Nick Cannon recently made headlines when he stated that he was sick of seeing movies about slavery and servitude. He received a lot of criticism for it, but I’m right with him 100% on this. It’s especially refreshing to see an actor/celebrity with influence taking a risk to make such a stand.
This is how hollywood and these billion dollar industries view us. They have us fooled into thinking it’s some sort of compliment or display of empathy, to the point where we embrace and promote the releases, relive the horrendous scars, and criticize anyone who doesn’t do the same! By repeatedly telling us the same story, they are sending us the same message; a subtle reminder of what we once were and where we once came from. Subconsciously, it leads people to believe that blacks have always been oppressed and whites have always been the dominant race. It’s an underhanded “diss” that goes right over people’s heads.
Let’s not forget, this is a business, and these movies are intended to be profitable for the companies. The fact that so many movies of this nature have been released in recent years illustrate that, as all have been profitable. Don’t be naive enough to think that hollywood movie companies actually care about our history and genuinely would like to educate the masses and “right the wrong” here. George Lucas was unable to get anyone to finance Red Tails and had to put up $58 million of his own money for production costs and another $10 million for marketing before 20th Century Fox agreed to distribute it. This is George Lucas! One of the most legendary film producers in Hollywood, who has achieved incredible success with projects such as the Star Wars series since the 1970’s! Yet no one was willing to help him finance a positive black historical film with an all black cast. What’s more is he lost money on the film, as it only grossed $48 million. This is about money! So it’s interesting that films showing blacks in slavery or servitude consistently have huge box office returns:
12 Years a Slave – $20 million budget; $37+ million box office
Django Unchained – $100 million budget; $425+ million box office
The Help – $25 million budget; $211+ million box office
The Butler – $30 million budget; $161+ million box office
Driving Miss Daisy – $7.5 million budget; $145+ million box office
The Roots TV Miniseries still stands as the 3rd highest rated TV program ever. There are positives in this; The Help and The Butler were stories that needed to be told, as were others. So I’m not saying these films shouldn’t have been produced; I am saying that we’ve hit the quota and other stories are being painfully ignored.
If there truly are positive intentions in the release of these “slave” films, why not release films showcasing the other side of our history? Ancient Egypt was the most civilized and dominant country in the world for 10,000 years. The ancient Egyptians invented the first 3 written languages of the world: The Medu-Netcher (Hieroglyphics), Hieratic Demotic, and The Phonetic Alphabet (today known as the Greek Alphabet). Future languages would be based on Egyptian languages and influence. The Greeks and Romans had no language or culture prior to visiting Ancient Egypt and studying in the Egyptian Mystery Schools. Today’s religions use concepts, passages, and ideas that existed in ancient Egypt for centuries. Artchitecture (the Great Pyramids), Astrology, Geometry, Philosophy, Science, the Calendar, Clocks, Papyrus (a form of paper), Irrigation, even Makeup, Toothpaste, and Breath Mints were all invented by the ancient Egyptians. Where are the films telling the stories of Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti? To which King Tut could be included? Where is the film about Imhotep, one of the first architects, engineers, and physicians in recorded history? (He built the first Egyptian Pyramids). Where is the film about Queen Hatshepsut, one of the first powerful female rulers in history? How about Mulai Ismael, a legendary leader who ruled Morocco for 50 years? Mansa Musa? King Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye? Hannibal Carthage, one of the greatest military leaders of our time, does have a movie in the works about him from what I understand. Vin Diesel is supposed to be a part of that. There are literally countless examples, but I think you get my point. THESE stories are not being told, yet the slave and servant stories consistently are. The result? I grew up thinking my ancestors were only slaves and prior to that were uncivilized savages who ran wild in the jungles with spears. We come from Kings and Queens! We should recognize this for what it is and not mistake these movies as compliments or positive reflections. If Hollywood truly cared about our history and wanted to paint a positive picture of our past, there are countless stories such as the FEW I listed here that could be told.