, and having him for one movie where gets killed or put on ice at the end won't do that. As Shazam you have him for the Justice League movie coming in 2018, any sequels, and you can give him a solo film before then. You can also can give him a guest spot in any other solo films they have in the works. And then there's the danger that you cast him as the villain, and people like him better than whoever you cast for the hero. That's happened in pro wrestling where the fans prefer the scripted villain to the hero and cheer them instead. With everything that's on the line, that's the last thing you want.
A third angle is this: with the dearth of African Americans with starring roles in these films (so far), and none coming until late 2016 from Marvel at the earliest, would we rather get what we 're looking for from DC at an earlier date or is seeing one of us get to play a serious, layered bad guy in a major motion picture We've seen the Rock play heroes, super or otherwise, plenty of times. Shazam wouldn't be anything new for him. Playing Black Adam may bring more out of him as an actor than he's had to do in a while. I don't really have an answer. I'm guessing Warner Bros. is going to do the no brainer and go for the sure bet. And while that might be less exciting, it could potentially give them a much needed leg up on DC in one area.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Hey guys!!! Long time no write huh? I just got done doing an online summer camp. How does someone do this you might be asking yourself, well read on please.
I am apart of the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club. It is for geek girls (and boys) all over the world that are nerdy and/or geeky who want someone to share all of their geeking out with. This is done through email, snail mail, swaps, and forums. We recently just got done with an online summer camp that was filled with webinars, craft challenges, camp pranks, and making awesome friendships.
There are two webinars that I think a lot of you will appreciate. One is about geek feminism and the other is about geeks of color. I will link those for you at the end of this post. So, I encourage you all the join and get a pen pal. I have one and am working on getting another one. It's a really good way to see how the geekiness goes across the pond or in the next town.
I really hope everyone is having/had a nice summer. Good luck with school if you are returning. If not good luck with life.
"On The Run...From?"
Thursday, August 7, 2014
I waited a long time to publish this, mainly because it is a personal response written on my phone, in the wake of an immense adrenaline rush after the “On The Run Concert.” I also do not like to meddle in celebrity gossip here, but before deleting it off my “notes” section I thought, why not? (This was written on my phone and to maintain its authenticity I did not do any hardcore editing, so please excuse this piece :/ )
Beyoncé and Jay-Z are a celebrity power couple, pulling in millions of dollars and "made respect" every year. Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of their marriage is their ability to keep their relationship private. They have done so for the entire twelve years of their relationship, even after a high profile marriage, birth and the everyday rumors. Their reasoning for such privacy has been that they both would like to be known for their music and not their persona, which is incredibly respectful given that the majority of modern celebrities gained popularity based off their relationships with the media. But, I must say that their "On The Run Tour" is a moment where their music and their personal lives intertwined into something beautiful: real life marriage.
I arrived at the MetLife Stadium with one of my best friends, armed with hot dogs and a beer, and the overwhelming excitement to see Queen B and her Hubby-J. The premise for the show was "Bonny and Clyde," which they have used in the past (2001). The screen on the stage had a tagline: THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE.
Throughout the show the screen showed clips of the Bonny and Clyde J and B, as they robbed, made-out, and drove wildly around the western desert regions of the U.S. The show was full of entertainment, but I kept in mind the opening tagline: THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE.
Then the show took an emotional turn. Prior to the tour, rumors leaked about Jay-Z being unfaithful to Beyoncé. While it was unlike either party to acknowledge the rumors with a response, Beyoncé appeared on screen with a gun under her wedding dress, which she uses to shoot an unrevealed victim. Considering the prior clips has shown Jay-Z being all lovey-dovey and teaching her how to shoot, the audience was left to assume he was the victim. The unrevealed Jay-Z also shot Beyoncé several times, as she continued to try and shoot him. And then, Beyoncé appeared on stage in a wedding dress and sang one of her less popular songs: Resentment.
Here is a snippet of very telling lyrics:
- I know she was attractive, but I was here first
- Been ridin' with you for six years why did I deserve
- To be treated this way by you, you
- I know your probably thinking what's up with Bee
- I been crying for too long what did you do to me
- I used to be so strong but now you took my soul
- I'm crying can't stop crying can't stop crying
- You could've told me that you wasn't happy
- I know you didn't wanna hurt me
- But look what you've done-done to me now
- I gotta look at her in her eyes and see she's had half
- of me
- How could you lie?
While the song came out as a track on her B’Day album, B decided to change a couple of the lyrics during the concert. “6 years” turned into “12 years (hint hint)” and she sang “I know she was attractive, but…” and proceeded to point to her perfect figure.
The song went on for longer than the track does, and there was this realization that fell over the crowd: this was personal. After she finished, Beyoncé got up and moved to another part of the stage and began to sing one of the most heartbreaking dilemma songs of all time: "Ex-Factor" by Lauryn Hill.
When the song finished, we were left with a voice-over of Beyoncé discussing forgiveness:
"Forgiveness is me giving up the right to hurt you through hurting me…. Forgiveness is the final act of love."
As Beyoncé walked offstage with the love and attention of hundreds behind her, Jay-Z braved the stage, and performed "Song Cry,” one of his early singles about regretting the bad choices he made that destroyed a loving relationship he once had. While both Beyoncé and Jay-Z performed (back to back-again hint hint) two very old songs, the lyrics seemed to be all too relevant in their current lives.
This was a powerful moment in the whole show. Had they just revealed a very personal detail of their lives to us? Considering their avoidance to divulge their personal life and to be all about their music, it's almost no surprise that if they were to ever reveal anything personal, it would be through music. Nothing was explicitly explained, but the audience had enough to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
The two then were on stage for the remainder of the show, basked in light and both looked deeply in love. The screen behind them stopped flashing images of Bonnie and Clyde, and instead had clips from their wedding and home videos. It was quite touching to see the normal aspect of their lives.
The real home videos of their lives had the tagline: THIS IS REAL LIFE, a clear response to the dramatic and pop culture driven images we were previously shown.
We were then left with the quote "Die in love and live forever."
So what does this all mean? As a young woman, standing there, in the wake of love, life, and career, I could not help but feel they were showing us the true side of one of the most romanticized concepts: marriage.
Often young people aspire to marriage, or we see it as a natural progression in life. It is the ultimate way to "grow up." But what no one tells us is that you're not an adult at 27. You don't stop growing as an individual once you get married. Your identity as “you” does not just dissipate once you get hitched.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé showed us all that marriage is STILL about growth, and part of growing up is screwing up, and learning from it. Marriage is not meant to be perfect, and it is what you can get over as a couple that makes you stronger. After all, if you're in love, is there anything else worth more to fight for? After all, I believe in: Die in love and live forever.
In the end, though, Beyoncé did say, “The greatest act of love is forgiveness.” Only time will tell how this quote fits into her life.