Monday, December 31, 2012

My 2012 Movie of the Year and Moving Ahead to 2013

As I look back at 2012 I see a year of progress and a year to build on.

2012 was the year that internet sensation and Youtube star, Issa Rae (who created, produced and directed the hit series Awkward Black Girl) teamed up with Shonda Rhimes to collaborate for an upcoming comedy series for ABC. This development was huge for Rae of course, but it also marked the first time a webisode focusing on a character of color paved the way for a transition to the small screen. The web is increasingly becoming a backdoor way to breaking into traditional forms of media, like film and television.

2012 was the year that Matthew Cherry directed his first feature film, "The Last Fall" and saw it receive critical acclaim along with a number of accolades.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

When Violence Goes Viral: The Social Repercussions of Standing By

Earlier this month, a man was pushed down a subway tunnel and could not be saved. But his snapshot was.

That event sparked not only every New Yorker's most subconscious fear -standing too close to the edge of a platform and being pushed over- but also outrage for the lack of action taken to save a man fighting to get out of the path of an oncoming train. The most glaring outrage was directed at photographer R. Umar Abbasi, for taking a photo of the man just before he was struck by the train. The NY Post would publish the haunting photo the next day.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Use of Media in the Recognition of World AIDS Day

Yesterday, December 1st, was World AIDS Day. Since 1988 World AIDS Day has been recognized as a day to not only remember those who have passed from the disease, but also to acknowledge the more than 30 million people worldwide still fighting with it every day.

The awareness of AIDS by individual people, communities, cities, nations and the global community, has come a long way since AIDS was first diagnosed in 1981. Looking back on media and newspaper articles from the late 80s and early 90s shows just how far we've come as a society in accepting people with the disease. That's not to suggest that everyone thinks like this or that there is no longer a stigma associated with AIDS, but it is no longer as publicly denounced as it once was.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Charles S. Dutton on the Difference Between Entertainers, Actors and Artists

"An entertainer will do anything. An actor will do most things. But an artist will only do those things he or she feels advances civilization."
                                                                                       - Charles S. Dutton

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

1 Year of FilmSwaggin

My oh my how the time flies.

I started this blog a year ago today because I felt it was finally time to express some of the thoughts that had travelling around in my head for months, or in some cases, years. FilmSwag is more than just a blog I feel. It gives me a platform to reach people and speak on topics that I might otherwise only discuss with certain audiences or in particular settings.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Looking at Nina Through A Different Hue

So I heard about this casting snafu a few weeks back, but it wasn't until a friend enlightened me about it that I began to take notice.

Apparently there is a biopic being done of the late great Nina Simone. Simone was more than just a singer. She was an activist, intellect, and a woman whose words and music influenced millions of people. Her round nose, dark hue, and potent afro, only helped to accentuate the struggle for Civil Rights during the turbulent 1960s.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

If You Went Missing...Would Anyone Come Looking? A Review of Dreams of a Life

How close are we really to the people in our lives?

I first heard about this film more than a year ago courtesy of the indiewire site ShadowandAct. Ever since then, I've been curious about it's development and finally its release.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Diversifying The American TV Family

A few weeks ago on the African-American themed cable station Centric, I came across a show by the name of "227" that piqued my interest.

"227" revolved around the daily lives and experiences of a middle class black family residing in 1980s Washington D.C. The show starred actress Marla Gibbs, who had achieved fame as the maid in "The Jeffersons." Also featured was a young Regina King in what would be her first substantive role in a long career. Then there was Jackee Harry, who is probably better known to my generation as the television mother to this famous set of twins.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Some South African Kwaito

I first saw this music video 4 years ago while in college among a group of African friends. It has a catchy beat and I definitely dig the boxing theme.

Though it is only one video, it does show how media -specifically hip-hop in this case- can travel to other corners of the world and be infused with cultural residue of that particular region. 4 years later, I still don't understand a single word these guys are saying, but I can appreciate the music and its accompanying video nonetheless.

Seeing people and images around the world can not only entertain us, but gives us a greater appreciation of an art form in its varying depictions.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Salute to Black Military Film Roles on This Memorial Day

Today we remember all of those who risked their lives and who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

Film has often done an excellent job of telling these various war stories and allowing us to get more of an intimate look at the men and women behind the uniforms.

For black veterans the medium of film has also served as a way of illuminating their stories to the mainstream public at large. Whether it was due to racism or simply just being forgotten about, film has allowed the stories of more (certainly not enough though) veterans of color the opportunity to not only have their stories told, but get the proper due for their heroism.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Thinking Like A Man and Walking Away With A King's Ransom

I was definitely surprised to know that the film "Think Like A Man" was the leading movie at the box office these past two weeks (until "The Avengers" came in like an avalanche). The Steve Harvey inspired, Will Packer produced flick, I'm sure has exceeded expectations of the studio heads, but what does this mean for future films with predominantly black casts?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scandalously Addicting

Kerry Washington is bringing style and substance in a new ABC drama that's redefining the faces we see on television.

In her new hit TV show "Scandal," Washington plays lawyer/crisis management strategist Olivia Pope. Pope is inspired by the real-life career of Washington insider Judy Smith. Smith played a key role in providing feedback and guidance for the Shonda Rhimes led series.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Telling It Like It Is for More Than 40 Years

It was very sad news to hear last week that the man of the only afro-centric news show on network television, had passed away. Gil Noble had died of a stoke. He was 80-years-old.

Gil Noble is perhaps most well known for his 1-hour long television show "Like It Is," which aired locally on channel ABC 7 here in the New York area.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Charlie Parker on Art & Music

"Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

6 Months

Last Monday, March 26, was a special day on two fronts. Not only was it my birthday, but it was also the 6 month anniversary of this very site. Much love and appreciation to all of you who have read the articles and let me know your thoughts of them. I definitely appreciate the support. Also, big shoutout to my international readers as well. Especially those of you in Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. It is amazing and humbling to know that people from all over the world are reading your work. I have a lot more articles and video content to post in the coming months and look forward to sharing it with all of you. Let's keep getting educated together. Peace.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Trayvon Martin & The Black Boogeyman

"It's not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences." 
-  Audrey Lorde

Last Wednesday I attended the march for Trayvon Martin at Union Square in New York City. I was commuting from Brooklyn and didn't make it till well after it had already began. Even still, there were a few hundred people in the park with signs, letters, and faces of concern at what happened nearly a month ago. The case of Trayvon Martin is troubling at best, and as a black man, downright frighting at its worst.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy Birthday to the Queen

Queen Latifah is probably recognized more these days for her films than her rap career, but her music continues to leave an impact almost 20 years later.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Is an Oscar Win the Kiss of Death for Black Actors?

I rooted for both Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis during last Sunday's Academy Awards. I'm not one who usually cares for award shows, but this year's Oscars had the weight of history on its broad shoulders.

See, not only were two black women nominated for Oscars, they were favored to win. Both Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis had received critical acclaim for their portrayals as Minny Jackson and Aibileen Clark in Dreamworks' "The Help." The idea of black women playing maids and being awarded for it, is in itself nothing new. You can go as far back as 1940 with the case of Hattie McDaniel, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal as (you guessed it) a maid. 72 years later, it seems Hollywood has not come as far as one would expect in acknowledging black women (or women of color for that matter) for roles beyond that of domestics.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Racist Political Ad? Nah, of Course Not.

Things just got real in Michigan. U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra is gearing up for a senate run against Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow, and is coming with serious heat. In an attempt I guess to show Sen. Stabenow as some spendthrift politician who could care less about shipping jobs overseas, Hoekstra drops this ad on Michigan voters:

In one thirty-second ad, Hoekstra manages to offend just about everyone. First, he makes it appear that there are many smiling Asians across the Pacific just happy as can be at the prospect of American jobs. Also, in Hoekstra's ad, there is no country mentioned just the euphemism of 'we' as if to lump all Asians together as those pesky American job thieves. Maybe if Mr. Hoekstra picked up a paper as of late, he would've seen that things are starting to change.

What a bout the young woman in the ad you ask? As it turns out, she has since expressed regret at being in the ad and interestingly enough doesn't even live in Michigan. Sadly, this is probably the first of more than a few racially insensitive campaign commercials coming to us during this election year. Let's hope there's better judgement over the coming months.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Last Farewell to Whitney and Don

So far Black History Month 2012 has hit us like a sledgehammer with the recent passing of icons Don Cornelius and Whitney Houston. Both left an indelible mark not only on African-American history, but the larger American media and entertainment industry as well.

Don Cornelius was the creator and innovator behind "Soul Train" which aired on Saturday mornings and featured people getting down to the latest grooves. Beginning in Chicago in 1970, "Soul Train" would air for 36 years providing a showcase for dance moves and fancy clothes while serving as a platform for up and coming artists to gain exposure. "Soul Train" was one of the few shows with an abundance of people of color who could be seen by mainstream America without having to cater to the same tired stereotypes so prevalent then and now. Don Cornelius will definitely be missed.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" - Dr. Martin Luther King

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Did On Screen Black Presidents Pave Way for Obama?

Well ladies and gentlemen, it's that time of year again. The news cycles are once again roaring up for another presidential election. I must be honest, nearly three years since Barack Obama's inauguration, I'm still stunned that a black man is president of these here United States.

Now in the years since Obama's election, many things have been attributed to his achievement of becoming the first black president. People say he ran a solid campaign. Others say he engaged the youth like few politicians have. Millions were wowed by his great speeches, and some would even say his early adoption of social media was a deciding factor in his election. Being that this blog focuses on film and television, I can't help but wonder if previous on screen portrayals of black presidents, assisted in Obama's rise to the White House.