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Sunday
Oct052014

Don't #FixMyLife: Did Oprah Need to Put Jay Williams and His 34 Kids by 17 Women on OWN to Teach us Forgiveness? 

So apparently some of y’all are questioning Iyanla Vanzant’s “motives.” Shame on you belov-eds! 

But let's call a thing a thing - I have never seen someone who claims to be a life coach so obsessed with what other people are saying about her. Iyanla, Beloved, you can count me among those questioning your motives.

Remember when Oprah launched the Oprah Winfrey Network with the promise that the network was going to be inspiring us all to live our best lives? It actually happened. Well after an initial launch of goodness and light, Oprah embraced the high-quality storytelling of Tyler Perry and buried the hatchet with Iyanla Vanzant and embraced a Black audience... for now. That’s not an unheard of strategy, FOX did it, the CW, formerly UPN did it. 

My Twitter timeline has exploded each week Jay Williams with 34 children by 17 or so different women has been on Iyanla’s Fix my Life. Realizing the rating boondoggle that this dysfunctional family presented, Iyanla has now stretched the melodrama surrounding this narcissistic misogynist and his brood to a five week series and don’t be surprised if Oprah gives Jay and his family their own spin off. 

In all the blog posts I have seen about Jay and dysfunctional situation ( because if they were functional, Iyanla wouldn’t be there) I have yet to see anyone question why Oprah Winfrey choose to give over her platform to broadcast this dysfunction.

To hear Iyanla tell it, Jay Williams and his dysfunction are a gift to all of US:

I now understand that the Jay Williams story is all about self-value, self-respect and self-worth gone awry because of the lack of effective and meaningful conversations and much-needed instruction at every level of society.  There are moments in time when we find ourselves in the midst of a sacred experience, a time of change, an opportunity for healing that can leave us breathless or totally confused. Iyanla Vanzant 

When non-Black people have several dozen children, they get uplifting family dramas on television like the Duggars. We get Juaamne, 34 who has six children by four women, Terrance who has four children by two different women, Nathaniel, 28 children by 17 different women. All were featured on the Jay Williams mini-series on OWN.


Did we really need so see this level of dysfunction in order to learn forgiveness?

Can Iyanla really fix this level of dysfunction within dysfunction on top of dysfunction?

Is it possible to talk about a highly dysfunctional Black man without Black women taking the blame?

 

No, no, and no.


The truth is that Jay Williams has 34 children by 17 women because he hates women. It really isn’t more complicated than that. Because only a man who hated women would impregnate three or more of them AT THE SAME TIME and then walk away from them and leave them to fend for themselves. 

 

Iyanla is going to drag this misogynist and his narcissim out for as long as possible:

 

 

  • If this story is actually what I believe it to be, a wake-up call from the universe, men will stop making excuses, women will stop being angry, and people will start talking and healing the things that really matter: relationships, families and our collective investment in the future of this world. People may not agree about why I do what I do the way I do it. They may continue to question my motives, intentions and the size of my paycheck. That will not make this story or the issues it has placed on the table of public conversation go away. One man, one story, has opened the floodgates of healing, growth and a new reality. We simply must do better. Iyanla Vanzant

 

Yeah, I can learn something from a man who abandoned 34 children and gave family planning less thought than what he was going to eat for breakfast, but I’d love to hear more from Black folks who are doing just fine. I can learn from them too. Oprah and Iyanla should just admit they gave over to ratchetness for ratings. 

 

For those of you wondering where the functional Black families are hanging out, I would suggest HGTV and the Food Network ( except the Neelys - turns out their PDAs during cooking were all lies!).You know what would be really awesome? A totally intact, highly functioning Black family on a road trip. Or a cooking competition between some highly functional Black families. We aren’t like Big Foot, Santa or the Tooth Fairy. We’re all over my Facebook timeline. 

So belov-eds let’s call a thing a thing - Everyone involved in this Jay Williams/ Iyanla Vanzant vortex of foolishness need intensive counseling - mental health, family planning, financial literacy and probably a half a dozen other specialties. 

 

It’s not “judging” all involved to say that a television show is the LAST place any of these people belong. 

Thursday
Apr042013

Why Tyler Perry Keeps #Winning and What it Will Take to Vanquish Him

So Tyler Perry released his latest movie last weekend called the Last Temptation of Madea. Apparently it's a PG-13 erotic thriller. I won't spoil it for you, but the professional Black woman is evil and apparently she must be punished for leaving the "good Black man" who only wants to love her professional Black woman devilishness!

I have not seen the movie and will not see it until you pay me a fee of $25,000. I originally was only charging $250 to see it, but the write-ups and editorials have been so traumatic that I had to increase my hazard pay. 

As is now the custom, after every single tyler Perry movie, we have the first wave of negative reviews followed quickly by the social impications of the widespread dissemination of Mr. Perry's faux-theological propaganda. 

Some people are upset that Tyler (once again) uses HIV as a plot device to punish villains in movies. 

Some people are upset about how Tyler portrayed what some are describing as a rape in the movie ( haven't seen it- don't know)

And then there's this latest gambit with Madea teaming up with Miss Sophia from the Color Purple- Paging Alice Walker!

My advice is that we all collectively quit our bellyaching!

 

None of it matters!

None!

Your outrage is irrelevant. 

Your disdain and derision are for naught.

Tyler Perry's winning and there is nothing you can do to stop him. He's going to be making movies as long as there is breath in his body and your children's children's children's children will be watching his work. In the same way that I stayed up for 6 hours to watch The Ten Commandments during Easter weekend. 

Nope, Tyler's winning as long as he's producing what he wants.

The only way to beat him at this point is to join him. Flood the market with movies based on contorted interpretations of the bible and prey on the soft squishy minds of people who go to church and never quite manage to read any of the Bible verses they don't like. Target the Black folks who resent other Black people who went to college and got degrees. Target the Black women who think that they are single because God hasn't "sent" them a man yet- KEEP WAITING! Target the folks who think they've been ignored and marginalized and give 'em what they want.  

No seriously. It's the only way to end this scourge across the land you so lament. And it's happened before. Roger Corman was cranking out kooky low budget scifi movies and then Steven Spielberg and George Lucas took the same concept and threw bucket loads of money and production value at the same concept:

In the ’70s, the era of the blockbuster emerged with filmmakers who took Corman’s formula to the next level by adding big money and more refined talent to the mix. “Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were obviously influenced by Corman when they made Jaws and Star Wars,” Stapleton says. “And James Cameron, who started his career working for Corman, has consistently proven that you can make epic films that are based 100 percent on the structure of Corman-style genre pictures.” Wired.

The thing is that if Tyler Perry is as horrible a writer as we all think he is, it shouldn't be THAT hard to co-opt him. Except while we're on the sidelines criticizing him, he's still producing content... which means he wins. 

So there is your Tyler Perry post. I have now cross this one off of my To Do list- until next month when he releases his next movie. 

Sunday
Oct072012

Real Artists Ship: Why Ava DuVernay, Queen Latifah, and yes even Tyler Perry Matter

This week is shaping up as a hallmark for  Black women content producers. Ava DuVernay is featured in the New York Times on the eve of the theatrical release of her second feature, the Middle of Nowhere. Every Black person in America with a Twitter account watched the all-Black remake of Steel Magnolias. Oprah and Tyler Perry just inked a deal for Tyler to provide scripted television for OWN on the back of OWN's ratings growth- due in large part to Oprah FINALLY targeting Black viewers (until she drop kicks them a la CW, Fox and UPN).

 Black women more than any other group on the planet have left their images in the hands of people who don't like them very much ---- such as Black women like Shaunie O'Neal, Mona Scott Young, and Debra Lee. We've watched IN HORROR as the reality television craze has taken the most mentally unstable, drug-addled, publicity hungry buffoons with ovaries that can be found and seen the most buffoonish of the buffoons rise to the top of the television food chain by physically assaulting Black women with words, fists, wine bottles, and feet. 

And so when I posted  a video up about the making of  Middle of Nowhere on the WAOD Facebook Fan Page, a WAOD reader posted the synopsis followed by the universal *SIGH* 

"When her husband is sentenced to 8 years in prison, Rudy drops out of med school in order to focus on her husband's well being while he's incarcerated - leading her on a journey of self-discovery in the process." Middle of Nowhere Synopsis *SIGH*http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1211890/ -- Natalie on the Facebook Fan Page

To which I replied:

Here's the deal - you aren't going to find very many black women producing the films this audience wants to see- why? Because we're critiquing the culture instead of creating the culture. You should check out her first Movie I Will Follow. I'm working on it. I'm working on it - But I think you should study the work she's doing on the distribution and promotion side even if you aren't a fan of the subject matter of this particular film.

and later added:

@Cocoa it doesn't matter how complex the characters, this audience is pretty pro prosecution and incarceration and they aren't fans of the dating/marrying prisoners trend. Most of us would have drafted some divorce papers for the protagonist and told her to keep it moving.

and my hypothesis was confirmed by Celeste:

Yup you've got me pegged at least. I'm a physician and that plot just makes me want to go all BBQ wives on someone for being that foolish.

 

I know. I know, y'all are not down for a plot about Black women married to convicts. You want Lord of the Rings and Vampire Slayers for Black women. I pointed out that even if you don't like the content of THIS movie,  it matters.

The reviews for Steel Magnolias was mixed between harsh and glowing. 

Ava, Latifah, Tyler and Oprah might not be producing the content you want to see, but they matter because they are PRODUCING something other than a critique.

I love a critique, I've got a Ph. D. in critiquing.  But we've got to add a G.E.D in Culture Making to our Ph.D. in Culture Critiquing. Because it's the makers that matter most. And there is no reason why I or you should not be making more culture. 

 

  1. Camera technology has closed the gap in image quality. The average viewer can't tell the difference between and image captured with a $2,000 camera versus a $20,000 camera. Heck we shot one of the scenes in a class project on an iPhone camera.
  2. Digital distribution means you don't have to create expensive copies of your projects on film just so you can screen a project. 
  3. People can access your content anywhere so its easier to reach your audience. 
  4. Social media makes it easier to build audiences and promote your project.
  5. Sites like Tugg  make it possible for you to crowd source your theatrical release and get your filim in theaters
  6. With Kickstarter and Indiegogo make it possible for you to fund your project from small donors.

 

Cast of Namaste - November 2010More people have seen my short films on my laptop than in a theater. No seriously, I pull it out all the time and make them watch Namaste.

Real artists ship. They produce and distribute. The ideas and concepts in their minds- whether you like them or not- end up going from ideas to tangible form.  And once they get those ideas in front of us we change those ideas and those ideas change us. Even the crappy art changes us and we change it. We comment on it, we parody it, we critique it, we build on it.

 

I didn't come up with this on my own. I recently did coffee with a Black woman screenwriter and she just dropped so much knowledge about how it is she is able to keep writing while I've been stuck on the same story for over a year. She spoke about the importance of failure and then she got ta' talking about "culture making" and Steve Jobs' famous quote "real artists ship."  I left that meeting and went out and purchased the book, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch. I really can't recommend it because I'm stuck on page 51 - it isn't exactly a page turner, but it has all of these buried gems so I'm probably going to force myself to finish it the next time I get on a long plane flight.And yes, my agnostic and atheist readers he uses tons of Biblical references. 

So consider this our semi-annual reminder (to myself) that this blog audience needs to produce a movie even if that movie sucks. We ( and by we I mean I)  have to embrace failure in film making  with the same enthusiasm as I accept typos in my blog posts. I have to be willing to read about y'all whining about something I poured months or years of my life into. 

So you didn't have to like Steel Magnolias or Middle of Nowhere or Madea Goes to Lifeclass, but you do have to ask yourself what you're doing to get the culture making you want to see. 

P.S. Don't stop critiquing! Just add a hint of culture making to the mix. 

Monday
Sep172012

Oprah's Unholy Alliance With Basketball Wives - OWN & VH1's Sloppy Seconds

UPDATE- I HAD TO REMOVE THE VIDEO BECAUSE THE CODE FROM OWN IS REDIRECTING PEOPLE FROM MY SITE TO OPRAH.COM- BAD FORM OPRAH!

Yeah, I'm going THERE. 

So in case you've been under a rock, the cancerous scourge that is Basketball Wives has infected the OWN network. Oprah has been tweeting up a storm promoting Iyanla Fix My Life's episode featuring Evelyn Lozada. 

I love Oprah. I love what she's trying to do with OWN. But I can't express how disappointed I am to see her using her platform to promote Evelyn Lozada - A Black-woman hating, hyperviolent, scourge. I've previously written about the abomination that is Basketball Wives and it's star "character" Evelyn Lozada

 

 

 

This woman physically assaulted numerous women on national television and was unrepentant in doing so. I believe in redemption. I believe in forgiveness, but I also believe in consequences for your actions and Evelyn Lozada has no place in civil society or on OWN. There are plenty of dysfunctional women of all races for Oprah and Iyanla to "fix." Go find one of them. She has never atoned for her bad acts.

I also understand that OWN needs ratings desperately. But there has to be another way. I don't think OWN was initially struggling because people don't want positive television.  I think OWN was struggling because the initial slate of programming SUCKED!  A bunch of reality shows featuring middle-aged women like Shania Twain, the Judds and Sarah Ferguson? Who thought that was a good idea?

But then you saw a change as Oprah moved to Life Class and Sweetie Pies and interviews. Ironically, one of the main stations that I think all of my Black women friends watch consistently across the board is HGTV followed closely by Food Network competitions shows. So the idea that you can only have a successful cable station by trotting out VH1's sloppy seconds has pretty much been destroyed. 

I want Oprah to succeed and I know she's under pressure, but there is something unseemly about the fact that Evelyn Lozada can create with horrific character on reality television, then seek more publicity as she tries to "reform" the character SHE created and Oprah is standing there with her arms wide open.

If Evelyn wanted to change her life, then she should have sought counseling in private.  Next up, Oprah is going to have the stars of Real Love and Hip Hop Wives on there. I weep for her. She's better than this. 

 

Yes, I can learn something from Evelyn... I can also learn something by putting my head in the mouth of a shark, but I don't reccomend it. If the Evelyn-oriented shows are a success, you can expect a new pipeline between VH1 and OWN. VH! will go and find the most mentally disturbed, drug addled women it can find, put them on TV, HARM all of us and then OWN will rehabilitate them. Horrible precedent!

And by the by, this has NOTHING to do with domestic violence. If Evelyn was physically assaulted by her husband, lock him up... the same way she should have been locked up for throwing a wine bottle at another woman on the show. 

Friday
Oct212011

Iyanla and Oprah Back Together Again, And It's Pretty Good: Oprah's Life Class Letting Go of Anger

I have not been a fan of Oprah's new network OWN, but I admire her courage for making the attempt. I did catch episodes of her Behind the Scenes show which was great! Especially the episode where Jennifer Hudson was 6 hours late to a taping. But otherwise, the rest of the programming had nothing to do with me. I'm not interested in Shania Twain, Sarah Ferguson, and The Judds, but I might be able to get into this Lifeclass series. I finally gave in to the Facebook Ads and clicked on Oprah's Lifeclass Webcast.

Click to read more ...