James Brown #GetOnUp: There’s More to Being Brown and Black than Meets the Eye

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The bottom line is that I can’t say to a White person, “You are evil; le’me get five dollars.” Once I accept that we (African people) are on our own, then I must embrace the responsibility of self-determination. Any other action is insanity. Just like James Brown had to do for James Brown, African people must do for African people. And, I ain’t tripping about anybody purchasing those expensive tickets to see Jay Z and B if they got it. Lord knows how much money I’ve spent over the years on Prince. And, while the pleasure I received was worth every cent, I don’t want to hear Prince, Jay Z, B, or any person talkin’ ‘bout they can’t get a record or a movie produced ‘cause if they can’t it just means that they squandered their financial power down the drain of excess. These pseudo-intellectuals and pseudo-militant African-Americans criticize Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, but at the end of the day Winfrey and Perry are the few African-American institution builders in the entertainment industry.

Now, of course, I don’t like much of what they create/produce, but what they do is a lot more creative and constructive than these African-Americans who write these b.s., blah, blah, blah articles about what White folks are doing to us; yet, these same African-Americans will never embrace Black Nationalism.

Again, if anyone wanted to produce a James Brown movie, all one needed to do was purchase the rights. It’s not rocket science. Howard is an award-winning screenwriter so why didn’t he use some of those talents to write an award-winning script about James Brown rather than wasting everybody’s time bemoaning the fact that somebody else did?  And, furthermore, just because there is one film about Brown does not mean that there can’t be another. That’s the whole point of art, to engage in the national or international discourse. The reason that there are four books in the New Testament on Jesus is to provide four different perspectives, which provides a holistic or well-rounded understanding of who the man was/is.

That’s why we need several books written about King, and X, and Freedom Summer, and SNCC, etc. And, the same is true of film. We need multiple films on King, and X, and Freedom Summer, and SNCC, and James Brown. That’s why I don’t have a problem with the new film on Jimi Hendrix. Yet, I’m getting the feeling that the new Hendrix film — starring Andre Benjamin — will suffer from the same missing ingredient that hinders Get on Up. (As an aside, I am biased because I love Wood Harris’ portrayal of Hendrix, and from what I’ve seen I don’t think that I’ll like Benjamin’s portrayal as much, especially since the new film does not mention Hendrix’s Black girlfriend, Faye, at all). Still, both films along with all the other books and documentaries will merely add to the discussion of Hendrix and his significance. So, I’m at a point in my life where I try to ignore these half-baked positions from these pseudo-militants because, to quote James Brown, most of them “are like a dull knife; they just ain’t cutting—talkin’ loud and sayin’ nothin’.”