Skip to main content

Beyond Madea and Mary Jones: My Hope

I can't begin to say how happy I was for Mo'Nique's Best Supporting Actress Oscar win, for the glowing tribute Oprah gave to Gabby Sidibe and the bright future she has, for Sandra Bullock winning for a role that had more depth than she's been able to show in a long, long time. I cheered for Katherine Bigelow and at the same time felt some sorrow that the first woman to win an Oscar for directing wasn't Barbra Streisand, who wasn't even nominated for "Yentl."

Once my euphoria died down, it hit me: Maybe Sandra and Katherine will be presented with a host of challenging projects and wonderful opportunities, but Gabby and Mo'Nique probably won't.

Although we don't have a plethora of black female Oscar winners -- Hattie McDaniel, Halle Berry, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Hudson, and now Mo'Nique -- it seems that Hollywood just doesn't seem to know quite what to do with black female Oscar winners, or even black female Oscar nominees -- Ruby Dee, Diana Ross (who was robbed for "Lady Sings The Blues"), Diahann Carroll, Angela Bassett, Sophie Okonedo, Taraji P. Henson, Queen Latifah, even Oprah herself. Seems to me that if a black woman isn't playing someone tragic or just tragically cartoonish, she isn't playing much at all on the big screen. Yes, there are more opportunities than ever before, but is that really saying much?

Surely there must be opportunities for black women film actresses beyond the characters of Madea and Mary Jones. And Madea isn't even played by a woman.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm not knocking Tyler Perry's Madea or Sapphire's Mary Jones. Although I find Madea to be cartoonish and over-the-top, I'd be lying if I said she didn't remind me of some of the women in my family. And I appreciate that Perry at least tries to include a message, however heavy-handed, in all of his movies. And, truth be told, the Mary Joneses of the world do indeed exist, in all races and both genders.

But there's so much more to the African American female experience than Madea and Mary Jones. Is it because we reward the Madea- and Mary Jones-type roles that Hollywood thinks we won't reward anything else that demonstrates the breadth and depth of the African American female experience? I'd like to believe wider and deeper kinds of roles will be forthcoming for Gabby Sidibe and Mo'Nique, and not just when a best-selling white author is wonderfully and laudibly adept at capturing the breadth and depth of our experiences (Sue Monk Kidd's "The Secret Life of Bees" and, I would imagine, Kathryn Stockett's "The Help"), but when a black author does, too. Can someone tell me why Edward P. Jones' "The Known World" or J. California Cooper's "In Search of Satisfacton" hasn't made it to the big screen yet? Or anything by Octavia Butler or Pearl Cleage?

I understand that Gabby Sidibe has snagged a role on a television show, and Mo'Nique, God bless her, has her own show. My hope for Mo'Nique, Gabby, and all the Oscar-nominated fabulous black actresses who preceded them is that they will be afforded equal and ample opportunities to practice their craft and show the world that there's so much more to us than gun-toting drag grannies and unsympathetic abusers.

Or better yet, I hope they create their own opportunities.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

When You Leave The Ghetto, Don't Bring It With You

NBA player Gilbert Arenas brings a gun to an NBA locker room. NBA player Ron Artest lets his pit bulls run wild and free in Loomis, California while playing for the Sacramento Kings. NFL player Michael Vick did time for fighting dogs. And NFL player Plaxico Burress is doing time for shooting his damn self.

What do all these men have in common? BMNB would say an inability to make a profound paradigm shift. I’m less eloquent than BMNB is, so I’ll say it differently: The inability to leave the ghetto behind.

Yes, call me saditty, bourgie, elitist, stuck-up, whatever. I don’t care. Until you’ve had a tweaker ruin your Thanksgiving turkey, you don’t even know (more on that later), and I’m not trying to hear you.

Living in Western Placer County, my husband and I continue to hear stories from folks like us who had to flee “those who can’t leave the ghetto behind.” You know these people, and they come in all races. In our case, we had returned to Sacramento in 2004 and 2005, respective…

Hillary Clinton Can Stop Trump -- If She Releases Her Electors

Hillary Clinton isn't going to be President of the United States.  At least not yet.  And not in 2017.

But she can possibly stop Donald Trump from being President by releasing her pledged electors  in the Electoral College to vote for a compromise Republican candidate.

This is part of the strategy of the Hamilton Electors, members of the Electoral College who see that Donald Trump is not qualified to be President.  They argue that the Electoral College's role is not to rubber-stamp the popular vote -- which, in this case, would belong to Clinton -- but to serve as a check on the popular vote to make sure that no one who is unfit assumes the office of President.

According to the Hamilton Electors, named for Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (Yes, he of the very popular musical for which I can't get tickets) Hamilton stated that the Electoral College's test for fitness to be the President was as follows (and I'm quoting):

Election of a Qualified Person: As Hamilton s…

Malia's Hair is Off Limits! So is Sasha's!

I read a snippet of a New York Times article in which there was criticism of the hairstyle Malia Obama wore to Italy. Twists, to be precise. Said twists were criticized as not befitting someone representing the United States abroad.

Hold up. Slow your roll, America. You don't get a say in this. Neither Malia nor Sasha "chose" to represent the United States in any way, shape, or form. And their hair, and how they wear it, is off limits. Back the eff off.

I was hotter than a hornet reading this. The whole black woman's hair thing? That's personal with me. We black women have more than enough issues and neuroses about our hair and how we wear it. It is not open to debate within wider circles, especially when there's a child involved. The choices we have, other than wearing our hair in its natural state in twists, dreads, braids, cornrows or afros, are painful -- chemical relaxers, also called "creamy crack," and searing hot straightening combs. If Malia …