Sep 7, 2016

Black & Blue-Greens

Elle France, 1974 --- Pat Cleveland, Lee Nils, Aitize, Grace Jones, Maranka

This is some serious #MelaninPoppin game that dragonslays on all your stereotypes and false narratives about Black beauty.

Some observations:

1) Black comes in multiple shades and varying looks...and they are all beautiful

2) Black women can certainly wear blue and green eyeshadow (I don't know who kept telling me that lie...)

3) Black women can also wear varying shades of lip color

4) Black women can smile on their own without you telling us

5) The Earth did not implode into zillions of pieces due to Pat Cleveland and Grace Jones being in the same photo

Sep 6, 2016

The Birth Of Nate Parker, The (Faux) Militant Male Feminist

Nate Parker is acting again.

His interviews, especially his latest with Ebony, are grand performance pieces, a testament to method dramatics. His diction is on target as he delivers his lines effortlessly, the words dripping with emotion, exuding with charm. His character, the "Changed & Enlightened Man", comes across to his audience as a complex, tortured artist who prior to his road to enlightenment, was a mere naive youngster who was (unjustly) railroaded by the (white) judicial machine back in 1999. Most will have hankies dabbing at their eyes or have clenched fists raised shouting, "Right on brother! I'm with you!", applauding and lauding him for such a riveting and convincing performance.

As for me, my hands remain in my lap, clasped, and motionless.

Though Ebony's Britni Danielle has taken Parker to task during her very lengthy interview with him --- asking the questions that a lot of us have been asking since the rape allegations resurfaced, with eagerness to form an honest dialogue about male privilege and rape culture with someone who is neck-deep in such controversies --- but consider me unmoved at the masquerade that Parker is trying to pull during this sit-down one-on-one.

I was at one point excited to see The Birth Of A Nation, Parker's historical passion project about the revolutionary Nat Turner and his famous 1831 slave rebellion in South Hampton, Virginia. From the subversive title-turning of D.W. Griffth's controversial and odious 1915 film The Birth of A Nation to the fact that Nat Turner's life would (finally) be honored and give new meaning to celluloid slave narratives, I was ready, and pretty damn ecstatic to throw my money down on it.

I didn't know anything about Parker's past --- he wasn't strong enough on my radar aside from the few movies I'd seen him --- but once I learned about his involvement in a 1999 rape case during his time at Penn State, I do what I normally do when I first hear unsavory things about people: I give them the benefit of the doubt and keep one cautious eye open. One cautious eye open for any and all information that might sway my opinion otherwise. Well, both of my eyes were widened and opened when several court documents and a call transcript came to fruition earlier this month ---- along with the full story about Parker and those rape charges.

After reading and gathering information, I learned several standout things:

  • When Parker and his The Birth Of A Nation co-writer, Jean Celestin were students and wrestling teammates at Penn State University they were charged for raping an unconscious 20-year-old female student in their apartment. The accusers name was "Jennifer" and she was acquainted with Parker's now-wife, Sarah DiSanto
  • Parker was exonerated on a "technicality"as he had had consensual sex with the accuser prior to the actual incident (as if saying "yes" before gave license to use "yes" for eternity...). 
  • Celestin was convicted of the rape and served six months in jail. Later on his verdict was appealed and he was granted a new trial. The charges were dropped "Jennifer" (understandably) declined to testify. 
  • After the dropped case, "Jennifer"sued Penn State and received a $17,500 hush money settlement (Interestingly, Fox Searchlight paid Parker and Celestin were paid $17.5 million for BOAN during a newsworthy bidding war for the film's rights...things that make you go hmm...). 
  • During and after the trial, Parker and Celestin (and their supporters) harassed "Jennifer", trying to convince her through phone conversations and confrontations that she "put herself in that situation".

With all this information piling up and the truth seeping through the paper-thin line of lies, I made the decision that my money would be better spent elsewhere, and that I just could not support The Birth Of A Nation nor Parker himself. I needed no further convincing or needed to weigh options, what I had read was damning towards Parker and Celestin.

This situation concerning Nate Parker is a nesting doll of complexity, and people have strong, almost vitriolic feelings about it. Since this news has come out there has been rampant discussions about studio sabotage, white media machine discourse, separation of art and artist, about racial loyalty, Black women's "jealousy", and about toxic men and the webs of rape culture they weave. All are not legitimate arguments (especially that silly "sabotage!" angle), but most make valid points. Still my focus on this particular thought process is on Parker and his attitudes, and the hideous crime he allegedly inflicted, and not the movie or his Hollywood status as a Black man. No, his overwhelming hubris to points of performance is where my irritation lies.

Aug 31, 2016

So There Are Simone Biles & Usain Bolt Flipbooks...

...and now you know what to put in my stocking for Christmas.

LOL @ Bolt being so fast his book is mostly made up of blank pages...

(via The Flippist)

Aug 29, 2016

How To Lose Sight Of Storytelling & Alienate Fans: The 'Sleepy Hollow' Edition

Let's say you have a show.

Your show turns a familiar tale on its head and rewrites American history in a fun and fantastical fashion. For added measure, your show compiles together a strong and diverse cast whose two leads have an undeniable chemistry that causes fandemonium in the social media streets. Your show also becomes a darling with critics and even has the pleasure to be renewed in a time when TV shows often meet cancellation fate before the first season even takes flight.

So what do you do with your show?

Option #1: Do you keep up the good work and build upon its success, creating new ways to scare and suspend disbelief?


Option #2: Do you sit there twiddling your thumbs, shrug your shoulders, and go: "Meh, let's trash it all." ?

If your show is named Sleepy Hollow, you chose the last option, and congratulations, you've pretty much fucked up your show!

Aug 25, 2016

The Against Leslie Jones Club

Either white fan boy fragility didn't get its daily dosage of privilege or green-eyed monsters just don't like seeing a woman of color flourish, but actress and SNL comedienne Leslie Jones was attacked online yet again. This time it was pretty serious. Nude photos. Hacked. Big ol' mess.

From the outset, there are several obvious reasons why Leslie Jones has become the Internet's punching bag: She's black. She's a female. She's not conventionally beautiful. She's a SNL comedienne ("she should be able to take a joke!"/"women aren't funny!"). She starred in the Ghostbusters remake that 'ruined' a million childhoods.

Those are easy, expected reasons as to why Jones gets heckled the way she does. I guess I want her to be found the mastermind behind an underground fight club for vampire corgis where they fight to the death, winners get to savor their kills with a side of fava beans and Chianti-flavored bones. Something that would be concrete, something legit that would be apropos to call a meeting of The Against Leslie Jones Club. But I've got nothing, absolutely nothing about Leslie Jones that would lead people to be so incredibly vile towards her, except that this is 2016 and being an asshole on the Internet is in vogue.

Dec 31, 2015

Book Looks: What I Read In 2015

I've been a bad girl this year.

Reading and me...well, we had a tumultuous year.

Aside from the fact that I have become the slowest reader in the world nowadays (and an even slower writer...), this year was a year where I became busty trying to figure out what the fuck I'm doing with my life, and begin making some serious choices and plans. Some of those plans included my other blog Audio Diva, which I spent a lot of time refurbishing and "re-branding" this year (I really hate that word, but it is the only way I can describe it). While other plans dealt from a financial standpoint (finding a job, getting a job, losing a job...the cycle continues). Of course I could have whipped out a book or my Kindle in-between all that planning and reassessing, but for the first time, reading and keeping up with books was the last thing on my mind.

Cue the gasps.

Reading has always been an integral part of my life --- I know I'd break out in hives if I didn't read something throughout the day ---  so it was painful to admit a year where I simply didn't read books the way I wanted to. I was feeling like Burgess Meredith in that famous Twilight Zone episode where he is desperately wishing to have 'time enough at last' to read everything he desires, and then gets screwed when his wish does come true (and if that ever happened in real life, I can read without my glasses --- so jokes on you Rod Serling!). So hopefully in 2016 I will have 'time enough at last' to read and review (and especially blog her!) the way I truly wanted to this year.

Well, I shouldn't be so down on myself as I did manage to read a few books and articles this year, and though I read one of the worst books I've ever read in my life this year, there were some good, life changing ones that made it into the pot and kept me afloat all year.

Without further ado...

Oct 21, 2015

Book Looks: 'Joy In The Morning', A Book So Cute You'll Wanna Pinch Its Cheeks

Nothing explodes. There aren't any vampires. The setting isn't some dystopian underworld. Joy In The Morning doesn't possess any of those flashy literary embellishments. It is is what it is --- A sweet, gentle, and honest story about a young couple named Carl and Annie who fall in love, and against both of their parent's wishes, get married and move to the Mid-West where Carl is attending college, studying to become a lawyer.

I was curious about what Betty Smith wrote outside of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, which is one of my favorite books, and while Joy In The Morning has a similar charm, it's not as epic in scope nor rich in lyrical flow. It appears to be the last book Betty Smith wrote, and it took her awhile to get it going and completed due to her failing health. Health aside, Smith always was a genius about characterization, she truly makes you become attached to her characters when you may not want to be, drawing you into the worlds they embody and for Joy In The Morning she places us square into a 1928 college town, allows us to roam up and down the sidewalks, wander into stores, get acquainted with with folksy characters and become embroiled in bite-sized small-town shenanigans.

The honeymoon phase of Annie and Carl's marriage unfolds slow and nice, we get to feel all the awkwardness, financial strains, and stomach growls that come from a young couple who has thrown caution to the wind for whirlwind romance. The best parts are when Annie comes out of her shell and begins to attend college classes, sparking her interest and talent for writing. Though she's quite naive, her wholesome ways do charm after awhile as her earnest curiosity shines a new light on everyday things, allowing the reader to take a second glance at her observations, and she seems to be the more aware and down-to-earth partner in the relationship.

Carl is, um, kind of an ass. He talks down to Annie a lot, and get jealous and upset over the friends she makes within the town. I also sensed some homophobia from him with Annie's endearing relationship with the town florist, but I had to remind myself this was 1928, and Carl is a stiff collared "good ol' boy", hence his ambivalence towards people who he believes aren't on his 'level'. From the looks of things, Carl probably needs Annie more than she needs him, she brings the spice to his life, as she made friends with common law couples and found employment with flapper-styled prostitutes. Never a dull moment is to be had with Annie. Baby Carlton will be so lucky to have Annie for a mama!

Problems do resolve themselves too quickly, and a lot of Carl and Annie's disputes are quelled by the magic of Annie sitting on Carl's lap. Still that didn't bother me too much because like the title, derived from one of my favorite Bible quotes (Psalm 30:5 "weeping may endure for the night but joy cometh in the morning"), sometimes problems do have a way of working themselves out when we step back and let a little morning light into them. Okay. Sorry for sounding like a frilly and glitter-crusted Hallmark card, but Betty Smith always does that to me, she makes you appreciate the little surprises in life, makes you see that setbacks are merely part of the growth experience.

The edition I had a few little essays in the back --- two written by Smith's granddaughters --- that explained about the book and Smith's writing life. Annie and Carl were really fictional stand-ins for Smith and her first husband, and once I understood that Joy In The Morning was sort of in memory tome towards the relationship she shared with her late ex-husband, then the story took an even more sentimental turn.

Joy In The Morning is the kind of book that you'd want to pinch it's cheeks because it just so gosh darn cute, but also snuggle up next to and sip a warm drink with because it has a story to tell, and you'll want to listen to every word.

+ Previously reviewed and posted on GoodReads