The Sinister White Lie About Black Films

Awhile back I was watching Hollywood Unlocked and Michael Jai White was the guest.  I’ve been a fan of White and his body…….of work for most of my life ;-). However this was one of the first times I got the opportunity to hear him discuss a number of topics at length. To say I was floored by the genius and the wisdom this brother was dropping would be a massive understatement. In the course of an hour and a half, he broke it all the way down about the history, challenges and solutions concerning Blacks in Hollywood and the media in general.

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Epiphany

“Come with every wound and every man you’ve ever loved; every lie you’ve ever told and whatever it is that keeps you up at night. Every mouth you’ve punched in, all the blood you’ve ever tasted. Come with every enemy you’ve ever made and all the family you’ve ever buried and every dirty thing you’ve ever done; every drink that’s burnt your throat and every morning you’ve woken with nothing and no one. Come with all your loss, your regrets, sins, memories, black outs, secrets. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than you.”

– Warsan Shire

A true storyteller can often have the best insight on human condition. After all, in order to tell our stories, bards must have an intimate understanding of the forces that drive us. Within most of us, there is a struggle, an arc, a journey that is ruled by an internal conflict.

Often the key to said conflict can stare back at us the entire time.

Last week I celebrated my birthday. I’m an Aquarian and I’m proud to share a birthday with my patronus, Langston Hughes.

Birthdays are often an opportunity for me to do some serious introspection in order to evolve and move forward.

Birthdays have brought me more than a few key epiphanies over the years. Being driven, precocious, and forced to grow up at a very young age, I realized early on that God notwithstanding, no one else was going to protect me or save me and I that was going to have to save myself. Ultimately, I would have to learn to be my own superhero.

With the exception of Storm and a few others, there weren’t many that looked like me then and not many more now.

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There were even fewer that I connected with. So like most, you’re searching, trying to find your way and when you’re atypical, that can be disheartening, lonely, depressing, and eventually you start to believe that you may be broken, defective, an abomination, a monster, something wrong.

That deeply embedded belief can haunt you for years.

Which brings us to the Dark Knight, the second of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy which I received as a birthday gift a few years back.

As for the movie itself, I think everything that needed to be said has been said: Christian Bale was a solid lead; the late Heath Ledger actually surpassed all the hype in his performance and Aaron Eckhart didn’t get the credit he deserved for his role as Harvey Dent.

Throughout the film, Bruce Wayne was seeking a white knight for Gotham. Someone pure of heart who could inspire the masses to be something better (not unlike what Superman does for Metropolis and the rest of the world). With his darkness fueling him as the grim vigilante, Bruce knew he couldn’t be that champion but he hoped someone could do for Gotham in the light of day what he did under the cloak of night.

Bruce finally thought he found that counterpart in Harvey Dent. Beautiful, charismatic and righteous, Dent proved a viable candidate. He was a man who seemed to have the fortitude to stand up to Gotham’s underworld without being corrupted himself. After all, you either die a hero or live long enough  to see yourself become a villain.

Enter the Joker, a man who simply wants to see the world burn and waged a war for Gotham’s soul. While Batman was incorruptible even in dire straits, sadly the same couldn’t be said for Dent. In order to save the work he and Dent had begun, Batman took the blame for Dent’s murder and allowed himself to become a fugitive.

The irony is that even though he probably never realized it, what lied within Batman was indeed the pure of soul champion he had been searching for, the white knight  he thought he found in Dent. For only a man pure of heart would sacrifice himself without hesitation for the greater good. Only a man pure of heart would burden himself with the sins of others. In spite of all of his darkness and brooding, Bruce was the best of them. He always had been.

The lesson here being, the solutions we often search for outside ourselves, that semblance of completion, the resolution to that internal conflict, can usually if not always be found from within.

Sometimes the superhero you’ve been waiting for has been with you the entire time.

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The Best Films of 2018

2018 was definitely the year of #BlackExcellence on the big screen. A phenomenon transpired with the release of one specific film and in conjunction with other movies resulted in a cultural shift that will continue to shape the entertainment, social, political, planetary landscape for years to come.

2018 was a reminder why representation matters and stories can change the world.

With that in mind, the following are my top films of 2018. As is the standard, in order for a film to qualify, it must pass Upkins Media Litmus Test.

There may be some cinematic gems listed that you may have missed and want to check out.

Without further adieu, the following are my picks for the Best Films of 2018.

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Top Films of 2017

2017 was the year the ladies took center stage. Even though the wrong candidate was sworn in, America voted overwhelmingly for its first female president. The Women’s Revolution continues in the WWE and other sports. This year we saw a number of films which featured quite a number of  female protagonists. Whether Amazons, Vixens, villainesses, young superheroines, Valkyries, or God herself, 2017 reminded us all that it’s a woman’s world and I am here for all of it.

As is the tradition from January to December I compile a list of the best films released throughout the year. One of the main purposes is to promote diverse and progressive works for those searching for quality artistry.

In order for a film to make the list, it must pass my Media Litmus Test. Two animated films were so impressive they were included on the primary list and tied for a slot.

So without further adieu….

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Sweet 16: The 16 Top Films of 2016

For the better part of a decade, this has become an annual tradition. From January to December I compile a list of the best, artistic and most progressive films, television shows and music albums. One of the reasons I do this is to provide resources to readers who are looking for cerebral, fun and progressive media. It does exist as my lists have continued to prove. Don’t say I never gave you anything. You’re welcome.

2016 was full of surprises. Many major releases I expected to rank highly didn’t even place while there were a number of 4th quarter and sleeper hits that truly blindsided me. I found myself reranking the list again and again and again.

This past year might arguably be my most competitive list yet and 2017 is already looking to match it or even surpass it.

But that’s not all. For the first time ever 3 short films were so impressive that they were ranked among on the main feature film list.

As is the standard for a film to be considered, it must pass the Upkins Media Litmus Test.

Many did and they did not disappoint.

Without further adieu, let’s get this party started.

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The Inconvenient Truth In Advertising 

So recently Rose McGowan made headlines expressing outrage over the X-Men: Apocalypse billboard ad that showcases Ivan Ooze, I mean Apocalypse, choking Mystique, claiming that it promotes violence against women. 
Fox has since issued an apology for the billboard. Which I think was the right call for the studio. The right call would also be for Fox to apologize for the fustercluck that is X-Men: Apocalypse itself but I digress.

Now while I personally like McGowan, I have to keep it 100 and say the timing and her complaint is more than a bit suspect, not to mention hypocritical.
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Review: X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse.

I swore I wouldn’t write a review for the film. Primarily because any review I penned would pale in comparison to the excellent piece penned by my buddy and fellow N.O.C. colleague, Valerie Complex.

Seriously if you haven’t read it, go do so now. Val snatched so many wigs and edges, you would’ve thought Director Bryan Singer and Fox were members of the Charles Xavier Cosplay Appreciation Society.

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