Thursday, August 27, 2009

An Erotic Film From the' Hood That's Not Very Good

Thug Passion (Part 6); Directors, E.J. Parker and Dee (Chocolate Joy Entertainment; 2009)

"We're in the 'hood, not Hollywood," declares E.J. Parker, the co-director of Thug Passion (Part 6), one of a series of erotic videos for homothugs and their admirers. Parker's statement is in answer to a question I had about the lack of a storyline and the amateurish quality of the video.
Someone (probably Parker) is seen in the background in jeans and white socks holding a camera. No attempt is made to create the illusion that the viewer is a fly on the wall, peeping at the ones on-camera.
The video is divided into six segments (some will have the same models in them). What we get in most of them are monotonous, overlong jack-off sessions.
One has to give Tyson Cane, the black porn star turned video producer, credit for aiming to bring together art and erotica. His films have a storyline (although flimsy) and have a much more polished look to them.
In Thug Passion, E.J. and his co-director, Dee, don't know how to photograph a sex scene, moving the camera too much, giving the viewer vertigo. The action takes place in a room with a lot of electronic equipment in it (not exactly the most romantic setting) and the editing is not seamless. Maybe they should consider a more Hollywood approach, or at least follow in the footsteps of an independent filmmaker like John Sayles, who knows how to tell a story and how to make it visually appealing. When you're asking people to put down their hard-earned bucks for a movie, you should try to give them their money's worth.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Black Press's Role in Homophobia

The following is a letter-to-the-editor that I wrote (but never sent) to Elinor Tatum, publisher and editor-in-chief of the New York Amsterdam News regarding an article by then executive editor Jamal Watson about the promised participation of gays and lesbians at the tenth anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. The letter, dated October 27, 2005, underscored the lack of consistent coverage of gay and lesbian issues in the black press (print and electronic).

Dear Ms. Tatum:

Jamal Watson's article "Ten Years Later...Another Million" (October 13-19, 2005) is a prime example of the poor journalism that is practiced at the Amsterdam News with regard to gay and lesbian issues. At the tail end of the article, he wrote: "For months, the organizers of the event have been dogged by allegations that Black gays and lesbians would be excluded from the gathering. In an interview with the Amsterdam News, Minister Louis Farrakhan dismissed the charges , saying that Black gays and lesbians would not be denied a role." Nowhere in the piece does Watson quote anyone from the black gay and lesbian community. He takes Farrakhan at his word.
Later I heard an interview with a representative from the National Black Justice Coalition on "The Laura Flanders Show" (on Air America Radio) say that black gays and lesbians were denied access to the podium. So what Farrakhan said was a lie. But I doubt the Am/News will follow up on the story.
I think the NBJC should expand its campaign against homophobic black preachers and include the black press which is as complicit in the perpetuation of homophobia in the black community as the black church. The Am/News should be at the top of the list of publications targeted in a letter and e-mail blitz. A picket line shouldn't be overlooked either.
It's time that the voices of black gays and lesbians are consistently heard from in the black press. As the black lesbian poet Audre Lorde once put it: "There is no hierarchy of oppression." Homophobia is just as bad as racism. Both stem from hatred and ignorance.

Author's Note: When John Davis, an openly gay man, was the executive editor of the Amsterdam News (for a short time), he wrote an editorial supporting the passage of a gay rights bill in the New York City Council. This would be around 1983. Since then I have not seen any pro-gay editorials in the paper.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hooray For Hollywood and Its Screenwriters

In Hollywood, movies are considered a director's medium and so screenwriters are given second-class treatment. Newspapers and magazines, taking their cue from the suits at movie studios, have followed their example, ignoring the contributions of the writer and lionizing the director. It is refreshing to see that Entertainment Weekly in its Fall Movie Preview Special Double Issue (August 21-28, 2009) gives credit that's long overdue by including the names of those who have written the scripts for movies slated to be released in September, October, November, and December (including movies written and directed by the same person). Unfortunately, the movie reviews by Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum in the same issue neglect to give the writing credits of the movies under discussion.
While going over the fall movies, one story came to mind: a screenwriter, tired of being treated like the low man on a totem pole and knowing that without a script there is no movie, throws a handful of blank pages at a director, telling him: "Now let's see you try to direct that."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Adopting the Nat Hentoff Stroll

When I worked as a proofreader at the Village Voice in the early eighties, one of the regular sights in the office was Nat Hentoff, the noted first-amendment advocate and at that time a staff writer at the paper. He would frequently be seen aimlessly walking around the office with a manuscript of his column in one hand, a pencil in the other, going over his copy line by line. He was doing what I would later call the Nat Hentoff Stroll.
I have from time to time been seen doing the Stroll while reading through one of my articles. For me, it helped relieve the tension of the editing process and put me in touch with my muse.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Flirting With Danger

Dwan Prince, who in 2005 was savagely beaten by Steven Pomie in an anti-gay attack in Brownsville, Brooklyn, blames himself for what happened. According to the Gay City News (Aug. 6-19, 2009), Prince flirted with Pomie. "I have made some big mistakes in my life and that was the stupidest and biggest one of all," he stated in a letter to Pomie, who is currently serving time for the attack.
In the letter he wrote on July 20, he expressed a "desire that you get out as soon as possible" and for them to become friends.
The attack not only has left Prince partially paralyzed but apparently it has done something to his mind.
Who would want such a vicious person out on the street? And who would want to be friends with a person so easily offended by flirtatious behavior that they are willing to maim or kill?
Prince must be really hard up for friendship and filled with self-hatred. I can't think of any other reasons for him to want to have anything to do with someone like Pomie, who deserves to serve significant time behind bars. Would he truly feel safe alone with Pomie? I wouldn't.
If Pomie had made the first move, showing remorse and empathy, maybe there might be some hope. But the reaching out seems one-sided and pathetic.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Few More Words From Alexander Woollcott

" speaking and writing, the first and only important consideration is to employ those words which will exactly convey one's meaning."
--Alexander Woollcott, American author