“Get On Up,” the film chronicling James Brown’s life and starring Chadwick Boseman, did well enough at the box office on its opening weekend. The film took third place behind “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Lucy,” pulling in $14 million. According to USA Today, it also earned solid scores from 77 percent of moviegoers.
Interestingly, the film also stars some of contemporary black music’s heavyweights like Jill Scott and Black Thought. Scott, who plays Brown’s wife Didi Brown in the film, sat down for an interview with Global Grind and talked about what a struggle it was to really love the real-life James Brown because of “all that ego.”
But much of the talk surrounding the film has centered on the race and politics of the production team that made it happen. Gregory Allen Howard, an award-winning screenwriter, published a scathing look at the industry’s white gaze into black political life in a Huffington Post op-ed. The movie may be profitable, and even likeable, but it’s the result of a dangerous Hollywood formula:
Indeed, all the producers, writers, and the director of the James Brown movie are white. No black people were hired until a few weeks before the cameras started rolling, the actors. In fact, several of the people involved in this whitewash are British. The Brits have a fetish for black projects.
This is the Donald Sterling message: don’t bring them to the game. There are over fifty black iconic biopics and black-themed movies in development in Hollywood, including multiple Richard Pryor projects, five Martin Luther King projects, multiple Marvin Gaye projects, and civil rights projects, and only one or two have an African American writer. Our entire history has been given over to white writers.