Monday, November 18, 2013

ARE WE THERE YET?

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

 

Henry David Thoreau


America continues to be such an interesting place. Undoubtedly there are few places on earth where you are MORE free [by constitutional law] to express your thoughts (provocative or otherwise) yet no where on earth are you more economically penalized for sharing them when those thoughts upset the very lawmakers that “gave" you the right to express them.  Take Oprah Winfrey as a knee-jerk example.  Oprah is arguably one of the most celebrated females to grace the shores of the United States since Jesus’ unmarried mom.

However, when she pulled a wagon of meat on stage during one of her ever-so-riveting episodes to (symbolically) illustrate how much weight she’d lost, the USFDA (the Gestapo of American’s intake) demanded that she issue an ON-AIR apology; because of the negative affect(s) her “demonstration” had on America’s meat consumption. Now I don’t know what’s funnier.., the fact that a plump chick can pull out a wagon of meat and affect millions of her strategically-targeted audience’s purchasing habits; or the fact that Oprah had to apologize for having such an effect.  In either case, she apologized (of course), then subsequently gained her weight back and McDonald's has (since) crossed the 10 billion mark in cows killed.  Mission accomplished, God bless America.  Had Oprah NOT apologized, she probably wouldn’t be the huge figure she is today (if you pardon the double entendre). I love freedom, although in the case of Imperialism, it’s rarely free and it’s never, ever given! 


Are We There Yet 

This weekend (11/17) the 15-year, romantic-comedy sequel The Best Man Holiday eclipsed the box office projections with a $30.1 million weekend gross (see below for more details):













1

1


$38,454,000

-55.1%

3,841

-

$10,011

$146,965,000

$170

2

2

N


$30,593,000

-

2,024

-

$15,115

$30,593,000

$17

1

3

4


$8,850,000

-19.8%

3,237

+155

$2,734

$46,958,000

$28

3

4

3


$8,300,000

-25.3%

3,510

-226

$2,365

$42,218,000

$55

3

5

2


$7,670,000

-32.3%

3,190

+3

$2,404

$90,202,000

$15

4

6

6


$6,280,000

-26.4%

2,560

-160

$2,453

$240,556,000

$100

7

7

5


$6,200,000

-39.6%

3,236

-171

$1,916

$53,777,000

$110

3

8

7


$4,700,000

-29.6%

1,411

+267

$3,331

$24,949,000

-

5

9

8


$4,500,000

-21.2%

2,626

-20

$1,714

$97,617,000

$55

6

10

9


$3,462,000

-27.2%

1,280

+80

$2,705

$11,568,000

-

3

11

10


$1,950,000

-29.8%

1,645

-191

$1,185

$113,016,000

$78

8

By comparison, one of the most important films in my lifetime 12 Years A Slave netted 4.7 million or a decline of -84% versus The Best Man Holiday box office receipts. (In case you were wondering about the other life-altering films: Sankofa, Ragtime, Bamboozled, and A Soldier's Story would be a great place to upgrade your movie collection). 

What this means probably depends on who you ask.  Perhaps, we (black folks) prefer to laugh at our pain versus cry at the systematic symptoms that cause it.  I have a much different assessment, but you probably knew that.

What I do applaud is the diversity of story lines in both films.  The culture of Black folks is far more diverse than mainstream seems willing to embrace (not my barometer by any means).  Nevertheless, it's no surprise since it’s the monolithic image that (in part) helped to keep us enslaved – a fact that 12 Years A Slave producer, Steve McQueen brilliantly demonstrates throughout the film.., as the box office irony continues.

So where are we

Self-dubbed, cultural icon Jay-Z believes we have arrived at a place where we shouldn’t “react emotionally” when black people are being arrested for making LEGAL purchases from (his latest venture), Barney’s New York. 



Perhaps, Marcy's Main Man feels we should wait until one of us is shot in the back before we offer our emotional outrage or write an "Open Letter" to our Congressman. I make no secret about the fact that Jay-Z was once a really dope emcee and penned two of the best Hip Hop LPs I have ever heard: Reasonable Doubt & the Black Album. What I probably need to make much clearer is I’m MORE of a fan of the culture and no single individual is larger than that fact.  So while Jay continues to demonstrate the fact that: "I am not a businessman, I am a business, man;" I will undoubtedly treat him as such.  I almost want to thank him for making that clear..., almost. Mr. Knowles has stated that: "I will not make a dime off the partnership with Barney’s" (he probably assumes you haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave).  Mr. Z proclaims that any profits that are made will go to his foundation to help the innocent people -- like the ones being arrested outside of his joint ventured clothing store. I’m going to miss the new Barack of Hip Hop. I can only hope the Emperor enjoys his New Clothes.   I wonder if Jay ever thought about playing Bob Marley’s “Who the Cap Fits” in one of his new stores? 

Are We There Yet

While I truly believe Black folks (like most ethnic cultures) have varied multi-layered characteristics, aspirations, dreams and morals, the one thing that I thought was universal is the west African proverb: "A tribe birthed from the same struggle will never be divided." 

Integration changed that…, and here we are.

1 love,
Ray Lewis    

No comments: