I love my brudnlaw* to death. We work together and often times he baits me into lively discussions to lighten the atmosphere after meetings. He has several fuses he periodically lights to get me going and I rarely let them fizzle out without at least a minor rumble. One of his guaranteed bulls-eyes is the ‘Kobe vs. Jordan’ contention. Let the record show that while I am a Kobe apologist, I am not foolish enough to compare Michael Jordan’s illustrious career with Bryant’s brilliant and still unfolding legacy. My brother-in-law calls Kobe NBA’s ‘Terrell Owens’ and a cancer on the league. I believe he secretly loves Kobe (nobody can live in LA for significant time and dislike Kobe). I digress. The most recent recurring barb ole bruh likes to toss is the ‘You don’t like black people’ dart. One day I expressed that I am not a Tyler Perry fan or fond of the 90’s sitcom ‘Martin’, which lead to me saying most black cinema is disappointing to me and he concluded ‘Rick doesn’t like black people.’ While nothing could be further from the truth, it is quite funny. The truth is I feel Tyler Perry capitalizes off of damaging stereotypes and slapstick humor in much of his stage and film work. He wastes no time with character development, he boasts thin plot-lines and resolves conflicts in shallow, unrealistic ways. Aside from that…Oh nevermind.
In my opinion, many, not nearly all, black filmmakers offer similar imitations of art instead of telling stories in creative ways and portraying black culture for the mosaic of experiences it is. Shout out to Spike Lee, The Hughes Brothers, Thomas Carter and John Singleton.
With that said I thought I’d list my top ten favorite black movies** in no specific order:
1. Menace II Society
2. Malcolm X
3. The Wood
4. Love and Basketball
5. Jungle Fever
6. Get on the Bus
7. The Five Heartbeats
8. Above the Rim
10. Talk to Me
honorable mention: Brown Sugar, New Jack City, Friday, Hustle & Flow, Inside Man, City of God, Why Do Fools Fall In Love, Catch A Fire, Do the Right Thing, The Wiz, Juice
My top ten favorite black (under-publicized) actors/actresses in alphabetical order:
Obba Babatunde, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Omar Epps, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Djimon Hounsou, Chi McBride, Sophie Okonedo, CCH Pounder, Larenz Tate, Kerry Washington.
*slang for brother-in-law
**black movies: movies with black writers, producers, directors, lead and supporting cast, portray black culture or central characters or any combination of these elements. Don’t over think this. You know a black movie when you see one.
I learned ethnic self-hatred from one of the best!
(Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas)