The Revolution Won’t Be Televised So What Makes You Think It Should be Streamed?
The influx of movies being made on famous revolutionaries is feeling like a way for Hollywood to dilute their impact.
Like many people, I was too excited when I saw that Ryan Coogler was producing a film on Fred Hampton and the FBI spy William O Neal, who helped Cointel Pro assassinate him in December 1969. The trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah had me amped, and the soundtrack had me excited too, especially when I saw that Nipsey Hussle and Jay-Z had a song together. But when I actually got to the movie and heard the song, I realized that something was off. It felt good to see Fred acknowledged, but the victory felt hollow. Like we won in the eyes of the consumer, but lost in spirit. Like justifying being wealthy went against the spirit of what he stood for.
I kept my thoughts to myself, but couldn’t help but agree with critics who felt as if the cinematography and acting couldn’t overshadow how underwhelmed we were with the movie overall. I don’t doubt the story or the authenticity of the script, but what made this movie the movie for Hollywood to ride with? When did it become cool for businesses to invest in our stories the way they are now? Before you say I’m tripping, think about it: There’s going to be a major motion picture movie of two major black cultural themes with Marcus Garvey in a movie “Marked Man” and with The Spook Who Sat By the Door. These figures and ideas of Pan Africanism and urban revolution are central aspects of black nationalism which has always been public enemy number one in America. Many of the who’s who in black America hated Garvey, including W.E.B. Dubois, and called him everything derogatory you could think of. Sam Greenlee, who wrote The Spook Who Sat By The Door, didn’t receive the recognition he deserved in his lifetime either. Why now?
My gut tells me that this is the best way for the powers that be to dilute the potency of what these movements stood for. Instead of acting as if these people didn’t exist and diluting their impact, why not make them more accessible? Instead of focusing more on the leaders’ life, focus on the spies who infiltrated and brought it down. Instead of acting as if racism doesn’t exist, why not embed it in your commercials with a pledge to donate money? It’s upsetting. I used to be one of those people who felt as if the stories needed to be told to a younger audience, regardless of the cost. Now I see just how detrimental such a thing can be to a culture that lacks the power to define its own heroes.