Man, y'all... this shit is really happening.
Trump is really about to be the POTUS and planet earth is screwed. I'm wearing black today and tomorrow (because I can't find any sackcloth) and I have no plans to switch up the color scheme any time soon. We're really in for a long, hard, four years y'all.
One thing I will say is that I'm so happy there are a number of public figures speaking up about their dislike for the PEOTUS. Shoutout to congresswoman (and Auntie supreme) Maxine Waters. She is letting the record show that she was NEVER here for the Donald's bullshit no matter what the rest of y'all muh-freakers are willing to accept.
But for real, I want to know who is in their right mind and has some principles BEFORE WWIII breaks out. If anything good comes from this man's time in office it will not come as a pleasant surprise so much as the same kind of feeling of relief that I'd have if I survived a game of Russian Roulette. (And yes, the irony of the word "Russia" perfectly finding its way into that analogy does not escape me.)
Speaking of public figures, there are a few black celebs that have met up with the Trump for - god knows what - and that has caused quite a bit of anger in the community. Kanye West and Steve Harvey went to Trump Towers at some point and Chrisette Michele will be performing at his inauguration tomorrow. These are not exactly people that I expect a lot from so I can't really say that I care to spend any more time on that subject than I already have.
I'm going to just enjoy the rest of the day and hope this planet doesn't collapse upon itself because of the sheer weight of what is about to transpire over the next four years. May God have mercy on our souls.
Not too long ago - I think it was yesterday - I was in a rare mood and ranted on twitter about Martin Luther King Junior, our Black elders and how their humanity is ignored in order to make them into Christ-like tools to neuter the Black American populace.
There's also the ever-so-obvious whitewashing of MLK's legacy - a subject which has garnered a multitude of think pieces.
So I talked about these things on Twitter because I remembered that a lot of the people who "love" MLK for what they perceive to be his platform of peace and non-violence have never had the privilege of growing up around elderly Black people. People that were in King's age-group. That would be MY generation's grandparents. Those Black people who went to Civil Rights marches were my grands, great aunts and uncles. People who were very respectful and respectable (in public) but wouldn't hesitate to whoop your ass behind closed doors if you were a member of their family and stepped out of line. These were people who weren't always patient and nonviolent. They were just like me and you and they absolutely, positively HATED the indignities they were forced to suffer at the hands of a racist system, propped up by everyday racist and complacent White people.
I bring this up because I want y'all to understand that these people who - just like Dr. King - were humans with complexities, annoying habits and adoring loved ones fueled the Civil Rights Movement that brought about some of the rights that marginalized groups enjoy today.
We celebrate Dr. King's birthday in honor of his service as a Civil Rights Leader. A humanitarian that raged battles against the status quo that rocked the entire nation and brought about changes that are still felt to this day. Yet still we shut out from his legacy, the humanity that fueled his very existence.
Dr. King was about peace and love. Dr. King was never angry. Never frustrated. Never felt down. Never said a mean word. Can we stop already? Please?
I've jokingly said that people shouldn't be allowed to utter Martin Luther King's name without, first, taking a two year Master's course on his speeches and his life. But now I think I'm serious about that Master's program because Martin Luther King's name is almost always coming out of someone's mouth when they are silencing a Black person or telling them to "stand down" as if Dr. King's legacy was one of silence and stoicism.
Case in point:
The level of arrogance that this patronizing tweet garners is enough to power two hundred space ships to Jupiter. But this is what people really believe MLK was about because apparently, he'd "won Civil Rights" with his charm.
Interesting Fact: The whole non-violence part of the Civil Rights Movement was calculated. SNCC - the main groups involved in the Civil Rights Movement - stood for Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. That means there was coordination and training involved in learning how to take a punch, be spit on, etc. Do you know how much self restraint it takes to remain nonviolent when you are being physically and verbally attacked? Short answer: A lot. So Rob Schneider thinking that Dr. King didn't give into anger or hurt is condescending, presumptuous, ignorant and callous to say the least. Especially considering that he's speaking to one of the original chairmen of SNCC who worked closely with Dr. King, experiencing many of the same indignities and helping to engineer the Civil Rights Movement in the first damn place. He might as well tell God to just "be like that Jesus guy. He never got angry."
Anyway, here's what I take away from MLK - and from all of my Black ancestors, and the Black elders that I've known and loved and who have paved the way for me (WARNING: this might come as an unpleasant shock to some of you who only know about 3 minutes of the March On Washington speech)...
We - as in, Black people - aren't enamored with the idea of interracial friendship.
We just want justice. That's pretty-much it.
Dr. King's struggle - at least, for me and for many like me - was not about future generations sitting around the bonfire singing Kumbaya with White people. It was about equality (although the bonfire would - no doubt - be a very welcome byproduct.)
I'm sorry if anyone finds that offensive and in no way am I saying that friendship amongst different races is a bad thing or even something that we don't think should happen. I love my my rainbow of friends but if I had to choose between having non-Black friends OR receiving equal pay as well as fair treatment from our country's legal/justice system, I would choose the latter EVERY. SINGLE. MOTHERFREAKING. GOTDANG. TIME.
And that is what Dr. King was fighting for. Equality. So all of the "go along to get along" stuff - as the young people would say - is cancelled. That was NEVER his ministry.
When we think of Dr. King, and all of the people who fought for justice alongside him, I want us to remember that they fought for progress and fairness. They fought for the disenfranchised and unheard. They fought for the underrepresented, the poor and the mistreated. They fought for a seat at the table. The point is, they fought. And in order to fight, you must be emotionally and mentally moved enough to get to that point. To bypass the outrage MLK must have felt day in and day out is to completely skip over the entire point of why he did what he did in the first place. He said it himself, he didn't want to endure another minute of injustice.
Dr. King was an imperfect person who was angry at the unfairness around him and worked his entire life to change it in the best way he knew how. If that's not inspiring to the rest of us humans, I don't know what is. He wasn't a saint that sacrificed himself so that Black people and White people could hold hands. He was murdered by the U.S. government because he was successfully fighting for equality for Black people and other marginalized groups. So let's celebrate the man in the full complexity of his humanity and not lose sight of the equality that he stood for. Because in that way, we are giving ourselves a standard that is both noble and achievable.
Happy Martin Luther King Day!
Just a brief post to wish everyone a Happy New Year! 2016 was a rough one, but the lessons were abundant and for that I am thankful.
In 2016 there were a lot of cool developments in my career including (but not limited to) the creation of this website. With each new day, I look forward to doing more and learning more so as to provide quality visual, literary and artistic content.
With that said... onward and upward in 2017!
I have to come up with better titles for my blog but these past few days have gone back to the new status quo of terrible-ness. Trevor Noah's back to being a cornball and The Daily Show still sucks.
Apparently, Charlamagne and Tomi Lahren are best friends now because racism is fun and we should all just take it lightly.
Ben Carson is national secretary of HUD which makes absolutely no sense.
And Paul Ryan said free lunches give kids 'empty souls.' But whatever. There's too much for me to unpack there. Maybe some other time.
Let's go back to the subject of Tomi Lahren on The Daily Show and The Breakfast Club (but briefly because... gag). Folks on Twitter (particularly Black Twitter) have been upset that Tomi was even given a platform on TDS in the first place. As you can see by my last post, I'm not one of those people. Jon Stewart has had some deplorable ass people on his show - Bill O'Reilly, anyone? - so I've grown to expect the host of TDS to be able to confront the kind of people he talks about from time to time. Trevor had Lahren on the show and, in my opinion, he did a great job of showing the world what an idiot she was. That's it. From this point on, I don't think he has to go around spewing hatred and vitriole about her, but there should never be a moment where he mentions this woman's name in a context that implies that her political or social opinions about marginalized communities are in any way valid.
This tweet is friendly and polite and everything, but why in the mixed race hell would we want to hear what she has to say after that last interview? What I got from her on this one and (hopefully) only visit on the show is that she's crazy. Can we move on?
Charlamagne, on the other hand, is known for being controversial and talking reckless to guests on his show. I've NEVER been a fan of this guy, but expected that since he's not one to hold his tongue, he'd point out the obvious in terms of Tomi Lahren being a white supremacist. But nope. He saves his unrelenting approach in interviews for women of color, and is particularly vicious in his verbal attacks against Black women. Again, I've never expected much from Charlamagne, but you'd think in this instance where it would be fully acceptable for him to be harsh in his criticism (as is usually his practice) he'd use his obnoxiousness for good. But yeah... nope. Either way, that's all I got. I don't really want to type this dude's name anymore.
Goodnight. Everything's terrible.
(For the record, I'm joking, everything's not terrible as today is my niece's birthday. And she is amazing. And I'm so happy she was born to brighten my world and the world of so many others. :) :) :)
I'll save the intro... did anyone see Trevor Noah's interview with conservative political commentator and consummate racist Tomi Lahren last night? It was as if - within that segment - God read my blog yesterday and said, "hold on, I got something for you." Noah held this woman's feet to the fire with solid questions and sharp commentary. Tomi didn't know what hit her. She probably expected to be thrown some soft-ball questions. And now it seems she's reevaluating things, considering that she was supposed to be interviewed on the radio show, The Breakfast Club, this morning and cancelled. Trevor Noah may not have been as easy as she (and I) thought he'd be but there is NO question that Charlamagne would have lit that ass up.
This blog entry will be short because I'm tentative about expecting this on a regular basis but I really hope we can see more of this side from Trevor Noah. I really really do! I want guests to be shook to come on The Daily Show. I want them to know that Jon Stewart is gone, but they're still going to get that work. And I hope Noah can incorporate this kind of wittiness into other segments of the show.
Anywho... check out the 26 minute interview below...
What do you think? Can we expect to see more of this?
The title of this blog is admittedly vague so I'll get to the point. During this time when we have President Elect Donald Trump on deck to take office, I am missing Jon Stewart like nobody's business.
I was sad to hear that Stewart was leaving The Daily Show (just like everybody else) but was excited to see what Trevor Noah was going to do. I'd seen Noah's stand-up and thought he was funny and boyishly cute to boot. All of these optimistic feelings came about at a time when a Trump presidency was not breathing down the back of our collective necks. If anything, it seemed like Noah took the anchor desk at the best time. He could ease himself into our hearts with Trump jokes (which are easy to make) and once the election was over and Trump was NOT elected, he'd parlay his easily gained popularity into a successfully comedic take on American culture and politics.
But not so much. In my humble opinion, his jokes aren't hitting the spot. And here's the thing... they absolutely NEED to hit the spot now that Trump's going to be around for 4 years. The stakes are through the roof and we're like Halle Berry in Monster's Ball(s). Trevor Noah is our Billy Bob Thornton and we need him to make us feeeeel good.
Trevor Noah, bless his heart, tells jokes that feel like more of a detached commentary about Americans. Occasionally, he'll throw in a bad accent or give a goofy expression that makes me wish for Stewart's comedic timing. It's especially disappointing when Noah's jokes fall flat or when he has awkward interactions with his show's guests, avoiding controversial questions and instead opting for quippy jokes and playful observations. Sometimes he just looks lost. And even with all of these criticisms, I wouldn't say that he's a bad host. Jon Stewart did many of these things too. The difference is that Stewart's jokes packed a punch in that they were filled with so much information, so many supporting news clips, so much evidence, that the punchline was based on the absurdity of all of the contradictions. Noah's jokes rely on a funny face or funny observations. Additionally, Stewart had a level of confidence that allowed him to challenge American culture, politics and politicians in a way that would take Noah a lifetime (in America) to aspire to. Stewart would literally beg certain politicians, journalists, etc. to be on his show, salivating at the opportunity to go toe to toe with these people. And they were shook. They. Didn't. Want. That. Work.
Simply put, Jon Stewart was a savage. And while Noah is intelligent, funny and friendly, when our president elect is tweeting shit like this...
...a savage is very necessary.
The closest we had in recent months has been Larry Wilmore (who had a ton of kinks in his show The Nightly Show as well - but was still better than the current Daily Show in my opinion). With Larry Wilmore's controversial brand of comedy (see: controversial jokes made during the White House Correspondence Dinner) in addition to the yeeeears of experience he has writing comedy, it's easy to see why he's a savage in his own right. It takes balls, confidence and an unreal level of comfortability in one's career to make the jokes Wilmore made. Although he paid the price, it was great seeing him just go for it. Additionally, John Oliver's been filling the spot nicely over at HBO on Last Week Tonight. His videos - packed with a ton of information about current goings-on - are getting shared all over my facebook page and it's my go-to when I want the biting comedy that's been missing from The Daily Show as of late.
On a brighter note, I'm hoping that Trevor Noah gets better, sharpens his teeth a bit and starts making jokes that rile people up again. Of course, I would love to have that person like right now, but greatness takes time.
It's been a few weeks and to be honest, I feel like I'm just recovering from this recent election. I had something akin to a hangover that lasted a full week, complete with congestion, exhaustion and a migraine that wouldn't quit.
Either way, I feel better now and have gotten back to work networking, taking meetings and pitches from hopeful writers that want to pair up on projects.
Recently, I had an experience that left me thinking about all of the things I wish people knew before they pitched me their idea or asking me to meet with them. So I've decided to lay that information out in this blog post. And hopefully, I'll be able to make this a regular dumping ground for helpful advice.
So here goes...
1. Remember that reading scripts is a chore and reading a bad script is torture
The most annoying words to hear are "Will you read my script?" Why? Because reading scripts is boring. It takes two hours (I'm a slow reader) out of your life and there are very low odds of getting a return on that invested time. On top of that, the script might be really bad and you have to try to figure out how to have a very awkward conversation the next time you see the writer of said script. It's a lot of commitment. This is why a lot of established producers only take submissions from writers who are represented. It shows that the person has been given the "industry thumbs up", in terms of writing skills.
Unfortunately, newbie producers - like myself - often read scripts by writers who don't have that thumbs up yet. So there's a high chance of spending hours and hours reading scripts that need page one rewrites. This is important to keep in mind when asking someone to read your script. Know that you are asking for a few hours of their time and they are already expecting the worst. One thing you can do before you give your script to a producer is give it to a good friend or family member that doesn't mind reading your stuff and will give you an honest opinion. This way, you can do a few rewrites that might help you to better your script before giving it to someone who may not be as enthusiastic to read it in the first place.
2. Practice your pitch
Don't expect to have an hour long conversation with a producer about your script. Practice your elevator pitch. If you can't give the person an idea of your story in 10 minutes or less, then you don't have a handle on your story. So go get a handle on your story.
3. Compliments mean nothing
If you have shown your script to everybody and they're mama but no one has agreed to put things into motion for your project, it doesn't matter how many compliments you've received. Compliments in Hollywood mean nothing. If anything, it can be a bad sign if all you've received for your script have been compliments. In entertainment, a good idea is like gold. Everyone wants to find a way to connect themselves to you or your idea because they're seeing dollar signs. But if no one sees dollar signs, they will give you a compliment (to be rid of you) and keep it moving. The only exception is if they're not able to help you, i.e. Grandmom or the grocery store clerk. Unless Mee-maw is green lighting movies as her side job or working the mailroom at UTA, her compliments mean nothing.
4. Be deliberate about who you're sharing your script with
This goes along with what I mentioned in #3. If you want your script to actually go somewhere, don't be willy-nilly about who you're giving it out to. I'm not just coming from the perspective of being careful about copyright infringement, but also of being careful of how you're expending your energy. Have a plan about who reads it and why. If you're giving it to the grocery store clerk, is it because he's Steven Spielberg's cousin? Don't just give it to people who can't do anything for you. Do your research and have a plan for who you want to read your script and why.
5. Spelling and grammatical errors are a no-no
I really wish I didn't have to put this particular piece of advice on the list, because you would think it's obvious, but here we are. Spelling and grammar are super important because they give anyone who reads your script faith in your writing abilities. Errors are distracting. They make you look like a sloppy writer who didn't put thought or care into your script. Formatting is important too, but if your story is exceptionally good, it can be overlooked. But bad spelling and grammar, not so much. If you're not good with spelling and/or grammar, get help before sending your script out. This is the first and easiest way to weed out a writer because often times bad spelling/grammar is indicative of a bad script. And for the record, the occasional misspelled word or grammatical error is to be expected, but more than three or four and there's a huge problem.
6. Money is the point
Whatever project you're pitching expect that the producer is going to have to figure out a way to get funding for it. A cool movie about a spaceship crash landing into the middle of a Spartan battle may sound like a hundred million dollar headache to the person you're pitching it to. Understand that some stories are not meant for first time directors, producers or indie features. But mainly, money is the bottom line and whoever you're pitching to will need to see dollar signs (and a plethora of promotional opportunities) before they can move forward with your project. Think about these things when you're deciding who to pitch to and how.
7. If you want to direct, you must prove that you can
I think I've only gotten a pitch from two writers who didn't want to direct their own feature. Unfortunately, it's hard to find investors for first time directors. Investors are wealthy people and many of them didn't get to that point by giving out money to people by taking risks with no research. They want to know what they're getting into. So unless you want your producer to take off running, if you want to direct the script you wrote, make sure that you have projects under your belt that showcase your awesome directing ability. If they are blown away by your directing, then maybe you'll be able to direct your script. But keep in mind, a big name or up-and-coming director draws in investors and money like flies to honey, so if you want to direct your script with no strong experience, the odds are against you in finding a producer to back you up.
8. Be gracious
Never take for granted when someone has read your script. It's time consuming. Be considerate of that and genuinely thank them. If they only give you a compliment and then dip, see if you can get their thoughts on it. If they actually give you their real thoughts and mix in some words of advice or notes, take those notes seriously. Don't get defensive. Don't argue. Don't dismiss them. Go home and cry and punch a pillow if you have to but remember that you want your script sold and produced. And if you can't take advice on how to get that done, then it's not about the script... it's about you. Don't make it about you. You don't have to take every bit of advice that's thrown at you as not everybody is a good fit for your project and not everybody knows what's in the best interest for your project. But don't go around punishing people for being honest with you. Honesty is better than a compliment any day of the week.
That's all I got. Now go and be great!
I woke up at 6am this morning. Tossing and turning after a troubled sleep. At times throughout the night, I'd woken up to the sound of my own voice praying and begging God to let this just be a nightmare.
But when I could no longer fight my way back into REM and my eyes popped open this morning, I knew that everything I'd experienced the night before had really happened.
Donald J. Trump, sexist homophobe, overt racist, xenophobic, tax evading, cheapskate, rapist and failed businessman, compulsive liar and narcissistic bully and sociopath has just been elected to the highest office in the land.
Now, I would never call myself an optimist especially when it comes to this country. I don't expect the American people to collectively make morally sound decisions because the country wasn't founded on morally sound principals. But I will say that I didn't expect Donald Trump to become President because well . . . have you seen him?!
This man has worked his way through offending every single marginalized group that exists in America. He lies and doesn't pay taxes. He has no respect for women, their bodies or anything outside of their appearance. He offers no specific solutions regarding policy. And the solutions that he does offer are overly simplistic, harmful, historically ineffective and scary as hell.
But if you're reading this, I'm sure you already know that.
This morning I walked my dog at 6:30am and took a different route, hoping to avoid anyone who might want to talk about their feelings on this election. I suspect that I'll be doing that for the next few days, maybe even weeks.
Now comes my pessimism. I strongly believe that Donald Trump embodies everything that America stands for. He is the mirror many of us have needed in order to wake up and see how troubled we truly are as a nation.
I watched a video not too long ago where a woman explained that America loves making movies about rag-tag groups of underdog heroes that get together and fight the big bad bully. But what America doesn't realize is that they are seen by other countries as the big bad bully. As someone that has lived overseas, I can attest to that.
America is seen as a bully that lies and intrudes into the affairs of others under the guise of "helping" but really just seeking out power and potential financial opportunities. A bully that is racist and xenophobic. A bully that doesn't care about women. A narcissistic, hypocritical and extremely wealthy bully. Do all of these things sound familiar? They do to me. They sound like Trump.
But many people don't realize that America as a whole is seen as a bully. Hell, many Americans don't realize that America is bullying its own people. But something tells me that a Donald Trump presidency will be the wake up call so many of us need.
I can't say that I'm rooting against our country. Far from it. I want there to be change for the better. But centuries of apathy for the plight of others is what finally brought the devil to our doorstep. And if it takes him causing some destruction to get us to exorcise our demons, I am not against that wake up call. Hell, many of us have already been suffering for centuries with no one to hear our plight.
Marginalized groups have been warning White America for years about the unfairness that we've experienced.
There have been live executions on social media for goodness' sake and still no federal changes in harmful policing policies.
So how bad does it have to get for White people to wake up and realize WE have a huge problem with racism, sexism, elitism, xenophobia, classism, prison industrial complex, health care, environmental sustainability, energy, national debt, student loan debt, world relations, gun control, etc. etc. etc. in this country? (I say White people, because they make up the overwhelming majority of Trump voters despite his notoriously tone-deaf and backwards stance on all of the above mentioned issues).
Perhaps the chilling answer to that question is in the form of a catastrophe by the name of Donald Jonathan Trump.
Everyone else is bracing for the blows that could come with a Trump presidency. Everyone, of course, but the millions of White people that elected him to office and fully expect to benefit from his presidency. It will be a very sad day when these people are shaken from their reality. And they will be shaken the hardest, because they won't see it coming.
Either way, I'm looking forward to all of the good that will come after this man massively screws up. I'm excited to see a country that learns from its mistakes and finally starts to keep its promise. I just hope we can all survive these chickens coming home to roost.
For some reason, Lil Tunechi was featured on an episode of Nightline and the geniuses at ABC decided to ask him for his opinion on the Black Lives Matter movement. And in typical Lil Wayne fashion, he answered their questions with the unaffected callousness of . . . well . . . Lil Wayne.
Here's one of his replies...
“I am a young, Black rich motherf*cker If that don’t let you know that America understand Black motherf*ckers matter these days, I don’t know what it is. That man white, he filmin’ me. I’m a n*gga. I don’t know what you mean, man. Don’t come at me with that dumb sh*t, man. My life matter. Especially to my b*tches.”
I can't say I'm shocked or offended. I think Dave Chappelle put it best when it comes to asking celebrities about weighty issues...