First of all, we literally sat through about 35 minutes of previews; I mean we must have watched about eight or nine. As I sat there wondering, “When in the world is this movie going to start?” I figured the super long previews must be fate. It was destined for me to write this post today.
Why, you ask?
Well, out of the eight or nine (I lost track after no.6) consecutive previews, I noticed only one was an “African American led” movie. By this I mean, a Black man and woman were the focus of the film; they were the leads. And the movie was produced by a Black man’s production company.
By now, I’m sure you’ve all guessed it, but the movie was Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor by Tyler Perry. It was the second preview shown so I thought, “Okay, let’s see if there are more before I jump to conclusions.” But the extended previews must have been to prove my point, because, besides the occasional “darker skin tone” I’d see every now and then in the backgrounds, none of the other previews were ‘Black-focused films.”
And the “all-White” films ranged in subject matter from superheroes saving the world (Ironman) and the classic we-made-it-through-the-odds-romance, to the mystical, fantasy worlds like Harry Potter and demon-possessed horrors.
Now, I know many in the Black Community have had their fair share of dislike and criticisms to offer Tyler Perry and his works:
TP’s characters are coonish and support buffoonery.
His movies and shows reinforce negative stereotypes of Black people.
TP does more harm than good for the Black Community.
But, especially after seeing the previews today, I cannot deny that Mr. Perry and his production company is “doing it” for Black folks in film. Name another Black filmmaker whose works constantly make it to the big screen alongside their “white counterparts” while raking in millions?
And although I applaud Mr. Perry for trying to get ‘Black-focused films’ on an equal playing field in Hollywood, the fact that he is really one of the only successful (most recognizable films) and consistent right now upsets me. Why is it so difficult for Black people to be represented in the media?
This brings me back to a few years ago when I was a columnist for my university’s newspaper. I’d noticed that those Nicholas Sparks-inspired romance films were everywhere during the summer of 2010. It seemed like every time I turned on the TV, a new trailer was showing for a love story between a white man and a white woman.
I wanted to write a column on this and ask why do you rarely see love stories of minorities. When is the last time you went to the movies to see a film where the entire plot revolved around one black man and one black woman in love? Or a Chinese couple? What about Indians? Or Mexicans/Latinos? Needless to say, my editor did not approve my idea as, and I quote, “it wouldn’t appeal to many people.”
A friend of mine offered an answer to this “inequality in film” question: It’s unrealistic. There aren’t many Black love stories on the big screen because the “story” of Black love is unbelievable. A Black man writing love letters to a Black woman? Yeah right. A brotha traveling through hell and high water to win over the sista he loves? Chile, please. Most important, a successfully in-love Black couple? Girl, you better go on.
Another friend of mine offered an interestingly different answer: We don’t see little Black kids as Harry Potter or vampires like in the Twilight series because we don’t have many authors writing science fiction. Most movies come from books. To get more Black faces on film, we need more Black faces writing.
While I understand the viewpoint of my second friend, we do have plenty of AA authors writing about love; yet, only so few Terry McMillans and Alice Walkers whose novels have successfully debuted on the big screen.
So, I’m asking for your feedback, my sistas. It’s upsetting to rarely see a Black woman be the sexy and clever agent like Angelina Jolie in Salt or the beautiful love interest America’s superhero is willing to risk his life for like Emma Stone in The Amazing Spider Man. But, then again, are these images unrealistic? Why, out of the plethora of movies created every year, only a pinch (if that) are led by a Black cast?
Service is her passion, writing is her platform, women and the Black Community are her avenues. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Marks aspires to help make a difference in society through the messages in her writings. She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Check her out at: