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Monday
May072012

What Do You Think About "Beasts of the Southern Wild" - Are Black Women and Girls Better off With Black Filmmakers?

Have you heard about Beasts of the Southern Wild? Probably not unless you are a film festival follower.

This film stars a little Black girl named Quvenzhane Wallis who plays a character named Hushpuppy.  It won at Sundance and is going to be featured at Cannes and the commentators at a certain Black film blog are doing their best to tear the movie down and rip it to shreds. What happened to "supporting Black actors"? Which is the standard line they throw at US when we point out how poorly Black women are being treated in "Black" films.

According to the comments section at a certain Black film blog, the sole basis for not embracing this  film is that was written and directed by a non-Black man named Benh Zeitlin. Ha! Ha! Ha! Chile BYE! Go somewhere with that mess. I've got one response to this argument against non-Black writers and directors and the treatment of Black actresses. RED TAILS! RedTailsRedTailsRedTails! You know, the war movie where every single Black actress was EDITED OUT! 

I can't comment on Beasts of the Southern Wild and I don't trust critics' assessments of films featuring Black women. You know the critics just loved Lee Daniels pathology porn, Precious. I admit I have my own reservations about Beasts of the Southern Wild.  Once again, we've got a down trodden Black woman or girl living in poverty in a single parent household. I might end up HATING this movie. I said, I may very well not like this movie at all. But one thing I'm not going to support is the LIE that the race of the writer director somehow impacts the fortuned of Black actresses or the depictions of Black women on screen. 

Let's play a game called, Supposing a Black Filmmaker made this movie:

 If Lee Daniels had written and directed this, Hushpuppy would have probably had to endure every type of violent criminal sex act at the hands of her father before we hit the midpoint in the movie.

If Red Tails, Anthony Hemmingway had directed this, Hushpuppy would have been cut out of the movie entirely in the final edit. 

If Tyler Perry had written and directed this film, Hushpuppy would have been played by a little Black boy dressed in drag.

Shall I go on?

If John Singleton had written and directed this film, Hushpuppy would have been a loud mouth angry screaming banshee.

 

And NONE of these directors would have dared to include freaking computer generated mythical creatures.

You've got a  film featuring an adorable little Black girl and these hateraid swilling Black film critics are whining because a Black filmmaker didn't write and direct the film. Chile BYE! 

Y'all would have some credibility if you had spoken out forcefully when Anthony Hemmingway edited each. and every Black woman OUT of the movie Red Tails. I'm not saying Black women and girls are better off with non-Black writer/directors. I'm just saying that you can't even say with a straight face that Black actresses are worse off. 

Again, I haven't seen this movie, so I might end up hating it, but it won't be because it wasn't written or directed by a Black filmmaker. Go sit down with that mess!

P.S. Red Tail! Red Tails! Red Tails! I'm never going to let folks live down the cinematic genocide on Black women that was Red Tails!

PPS. Red Tails!

Reader Comments (19)

@Blogmother

"Beast of the Southern Wild" looks like it's cut from the same cloth as the children's book "Where the Wild Things Are," which is a good thing. Thanks for sharing. I definitely keep an eye out for this film.

As for the controversy over the director's race, this is silly. One of the BEST films I've ever seen is "Akeelah and the Bee" which had a great Black heroine in Akeelah. And the film was directed by a WHITE guy:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0040328/

So, it's stupid for Black critics buying and even promoting the lie that a White guy can't direct a film that portray Black girls in a positive, well round light. I think haters of "Beast of the Southern Wild" envy that they didn't think of the idea FIRST.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

If Red Tails, Anthony Hemmingway had directed this, Hushpuppy would have been cut out of the movie entirely in the final edit.

Directors have no say over final cuts unless they are given specific contractual authority to do so, which is something that only your highest profile directors get (like Spielberg or Scorsese) . The editors of Red Tails are Ben Burtt and Michael O'Halloran. They, and their assistants, are white. It appears that the black women were in film after the director's cut and were taken out in the final cut.

Blogmother comment
Um Trina (I mean Anthony) have you seen the contract? Do you know made the decision? Keep on red Tails fanatics. You're wrong, you know you're wrong but keep digging. As I stated if Hushpuppy have been in an Anthony Hemingway movie, she would have been left on the cutting room floor.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrina

I'm VERY thankful you posted this trailer because I can't wait to see what looks like a magical movie with a little black girl as the heroine. The sad part is I was holding my breath while watching the trailer. I've become conditioned to expect actual violence or sexual abuse, ala Precious (which I refused to see), if not the hint of it and I exhaled when I saw this wasn't that at ALL. They will definitely get my money on that alone. *Sigh* such a low bar.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNashieqa

The trailer almost made me cry. It SEEMS that someone has finally seen little black girls as thinking, dreaming and wishing people. I already know that many black folk do not. I hope the movie does little black girls justice.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Chile BYE!

I think that sums it up nicely.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaphne

Blogmother

Of course I have not seen the contracts as is the case with us all, but Hemingway does state regarding the final cut that he "would not call that the director’s cut. There was a huge collaboration in focusing the film in the end in what is being shown".

http://collider.com/anthony-hemingway-red-tails-treme-the-wire-interview/138671/

I strongly agree that it is ridiculous that those scenes were cut, but I don't think that Hemingway is particularly to blame. Nowadays, directors rarely have final say in the final edits and those who do are typically high profile and/or high powered directors. A novice like Hemingway who has done little more than tv drama would not be included amongst the big names in directing.

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118014187?refCatId=13

http://www.filmwad.com/featured-theatrical-cuts-vs-director-s-cuts-2495-p.html

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrina

I've been wishing for a movie like this for years now! After dragging the Black children in my life to the Harry Potter movies, The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe, Lemony Snicket's movie, etc., I yearned for them to be able to see someone on film that looks like them in adventure/fantasy movies as lead characters. Unfortunately in Beasts we have a little Black girl living in crushing poverty and who lives with only one parent. However, it appears that she is being raised by a loving single father who is doing the best he can to take care of her. Though Beasts seems far from perfect, I think it's good start. I am eagerly anticipating this movie.

Based on some of the examples that Gina has provided, Black producers, writers, and directors, especially Black men, can't be trusted to NOT portray Black women as extreme stereotypes or caricatures. I'll give my money to the person who puts out the best quality product and who satisfies my tastes, regardless of their race.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersaadiyah

cosign 100% great post. you want good quality black movies check out julie dash daughter of the dust or paris qualles he wrote the inkwell and the rosa parks story and don't forget euzhan palcy she's awesome too

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpumpkin

@Saadiyah

It depends on the Black male producer. For example, Akeelah and the Bee (great film BTW) was produced by Laurence Fishburne who produced the film because of its daring. Here is an excerpt of his interview with the Washington Post on producing the film (emphasis mine):

"I fell in love with it [Akeelah and the Bee]," he says. "It's an honest portrayal of black contemporary life." And just think -- Hollywood doesn't think audiences want to see any of that, he intones darkly.

His anger is the sheet music to a riff about a film industry that often frames the whole of black life between pathologies:

"The things the studio makes a place for, the gangs and pimps and hos and guns and killing and [expletive] doesn't negate the fact that there is a real need for death and birth and relationships and jobs and struggle and grandma's house and life." And even a spelling bee, he says.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/21/AR2006042100410.html

Yes, too many Black producers go for the lowest common denominator. But there are still Black men in Hollywood like Fishburne who raise the bar for themselves and Black America.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

Thank you to the two commenters for mentioning Akeelah and the Bee and those other movies. There was also an independent black movie that came out a couple years ago or so. I cannot remember its name, I only saw the trailer for it - but I do know it was in French or Portuguese and it was written and directed by a black man. The movie had fantasy and special effects in it, so the white director mentioned above has not broken new ground; I think this particular director hired someone who was involved in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to do similar effects of people flying through the air and so on.
Of course that movie never made it to Cannes or won any awards or was even highlighted in the mainstream media or received any critical attention.
I wonder why that movie never made it, but movies like Precious et al were everywhere.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNia

I would also like to say something else. And I know that the majority here will disagree with me and will criticize me for it, but I will still say it because this issue is actually quite personal for me.

I will also add that I have never heard of this movie before now, nor do I know anything about the black movie blog that is criticizing it, nor do I wish to find out.

But I do know that my sister recently wrote and published two books for black children that showcased black girls in a positive, unique fashion. Had it not been for the support of her black male mentor who is also a historian, my sister’s books which are now in museums in the UK and Germany with beautiful images of black girls would have never seen the light of day. Asking for absolutely nothing in return (no money or accolades), this black man gave of his time and expertise to ensure that the images and text were done accurately.

As for me, I have long wanted to make a movie about black women with magical elements. But my knowledge of movie-making is nil, so I wrote a book instead. My closest black male friend helped me with the concept, and helped me financially to commission several artists, who were white, to create the fantasy images for me because I loved their work (and because I cannot draw). The artists were very expensive but great to work with, followed directions to the letter, and gave me exactly what I asked for. I instructed the artists in everything from the various skin tones to the shape and sizes of the black female characters.

If it had not been for my black male friend’s guidance, moral and financial support, I would have never been able to complete my beautiful book. My sister and I now have a ten-year plan to get all three of our books made into movies as a trilogy, and we have more in the works. Yes, we may have to use a white director. And then everyone will be like how they are on this post. If the movies are a success, everyone will then say that black women and girls are better off with white male directors.

But the fact of the matter is that if it were not for two black men – and me and my sister of course – the two movies would never happen in the first place.

But of course examples like mine do not matter because we are so eager to take a swipe at black people and black men in particular by insinuating that only white men are responsible for, or are always the first, to show black women/girls in a positive, fantasy and boundary-breaking fashion.

And of course if I mention any of this I will then get accused of making excuses for black men and dysfunction, and pigeon-holed as being a “black-male identified mule” and the other choice words that get used on certain blogs. And I know that commenters here will also say: “Well that’s just two examples (me and my sister) and the movies aren’t even made yet, so who cares?”

I will never support anything that denigrates black women. I too will never support movies like Precious, The Help or Red Tails, and I spoke out loudly against those movies on this blog and elsewhere.

But I also will speak the truth, or at least my truth, when I see it too. Thanks and sorry for the length of my post.

Blogmother comment: Oh please spare me with this cowardly passive aggressive attack poised in faux concern. We have NEVER sail all Black men anything. We have NEVER held White men up as some kind of savior. You must be getting your blogs mixed up. I hate people who lie and then don't want to take the lumps for lying that they rightfully deserve.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNia

@ Sis. Nia, for the approximately 5 years this blog has been around, we have tried not to make sweeping generalizations about our people or any other people. That a brother and other African people helped you is to be applauded -- and loudly too.

However, when some of our people disrespect our people, disrespect African women in particular, well, around here they get put on blast -- FOR REAL; I'm not mad at anybody for that nor am I mad at you for what you just said.

The sad fact is that sometimes, our people do horrible things to us and sometimes our White sisters and brothers get it right, in spite of White supremacy/racism. It is what it is. I'll share this with you; a dear friend and colleague of mine made a film on rape in the African community, it's title is "NO!" done by Aisha Simmons. You would not believe the story she tells about how certain "progressive" sisters and brothers (and sisters with lots of $$$) not only refused to help finance her project, but also made snide remarks about her and her film, questioned her intentions, etc. And yes, she did get some financial and political support from many non-African people and some of our people as well.

The film took more than 13 years to make; now that it's been made and well-received AROUND THE WORLD, well, you can well imagine some of the crickets are chirping now and some are now hiding their faces in shame.

I'm at the point now, I want to see a variety of films and other artistic works about our people and whoever can do it right, do it professionally, with integrity and creative genius, then so be it, It is what it is. PERIOD. :)

AND I'M STILL SEEING RED ABOUT "RED TAILS." They actually deliberately cut us out of a movie based on historic facts? OH MY HOW FAR WE SLAVES HAVE COME.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrevmamaafrika

@Nia

Regarding Akeelah and the Bee, you're welcome.

May 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

"Thank you to the two commenters for mentioning Akeelah and the Bee and those other movies. There was also an independent black movie that came out a couple years ago or so. I cannot remember its name, I only saw the trailer for it - but I do know it was in French or Portuguese and it was written and directed by a black man. The movie had fantasy and special effects in it, so the white director mentioned above has not broken new ground; I think this particular director hired someone who was involved in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to do similar effects of people flying through the air and so on.
Of course that movie never made it to Cannes or won any awards or was even highlighted in the mainstream media or received any critical attention.
I wonder why that movie never made it, but movies like Precious et al were everywhere." - Nia


So let me get this straight. There was a movie several years ago, a movie whose name you cannot be bothered to remember and couldn't bother to search for, a movie that was in French or Portuguese(two VERY different languages, so I'm not sure why you confuse the two), a movie, I might add, that you didn't bother to watch, even AFTER seeing the trailer. Yet you are complaining that the movie never made it to Cannes(the vast majority of movies made each year, dare I say, 99.9%, do not make it to Cannes), didn't win any award, and got no 'mainstream' attention (most films, and certainly most indie films, get no 'attention', mainstream or otherwise). Besides, mainstream attention in which country? Name me ONE non-English movie in recent times, that has gotten any sort of attention in English-speaking western countries, even when they were made by famous foreign directors. So why would you then think that all these limitations should magically disappear because the film was made by a black man? I know you probably think otherwise, but your post didn't make any really sensible point. Besides, if the trailer of the movie did not entice you to watch it, how has it not occurred to you that others, too, just weren't interested in seeing the film either. This is typical black folk thinking. When it is time to boycott, you want other black folk to do it. When it is time to support, still you others to do it. If you didn't support the film, don't fix your mouth to say that anyone else should have. Besides, maybe the film just wasn't that good, you know!

Most of the whites pre-civil rights legislation were anti equal rights for blacks, but does that mean there weren't those who supported justice (e.g. the white freedom riders). Most white female feminist before and now are not interested in equality for minority women despite what they might say, but does that mean that there aren't white women who aren't prejudiced against other-race women, and consistently work to uplift the entire gender? There are black women (the majority in my opinion) who would happily throw their fellow 'sisters' under the bus for the benefit of a man (let's be real, a black man) who is contributing zero to her life, but does that mean we are all that way? Those two examples you gave do not negate the broader point. If most black males were loyal to AND supportive of black women, sites like WAOD wouldn't have to exist, BECAUSE we would be protected by them, which, you know is their job................as men. Not too long ago, most of the males that posted on this site were against the basic premise of the site, some more blatantly than others. Either they have stopped coming or their comments no longer get posted. It does not mean that posters like 'Fred' do not exist. You are being thoroughly disingenuous with your comments, and you know it. That is why at the end of your second comment, you chose to attack any view point you thought would be used to disagree with you. Points, I should add, that the blog host of this blog has never even made before. Miss me with that!

May 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaliliMaster

Where did I ever say that I expected anyone else to support the film? It was a non-English movie so it was never necessarily expected to do well in western countries. There are certain movies that do well overseas that the US and UK have never heard of.
And as I pointed out I refused to watch Red Tails, Precious or other movies of that nature that erase or denigrate black women, and I spoke out against them on my own accord everywhere I could - I never asked or expected black women to boycott them while I didn't. So I am not sure why you would accuse me of the "typical black thinking" that you spoke about.

I am well aware that the majority of black men do not support black women positively and nowhere in my prior comments did I say otherwise. I simply related my own personal experience that I did have black support when it came to producing creative work that showed black women positively. If to you that is me being disingenous or trying to negate a broader point then so be it, but I was simply speaking the truth. Why do you think I ended up choosing white artists to do the work? Like RevMamaAfrika I can also tell my own stories of black persons trying to frustrate my creative projects.

The question was asked if black women are better off with white directors and using my own experience I answered that this is not necessarily so, that's all.

I never complained about anything or accused the blog mother of anything, I am well aware that she does not use the terms mentioned.

May 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNia

“Where did I ever say that I expected anyone else to support the film? It was a non-English movie so it was never necessarily expected to do well in western countries. There are certain movies that do well overseas that the US and UK have never heard of.” – Nia

Given the above statements, what was the point of you even saying the following in the first place:

“Of course that movie never made it to Cannes or won any awards or was even highlighted in the mainstream media or received any critical attention.
I wonder why that movie never made it, but movies like Precious et al were everywhere.” – Nia

Since, as you say, you weren’t expecting anybody to support the film (and let me once again remind you that the only support you gave to this film with no name was to view the trailer), why then complain that it got no mainstream attention, or attention from Cannes, or awards, etc. What exactly was the point of your comments? Complaining for complaining sake?

‘So I am not sure why you would accuse me of the "typical black thinking" that you spoke about.’ – Nia

In this instance, it is the mindset of blacks (in this case, you), that they want to rant and rave about the plight/suffering/oppression of the black collective (in this case, the lack of support for a film made by a black male), yet they themselves (you), barely lift a finger when they get the opportunity to do something about it (unless you consider your having watched a free movie trailer as adequate ‘contribution’).

“I am well aware that the majority of black men do not support black women positively and nowhere in my prior comments did I say otherwise.” – Nia

It ain’t just BM. Black women, for the most part, do not support themselves. BM just have far greater potential for brutality, with them being males.

“I simply related my own personal experience that I did have black support when it came to producing creative work that showed black women positively. If to you that is me being disingenous or trying to negate a broader point then so be it, but I was simply speaking the truth.” – Nia

No, you were not ‘speaking the truth’. You were arguing against a point that nobody made. That, in itself is dishonest. In the main post, the blogger simply criticised the stance of a black film blog, in regard to this film. The reason she mentioned these specific examples was to show that the involvement of a black film maker did not necessarily mean that the images would be positive. It just so happens that there aren’t any black female film makers that are famous for making degenerate films featuring lack women, hence all the examples were of black males. I doubt BM are the only people who have ever helped you in your life, yet the only (two) examples you gave were of them. I’m sure that if you started to list all the ways that black folks have hindered you, you would have listed all the BW who didn’t support you the way you believe a ‘sister’ should.


“Why do you think I ended up choosing white artists to do the work? Like RevMamaAfrika I can also tell my own stories of black persons trying to frustrate my creative projects.” – Nia


I am pretty sure that your best friend did not provide all the financial support as you claim. If he had any expertise or connections in the art world, he would have been able to get the artists to work at a reduced rate for a broke newcomer, if he believed you were talented. So they too would have taken a financial hit to work with you. I don’t remember you being so grateful to them anywhere in your comments.


“The question was asked if black women are better off with white directors and using my own experience I answered that this is not necessarily so, that's all.” – Nia


That is not necessarily so? You really think that is the stance you took with this sort of comment:


“And of course if I mention any of this I will then get accused of making excuses for black men and dysfunction, and pigeon-holed as being a “black-male identified mule” and the other choice words that get used on certain blogs. And I know that commenters here will also say: “Well that’s just two examples (me and my sister) and the movies aren’t even made yet, so who cares?” – Nia


You got defensive over something that no one even said. No one accused anyone of being a “black-male identified mule”. The only reason that popped into your head is due to your own issues. If the shoe fits, I suppose. Go sort yourself out.

“I never complained about anything or accused the blog mother of anything, I am well aware that she does not use the terms mentioned.” – Nia

Your entire comment was just one long epistle of baseless complaints! So once again, miss me with that!

May 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaliliMaster

@JaliliMaster - Love everything you said.

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Living under a rock I guess, so just now hearing of this movie, but will NOT be seeing any movie that uses another negative title when portraying Black girls, or Black people in general. "Beasts"???? really??? First t here was Pariah, now Beasts?? All in movies that depict some aspect of Black females??

N.O. will not Go. They may as well have named it Jungle Bunnies.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

Well, I went to see Beasts of the Southern Wild today. I had high hopes for this film, but I had to walk out. The setting is a small, extremely poor island seemingly off the coast of New Orleans. There didn't seem to be electricity or running water. It would have been an interesting story about an imaginative little girl, and how the people here seem to be okay with their lifestyle in spite of the daily struggles. But it quickly became just another film about an abusive black family. The little girl is called Hush Puppy. And her father is verbally and physically abusive. He appears to be an alcoholic and may have some mental health issues as well; I didn't stay long enough to determine that for sure. The couple next to me walked out before I did. I tried to be patient and give it a chance, but about 45 minutes into it I excused myself. Based upon the first 45 minutes or so, I would not recommend this film.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaya

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