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Harry you are quite timely.  I just published our interview with Lee Daniels who is quite good at depicting Black dysfunction (Monsters Ball, Precious, etc), which is a very lucrative profession in America. 





As far as my NIggas Tee-Shirts.  That train left the station, the cat out of the bag, and the chickens have some home to roost.  How can any group of people you allow rap lyrics that use this word quite liberally, then all of a sudden get twisted when people want to put it on a tee shirt?  Gimme a break.  The Wayans are not doing anything new, but because they are celebrities they'll be able to capitalize off it--like all the other comedians and rappers who "stack mad paper" (do kids still say this) using the word.


LIke a true capitalist the Damon Wayans was/is (2006 article) literally trying to trademark Nigga, for his clothing line. Fortunately the government stopped his dumb ass, sheesh. 







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Honestly, I just like the idea of seeing Blacks on the screen. While I know we have a lot of responsibility in the presentation of our images, I fought this battle in college with my professors who told me I didn't have any responsibility when creating fiction, I also realize how hard it is for a Black actor in Hollywood to work. 


The question shouldn't be why continue creating these images, but "why can't we present more than this side of blackness?" Which honestly isn't blackness, but every race has their fair share of hood, ignorance. The unfortunate situation for blacks is that we are the group and the group is us. We don't have the privilege of anonymity so when this image is shown as success for Blacks aka dysfunction as the standard, no one says that this is just a show like they do when whites play Dexter or the fictionalized Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire. Whites and other races are allowed to present a variety of images that encompass all that whiteness can be. We aren't allowed to do that, but that's because we don't own any networks.


We all realize that media keeps people in their place and that Black ownership of a network would possibly allow more positive images... but unfortunately the people who watch television wouldn't watch a rehash of the Cosby Show or Amen, or 227. In other words we have regressed in entertainment in the Black community. We had images that were all over the board in the 70s and 80s, even in the 90s, but in the last 20 years, this has changed considerably.


Back to Empire, because I have more to pull from I actually like the show. It's just refreshing to see more Blacks on screen and although it's just an updated version of Hustle and Flow, and it has very weak writing, Taraji is a great actress and I like seeing her do her thing. I honestly can't believe she left a successful "White" show to go to a show that was going to inevitably be targeted by Black people as degrading is crazy. She had a very good role on Person of Interest on CBS... So with that in mind, I want her to do well with this show because she took a huge risk and unfortunately she's being demonized already by those who are simply looking at the surface material without taking into consideration there is only one other primarily Black show on television and that's the sitcom Blackish.


We said this in the other thread, when you're Black you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't. 


(I'm not addressing Marlon Wayans and that ignorance. It's almost ten years old, but I agree about the use of the N word and that hypocritical position Blacks have who use the word.)

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I've watched EMPIRE from the beginning and find it very good escape entertainment.  It is well produced, well cast and an authentic look at the cut-throat recording industry as it applies to the hip-hop world.  The plot is a little implausible and clogged with stereotypes but, hey, this is network TV, not PBS. A series created by "The Butler" director Lee Daniels and scored byTimbaland can't be all bad. The story line even has a message and the family dynamics resonate with Shakespearean overtones. 


I consider myself, a discriminating TV watcher, and I give EMPIRE its props. It's like "GLEE", in its exploring of new territory with its effortless infusion of brief musical "videos" into the flow of the story.  It also benefits from not taking itself too seriously.  


BTW, there is a world of difference between prime-time Fox TV programming  and "Faux" News on Cable which is politcized like MSNBC and CNN.  (The local Fox affiliate in Chicago is no worse or better than NBC, ABC, or CBS when it comes to the typical shows it airs, which include American Idol, The Simpsons, NFL games.)  

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I did not mean to imply that I don't watch anything on Fox because of it's political leanings.  I don't watch anything on Fox because I don't really watch network TV.  I watch HBO. where there is a series I'm currently watching.  Since Boardwalk Empire ended the only thing I regularly catch is Bill Maher.  I'll pick up Game of Thrones when it comes back, but other than that I surf YouTube.


But I will try to catch up on Empire.  I do like Terrance when he plays a grimey role and Taraji is just talented.  I'm managing my expectations though.  I don't expect anything of the caliber of HBO's The Wire, but right now I'm not watching anything.

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I like the show and Cynique and I are in agreement for a change!! LOL. I think the gay son is a conversation that has been dying to come out in the Black community. I mean literally dying. The frustration of these kids who are gay is incredible. We've seen a rise in the suicide rate of young Black men due to their inability to discover who they are without being judged or alienated. It's a heckuva plot line to develop. I also like Taraji, a lot. It's not a bad show. Basically it's a toned down version of Power with Omari Hardwick and 50 cent on Starz. I like that show as well. Are the predictable? Of course, but the alternative is to not have any Black actors working and I don't like that at all.

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I was unfamiliar the show Power with Omari Hardwick and 50 Cent on Starz.  It is interesting information about that show did not make it to me.  I guess it is just another example of how compartmentalized the net has become with all the filters in place.  


Chris why do you believe that if Black actors are not making shows like Power and Empire, they won't get any work

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Because, outside of Brooklyn99 and Blackish, the only shows featuring Blacks are reality shows or biopics (as of late). We simply don't have the diversity in our production palette. Tyler Perry has a couple of soap operas, but other than that the newest shows featuring more than 1 to 3 Blacks is either sports releated:

Player's Remorse (backed by Lebron James)

Power (Backed by 50 Cent)

Empire (Lee Daniels)


As a matter of fact, without googling, I honestly can't come up with any other shows except

The Game

Meet the Browns

Tyler Perry's Soap Operas on Oprah's network.


But even on this list is a sports related show with hood rat tendencies. As I said though it is obviously hard for Blacks to get a show on the air. There is Resurrection, but there is one Black character Omar Epps, but the show came from a black writer. I think we need to be on television though or you are going to have a lot of young people give up on trying to be actors. The problems is we often kill a show by our own hand because we won't give it time to develop. The larger networks see our unwillingness to support the show and use this as evidence that Black shows won't make it. That's why I'm so excited for Empire. Getting picked up this early in the season is huge. Just like Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder are huge because it led to Beharry (sp) getting the lead role on Sleepy Hollow where you have 3 major Black characters. this is on Fox as well. 


It's interesting that Fox is such a terrible political brand, but has been the most efficient brand at launching Black acting careers since Roc, 21 Jump Street and through the years with Martin and a host of other shows. Then again I didn't research this, so I may be wrong.

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This was posted on Youtube by Craig Nobles


"I think this show reinforces the stereotypes....and is not good for my business of BRANDING URBAN INFLUENCE...FOX wins with the audience and gets to sell advertising,I lose because no one want this stereotype attached to there BRANDING....FOX DOES IT AGAIN.....GIVE A FEW PEOPLE A JOB AS THE CULTURE SUFFERS AS A WHOLE MOVEMENT......The executives at FOX NETWORK ran down the following check list before Premiering the New show "EMPIRE" ........ here's that check list...

  1.  Black Men killing each other.... "check"
  2. Angry Black Woman going after a Black male "check"
  3. Educated, Successful Black Male with a White Woman "check"
  4. Display of Effeminized Black Males "check"
  5. Blacks committing crimes and going to prison "check"
  6. Two Bitter Black Women going after each other ....one being lightskin, the other brown skin.... "check"
  7. The Promotion of Ignorant ass Crack Baby Rap Music "check"
  8. Overweight Black Woman displaying her self hate by wearing a BLONDE WIG "check"



I think Craig left out the Black man in a dress.


I still have not seen the shows, but I'm not convinced working these shows or not working at all are the only options.

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Troy what that post fails to do is acknowledge the fact that Black people do all of that stuff!!!!!! It's not like Fox is wrong. When I walk out of the house each day I see obese Black women, more than I see healthy Black women. Black men on the downlow is killing off young Black men by suicide and by keeping their behaviors and choices in the closet because of the horrible state of treatment by Black churches.


I can't tell you how often I see Black women staring each other down, or the fact that most Black boys grow up without dads and are effeminate without even knowing. (Hell I had to be called out by my boys in the Navy for getting in my car by sitting down and then putting both feet in. I didn't even realize I did this and that it's the way my mom got in the car because she was wearing a dress! I just copied it by default).


Educated Black men do date White women. Of the guys I went to college with in my crew, two of them are married to white women and one is not married and I'm the only one who has a Black wife.


In other words, this dude is emotional. The show encompasses the Black experience, but it's really the same experience that we all have: White or Black. It's just that Blacks simply aren't allowed to act in these shows. People would rather Black actors sit at home.


I mean honestly this dude making this statement has on his News page "beyonce bares baby bump" and hasn't updated his website in years it seems. This dude may just be a hater who works in the industry that was shunned from the show. 

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Sure Chris Black folks do all that stuff.  The problem is that those stereotypes are typically the only depictions we see of Black people on TV and film.


All of the points Craig made represent popular stereotypes.  Stereotypes that have been shoved down our throats to such an extent that people, even Black ones, presume them to be true.


I did not vote for Obama to a 2nd term. I like to ski and I can swim.  I've bungee jumped and ski dived.  I read books.  I don't watch basketball, listen to rap music, or go to church very much.  I have no problem flagging down a cab. I know I'm not the only one, but I rarely see myself on TV.  Anyone who comes close is usually the brunt of a joke


It is like watching a Tyler Perry movie.  The first one is funny, but the rest are all the same.  I've already seen Hustle and Flow, you know what I mean?  


After a certain point, seeing a Black face in a film no longer excites me.  It would be nice to see a Black man like myself or my boys.


Speaking about my college crew.  Virtually all of my boys got married, to Black women, and have been married, much like myself, for 25 years or more. There were two who went the baby momma route (also with Black women), but those two Brothers were outliers, not the norm of my immediate crew and our broader peer group.

Yeah being raised by a single mother with a father, sucks.  There is so much I learned from my buddies in the street that was just wrong.  I often hear women boast about how good they, and woman in general, are at raising men.  That is complete bullshit, but hey, I give the credit for trying.  

Chris that is a funny story about getting in the car :o .  


My first car for a new '84 camaro.  I used to hop in through the window, without opening the door, like those white boys on that TV show (The Dukes of Harzard I think).  We did not have a car going up, so I mimicked what I saw on TV I guess.  I used to drive, from time to time, with my seat reclined all the way back with the music blasting.  I'm sure I got that from some movie to TV too.

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Now that's a great post! We are on Tv. When you stop to look at the shows that are on featuring black folks everyone is there. The problem is the quantity is very small overall and that is my point. It's hard for black actors to get work and blacks aren't giving any options. Blacks simply want shows off the air not realizing that this kills careers. Think about this Malcolm jamaal warner is up for a grammy this year but hasn't been featured in a show since Malcolm and Eddie. He finally returned to Tv this year on American Horror Story and Sons of Anarchy. As a husband of three titty Angela Bassett and as a thug motorcycle gang member. People would complain about that. Taraji was a cop on person of interest but black people don't watch that show. She took the Empire job and people complain.

Andre Braugher is an accomplished actor but he is now the comic foil police chief on Brooklyn 99. We are represented on cable Tv in a variety of ways and on mainstream but we kill off our very few chances.

Stereotypes are really true but hyperbole. In regard to your friends I assume that's the east coast or the south. I went to school in Cali and the 4 man crew is par for the course there. Here in Memphis most people are single parents. I think our 4 year difference is the culprit here. We are all influenced by media the problem now is the speed it's delivered and our inability to tune out.

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Call me old and cynical - because that's what I am.  I'm beginning to think black folks should stop worrying about stereotypes.  It's a waste of time.  And our accusing white people of stereotyping us is an example of us stereotyping white people. In one-on-one contacts with white people, intelligent ones will judge a black person as an individual. They will see our good qualities and in many cases be threatened by them.  But in a dog-eat-dog world, everybody is threatened by those of any race with whom they are  in competition. White folks do each other in!   


Americans need look no further than the highest office in the land to see a black family that defies stereotypes. Republicans are frustrated with Obama because they can't stereotype him.  


in show business, stereotyping is as much about reality as about race.The white characters in EMPIRE are also stereoptyped as demonstrated by the blatant caricature of a loud, pushy. female Jewish PR agent, and the white wife "going down" on her black husband.  Let's face it.  Squeaky clean middle class Blacks are boring and have to be cast in ludicrous sit-coms that operate on a one-joke premise. We're just like stupid white folks, only we're black.  Gritty, larger than life black characters are provocative. "Orange Is The New Black" is more compelling than "Black-ish". That's just the way it goes.  


In the real world, you can't escape the burden of your race and you can't bend other Blacks to your will.  They gonna do what they do.  You can, however,  feather your own nest and lead a tolerable life and when it comes to white people, you can plod along, telling yourself that "those who care don't count, and those who count don't care".  You can also do like I do. Just utter the very liberating phrase that consists of 2 powerful words. Fuck it.


IMO. ;)

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  • 8 months later...

I watched the season premier of Empire, a few weeks ago, during a "Empire" viewing event hosted by WNYC here in New York City.  They had a panel discussion afterwards which including Fab Five Freddie and other pop culture/hip hop folks.  

I had fun, as the crowd reacted wildly to that drama filled first episode.  I know if I was sitting in my living room, by myself, I probably would not have had as much fun.

The whole show was over the top and does not take itself too seriously.  It opened with Cookie (Taraji) caged in a gorilla suit.  Later Chris Rock was cast as a evil gangster, which was too comical to be taken seriously.

The show Empire is a complete diversion; you'll learn nothing and it has no socially redeeming value. It appears to be doing quite well for Fox TV, making them a lot of money.

For some, it is a guilty pleasure, while others see absolutely nothing wrong with it and love the show.  I dunno what to think, but for people who will never travel or experience any of the trappings of wealth and power, what is the harm in a one hour fun filled escape from reality?  

Then again, it is never just an hour.  There is the social media activity Empire watchers engage in during and after the show, there are the other TV shows that folks watch religiously.  The older I get the more convinced I'm am that TV and social media are a waste of our time.  

Don't get me wrong; TV and social media are potentially great things, I just don't think we use them in a great ways, and they are doing us more harm than good right now.




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  • 2 months later...

Sara I peeped it!!!!!! Mind blown. I had no idea and the video where Dutton introduced all of the characters, there really isn't any way that the foundation of the show can be ignored. It's even worse because both creators are from Philly and the idea was pitched to Daniels by the creator. I'm not surprised though. I wrote a book a long time ago. I've never done a very good job of self promotion and my focus has never been on my books, but my book went from San Diego to LA and in the early 2000s a film was made and one of the guys that worked on the film contacted me and said that the idea came from my book. I don't get into specifics, but when I watched the film, I realized that it could have been based on my book. My point is, there isn't any real way for Dutton or Gordon to prove anything since there are multiple Five Heartbeats, Temptations, Dreamgirls movies about music that have been made, but this is just tooooooo obvious though, lol.

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OK I still have not watched this video, and I've only watched two episodes of Empire so I trust y'all's judgement that Daniels stole from Dutton.  So I'd imagine given the success of the series Dutton will seek just compensation compensation.

Sara to embedd a youtube video you just post the URL to the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBEn84TOdZg and it will automatically embed.  The URL you was was a shortened version, and I noticed those don't embed.  Here is the Youtube version below

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