Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Media Revolution: The Epilogue

First and foremost, I want to thank you for clicking the link that led you to this page. If you didn't click the link that's okay, but I do suggest that you read The Media Revolution Part 5: The Filter to get a better understanding of what I'm about to explain.

If you already know, I have a filter. We all have a filter. Our filters are what we create to our personal liking whether you do this consciously or subconsciously. As I said before, I decided to take my filter a step further. Sometime earlier this year, I was ranting and raving about the state of Hollywood and it's lackluster movie releases. Remakes and rebooting movie franchises. Lazy imaginations that are running the film world who are just out to make a quick buck. Then I saw something cross my timeline that read, paraphrasing: "If you don't like what you're seeing, do something about it." What a simple and profound statement.

If you didn't know and this is the first time you've ever came across my blogs, I'm an aspiring screenwriter, so me being passionate about this is justifiable. But what I realized after reading that is even though I am striving to be a writer, I'm not doing this to my full potential. Not even close. I wasn't even really trying to be completely honest. Sure, I had written a few short scripts but I never took the initiative to get them filmed. They were just sitting in my laptop wasting away, not realizing their full potential in the motion picture format. That's when I decided enough is enough, let's really put in some work.

I started writing my first original screenplay. The idea was inspired by The Prince by Niccoli Machiavelli. And that's all I'm going to tell you about that one so don't ask. As I'm writing and outlining for a couple months I hit a snag. Not a writer's block, but a snag. I realized this isn't what I wanted to do. The script that is. There was something else I was more passionate about writing. Something that I just couldn't shake from my head. It's actually playing in my ears right now. Frank Ocean's "Nostalgia/Ultra". It just ended on the last track of the mixtape, Nature Feels. Now as I sit here in silence, I'm going to key you in on what I'm getting at here with "Filtering".

Little did I know, upon listening to this mixtape that Frank Ocean was telling us a story. These weren't just random songs slapped together, this was a cohesive non-linear story. I say non-linear because the track listing doesn't go in order to the story. For example, "Novacane" has a lyric that goes:

"I'm feelin' like
Stanley Kubrick, this is some visionary shit/
Been tryna film pleasure with my Eyes Wide Shut but it keeps on movin'

Now take that lyric, and combine it with a song that shows up later on called "Lovecrimes". I'm sure most of you know by now, but if you didn't, the dialogue at the end of Lovecrimes is actually Nicole Kidman's character in EYES WIDE SHUT. Frank knew what he was doing. It took me countless plays but in this crazy head of mine, I was able to "script" in my head the songs that Frank was singing and play the images out as I saw fit. Each song was a piece of a puzzle that was a past relationship Frank had in the past. What I did was literally take his mixtape, and write a script about it. At this point, I don't know what's going to happen. But what I do know is with my filter, I am going to take the responsibility and do my best to make something what I want to see. If I'm not happy with the general state of film, then I'm going to try and make something happen with a film idea of my own. And this is where The Media Revolution comes in.

This is a time where everything is instantaneous in the social networking media. If something happens in the sports world, I can get that information on Twitter before I get the ESPN Alert text or it comes on Sportscenter. That's how powerful and quickly news can spread with social networking. I'm just going to do the same thing. And that's where you come in. If you feel as passionate as I do or are at least as curious as I am, do me a favor and hit up @Frank_Ocean with this blog and let him know you want to see a Nostalgia/Ultra movie. Create a buzz. I'm not telling you do to anything, I'm just giving you the option to sift your filter to something that you may want to happen. In the meantime, I'm going to keep using my filter and shape my media consumption how I see fit and do something about it. Thank you for taking the time to read all of this, I know it was a lot to say but I had to say it and make it as clear as possible. Now it's time to work.

-Chauncey Balsom

The Media Revolution Part 5: The Filter

Filter. [fil-ter] -verb 9. to act as a filter for; to slow or partially obstruct the passage of

Other parts to The Media Revolution are here:

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4

I started The Media Revolution series almost a year ago, last August to be exact. It took a long time, just as I said but I feel the series has now come to a fitting end. I say this, because I feel I have finally found a way to "beat the system" or at least cheat it to work in my advantage. The funny thing is, this has been at my disposal the whole entire time. It just took a lot of soul-searching, research and trial and error to finally come to it's conclusion. All it took was a heated discussion back in April, which prompted the 4th part of The Media Revolution.

A year prior to that, I would have snapped. Cursed. And just flat out went off. I was the complete opposite. Calm. Cool. Collected. Clear. Concise. I walked away satisfied with the results. I've grown. I realized quickly my growth came from me being able to do something that has always been a tool: filter. Such a simple word that can be turned into an action. A noun into a verb. Filter. Say it. Fil-ter. Do you know how easy life is once you realize that you can filter out whatever it is you want?

Let me explain. For instance, the social networking application called TweetDeck has this amazing feature called "Global Filter". You're able to type in keywords and usernames on Twitter and in your news feed it will filter out those words. BRILLIANT! I finally started using this amazing feature a few months ago and let me tell you, my social networking experience has improved drastically. Sure there are somethings that still make it on my timeline that I'm not too happy about, but for the most part I'm very satisfied. What I don't understand is, why don't more people use this option? Not only can you do this on Twitter, Facebook has an option where you can hide certain friends from seeing information and pictures about you so this isn't exclusive to Twitter. You can also filter out certain websites on your computer. Channels on your television. Songs or artists that play on your Grooveshark or Pandora radio stations. As invasive as the media can be in our everyday lives, our main source of media consumption can be filtered out to YOUR liking! I don't know about you, but I find that extremely helpful.

But yet, I still see people complain about what they see or that gets thrusted before their eyes. I know, I'm one of them. But did you know not only can you filter your media consumption, you can also filter your personal life? I mean, really think about it. If you don't like how something is working out for you, filter it to your liking. Take that dirt that is in your way and sift through it to find the gold laying right before your eyes. It's right there, all you have to do is make a conscious effort and make a personal vow that you will mold your influences to however you see fit. That's what I did. Which led to my metamorphosis into a better person. A person that doesn't let the media influence his thinking, his actions. I make my own decisions based off the filter that I placed on my media outlets as well as my personal life. No longer am I going to get upset about the things that make me upset when I see them, because I filtered them from my sight. Out of sight, out of mind. It may not be 100%, but it's enough to take control of what you want to see and hear about.

With my filter, I decided to take it a step further. So, if you would ever so kindly click this link here I can tell you what I did with my filter.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Top 10 Alien Invasion Movies

*blows dust off blog, coughs* It's been awhile since I've used this thing. Mainly due to me currently writing a screenplay so I haven't had the time. Plus, there wasn't anything worth talking about. But my dude Dom, otherwise known as @vthrilla, on Twitter brought up the Will Smith blockbuster hit "Independence Day" is about to have it's 15th anniversary. Which brought on the question posed by him:

"What's the best alien invasion movie?? Does Independence Day rank in the top 3? #1 overall? Any thoughts?"

And then my movie geek mode kicked in and my fellow Twitter family started chiming in naming movies. Also posed a mini-debate on whether "Aliens" was indeed an 'alien invasion' movie. Some say it didn't, some said it did and I'm still on the fence about it to be honest. Due to that, sad to say I wasn't able to put "Aliens" on my list and it was replaced by another. Now time for My Top 10 Alien Invasion Movies.

#10 - Evolution (2001)

Evolution is one of those movies that if you go in with low expectations you just might end up liking it more than you should, and that's what happened with me. I was bored one day, channel surfing and I stopped on Evolution right as the opening credits were rolling so I decided to watch it. About an hour and a half later I was in tears from laughing at how ridiculously entertaining this movie was.

#9 - Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)

I saw this movie maybe only a handful of times during my summers visiting my grandma. I honestly don't remember too much of it except being freaked the hell out at the idea of aliens invading Earth and stealing our bodies as you're sleeping. Oh, and Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock from Star Trek) quite possibly being the weirdest old white dude in Sci-Fi history.

#8 - Signs (2002)

M. Night Shyamalan's 3rd best movie followed by Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense. Everything else just falls under the "dead last place" spot. Signs was also another one that took me by surprise. Not due to the expectations of it, more so the mystery behind the aliens. Were the hostile or friendly? How did they get here and how long have they been there? One of the best scenes in the movie is when Joaquin Phoenix's character catches his first glimpse of the alien while watching the news. That's when you know shit just got real.

#7 - Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

This could quite possibly be a case of it being fresh in my mind and that's why it made my list, but I'll have to disagree. Aaron Eckhart, to me, is starting to become a leading male actor in Hollywood. He's not quite there yet, but he's showing some diversity in his films that could help him in the long run. There was good enough action, suspenseful moments, and even a pretty decent dramatic backstory on Eckhart's character and the connection he had with his fellow soldiers is why it jumped on my list.

#6 - The Day The Earth Stool Still (1951)

It may not have been the most ascetically appealing movie due to the time it was made, but the message behind it is very strong and still very relevant today. Due to the nature of the vast majority of the human race, recommending seeing this film might be met with a side eye due to it's subject matter. We don't even like when someone else calls us out, what we look like listening to an alien telling us about ourselves? But still I think it's worth taking a serious look at regardless. We all need a reality check every so often. And for the love of God PLEASE don't watch that horrible remake starring Keanu Reeves as the alien for a modern feel.

#5 - Men In Black (1997)

Man listen. I loved this movie so much as a kid, I got the DVD when it first came out AND the soundtrack. Danny Elfman composed films are the win. Oh yea, and that "Men In Black" song by Will Smith was pretty dope too. Don't front. You still know the dance. But back to the movie. It had comedy. Action. Suspense. Comedy. Comedy. And action. Even a bit of drama. And of course this memorable scene that cracks me up every time.

#4 - Predator (1987)

This alien is quite possibly THEE baddest villain in movie history when it comes down to it. If not the baddest, he's most certainly up there. A one-alien wrecking crew in this film with high-tech weapons and smarts going far beyond what you'd expect. A perfect soldier. I mean, he took out a squad of trained commandos in a Central American jungle. Mind you, this isn't even his habitat. Dude straight came in our backyard and could have possibly taken over by his damn self if it wasn't for AH-nuld saving the day.

#3 - War Of The Worlds (1953)

I love old school movies. There wasn't a sci-fi movie like War Of The Worlds back in the 50s that went as far as it did with content, dialogue and effects. I still don't know how they were able to pull some of that stuff off. Now that I think about it, I wonder if there is a behind the scenes version of this movie because I'd love to find out. Even though it was an adaptation of the H.G. Wells story for radio, the visual format was as original as can be and made the movie very real for me with the resources it had back then.

#2 - Avatar (2009)

Before this tries to get refuted: Yes, this is an alien invasion movie. The planet Pandora was "invaded" by humans to make an attempt to take it over for its resources. That's an invasion. To them, we are aliens. And it belongs on the list. Anywho. This movie was simply...beautiful. If I could, I'd live in an environment as gorgeous as Pandora anyday. Even though the story was pretty much Ferngully Part Deux, it doesn't take away from how captivating it was because the story is very real. It brought on a positive message that I hope someday us humans will take more serious before it's too late. No, I'm not a "tree hugger" but I would like my grandchildren to live in an environment without having to wear a gas mask outside.

#1 - Independence Day (1996)

On the low, this might be one of my favorite movies of all-time. This is around the time I started falling in love with the art of film. I remember going to the movies with my family and seeing this and leaving the theater excited. I was cheesing ear to ear and acting out the scenes and quoting lines with my brother on the way home and weeks after. It was such an awesome movie, the older I got the more I appreciate this film for what it was. It went from being a fun summer blockbuster to a lesson on humility, togetherness, and fighting when your back is against the wall. I mean shit, it's timeless. And between us, that last scene when Randy Quaid sacrificed himself to save everyone from that attack STILL gets me if I'm sitting alone in the dark and no one his home. But no tears, I just get a little choked up. Don't judge me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Media Revolution Part 4: Changing The Black Cinema Game

You can find the first three parts of "The Media Revolution" by clicking on the links below.

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3

This is an interview with actor Anthony Mackie. In it, he was asked about the lack of African American nominees in the 2011 Oscars. His response was very honest as well as very true, which was also some of the inspiration behind writing this post.

The second video is another interview which talks about him making the cover of Vanity Fair, the lack of Black actors on in the past and his reasoning as to why, which starts at the 4:23 mark and goes onto 5:23 mark.

I'm going to say this one time, and one time only. I'm blogging this so it'll be on record and I won't have to repeat myself again because I'm just going to link the blog the next time this discussion comes up about "Tyler Perry and other Black filmmakers' depiction of African Americans in film". I'm also a Black man who is an aspiring screenwriter/filmmaker and have been actively pursing this by writing several screenplays and I'm currently working on my first full-feature screenplay to shop around to production agencies.

First and foremost, my beef is with Black people who are okay with this as well as the amount of Black filmmakers who follow in a similar suit. You can't attack one without the other and both are equally as responsible. This issue isn't just with Tyler Perry and to think he's the only Black filmmaker in Hollywood doing this is ridiculous. He just so happens to be the most popular and successful right now. Thus, the reason why he is being attacked as much as he has been in the past. Since he is the most popular, his depiction of African Americans in his films is deemed as "typical" or "normal". Mind you, Tyler Perry is actually a good writer. He knows drama and comedy and he understands structure and plot twists very well to display to his core audience. He's basically mastered his style, which is admirable in that regard. It's his subject matter and characters that irk me the most which is where he is the weakest and he shares this with a lot of Black screenwriters.

I was recently told by someone that Tyler Perry's movies are "a typical representation of African American life and that's a 100% fact. If you don't believe me, read a newspaper, watch the news, go to the ghetto right now and see what's going on." By the way, another Black man told me this. So, I asked him if he accepts this portrayal of Blacks, or does he support it. His response?

"I'm ok with Black people telling the truth about Black people rather than living in denial like we always do."

Interpret that how you will.

Now, to get to my initial beef with Black people who "support" or "accept" Black filmmakers depiction of African Americans and the filmmakers who create these films.

If I want to be pissed off and be upset that the most popular and successful Black filmmaker in the past several years is drawing color lines and typecasting OTHER Black people in his films then I have every right to be pissed. How can you sit there and support let alone accept it? Granted yes, he's putting Black people in his films. Bravo. But look at the light he is portraying them in. His characterization is nothing short of positive, save only "Why Did I Get Married" which didn't even do that well of a job and was so forced. It was such a poor display that I didn't even finish the film. He didn't even make it believable enough for me to think that his characters were actually successful Black people in their respective fields. Now that's not my problem, that's HIS problem because he's the writer and he should make me believe this and failed miserably. The strength that Black filmmakers have in creating "woe is me, my life sucks and I can only work a minimum wage job" Black characters is their greatest weakness and a joke.

There is no excuse for Perry nor any other Black writer/filmmaker to still create roles for Black people the way they do, at the volume they do, with the amount of successful Black people there are in the world outside of entertainment and music. To show us (Black people) in that way is a slap in the face and a straight up diss to successful Black people everywhere. I'm talking about CEOs of major corporations we all associate with every single day or at least pass by on our way to work. Did you know the CEO of Darden Restaurants which covers Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52 is a Black man by the name of Clarence Otis? I'm not expecting a film made by Black people to consist of the world's most powerful African-Americans, but damn can I see a Black lawyer, doctor, or professor that isn't crooked or is that asking too much? It's not like this hasn't been done with The Cosby Show, A Different World, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air which all three were highly successful long running shows. Spike Lee and even John Singleton were able to venture away from their “Crooklyn” and “Boyz In The Hood” days and challenge themselves and create Black characters outside of that realm.

We have come a long way as Black people not only in the world, but in media entertainment such as television and film. When it comes to creating Film/TV, that's an escape and a chance to use your imagination to create whatever world you want to create. And for us, I say us because I am an aspiring filmmaker, to still have "Black" films that depicts us (Black people) in the form of characters who are drug abusers, whores, gang bangers, loud, crass, boisterous, rude instead of classy, dignified and at the same time being witty, LEGALLY successful and educated boggles my mind. Why is this so hard for someone of color to create characters such as these and make it believable at the same time? We for damn sure have the Black talent and the Black money to make characters such as these so why is this not happening more? There is absolutely no reason for one Black filmmaker to negatively typecast a Black actor in a film unless he is an antagonist. Other than that, I'm sick and tired of other Black people writing roles such as these. YOU'RE the creator! I just want to ask them “You're in control and this is your playground. How are you that narrow-minded that you can only create such weak and down bottom characters?” There's many reason why, and that is whole different topic altogether that I dare not go into here. But it does involve a phrase that rhymes with "Dwelling Bout". Again, I'm not going to get into it here.

What I plan on doing is creating films that everybody can enjoy and rocking with other Black people who are down for the cause. I'm not going subject my people to weak characters that most Black filmmakers have been known for in the past because we deserve more. Open your mind and broaden your horizons Black filmmakers, there are other ways to write your Black characters. They don't always have to fit the negative stereotypes that Black people are labeled with. Tyler Perry isn't the only problem in Black cinema, it's everywhere. Again, Perry just so happens to be the most popular Black filmmaker and due to his style is why he gets attacked the way he does. Black viewers have every right to cry out and say they're tired of these F-list, low budget Black films but yet no one is listening. Don't get on them for voicing their opinion and retort with "well why don't you do something better." Nah buddy, why don't YOU do something better *points at Black filmmakers* and do something about it? They don't have the talent that we do, they're crying out for US to uplift them and save them and it's about time we take responsibility as aspiring Black filmmakers to make this happen.

I'm ranting for a reason, because I am tired of it. I've been tired of it for years and that's why I've taken it on my own accord to study film and screenwriting so someday not only my friends and family but the Black community can actually be proud of a film where they're are Black characters who are shown in a positive light rather than feeling embarrassed. I love film. I love every thing about it from the keys clicking the keyboard in writing my scripts, to filming and editing. Every single last bit of it. I'd die for this. This is one of the few things that I care about in this world and I'll be damned if Black filmmakers are going to continue to keep creating Black characters in the way they have been portrayed in the past. All I'm saying is for others who have the talent to do so, please do it and don't give up. We're almost there and we can make whatever we want to make. Let's get it.

Chauncey Balsom

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Championship-Women of Real World/Road Rules Tourney

Special Note:

Thank you for everyone that has been viewing and voting in the Women of Real World/Road Rules Tourney! If you're new here, with the help of three other friends of mine, were able to come up with 64 women covering the history of both shows to be part of the tournament. We each randomly took 16 women to make our own bracket. Now we're down to the last two of these beauties, Svetlana from Real World: Key West and Cara Maria from Fresh Meat: 2. Right now we're sitting at well over 20,000 views so keep them coming! Voting for this last round will go on til Wednesday @ Midnight so promote and vote to make sure your favorite woman wins. Good luck!!

The link to the actual bracket is below here, you'll be going there to place your votes. The bracket was done in a 1-64 format and not your traditional 1-16 for each region.

The blog is to post the matchups and pictures so you know who you're voting for. The number with the pound sign is their seeding in the region they are in, the number in the parenthesis is their seeding when you are making your vote. This is NOT an overall seeding.

Voting Takes Place Here

#1 (3) Svetlana RW: Key West (@MTVSvetlanaS)


#4 (20) Cara-Maria RR: Fresh Meat 2 (@MissCaraMaria)

Voting Takes Place Here

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Black History Month-Ben Carson

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

Ben Carson

Ben Carson was born September 18, 1951 and raised in Detroit, Michigan by his single mother. His mother was big on education, since she never received her's after dropping out school in the 3rd grade, she forced Ben and his brother Curtis to read at least two books a week and write her a report on them. He continued his education that took him to Yale where he graduated with honors in Psychology. He then went to the University of Michigan Medical School where he went into Neurosurgery. After Michigan, he became a resident at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital and at 32 became the hospital's youngest Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery.

In 1987, Carson made another historic achievement in becoming the first surgeon in the world to successfully separate twins who were conjoined at the back of the head. This type of surgery always failed, but Carson and his 70-member medical staff worked for 22 hours straight in order to pull off the surgery. On June 19, 2008, Carson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, which is the highest honor a U.S. citizen can receive. Dr. Ben Carson has received numerous awards over the years that include over 60 doctorate degrees, member of numerous boards that include American Academy of Achievement and the Yale Corporation. He is also the president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments.

On a personal note, I was once going for a degree in medicine and Dr. Ben Carson was the inspiration behind that choice. I eventually went into writing, but it was because of his mother and his thirst for reading at a young age is what got me into making that final decision to change my major. Another connection I have is that he performed surgery on a good friend of mine a few years ago. If it weren't for him, my friend wouldn't be here today giving me shit lol. So a personal thanks to Dr. Carson from me and one of your many patients, Joshua Alvarez.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Black History Month-Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr.

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr., said to have been born July 1st 1877, was the first African-American Brigadier General of the United States Army and also was active in fighting for equality for African-Americans who served in the Armed Forces. He actually lied about his age and was really born in May 1880 in order to enlist in the army without the consent of his parents. He officially joined the army in 1899 and quickly rose the ranks in each of the different troops he was being reassigned due to his brilliance in the art of military tactics and leadership. In 1905, he became the Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Wilberforce University where he held the position for four years. He left the position for a few years serving as military attaché reporting on Liberia's military forces and patrolling the Mexican-American border, returning to Wilberforce in 1915.

He would consistently go back and forth between Wilberforce and other posts, but not before serving at Tuskegee University under the same position in 1920-1924 and again during 1931-1937, where he was also serving as a Captain of the United States Army. He would serve as a military tactics instructor for several battalions within his time away as a professor. In 1940 is when Davis Sr. became the first African-American to have the title as Brigadier General of the United States Army. To put his position in perspective, he was only 4 ranks away from becoming the General of the United States Army. One rank ahead of the Colonel and one rank behind Major General.

From there, he became the direct Commanding General of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Calvary division at Fort Riley and worked as an assistant to the Inspector General, which is where he served on the Advisor Committee for the Negro Troops Problems. This position is where Brigadier General Davis Sr. used his power and reputation in order to fight and regulate equality amongst the black soldiers and make sure they were being treated fairly while they were on tour, which they were under his watchful eye. His most prominent role in this was during his year stint during the European Theater of Operations where he served under Lieutenant General John C. H. Lee as a Special Assistant to the then Commanding Officer of the Communications Zone. His influence there was beneficial in his proposal to have integration of African-Americans in replacement units. After serving his country for over 50 years, he retired in the same position as Brigadier General in 1948, with Harry S. Truman presiding the public ceremony. During his tenure, he was rewarded with the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) and the Bronze Star. He died in Chicago, Illinois in 1970 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Black History Month-James Baldwin

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

James Baldwin

Poet, novelist, playwright, writer, and civil right activist James Baldwin. His work consisted primarily of being black and dealing with racial and sexual issues during the mid-20th century. He was the first to center his stories around personal conflict including homosexuality and psychological issues way before anyone else tackled these issues. Something that black people still tend to struggle with accepting today although it has improved drastically.

Baldwin attended and studied at The New School in Greenwich Village in New York. There is where he discovered his homosexuality and began using it as a means to fuel his novels. But back then, being black and gay was frowned upon by the black community so he left the United States and moved to Paris. His reasoning for moving was because he wanted to be looked at more than a "gay Negro writer, but just a writer."

While living overseas, he was able to publish his literary works "Go Tell It On The Mountain", "Notes Of A Native Son", and the highly controversial "Giovanni's Room" due to its homoerotic content. He received more controversy with his next two novels due to the interracial dating as well as bisexual nature of the stories, especially since they were published in the 1960s during the civil rights movement. When he moved back to the States in the early 1960s is when his stand on Civil Rights took place, aligning himself with the CORE (Congress of Racial Equality). With them, he traveled the south giving speeches to anyone who would listen about his racial ideology.

Before his death in 1987, Baldwin was able to create a total of 20 to 25 literary works and theater playwrights. He also was responsible for gathering a handful of others to join the Civil Rights Movement with names such as Nina Simone, Marlon Brando, and Harry Belafonte and helped to inspire other famous writers such as Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, who she credits Baldwin in being the inspiration behind her autobiography "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings".

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Black History Month-Frederick Douglass

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

Frederick Douglass

I can't remember exactly how old I was, I just know I was in middle school when I first read the "Life and Times of Frederick Douglass" and just became so interested in his story. It was my first time really getting a glimpse of what slavery was about as Douglass spoke about his experiences as a slave and becoming free. At the age of 12, he was being taught the alphabet by the wife of one of his slave owners. Of course this was looked down upon by the slave owners, so Douglass taught himself how to read. He used this skill and went on to teach other slaves how to read, holding sessions during Bible Study and using the New Testament, teaching sometimes up to 40 slaves at a time. He was found out by a group of slave owners and they disbanded the group of slaves. His former slave owner sent him to work for Edward Covey, a man who was known to be a "slave-breaker". Douglass went through what was said "one of the worst beatings I've ever had" by Covey. At 16, eventually Douglass had enough and fought Covey back. After Douglass won, Covey never whipped Douglass again. This was unheard of with slaves revolting against slave owners, especially someone of Covey's reputation and word spread around Douglass standing up to his master like wildfire. One thing I thought was cool about Douglass is that being so young and how he stood up for himself and others with such a huge issue. What was I doing at 16?

In 1838, Douglass was able to successfully escape Covey's plantation and became a free man. There, he went on to become one of the most prolific public speakers on slavery and a leader in the abolitionist movement. He was a firm believer in not only equality for blacks, but for anyone of any race and even stood strongly for equality in women's rights. Before the Civil War, Douglass was one of the most famous black men in the country due to his orations on the treatment of slaves and women, always gathering large crowds during his public speeches. One of his most famous speeches came during the revealing of the Emancipation Memorial after Lincoln's death where he was the keynote speaker, where he spoke frankly on President Lincoln's stance on slavery. Before his death in 1895, Douglass was appointed such positions as being a US Marshal, Consul-General of Haiti, and was the first black to be nominated for Vice President and President of the United States.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black History Month-Suzanne de Passe

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

Suzanne de Passe

I chose Suzanne de Passe because she's one of my heroes that I look up to, and hopefully aspire to follow in her footsteps. She's responsible for some of your favorite artists and television shows. To sum up de Passe, she is a media entrepreneur covering all aspects in the field of television, music, and film something I hope to do. But enough about me, let's get down to de Passe.

She started off as a Creative Assistant for Berry Gordy at Motown Records, bringing Jackson 5 to their doorsteps and being directly involved with their early success. Eventually, she became the president of Motown Records. Ms. de Passe was also the Executive Producer behind "Sister, Sister", "Smart Guy", and "Showtime At The Apollo". A veteran of over three decades in Hollywood, generating over a billion dollars in revenue in the entertainment industry, Ms. de Passe has also received countless awards for her contributions to the television, movie and music industries including her TV specials such as the Motown Anniversary series, The Temptations mini-series, and The Jacksons: An American dream mini-series and has also Executive Produced award shows of her own like NAACP Image Awards and Essence Awards. One of her most notable achievements, and one of the many reasons she's one of my heroes, is her being the first black person to be nominated for an Academy Award in Original Screenwriting for the movie "Lady Sings The Blues". Right now she is currently the Producer behind the movie "King", the upcoming DreamWorks motion picture on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. with Steven Spielberg and Madison Jones and working as the Producer-In-Residence at Emerson College School Of The Arts in Boston.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Female Sports Fan (or Groupie)

an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity

an ardent fan of a celebrity or of a particular activity

I know this has been beaten more than a repeat offender runaway slave as well as it being a pretty sensitive topic altogether, but I feel the need to address this: The Female Sports Fan. For some reason, trying to distinguish a real female fan from a fake one (groupie) seems to be a sport in itself. Why is it that a woman can't like sports for the sake of liking sports? The answer to that is pretty simple: women and sports wasn't always a common mix as it is now. Some males just outright dismiss the fact that a woman can be a sports fanatic outside of just simply wanting to sleep with athletes. For the others, it's just all about taking some getting used to. Over time, more and more women are not only becoming legit avid fans of sports, but playing them. For every male pro league there is around the world, there's a woman league right beside it. So now it's not as taboo as it once was, although still a hot topic between the two sexes. Whenever a man finds out that a woman is a self-proclaimed sports fan, that's when the questionnaire happens.

It starts off with "How did you become a fan of said sport/team?" Three answers are usually heard. 1) I was raised on the sport by the way of brothers or my father. 2) I played sports growing up. 3) I found a certain player attractive. If you answer with either #1 or #2, a barrage of questions comes in testing your sports knowledge. Ranging from "who's your team's all-time leading scorer" to "name the Quarterback depth chart in order". Questions that man probably doesn't even know himself, but yet he wants to test the woman. Funny. Although I do understand why men feel the need to test a woman when it comes to sports. It's to see if you really know what you're talking about. That simple. It's not necessarily because you are a woman, because men do it to each other too. But when a man hears answer #3: Because I think "so and so" is fine, all credibility goes out the window. I know I'm not the only male who gets annoyed when the following exchange happens:

Man: So, who's your favorite team?
Woman: The Saints!
Man: Oh really? What brought you to like them?
Woman: Reggie Bush!
Man: he your favorite player?
Woman: Umm, not really I just think he's fine so I root for him.


Woman: What?
Man: So you know nothing else about the Saints except the fact you think Reggie Bush is fine?
Woman: Umm...yea.

Really? You're cheering for someone because they're FINE? Oh. Sorry, excuse me I thought this was a sporting event and not a model show. If all you can think about is how good someone looks and not care about the outcome of the game, you're a groupie. There's no getting around that. When men ask you these questions that's what we're trying to determine: are you a fan or a groupie? They have every right to question you and see if you're a credible fan or not. For me at least, it's insulting when a woman's sole reason to cheer on a team because they think a certain player is attractive w/o any knowledge of said team and expect us men to take her seriously.

Whatever brings you into the sport is fine with me, the more the merrier. If you became a Steelers fan (not a groupie) because you fell for Troy Palomalu's luxurious locks and boyish good looks then that's cool. Just be a REAL fan. Learn the rules, the ins and outs, learn about the OTHER players on the team, around the league. Just absorb all the knowledge you can. Be able to hold a conversation if you're going to consider yourself a "fan". That's all we ask as men, so when we ask you these questions that's what we are expecting. A fan. Not a crazed groupie who roots for a team because of how one player on the team looks. You honestly look foolish, thirsty, and desperate. Especially, once again stressing, if you have no idea as to what's going on in the game. The more you know, the more respect you'll gain. It's a simple concept. If you've taken offense to this then I suggest you just start watching more sports or repeat after me: I am not a fan, I am a groupie.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Who Is The Ultimate NBA Hero?

"You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."-Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

A couple of days ago, I read an article on Lebron James saying that "he's accepted this villain role." You can read the article HERE on In short, Lebron is basically saying he's grown accustomed to it [being the villain] and even enjoys it. Wait what? I have a couple problems with this statement. For starters, we all knew Lebron was slowly becoming a villain before Lebron knew he was a villain so he ain't fooling me. Secondly, Lebron "accepting" the villain role just makes me question how much he really respects himself as a person more so a basketball player. Why conform to what people are trying to make you out to be? If you truly feel like you're the victim, and you're a good guy then why switch it up all of a sudden? Which brings me to the quote above. "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain." This most certainly is the case with Lebron. So if he's the villain, who's the hero of the NBA?

Before I get into this, I would like to make one thing clear: Lebron is just A villain, and not THE villain of the NBA. I know he's painted to be the most hated NBA player right now, probably of all time but I don't see him being THE guy. He's just being hated on NOW because of his recent off-season move to take his talents to South Beach. If anything, he's like The Red Hood of the NBA, a wannabe villain scorned by the world and who secretly just wants to be liked. If Lebron were to ever get back into the NBA fans' good graces he'd accept them with open arms. That's not a villain, that's a child screaming for attention so let's get that out of the way. The true villain of the NBA, as much as it pains me to say it cause he just so happens to be my favorite player, is Kobe Bryant. My reasoning doesn't have anything to do with him snitching on Shaq, his sexual assault case, I'm not even gonna say it's because of him committing adultery numerous times on his beautiful wife, Vanessa...speaking of his wife:

*ahem* It mainly has to do with Kobe just not giving a damn. He really truly doesn't. He doesn't care if you love him, or hate him. He has a one-track mind and that is to be the best by any means necessary. He's a cold-blooded killer and wears his nickname, the Black Mamba, quite well. Funny thing is, as cold and calculating as Kobe is there's just as many people who adore him as many as that hate him. If the NBA were the DC Universe, Kobe Bryant is The Joker and Pau Gasol would be his Harley Quinn. (Gasol has nothing to do with this, I just wanted to take a stab at him.) So back to the question, now that we know who the REAL main villain of the NBA is...who's the main hero that will rise up and take down the two-time defending champion Kobe-led Lakers team? First let us clarify exactly what a hero is, by definition:

[heer-oh] –noun
A person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

Now using that definition in combination of taking a quick Twitter poll to see who everyone else thought as an NBA elite player, I got the following candidates at least more than one time eventually making a list of nominees to be "The Ultimate NBA Hero":

Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic

Other than the fact that he's inherited the nickname "Superman" after Shaq, Howard has all the trademark personality traits you want in a superhero. Caring, thoughtful, selfless, and brave just to name a few. Loved around the league and widely known as "a very nice guy", Dwight Howard just could be the hero the NBA needs to face the evil Kobe "Joker" Bryant. They have faced each other once before in the finals w/ Kobe and his flunkies winning the series 4-1. During that series, Dwight and Kobe had a pretty heated exchange. Since then, the regular season battles between the Lakers and Magic have been pretty intense and close, both teams winning a game (Lakers 98-92 and Magic 96-94). Could there a possible rivalry brewing here? During the offseason, he has finally worked on his weak offensive game and is now showing off an arsenal of new moves, including the 12ft jumper. Will Howard be able to guide his team to the finals and face the Lake Show, redeem himself and possibly claim the title of the NBA's hero?

Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin "Durantulla" Durant. At 19 years old, the young hero came into the NBA and met everyone's expectations by winning Rookie of the Year and more. During his short NBA career, Durant has become the NBA scoring champion (the youngest to ever win the award at 22), made the All NBA 1st Team (second youngest to make it at 21 years and 197 days), and also winning a FIFA World Championship gold medal as well as leading Team USA in scoring throughout the games. In last year's playoffs, he and the Thunder took on Kobe and the Lakers, taking them to six games before ultimately falling to the eventual champs. The moment I knew Durant had officially arrived was when he took it upon himself to guard Kobe during the 4th quarter in Game 3 of the series. Not only was he able to "shut down" Kobe, he also poured in 29 points and grabbed 19 rebounds en route to the win. Despite all these heroic feats he's still not quite there yet to be THEE hero of the NBA. He's still wet behind the ears and has some improvement to do. But someday I do see him taking that spot and leading the "good guys" of the league, just not right now.

Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls

A surprise nominee, to me at least, is Derrick Rose. Young, talented, and flashy I can almost see why he made this list and got enough votes to be among the heroes of the NBA. But just like Durant, I don't think Rose is quite there yet. He's obviously the leader of the young Chicago Bulls squad and you can even argue him as being the best point guard in the NBA. But then again, wouldn't you want your leader know, be smart? No shade to the guy because his leadership does come through his actions on the court, but we all know he isn't the brightest kid in the class. If I'm going to have anyone be the Ultimate NBA Hero, I'd at least want him to be able to have some level of intelligence.

Amar'e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks

I'm almost certain the only reason Amare' was able to make this list by fan vote is due to the abundance of Knicks fans I have on my Twitter timeline, but fact of the matter is if you're a hero in New York, you're considered a hero everywhere. Knicks fans are proud of their season thus far and especially proud of their leader, Amare' Stoudemire. I don't see him being THEE hero of the NBA, not now and to be honest not ever. Despite him being on track to having his most productive season yet with avgs of 26 pts and 9 rbs, his best since the '05 season with the Suns, he just doesn't have that heroic aura about him. Great player though, just not quite the guy to be the face of the NBA as far as good guys go.

Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat

Before this season, I believed that Dwyane "Flash" Wade was indeed that guy but not quite the shoe in as I once believed and I'll get into that later. Out of all the nominees, Wade has the ring and a Finals MVP to back up his resume. Easily one of the most popular and well liked players in the NBA, Wade actually was nominated with the most votes during the polls so the fans definitely dig him. There's also him leading Team USA in scoring en route to an Olympic gold medal as well as claiming a NBA scoring title during the '08-'09 season. He's also well known for his philanthropic involvement in numerous organizations promoting education and health-care for kids and the comedic and equally charming T-Mobile commercials with Charles Barkley. But the fact still remains as he lobbied to bring a now self-proclaimed villain, Lebron James, to his Miami Heat team. There has been times in history where the hero and villain work side by side to achieve a common goal so maybe him being the hero can still happen. Especially if Wade and Lebron are able to win a ring together, will Lebron relinquish his villain role and come back or can Lebron possibly swing Wade into the dark side with him? Now that's a story arc I wouldn't mind tuning into.

So what do you guys think of the nominees, do you agree or disagree and why? Is there anyone else you'd recommend besides the ones mentioned here, explain in the comments section below.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Media Revolution Part 3: Under The Influence

in·flu·ence   [in-floo-uhns]
noun, verb

1. the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.

Note: The first two parts of "The Media Revolution" can be found by clicking on the links for PART 1 and PART 2.

The latest installment of "The Media Revolution" series comes from me being inspired by a short film that I happened to come across entitled "INFLUENCERS" that you can, and I highly recommend, watch HERE. It's a short documentary (roughly 13 minutes long) that interviews a few trend-setters in their own right who give their opinions on what it means to be an influence on people through their creativity. I felt this was a powerful and dope piece of work put together by directors Paul Rojanathara and Davis Johnson that explains not only how we are influenced by the media, but also how certain influences from our peers could directly effect us. Fashion editor, Josh Peskowitz hit it on the head with a quote from the film stating "The reason why reality TV and blogs, not just style blogs, are so popular is people get great satisfaction of seeing their peers presented in that sort of context." The context he speaks is content of the material being presented to the public. As the audience, we are then supposed to take on whatever the content is and believe this is something we want to do and be part of.

When it comes to being influenced by something it should always come down to how it moves you emotionally and spiritually. It should be something that consumes you naturally instead of you breaking out of who you are and become something different just to "fit in." You have to ask yourself: Is this a positive influence? How is taking on this trend going to better myself? Thing is most people don't take the time to focus on that aspect of how influences can affect you and are too focused on "being cool" and "being part of a cultural phenomenon." No one wants to be left behind on a cultural movement that sweeps the nation and trendsetters know this and play off of this universal truth. Could you imagine being that person who lived during the time of The Beatles and missing that? The pandemonium was second to none during that time. To this day, The Beatles are still by far one of the most influential music groups ever. Which leads to my next point in how the past is more connected to the future than most people realize.

If you look at the current popular trends in the media, do know that what is going on now will influence the future people in their time. So, the ignorance that is being applauded and cheered with trashy reality TV shows that are sprawled out on air, celebrity breakups with their sex tapes and dumbed down lyrics coming from artists such as Gucci Mane that are put in the forefront and reported as "news" and "what's hot in the streets" are going to be people that our children look up to. If they don't already, since it seems no one is really taking a stand against this kind of stuff. It really wouldn't surprise me with the current trends of today will be absorbed in the future.

That's a scary thought isn't it? Really take that in. Paris Hilton is probably going to be one of your daughters' role models. Paris Hilton. In 2020, a nasally, bratty snob is going to be looked at as a cultural icon who hasn't done anything in her life except get drunk, high, yell, scream, fight and get it caught on camera and then write a book about it. And be famous from it. On the flip side look at how one Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino has used his Jersey Shore fame to promote his fitness tape, a new vitamin line with GNC, as well as appear in a PSA for The Candie's Foundation that promotes abstinence. So at least the Jersey Shore's popularity may have worked out well for someone. Your child may want to be an aspiring MC. That's cool, but who is he going to look up to? Lupe Fiasco or Wakka Flocka? Who's on your TV screen and on the radio waves right now? Understand it's not necessarily the's also us because we are the consumers who are entertaining. If we weren't, then the aforementioned people wouldn't be as popular as they are now.

If you want to be, or are going to be part of a national craze that will no doubt influence millions in one way or another just take a step back and ask yourself: Is this what I want, do I want to become apart of this movement or against it? And for the record: For those who are against it, you're not doing any justice just talking about it and complaining. Do something about it. Don't just sit back and make snide remarks on how stupid something is and you're not even doing anything yourself. Influence others, but not for your sake, do it for their sake and all will just fall into place. Or so you hope.