Friday, November 21, 2014

Can We Still Enjoy 'The Cosby Show'?

Gee wiz, more than a dozen women have surfaced claiming they’ve been sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby. True or false, this is beyond sad. To think the man who brought us the genius of The Cosby Show, and all its iconic images of a dignified, loving and multigenerational African American family was possibly capable of violating women, is psychologically disruptive. Whether or not these allegations are true, Cosby’s public image has been tarnished. 

NBC has canceled plans to bring Cosby back to television, and TV Land has even canned reruns of The Cosby Show! The situation makes me wonder if we can still enjoy Cosby’s iconic sitcom in syndication the same way ever again.

I liken this to the R-uh Kelly scandal. I can’t hear an R. Kelly song without erupting into a Jimmy Fallon “Ewww!” Gross. And I believe EVERY detail of what was alleged about Kelly – of course it’s easier since there’s actual video….. But with Cosby, my heart just doesn’t want to believe the man who reinvented the image of the black TV family and created unforgettable moments of fun, hilarity and black love can be disgusting!!! Da-yum, Da-yum, Da-yum! My stance with R-uh Kelly is unmovable. But does this situation with Cosby dictate that I can’t enjoy one of the best and most beloved shows ever made????? Can I separate my loyalty to women from my love of a show that served as a fantasy blueprint for the perfect black family? (Not to mention the FIERCE fashion!) Jesus Bill! WTF???? Can over a dozen women be lying? (Sigh…) Yep, a part of my black world is cracked, and my insides feel like a crazy Cosby sweater….confused.

If the allegations are true, can we detach the man from his work? Can we compartmentalize? I don’t know. I won’t know until I watch a rerun. But it’s very sad. I don’t want to be thinking about the possible truths of these allegations while watching Cliff get thrown across the room, trying to break up the fight between Denise and Vanessa over that sweater… I don’t want think of Cosby drugging women and forcing himself on them while watching Cliff and Claire compete to see who can out dress who in the “Smooth Contest”. But if I do decide to enjoy the nostalgia of The Cosby Show, and for that matter, A Different World, does that make me a traitor, or just someone who’s sad about the possible reality, but can still appreciate the value in Cosby’s work?

It’s just hard to fathom that a man who demonstrated such extreme good will by having a transformative vision for a black show, purposefully employing many people of color in television and being a substantial benefactor, might be capable of such heinous acts.

I still “cain’t” stand R-uh Kelly. And the principle here with Cosby is the same. Does it make me hypocritical in my belief in women’s rights if I still watch The Cosby Show? My mental compromise will be to live in La La Land, pretending for a half hour at a time, that I have no knowledge of the allegations. And in my “waking” moments I will hope the fictional Cosby in fact matches up with the real one.

What do you think? With recent developments, can you enjoy The Cosby Show the same way?

Friday, November 14, 2014

'Beyond the Lights' - Do We Care About This Movie?

Beyond the Lights hit theaters today. It’s a movie about the struggle of Noni, a young R&B/Hip Hop artist, ala Rihanna, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, to define her own identity the challenges of music industry and the rigors of fame. She does this all while dealing with her demanding “momager” played by Minnie Driver. It’s the latest film from writer/director/producer Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees). It also stars Nate Parker, who plays the police officer hired to protect the star. It all sounds very The Bodyguard right?

I’ve been wondering why this movie is getting so much hype. I’m not particularly interested in this film, though I hear it does address the hypersexualization of women in music, particularly in Hip Hop, and the affect those images have on young girls. For that, I give it kudos. But in the broader scheme of things, I feel like, “Who cares?” Okay, maybe if I was fourteen I’d care. And maybe the idea of doing a smashup remake of The Bodyguard and A Star is Born for a younger generation isn’t a bad idea. I’m just not hyped. I think that may have something to do with how this movie has been marketed.

The commercials for this film do not intrigue me – at all. They don’t, on any level reveal the deeper layers this movie might actually have. I don’t get a sense that this film may have substance beyond the formulaic theme of a famous person who’s got everything - money, looks and fame, yet is really dying inside, only to be resurrected by the love of a “regular guy” with nice abs. But again, I’m not fourteen. I don’t even understand why this movie is a theatrical release.

As hard as it is to get a movie made, I’m surprised Beyond the Lights was produced for the big screen. The irony is that Aaliyah, the Princess of R&B debuts on Lifetime the day after Beyond the Lights hits theaters. I feel like the two should switch places. Aaliyah’s story should be in theaters and Beyond the Lights should be on Lifetime! I’m also having trouble seeing Gugu-Raw as an obvious choice to play a singer, but that’s Hollywood. This is the kind of movie I’d check out on Netflix. I wonder how it will do this weekend.

Though I’m not at all interested in checking out Beyond the Lights, I’m glad more black films are getting made. What do you think? Are you interested in seeing Beyond the Lights?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Aaliyah Biopic is Finally Here!


Finally we’re getting a biopic about Aaliyah. Produced by Debra Martin Chase, Wendy Williams and Howard Braunstein, the “Princess of R&B” will debut November 15 on Lifetime.

Lifetime has been doing a lot over the past couple of years to gain black viewers, and I think a movie about Aaliyah’s life is a great idea. I will DEFINTELY be watching. I have so many questions, mainly about R-uh Kelly ---yuck!

I want to know how things kicked off between them. I want to know WHERE THE HELL WERE AALIYAH’S PARENTS WHILE THIS GROWN ASS MAN WAS SEDUCING HER!!! WHAT HAPPENED????????? Did ANY of Aaliyah’s friends say anything to deter her from this relationship? How did they get married secretly??? We barely found out about Aaliyah and Kelly’s marriage years after it happened. WHAT WAS GOING ON???

Okay, Aaliyah’s music was dope and if she was still here I think she’d have gone on to achieve Beyonce like super-stardom, with a thriving acting career. BUT I can’t lie. I want to know the scandal. I’m curious about Damon Dash too….

I’m glad Wendy Williams is also on the project because I KNOW she won’t disappoint the fans and give us what we want, and spill as much tea as possible. But even in the dish, it’s still sad how this young talent passed away. I never heard a bad word about Aaliyah. She left this world with a wonderful reputation for being a kind and down to earth performer. I saw her in concert once and felt that as well.

Will you be watching the Aaliyah movie? What do you want to find out?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How Do You Maintain Your Faith?

Today has been a day of faith. Believing in what is unseen, unheard and uncertain – maintaining that proverbial mustard seed.

I’m in that sweet spot in my life where things seem to be making sense – finally. It’s been a long journey of dreaming, hustling, grinding and soul sucking job hunts, all while trying to sustain some semblance of sanity - trying to keep all the marbles in the jar. But along with the external effort, like busting my tookus to prepare for each interview, networking the crap out of every event I could, or pitching myself to anyone who may listen, I had to apply an internal spiritual practice. This included maintaining a positive perspective no matter what. I also used my words very carefully to speak powerfully and affirmatively on situations, as well as utilizing meditation which helped me calm my spirit and refocus on myself and my goals. I also have uplifting shows I like to watch, and podcasts I like to listen to.

I had to connect with my higher self via my relationship with spirit. I believe my intensified spiritual practices are a big part of why things finally began to shape up, little by little, to create what I’ve envisioned for myself – and I’m still climbing. But what I find is that many of us tend to stay in faith in the struggle, but once things smooth out, we get a little relaxed with our spiritual habits. I think it can be easy to unintentionally use faith as a toolkit, when it’s more effective if utilized as regular maintenance.

I have noticed that if I don’t regularly engage in a spiritual practice to increase my faith, life’s challenges, big and small, infiltrate and throw me off. I don’t feel calm or strong. I get anxious, fearful, resentful and um, yeah, cranky. It’s not cute at all. I experienced that today. I just felt off and clouded. I couldn’t make sense of my feelings.

When I got home I rekindled a spiritual practice and afterwards felt cleansed, calm and clear with increased faith. When I reconnect with spirit and pray, I feel renewed, and trusting that I will receive what I need when I need it, even if all I need is patience. Feeling calm usually results in me being able to pinpoint a solution, or at least deal with the challenge with more grace. I feel I can face the world more solidly rooted in myself, instead of being so easily moved by life’s stressors.

I wish it was instinctive to practice strengthening my faith when things go well, just as much as I do when things get tough. But I’m working on it, and making a commitment to establish a daily practice, no matter how busy I am, or how tired I feel. Without faith, I definitely would not have come this far.

How do you maintain, or renew your faith?