No More Slave Movies For Me

Written by on February 20, 2015


I’m tired of slave movies Moguls. Good old fashion slave tales from down yonder just don’t cut it anymore for me. I’ve read books. I’ve listened to speeches. I played Fredrick Douglass for an elementary school play. I saw Roots. I saw Roots: The Next Generation. I watched Amistad. I peeped The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. To put it bluntly I have seen my fair share of slave movies, and damnit I don’t need to see another one EVER again.

I get it, slavery happened. I understand that. My family comes from Amite, Louisiana so yes I know slavery happened. And from the looks of it Hollywood knows that slavery happened as well. The other night BET premiered The Book of Negros and I had absolutely no desire to watch it at all. Just like I had no desire to see 12 Years A Slave and I definitely didn’t want to see Django Unchained. Why? Our history is much deeper than chains and whips. Now I’m sure The Book of Negros was a riveting experience but did I miss out on any new information? Probably not. I would bet that it was nothing more than the retelling of the same old tragedies that many African-Americans are already so familiar with. We have seen it all before.

For those of us who are living in America today we get reminded of slavery on the regular. When we see African-American males shot with no consequences we are reminded of slavery. When we see the unfairness of our educational system we are reminded of slavery. When we see the blatant or subtle signs of racism we are reminded of slavery. We don’t need Hollywood to let us know every chance they get that slavery is in our history.

However, what I find hilariously hypocritical is how one minute we are told that we should not be “hung up” on slavery; that as a people we should move on and forget about the past. But Hollywood can retell those stories whenever they get a chance. Why is that? Outside of making a dollar what other reason is there to constantly remind us of the slave days?

How about tell us more about the Shaka Zulus? Tell an accurate depiction of biblical events that show people of color? Why not give us more stories that show African-Americans in everyday situations like The Best Man, Power, The Cosby Show, A Different World, Martin, or Empire? How about a movie telling us about the Conquest of the Moors? There are so many scripts that can be written that doesn’t have to be pigeonholed to 1600-1865. Our history is more than 265 years. Isn’t it?

We need to demand more from Hollywood. Stop allowing networks and movie studios to force feed us the same old meal warm over two or three times. It is time to hold folks accountable and maybe we can see a more diverse palette of entertainment. Hopefully the success of Empire, Power, and The Best Man Holiday will usher in stories and characters that still need to be told, and these flicks about slaves can fade away.

Reader's opinions
  1. Anonymous   On   February 27, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you for this editorial Danny. We have such a rich culture with so many interesting stories with depth to tell that we should not be blocked into a corner with repeated movies on the silver screen depicting our wounded past. Its unfortunate that Hollywood is still as racist as it is in terms of feature selections that are green lit and biased award showcases that are not equitable. Our actors transcend race as stars and our athletes are the millionaire gladiators that are still looked upon as one dimensional off the playing field. Its a mindset that comes from the images that our world’s pop culture consumes and the realities that play out on the streets of America. We need to do better as a people and film makers need to push for more diverse stories beyond the slave and civil rights movies that have permeated the theaters in recent years. We can begin by leveraging the many ways to distribute films to the masses using technology as we look beyond the archaic studio process that’s been slow to change and work toward the deployment of digital movies directly to home and mobile devices. Crowdfunding film projects can initiate the movies the want to see with the actors that we want to see portraying the characters we can embrace. That’s not to say don’t make historical films as young people across races need to know our dark history or societies could repeat the mistakes and injustices of the past however I do feel the small screen may be a better place for them when made. In an ideal world with enough content being made they could conceivably co-exist but that’s not the case and I too would prefer compelling storytelling that uplifts and motivates. Someone had to speak up and I’m glad you did. For years I’ve read your blog each week for its good content and I’m not alone. Keep up the great work.

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