Monday, January 21, 2008
Denzel Washington has talent that draws you to whatever he does. I recently saw The Great Debaters, which he directed as well. I declined an invitation to see American Gangster, for similar reasons. I still remember the haunting feeling that lingered with me for days after I watch him as a corrupt cop in Training Day, for which he won an Oscar. He is too good sometimes.
I was surprised, but not really, to see that Gangster was a box office hit, as was Training Day, while Debaters, has been a financial disappointment, some would say flop. Its financial woes follows similar historically significant films about blacks, like Rosewood and Ali, whose big name stars still delivered empty seats. I am left to wonder why blacks, as disproportionate moviegoers, fail to patronize uplifting films about themselves.
With the continuing complaints in the black community about Hollywood’s negative depiction of blacks, you would think that the group would turn out in droves to support Mr. Washington and Oprah Winfrey, one of the Debaters producers. But no such luck. Even movies like Akeelah and the Bee, about a black spelling bee champion, become financial successes largely on their crossover appeal to white audiences.
The question for blacks to mull over is why movies like these have to be philanthropic adventures, instead of solid draws to blacks. Black audiences need these sorts of stories in the worst way, yet they fail to support them. How easy or difficult will it now be for Washington to direct another film, minus foul language, bullet-ridden bodies, and booty-calls up the ying-yang.
I have nothing against American Gangster and its ilk, but blacks really need to step up and support black film makers who fight to make films that depict the group accurately and positively. Lacking this support, the group has no one to blame when our young people choose to emulate criminals and bottom-feeders. My kids can see Debaters as many times as they want and I will buy it on video as well, because for every big name star who has to beg the patronage of their own people, hundreds of unknown black filmmakers, with inspiring stories to tell, never get heard at all.
James C. Collier
READ MORE ACTING WHITE...
Technorati Tags: The Great American Debater/Gangster, Denzel Washington, Forrest Whitaker, Oprah, Training Day, Acting White