Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On "Concept Blackness" and Why it's Ruining Humanity

I'm not a fan of the "concept blackness" showing up in movies and TV shows. It's unidimensional and uninspiring. Scandal is a great show because the concept is multidimensional. How to Get Away with Murder also has a well developed concept. Fresh Prince, Cosby Show, and Boondocks followed the stories of families and communities and left impressions on our global culture. Greater dimension allows for character development and dynamic storytelling that reaches beyond its target audience. Art that is organized around a superficial concept is amateurish and shows how desperate broadcasters are for content. All the money in the world won't produce better art when artists are lazy.

I believe that it is good to distinguish between black art and mainstream art and Latino art and LGBTQLMNOP art and Indian art and Chinese art...and even to distinguish between black American art and African art or Japanese vs. Japanese American Art...or African French or Polish Jewish. Black American creativity is very different from African creativity. Polish Jewish is very different from American Jewish. It is just as dismissive to discount the history of one's ancestry throughout migration and the creative perspective that derives from that as it is to dismiss one's blackness in America through the "I don't see color" eye. These things matter. These things show up. Any story that deviates from white male heterosexist supremacy is a revolutionarily different Hollywood story. For example, Olivia Pope would've simply been First Lady had she been white. Then, there would be no scandal. It is in her being black, and the way blackness is seen as a blemish on America's white supremacist image that outlines the subtext of that story. Analogously, creating a great concept in the context of cross sections of social laws is to creating a concept around "blackishness" or "letters to white people" as putting a spotlight on the elephant in the room is to pulling an elephant into a room and yelling "hey! Look at my elephant! Now fund my indiegogo campaign."

When Issa Rae created Awkward Black Girl, I sent money to the kick starter campaign because her perspective was comedic and relevant. Her webisode sparked a movement of heavy handedness that was needed at the time to counter the fear black people had of showing human flaws. It was perfect and it set the greater culture up for the modern stories of multidimensional humanity lead by characters that represent our experiences. I champion that trend.


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