Friday, March 27, 2009

What other people are saying

Invisible Woman...Black Cinema at Large posted an interview with Dennis Dortch, the director of the acclaimed film "A Good Day to Black and Sexy," which, by the way, is on my Netflix Watch Instantly List for this weekend:
The landscape is so barren on Black love/sexual situations in movies. I know you have been asked this many times over, but what gave you the idea to make this film? Who or what has been your inspiration in filmmaking? (That is really two questions--I'm cheating a bit)

Life. Real life. Our daily pursuit for happiness in love and sex drives and affects most of our decisions in life. We are living it everyday. These are basic human needs that find our white counterparts with oogles of quirky movies on the subject. When it comes to us, suddenly it's different even though we are all human beings with the same desires and needs. When you do see us in any sexual situation in a movie (especially a mixed cast movie) - we are either raping, overly sexually charged, or getting no ass whatsoever. Nothing but the extremes and nothing in between. Keep in mind that anytime you put a black person on the screen (esp. a black man), whatever they are doing or portraying holds much more weight. Put a gun in their hand, show them dead, show them running from the law, in court, or playing the President of the US or God, or Jesus, or simply having sex, it's suddenly a little bit heavier. Where our white male counterpart is just doing something as an action, the black counterpart becomes that *something* they are doing.

I think the second part of that is black folks are kinda prudish. I mean the West is sort of prudish overall compared to our European counterparts, but we all love sex but we just don't want people to know we love it. That's why the porn industry is booming. It's all about secrecy, so it carries over to the big screen and the lack of content on the subject. I've been asked plenty of times, why would I want to make a film just about this stuff? Like a porno or something. This usually comes from a woman. Deep inside, I'm thinking this person is probably a freak in bed, but a lady in the streets. Simply, I wanted to just get at the things we are doing and feeling today and tomorrow, and the next day in a realistic presentation.

To answer the second part of your question, it's almost the same answer... Life. Real life. Women are an inspiration especially. Sometimes I just want to talk to you. And film is an extravagant way to communicate. You ever had an argument with your significant other and you wish a third party was present so that they could validate your point of view or judge who is right or wrong in this situation? Cause you feel the other person is clearly not listening to reason. You just want someone fair and non-biased to call it. Making a film is like creating that opportunity for a third party assessment. I'm simply telling on someone, including myself.
Pam Spaulding, of Pam's House Blend, wrote about lobbying black North Carolina legislators during the Day of Action:
It's one thing to talk about the disconnect between some black lawmakers who don't "get it" that LGBT issues are social justice issues, but to see it play out in person, even with a legislator who votes with us on issues, is really disturbing. We stopped by the office of Rep. Alma Adams (D-Guilford). As I said, she's been wonderful on the issues -- supporting the bullying bill, comprehensive sex ed, and indicated that she would consider supporting the anti-discrimination bill once she had a chance to see it, since it has not been introduced in the House. However, there was a very strange dynamic going on. In most of our meetings we let members of our group who were the actual constituents of the lawmaker take the lead in posing questions, since ultimately, they work for them.
3) With several black LGBTs standing right there in front of her, Rep. Adams actually said "your issues are not the black caucus's issues" -- as in social justice for black LGBTs is not their issue. I was directly next to the constituent and stunned into silence; we all were. I presume she hasn't received the memo supporting the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry from NAACP national board chair Julian Bond and President and CEO Ben Jealous of the NAACP.
Ann Bauer's article on Salon about her son, who suffers from autism, was absolutely heartbreaking:
I awaken to this headline: "Professor Beaten to Death by Autistic Son."
I scan the story while standing, my coffee forgotten. Trudy Steuernagel, a faculty member in political science at Kent State, has been murdered and her 18-year-old son, Sky, has been arrested and charged with the crime, though he is profoundly disabled and can neither speak nor understand. Sky, who likes cartoons and chicken nuggets, apparently lost control and beat his mother into a coma. He was sitting in jail when she died.
This happens to be two days after my older son's 21st birthday, which we marked behind two sets of locked steel doors. I'm exhausted and hopeless and vaguely hung over because Andrew, who has autism, also has evolved from sweet, dreamy boy to something like a golem: bitter, rampaging, full of rage. It happened no matter how fiercely I loved him or how many therapies I employed.
Now, reading about this Ohio mother, there is a moment of slithering nausea and panic followed immediately by a sense of guilty relief.
I am not alone.
Carmen Van Kerchove and I talked Rhianna, English proficiency and the recession on the latest episode of Adicted to Race. Plus, I'm on board to talk with Renee (Womanist Musings) and Monica (TransGriot) about motherhood as an active choice and the ways motherhood is devalued in our society on their Blog Talk Radio show. at 4 p.m. EDT, this Saturday, March 28.


Anonymous said...

Rep. Alma Adams' reactions to real LGBT black constituents isn't so baffling; it's a pretty common kind of cluelessness that is now out in the open. Thanks for putting this story in your blog lineup Tami!

Straight people now have to discuss gay and lesbian issues, and legal issues and rights. Before, there was nothing but silence, and they don't know what it all means.

Our invisibility also occurs even when we are out of the closet in a government official's office. We don't exist as human beings to straight people, and yet they are forced to deal with a political movement.

I'm not even sure it's meant to be offensive, it's just the oddness of hetero-reality.

A straight official is at square one on this issue, but I've been dealing with them my whole life. Like African Americans, I know a whole lot more about straight people than they know about me.

But, you have to start with these meetings. Just showing up and talking showing up and talking... Now straight people are kind of in a closet of their own as we are out more and more. They are the fearful ones of a movement they have no understanding of. The collapse of hetero-family subsidy, popularly known as the system of marriage, I think reveals the weakness of this way of life.

I've tried up to come up with economic terms of my own to highlight this: male subsidy, for a woman who has a working husband, for example. Hetero subsidy for survivor social security benefits, hetero-centric contracts, for marraige etc. I like inventing terms for things others believe are their natural rights.

Everything could change and this is scary to anyone who is in the status quo. To me, it is kind of humorous... "How out of it can they get?" Or perhaps, after a lifetime of putting up with unbelievable rejection on the part of straight society, I take perverse delight in their clueless discomfort??? Who knows.

I know that German word which I can't spell shaddenfreud???, but that about sums it up sometimes.

Sassy J said...

I instant viewed"...Sexy and Black" from Netflix as well. Wasn't what I expected but it was a decent movie. It was a little hard to hear in some scenes--maybe my audio quality, but had some good "discussion" night parts.

Monica Roberts said...

Tami, thanks for coming onto the show to discuss your thoughts on motherhood. You know we'll have to do this again on another topic ;)

Invisible Woman said...

Thanks for the shout :-)

Would love to know what you thought of the film...


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