Archive for March, 2010

Tyler Perry, step away from the camera.

Last week we found out that Tyler Perry revealed the cast for his film adaptation of for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow was enuf by Ntozake Shange.

Read ’em and weep:

Black Voices has learned that writer/director/producer Tyler Perry has selected the cast for next film, ”For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.

At last night’s premiere for his latest film, ‘‘Why Did I Get Married Too?,’ the black box-office maverick revealed that the cast will include Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Jurnee Smollett, Kimberly Elise, Kerry WashingtonLoretta Devine and Macy Gray.

Based on Ntozake Shange‘s award-winning 1975 play, the film is scheduled to shoot in June in New York with a possible winter 2010/ 2011 release date.

I’m not even going to go in on the cast for this film nor about Tyler Perry films themselves because I know there are plenty of conversations going on about that. I know that we are all looking at Janet Jackson getting top billing and wondering why she’s there in the first place. I know we’re wondering when Macy Gray became an actress or why one “aight” performance in Precious makes Mariah Carey a capable of playing, say the Lady in Red. And lastly, I know many of us are questioning of Tyler Perry knows what he’s doing with a Shange play in the first place, or if he knew about for colored girls… before Oprah mentioned it that one time at Sunday Brunch.

for colored girls… has a special place in my heart. When I was 17, I had the amazing honor and privilege of spending a whole day with Ntozake Shange in Taos, New Mexico during the Taos Poetry Circus. While there, I participated in her small group poetry workshop where I shared some of my work. I spoke with her in depth about for colored girls… and her inspiration for it.

So when I heard the news that Tyler Perry was directing for colored girls, I was disappointed.  Nzingha Stewart, a black woman director, was originally slated to direct the film adaptation of the play, but all of a sudden I started to see Tyler Perry’s name all over it.

Hmmm. There’s something totally wrong with this picture, and it has nothing to do with Janet Jackson getting top billing.

I’m certainly not convinced that Tyler Perry is the best black filmmaker out there regardless of what his box office sales are. But my biggest problem is he is seemingly unable to give up the reins of power, step away from the camera and allow for other Black screenwriters and directors to have their shine.  What would have been wrong with Nzingha Stewart directing the film and even selecting her the cast by herself while Tyler Perry funded and promoted the project? Nothing, unless he wants to convey the message that he is uncomfortable sharing   the wealth and  the limelight with other (young and/or female) talent.

Precious was not a perfect movie, but if it didn’t show us anything else, it showed that Tyler Perry has the potential to fund the projects of other Black filmmakers and help make them a success. Part of being a leader in any industry is helping other young people rise to the top as well. The Black experience is not a monolith; some of us like myself never grew up with a character like Madea. Because of this, it’s important that we have a large variety of filmmakers who can speak to the myriad of ways a Black person can experience and live in society. Perhaps a successful, wealthy director like Tyler Perry is in a position to support other directors in their projects, but what bothers me more than his so-so movies are his unwillingness to step from behind the camera and let someone else take a crack at it.

V V Brown is a Bad Broad

This week I had an opportunity to see V V Brown in concert with Little Dragon here at Liv Niteclub in DC. Her music was just a breath of fresh air. I think she did almost every genre of music in her performance, from rockabilly to hip hop. Yes, I said rockabilly.

Anyways, just check out her acoustic cover of Kid Cudi’s Day N Nite:


#PRFail: Nestle is doing it all kinds of wrong

Check out BNet’s post:

About 10 hours ago, Chocolate-maker Nestle posted a seemingly innocent request on its Facebook page: Nestle fans, don’t use an altered version of the company’s logo as your profile pic, or your comments will be deleted. (I’m paraphrasing, but only a bit.)

The reaction from more than a few followers: Don’t tell us what to do, Big Brother! (Again, paraphrasing.) Nestle’s response: The logo is our intellectual property. This is our page, we set the rules. You don’t like it? There’s the door.

In other words, whoever mans Nestle’s Facebook page went on the offensive, responding to individual posters in a tone that was at times sarcastic or antagonistic.

Check out the rest of the story and accompanying screenshots here.

…I’m really hoping that a few heads roll for this one.

Did Desiree Rogers have a Personal Branding Problem?

I’m sure some of you saw my short vlog bidding Desire a farewell. While I still think DC will be a little less fabulous, a recent NY Times article made me re-think my position when it comes to the reasons for Desiree Rogers’ departure.

First, there was this opening paragraph:

Ms. Rogers had appeared in another glossy magazine, posing in a White House garden in a borrowed $3,495 silk pleated dress and $110,000 diamond earrings. But if the image was jarring in a time of recession, Mr. Axelrod was as bothered by the words and her discussion of “the Obama brand” and her role in promoting it, according to people informed about the conversation.

“The president is a person, not a product,” he was said to tell her. “We shouldn’t be referring to him as a brand.”

…But that’s the thing. The Obamas are a brand. While they may not be a product, there is a level of personal branding that was a part of both President Obama’s election campaign and now his presidency. And I realize that some people hate the idea of personal branding and that it’s taking away from the fact that we’re dealing with people and not products. But in my mind, the thing that makes personal branding so key is that it is about who you are as a person and the aspects about yourself that you want reflected in the public eye. I really believe that if Desiree Rogers wasn’t creating events that were reflecting the “Obama Brand”, they wouldn’t have happened.

Then the Salahis happened.

While I do believe that there’s a little bit of falling on the sword going on with Desiree’s departure, I think there was also the issue of balancing building her own personal brand and also still promoting the Obama brand and making that her top priority.

Here’s what I mean by that:

Ms. Rogers’s hip style, expensive clothing and presence at fashion shows at first were seen as symbolizing a new Camelot but ultimately struck many as tone deaf in a time of economic hardship and 10 percent unemployment.

The White House eventually clamped down on her public profile. She was ordered to stop attending splashy events and showing up in fancy clothes on magazine covers. When Michelle Obama learned one day that Ms. Rogers was on a train heading to New York to attend an MTV dinner, the first lady told her longtime friend to cancel, associates said.

When I read this, the first thing I thought was: Wait a minute. She was going to go to this MTV dinner without the White House’s permission and, moreover to a dinner that Michelle Obama wasn’t invited to? #iCant.

I realize that perhaps Desiree was trying to build relationships but the way to do that when you’re the White House Social Secretary is a.-to not be in a hurry to be in the limelight and b.-build relationships within DC. To my understanding, it seems as though the White House Social Secretary must have a knowledge of the way Washington works and it’s possible Desiree didn’t grasp hold of that knowledge. But more important, she may have been doing the #2 item on this list of how to get fired for building your personal brand: putting her own brand over the White House brand when it came to her own priorities.

Seems like a classic case of not balancing your brand with the company’s brand. And in that case, it easy to understand how Desiree could have gotten in trouble with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still sad to see Dez go but I’m starting to understand how the idea of personal branding could have played a role in why she left.

Bye Bye, Dez.

I have a webcam and a working microphone now, so expect more short videos.

This one is bidding Desiree Rogers a farewell after the news that she is stepping down from her post as White House Social Secretary.

DC is going to be a little less fabulous.

A Millennial Briefing with no Millennials

Well, that’s effective.

or not.

Last week the Pew Research Center held a briefing on their newest study on Millennials. I had first learned about this briefing via Twitter, so I started to watch the streaming video online. I was disappointed yet not surprised to find out that not only were most of the presenters old white guys, but according to a few colleagues of mine, they weren’t in attendance either:

As it turns out however, fellow Millennial Decker Ngongang was one of the few in attendance. He let us know via Twitter that the briefing was not only invite-only (ha!) but also that virtually all the presenters were old enough to be our dads as were the attendees.

So how is it that old white guys are suited to comment on how they think we “kids” live our lives? (Paul Taylor kept referring to Millennials as “kids” when many of us are actually grown adults, as Rosetta Thurman so eloquently pointed out.) By not inviting Gen Y folks to come to your event or even to present the study, Pew is sending the message that they have no problem probing and theorizing about us but DO have a problem with us being present when they present the data, which I have an issue with.

Now of course there were some exceptions to the rule. In fact, someone did tell me that there was one 27 year old in attendance, and my friend Decker was there. But to them I said the following:

Pew’s first mistake was making the event invite-only (which is rare of them apparently). Their second mistake was doing a whole briefing about Millennials and only inviting a few of the “important” ones rather than reaching out to, say, Gen Y bloggers like myself and others and perhaps some folks from their networks who fit in that age group. Thirdly, making all the presenters old white males didn’t help either.

The findings themselves were pretty interesting as well and seemed to tell the story of the privileged Millennial, which of course is an entirely different post.