Colorlines

A Possibly Whitewashed James Brown Film Pulls in $14 Million at the Box Office

A Possibly Whitewashed James Brown Film Pulls in $14 Million at the Box Office

“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.

Read more at Huffington Post

Katy Perry on Cultural Appropriation: ‘I Guess I’ll Stick to Baseball and Hot Dogs’

Katy Perry on Cultural Appropriation: 'I Guess I'll Stick to Baseball and Hot Dogs' Play

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Katy Perry pretty much blew off a question about cultural appropriation: “I guess I’ll just stick to baseball and hot dogs, and that’s it,” she told the magazine. “I know that’s a quote that’s gonna come to f-k me in the ass, but can’t you appreciate a culture? I guess, like, everybody has to stay in their lane? I don’t know.”

Perry has been widely criticized for appropriating black culture in numerous songs and music videos. She released the video this week for “This Is How We Do” in which she rocks fake nails and green hair extensions — her idea of a ‘hood chick, I guess.

(h/t Clutch)

New Laker Jeremy Lin’s Still Got a Great Sense of Humor

New Laker Jeremy Lin's Still Got a Great Sense of Humor

Despite putting up pretty consistent numbers with the Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lin has become somewhat of a punchline to some NBA fans. That’s especially been the case now that he’s been traded to the Lakers, a franchise that’s deep into its rebuilding phase.

But if this video with Philip Wang, AJ Rafael, and Harry Shum Jr. is any indication, Lin’s taking it all in stride. 

(h/t Bleacher Report)

Actor James Shigeta and Hollywood’s ‘Stigma of Asian Leading Men’

Actor James Shigeta and Hollywood's 'Stigma of Asian Leading Men'

Actor James Shigeta died this week at the age of 85. He was known for winning a Golden Globe and for his leading role in 1961’s “Flower Drum Song,” but never again acted in a leading role. 

“He was so handsome, debonair,” fellow actor James Hong told the Washington Post. “But there was the stigma in Hollywood about Asian leading men.”

It’s a stigma that still exists today. “It’s changed in Hollywood, but only so much,” Japanese-American actor Masi Oka told The Hollywood Reporter. “You can’t get Asians cast in leads yet. Maybe as a second lead, but the lead is still going to be Caucasian or African-American. But Hollywood is fickle, it follows trends. If a show or a film did well with an Asian lead, then it would take off.”

Earlier this year, New America Media’s Andrew Lam cited the “Bamboo Ceiling” as a leading factor in the growth of Asian and Asian-American actors in new media:

And while they may not be signing big Hollywood deals, they are creating a kind of horizontal, post-modern conversation that is challenging the Hollywood notion of what talent looks and sounds like. These social media and reality personalities are beyond anything imagined by the big money producers, and they are giving old Hollywood a run for its money. 

Read more

Beastie Boys’ Mike D on Tupac: ‘He Was So Determined to Be Authentic, It Killed Him’

Beastie Boys' Mike D on Tupac: 'He Was So Determined to Be Authentic, It Killed Him' Play

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Mike D talks about how he witnessed the beef between Biggie and Tupac rapidly escalate and says, “[2pac] was so determined to be authentic that it ultimately killed him.”

(h/t Okayplayer)

TAGS: 2pac biggie video

Before You See the New James Brown Movie, Watch This 1964 Performance

“Get On Up,” the new James Brown biopic starring Chadwick Boseman, opens in theaters this weekend. David Remnick at The New Yorker calls it the second best film ever made about the Hardest Working Man in Show Business. The first might be this video of a live New York City performance of Brown’s back in 1964.

CeCe McDonald to Rolling Stone: ‘I Wasn’t Born a Boy. I Was Born a Baby’

CeCe McDonald to Rolling Stone: 'I Wasn't Born a Boy. I Was Born a Baby'

Following in the footsteps of Laverne Cox, who was on the cover of “Time” earlier this year, CeCe McDonald is featured in the latest issue of “Rolling Stone.” In a feature written by Sabrina Rubin Erderly, McDonald recounts the the years she spent as a homeless teen, the deadly altercation that led to her highly publicized prison sentence, and reflects on her new role as what Erderly calls a “trans folk hero.”

“I wasn’t born a boy,” she says heatedly. “I was born a baby.” Like many trans women, CeCe disputes her basic narrative as that of a boy who grew up to be a woman. Rather, hers is a story of mistaken identity, of a person assigned the wrong gender at birth. She doesn’t know why she was created with a boy’s anatomy but with the mind and soul of a girl; all she could do was work with the mixed-up results. “If the Creator, whoever He-She-They are, wanted me to be a certain way, that’s how They would’ve made me,” CeCe declares at the bohemian Minneapolis coffee shop Cafe SouthSide, which serves as a local LGBT hub. “But until then, until all this shit is figured out? I’m-a rock this. Till the wheels fall off,” she says, one balletic hand in the air testifying, flashing electric-yellow fingernails. Across the table a friend, a lesbian poet in Buddy Holly glasses, laughs with appreciation, as does the proprietress behind the cash register. “Till the wheels . . . fall . . . off! Mmmph!” CeCe exclaims with a flourish. “Crop tops and all, trust and believe that!”

Read more at “Rolling Stone.”

Janelle Monáe’s Mom Stars in Her New Video, ‘Electric Lady’

Janelle Monáe’s impossibly young-looking mom stars in her new video for the title track of her latest album, “Electric Lady.” The pair are joined by Esperanza Spaulding, T-Boz, Monica, Estelle and T.I. as Monáe heads back to college as a member of the sorority the Electro Phi Betas.

(h/t Rap-Up)

Infographic: Only 8 Percent of Sci-Fi Films Feature Protagonists of Color

Infographic: Only 8 Percent of Sci-Fi Films Feature Protagonists of Color Infographic

If you’re looking for people of color in your summer sci-fi blockbuster, you’ll be waiting for a long time. A new infographic form Lee & Low Books details just how lacking fantasy films are in the diversity department: only 14 percent of movies feature a female protagonist and only 8 percent feature a protagonist of color.

The study analyzed the top grossing Hollywood sci-fit and fantasy blockbusters as reported by Box Office Mojo.

“The statistics are certainly striking, especially since sci-fi and fantasy belong to a genre that prides itself on creativity and imagination,”  Marissa Lee, co-founder of the international grassroots organization Racebending.com, told Lee & Low. “Hollywood has managed to market some weird stuff, like a tentpole movie about talking teenage turtle martial artists, or cars that change into space robots. I don’t buy that when it comes to marketing diverse leads, suddenly this giant industry can’t do it.”

You can read the full study here

scifidiversity_072914.jpg

Even as a 5-Year-Old Maya Rudolph Was Ready for the Camera

Even as a 5-Year-Old Maya Rudolph Was Ready for the Camera

Musician and photographer Jeffrey Scales wrote about touring with Minnie Ripperton and meeting an adorable 5-year-old Maya Rudolph:

…During our off time off from touring, I was often at their home around her family and photographed Maya frequently. Most children get very antsy in front of a camera, but she seemed to be fascinated with the photographic process. She held a firm gaze and always seemed to be studying this photographic process very closely, so I’m not at all surprised that she’s become one the finest comedic actors working in front of a camera today.

I’m also not surprised that Maya found her way into comedy. What few people may know about her mother is that Minnie was one of the most hilarious women you’d ever meet. She had a wry, even ribald wit that would totally disarm the coolest of characters, the biggest record producers, and the most pompous industry executives of the day.

Read more on Scales’ Tumblr

Watch Beyonce Cover Lauryn Hill’s ‘Ex-Factor’

Watch Beyonce Cover Lauryn Hill's 'Ex-Factor' Play

Beyonce’s in the middle of her “On the Run” tour with husband Jay Z and at a recent stop in New Orleans the reigning pop diva covered Lauryn Hill’s ex-factor. Watch the video above.

(h/t Okayplayer)

Hari Kondabolu is Really Excited About His New NYU Artist Residency

Hari Kondabolu is Really Excited About His New NYU Artist Residency

Brooklyn-based comedian Hari Kondabolu is the 2014-2015 artist-in-residence at New York University’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute and he’s excited about his new gig. From his official statement:

During my years performing in New York City, I have found myself constantly looking for performance opportunities to experiment with new ideas and create longer, fuller pieces. While there are, of course, many open mic nights across the city, they have time limits and do not always have people in the audience. Occasionally, I may slip in a few new jokes during longer headlining sets around the country, but this is not always the most conducive way to present material in-progress and safely fail. In addition, some of the things I want to work on are more long-form (like stories) and are not always best told in a stand-up context. As a result, I often end up flying back to Seattle (where I began my stand-up career) to develop new work in a theater I rent out every few months. This is obviously not ideal since I live in New York City, my hometown.

This residency at the A/P/A Institute at NYU will give me just the space and time I need to publicly workshop ideas I’ve had for years, but have not had the opportunity to explore. These ideas include material for my stand-up act; essays and stories for publications, radio, or live performances; live and video sketches; and short films.

In many ways, it’s coming full circle for the comedian, who was rejected from NYU back in 2000 after missing the application deadline in order to prep for his first stand-up gig. The kickoff event for his new residency will take place at NYU on October 15.

(h/t Angry Asian Man)

Crime Writer Rachel Howzell Hall Explores South L.A.’s Gentrification

Crime Writer Rachel Howzell Hall Explores South L.A.'s Gentrification

Rachel Howzell Hall spoke with NPR’s Code Switch team about her new book “Land of Shadows.” It’s her fourth novel and is set in her hometown of Los Angeles, where black homicide detective Elouise “Lou” Norton tries to solve the case of 17-year-old Monique Dowler in a rapidly gentrifying part of town. 

“I want people to realize that, one, there’s a story in this part of Los Angeles and that there are heroes in this world, just as there are villains,” Hall told Code Switch’s Karen Grigsby Gates. “And a lot of times, [in] L.A., you see Echo Park, you see Hollywood, but you don’t see Southwest Los Angeles, and you don’t see cops who have great compassion like Lou does, and cops who come from the areas in which they patrol. So I want people to not make assumptions about this city and about the people who live here.”

You can hear Hall’s interview and read an excerpt of the new novel over at Code Switch

Hilton Als Speaks of ‘Ghosts in Sunlight’ to Graduating Class

Hilton Als Speaks of 'Ghosts in Sunlight' to Graduating Class

Hilton Als, essayist and longtime theater critic at The New Yorker, gave the commencement speech to this year’s graduates at Columbia’s School of the Arts. He manages to perfectly capture hope and loss as he experienced it as a student there during the dawn of the AIDS pandemic:

I wonder if you, like me, feel, just now, like a ghost in the sunlight, awash in memories as your life shifts from student to professional, and your professors become your colleagues. I’ll pull rank now—but just for a moment—and say that my ghosts are probably older than yours. I mean almost Madonna old, and her 1980s music is there in my reminiscences along with so much more as I recall that the majority of my ghosts became just that during the AIDS crisis, which I first read about while I was a student at Columbia—in 1981 or so. I met those now gone boys at Columbia some time before I met you. In memory they wear what they wore then: Oxford button-downs, and they smoke and gossip in the sun that always makes the steps of Low Library—the very steps you’ve sat on yourself—look like a sketch in a dream. Tomorrow was faraway then. And then it wasn’t.

Read more at the New York Review of Books

PBS Explores Gender, Fashion and ‘the Right to be Handsome’

PBS Explores Gender, Fashion and 'the Right to be Handsome' Play

A new segment by PBS’ Ivette Feliciano explores how and why clothing for gender non-conforming people is on the rise.

(h/t PBS)

Robin D.G. Kelley on Palestine: ‘A Level of Racist Violence I’ve Never Seen’

Robin D.G. Kelley on Palestine: 'A Level of Racist Violence I've Never Seen'

Back in 2012, UCLA professor and public intellectual Robin D.G. Kelley did an interview with Mondoweiss, a website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, about his experience as part of a U.S. delegation to Palestine. His comments offer some perspective on how even in time so-called peace, violence and destruction in the region are commonplace.

We went to Hebron, and visited and talked to Palestinian merchants, and witnessed a level of racist violence that I hadn’t even seen growing up as a black person here in the States (laughs), I have to say, and I’ve been beat by the cops. The level of racist violence from the settlers is kind of astounding. We visited Aida refugee camp just north of Bethlehem, and we went to Bethlehem as well. On my own, I went to Nablus and visited the Balata refugee camp. We also went to Haifa, and we met with a group of Palestinian-Israeli scholars and intellectuals to talk about the boycott.

Read more.

NPR’s Michel Martin Does Not Want You to Check Your Privilege

NPR's Michel Martin Does Not Want You to Check Your Privilege

As NPR’s “Tell Me More” gets ready to air its last episode on August 1, host Michel Martin took to the pages of the National Journal to spell out how conversations about women in the workplace ignore race. She references Anne-Marie Slaughter’s popular 2012 essay in The Atlantic “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” explores the jobs women of color have in today’s workforce, and then finally lands on it’s not all that useful to “check your privilege:”

Women of color have a long history of making a way out of no way, of rising out of circumstances many would consider impossible, of finding hope and purpose in the most difficult circumstances. Surely these are strengths that should be brought to bear on these issues, and surely there is a way for white women to join us in this struggle. There is a saying that is popular on some college campuses right now: Check your privilege. As I understand it, it’s mainly aimed at advantaged white people who are being admonished to recognize their advantages, especially ones they take for granted. I won’t presume to speak for all women of color so I will speak for myself: I don’t care about that. I don’t want your pity, and I can’t use your guilt. I don’t want my white female colleagues to “check” their privilege. I want them to use it—their networks, their assets, their relationships—to form a united front with women of color, and to help improve things for all of us.

Read more at National Journal

(h/t National Journal via BuzzFeed)

Brooklyn’s MoCADA Is Asking Its Community for Help

Brooklyn's MoCADA Is Asking Its Community for Help

Brooklyn’s Museum of Contemporary African Diasporic Arts is facing hard times. James E. Bartlett, the institution’s executive director, made the following appeal this week to ask community members for support to help it stay afloat:

We’ve been lucky to have the support of so many fantastic foundations over the years, and we are very grateful for their ongoing commitment to cultural arts. Our funders are model philanthropists who continue to stand by our growth and innovation. But it is not enough to rely on foundations and government grants to stay afloat. We are in danger because we are a small, Black organization and wealth inequality continues to be a very real challenge in the community we serve. We operate without an endowment or major individual donors, making us vulnerable to funding cuts. If a funder decides they no longer want to support the arts (as often occurs), we have to cut free programming, or even staff. That’s why we’re asking you to take action now.

The museum, which was founded in 1999, has set up a fundraising page in an effort to raise the funds. 

Listen: Otis Brown’s ‘The Thought of You Part 1’ Feat. Bilal

Listen: Otis Brown's 'The Thought of You Part 1' Feat. Bilal
Otis Brown III often stays in the background. A sideman and drummer for Esperanza Spaulding, he’s about to release a solo album “The Thought of You” on September 23. The album features folks like Robert Glasper and Bilal. Here’s “The Thought Of You Pt. 1.” 

* This post has been updated.
TAGS: audio music

Remembering Jazz Greats in ‘Last Stop on the 4 Train’

Remembering Jazz Greats in 'Last Stop on the 4 Train' Play

Where do you end up when you ride New York City’s northbound 4 train? Woodlawn cemetery. It’s the final resting place for legends: Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Max Roach.

MC John Robinson, radio DJ Thomas Simmons and jazz vocalist T.C. III documented their journey north while exploring the genre’s history. Check out the first in a two-part series of “Last Stop on the 4 Train.”

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