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Black Dynamite

26 Feb

Normally, when you think of a superhero-what constitutes them as Super is having the ability to perform some sort of mystical power. Black Dynamite doesn’t necessarily have a supernatural power, but the power of words, presence, and Kung-Fu. BD’s character is a mash up of comedic antics by Rudy Ray Moore’s Dolemite- a 70’s pimp with a charisma that warrants him respect in the black community. There are also elements of Jim Kelley’s bravado, appearance and mannerisms, as well as John Shaft’s machismo and appearance. BD also has an army of women that knows Kung-Fu, and he utilizes when there is a need to attack the man (hegemonic ruling class). The overall motif is 70’s Blaxploitation with a heavy influence from Dolemite, as well as some elements from the movie The Spook who sat behind the door– where Dan Freeman, a black man from the Southside of Chicago, and a secret Black Nationalist, graduates from an elite university and became the first black to integrate the CIA. He later takes what he’s learned to unify the black community to fight against police brutality and racism.

The main cast: Michael Jai White … Black Dynamite, Obba Babatundé … Osiris, Kevin Chapman … O’Leary, Tommy Davidson… Cream Corn, Richard Edson … Dino, Arsenio Hall … Tasty Freeze, Darrel Heath … Militant 2, Buddy Lewis … Gunsmoke, Brian McKnight … Sweet Meat, Byron Minns …Bullhorn, Phil Morris…Saheed, Miguel A. Núñez Jr. …Mo Bitches, Kim Whitley…Honey Bee, Salli Richardson-Whitfield…Gloria, and John Salley…Kotex.

“The story of a 1970s African-American action legend named Black Dynamite. The Man killed his brother, pumped heroin into local orphanages, and flooded the ghetto with adulterated malt liquor. Black Dynamite was the one hero willing to fight The Man all the way from the blood-soaked city streets to the hallowed halls of the Honky House” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1190536/). There was no other way to sum up this masterpiece of parody/satire of African American stereotypes and identity during the 1970s.

Analysis

Michael Jai White’s character, Black Dynamite represented Black Power, by his choice of wearing an Afro, black or brown leather coats, and having a moral compass pointed towards fighting the establishment. His line of work and personal life is questionable, but he finds time to help the oppressed. The stereotypes that are prominent in this film are: all Chinese people know Kung-Fu, Black women (duality- high intelligent view of self, tends to be revolutionary and feminist; lower intelligent view of self, seductive and submissive), Black men are involved in some sort of criminal behavior. Black Panthers (Black Power Movement) are characterized as radicals, or gun totting community organizers; and all white women have jungle fever.

What stuck out the most in regards to Size Identity was the character Honey Bee. She was BD’s bottom chick, the one that handed all his business affairs and trained his team of elite fighting women. She was a large woman with very high self-esteem, conscious of her pride and sexuality, but also played into the stereotype of being submissive when faced with some adversity. There was never any representation of her or Gunsmoke (large black male, aide to the cause) depicted as comic relief, just as supporting characters. To better label the characters identities; everyone wearing Afros regardless of being good or bad were conscious of their blackness and lived by to some extent the ideologies of the Black Power Movement or Afrocentric. Those whom hair were processed- permed, straighten represented Eurocentric or Ghettocentric identities.

Response

Overall, Black Dynamite is a hilarious film that parodies 70’s Blaxploitation films, with continuity errors, shots with the boom mic visible, and jump cuts. Other than the obvious, the reason I chose this film was how the representation of blacks in media were portrayed during that time. It also gives focus to the three sub groups in the black community (Triple Quandary Theory) represented in the film: Afrocentric, Eurocentric, and Ghettocentric. The Afrocentric has a higher intelligent perception of self and in having this chooses to be the change in their community, even if it takes evasive action. The Eurocentric identifies with the hegemonic class and tries to integrate and in some cases sabotage or suppresses the movement. The Ghettocentric really didn’t care, more consumed with drugs, sex, and partying- nihilistic. There isn’t much concern with size, more so how one individualizes them self in comparison to collective thought and representation- we need to do better as a society as opposed to I gotta get mine, a la the American Dream.

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Magazine Analysis

24 Feb

I chose to cover three Urban magazines that are familiar in Black Popular Culture…

Jet, XXL, Complex

 

How Questionable is The Cleveland Show

21 Jan

Summary

For all intents and purposes, The Cleveland Show is the spinoff of Family Guy; it airs 9:30pm Sunday on Fox. Cleveland Brown was the token black on the previous show, where he was the butt or victim of many jokes played by Peter Griffin (a white overweight male that was legally retarded). Cleveland moved back to his home town in Virginia after becoming depressed in Quahog from his divorce from Loretta (she cheated on him with Quagmire-his good friend). Cleveland starts over with his son Jr. (whom has become obese since his parents have split), once getting reacquainted Cleveland runs into his old high school love Donna whom has also gotten a divorce from her shiftless husband Robert (she has two children-Roberta Tubbs, a teenage daughter & Rallo, an adolescent boy).

Storyline

The story begins with Cleveland and Jr. leaving the movie theatre, Cleveland thanks him for asking to go to the movies with him; but asserts that he needs to ask a girl out on a date while fending Jr. off from kissing him. After an encounter with Lester Krinklsac, Cleveland looks around and sees all of Jr.’s friends (neighborhood boys) all were on dates with girls.

The next day Cleveland surprises Jr. at school with lessons on wooing a woman; Jr stumbles through his first attempt to talk to a girl, which she took as him trying to rape her.

In the next scene we find Cleveland and Jr. eating at Choni’s Mexican restaurant. While waiting for the waitress Cleveland tries to refine his lessons for Jr when the portly waitress walks by, refreshes their salsa and gives Jr the eye. Since he stuck out earlier, why not try again with lower expectations? Cleveland leaves Jr at the restaurant to get better acquainted with the Mexican waitress.

Later we see Jr and the rest of the Brown/Tubbs family ordering food at Choni’s; the owner comes out and introduces herself and chat it up with the family. The waitress comes out and says hi to Jr and he nonchalantly returns the salutation. Cleveland responds with “that’s kind of smug to treat her like that”. [Out burst from the kitchen, with blinding light] Out runs Cecilia, a young extremely attractive 16-year-old woman towards Jr. Everyone is taken a back, why is this attractive girl all hugged up on Jr?

We find out that the waitress was her cousin and she hooked them up.

The rest of the show Cleveland is showing off how Jr’s girlfriend until Cleveland’s drinking buddies convinces him that Jr’s girlfriend is hotter than his wife. Things become hairy when Cleveland openly starts to question; why is this girl interested in Jr? Someone eventually calls immigration-because Cecilia is the only illegal at the family restaurant. As a result Jr and Cecilia elope.

We find out by the end of the episode that Jr is the same build and is kind as Cecilia’s father.

Analysis

The line of dialog that seems to pop up the most is “I worry about him so”; which leaves you with thinking that Cleveland & Donna have had some worry about Jr. Even when Cleveland & Donna are having dinner with Choni, Donna blurts out “we were beginning to worry about this one”. This leaves the audience to question is or will Jr turn out to be gay. Jr is a 14-year-old male that is overweight and at times are has a mentality of an adolescent. This can further cement the belief of Jr’s questionable sexuality with his high pitch voice, sleeping with stuffed animals, and the occasional instance where you might see him do his older step sister’s hair. In previous episodes there have been numerous instances where Jr has been portrayed as feminine. This was primarily about Size identity, the question of how can someone who is short, overweight, and effeminate could get have an attractive girl like or even want to have sex with him.

Response

The show was entertaining, but this shows how society takes things for surface value. The media always portray overweight people as being unattractive, undesirable, or not popular. Once Jr got himself a hot girlfriend his image changed. He was portrayed as attractive and he showed more confidence. Honestly, Jr comes off as someone comfortable in his skin and preferred eating than trying to get a girlfriend. It wasn’t until his Dad put pressure on him did he have a desire to change his behavior.