Month: January 2012

The Help Wins! 6 Reasons I’m Totes Thrilled

I was worried last year. I had pretty much exhausted the canon of movies that remind me how awful it is to be an RBP. I had gone through Tyler Perry’s joints. I had taken copious notes on how people of color were relegated to the tiniest of roles in regular movies. I read up on Lucas’s problems with Red Tails. But Oreos require constant inspiration and I was running low.

And then tonight’s SAG Awards happened. And The Help won Best Picture.

Here are 6 reasons why it’s beyond baller that it did.

1. Keeping the genre alive. Look, there’s only so much room in the canon for “thrillers” or “comedies” or “silent films.” We need to constantly push the envelope. At this time, we have amazing technology that can take us to far away worlds or put a new spin on old techniques…. But both of those things take quite a bit of work and challenge filmmakers as well as audiences. Much better to bask in nostalgia, both in the look and mentality of the films we choose to make and laud.

2.  Wildly inconsistent stakes distract from period horrors. So, the RBP ladies in this movie need Skeeter because it’s too risky for them to speak up for themselves. If they do, they’ll get fired, or worse. So it makes total sense then, that Minnie bakes her own shit into a pie and gives it to a white lady. Because if it’s such a terrifying time that black people can be killed for looking twice at a white person, I’m sure they’ll be perfectly safe by giving their former employers a Hep strain.

Because the film doesn’t make it clear how dangerous a time it was, it lets us know that it probably wasn’t all ~that~ bad in the end. I mean, there was room for shit pie.

How did she even know how to properly season a poop in a pie in the first place?

3. Totally reasonable reason for firing someone turns into abhorrent reason to fire someone and thus makes the fired seem a bit petty at the end of the day. So, in addition to emotionally molesting her friends for their stories that she’s going to publish, Skeeter also spends a great deal of time pestering her mother to tell her what happened to the mammy she grew up with. With a tearful story, her mom finally tells her.

Turns out, Skeeter’s mammy was like 174 years old and couldn’t properly serve meals anymore. Also, during a very important meeting, the mammy’s daughter bursts into the room and interrupts. This is the equivalent of me following my company’s CEO to a business lunch and then sitting down at their table as if our company’s CEO has any idea who I am.

What Skeeter’s mammy did was a perfectly reasonable firing offense. And so, again, it reminds us that things weren’t really all that bad back in the ol’ Jim Crow days, so seriously, what is everyone complaining about??

4. Reminder that it doesn’t matter if you were beaten to shit by the cops and your kids can’t go to college–if your friend gets a book deal, it’s all worth it! One of the maids, Yule May, steals a ring to help pay for her sons to go to college. This is a crime. For the infraction, she’s beaten half to death by a couple of white cops.

The next time we see Yule May, we don’t see her broken bones or bruised face from being the victim of very unreasonable search and seizure. Instead, we see her yukking it up in jail, reading Skeeter’s book. There’s no more mention of her poor sons who now can’t get an education, nor do we see how exactly her bones managed to knit after two grown men used the full force of their physicality on her. This, like with point 3, reminds us that things surely couldn’t have been all too terrible, so why can’t we all just get along now!

5. If something’s shot on celluloid or shown in a theater and doesn’t feature a black woman saying “I love me some fried chicken,” then I don’t think that thing can properly call itself a film.

Here’s some more fun with The Help. This piece wasn’t nominated for Best Short Subject Film, I’ll never know. I’m sure we can all agree that it was a snub!

6. Okay, fine. Viola is pretty amazeballsingly gorgeous. As discussed before, self-loathing makes the Oreo go ’round and I was running low. Now I get to be bummed out not only about being black, but about my complete inability to achieve this kind of statuesqueness.
What do you think? Did The Help deserve the award? Do you want it to get an Oscar, too? What do you think should get the gold this year? Let us know in the comments! 
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4 Reasons Newt’s Child Janitor Plan Effing Rawks!!

So misunderstood.

In Monday’s Republican debate, Newt Gingrich was made to defend statements he made about how black people don’t know that they’re supposed to want to work and that to combat this, we should put kids to work as janitors in their schools.

Over the last few weeks, Gingrich has been credited with these gems:

“I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

“New York City pays their janitors an absurd amount of money because of the union. You could take one janitor and hire 30-some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out. They would actually have money in their pocket. They’d learn to show up for work. They could do light janitorial duty. They could work in the cafeteria. They could work in the front office. They could work in the library.”

A bunch of people have been upset by the comments calling them everything from “ignorant” to “racist” to “holy shit it’s 20-fucking-12, is it really still okay to say these things in public and get a standing ovation for them?!?!?”

Those people are clearly pussies.

Child labor is totally great and could help not only our schools, but our society as a whole!  Check it, yo!

1. Firing working janitors and replacing them with children ensures that we as a nation still have someone to kick around and belittle for not having a job. GOP is fueled in part by the knowledge that poor people are spending all their time selfishly and needlessly gaming a system. The right spends a lot of time talking about how people just need to get jobs and not be unemployed. But with the country on the mend, more people are getting jobs. And thus the party needs more gas. By firing people who have jobs, Newt will ensure that the right will still be right–people just need to get jobs!!

2. Taking kids out of the classroom is actually saving them from boring-ass lectures about dull bullshit like English, history or economics. Newt’s imagined working class of kids will be sooooooo lucky!!!! It’s so hard to stay asleep in class when some teacher is going on and on and on about what happened in our country when or how the political system works or how to read. By stopping kids from going to class, Newt will be saving them from hours and hours of drudgery! Bonus points because since those kids missed all those uninteresting classes in high school, they won’t be able to have to endure more of that crap in college!! Suh-weeeet!

3. It is time to breed a new brand of bully, after all. Kids getting picked on for being too tall or being too short or being too fat or being too thin or being too gay or being too  much of a girl or being too smart or being too dumb or being in class on time or getting to class late or having a cool car or not having a cool car or having adoring parents or not having great parents really leaves bullies with too few options. Now, in addition to all of the above, kids can get picked on for smelling like shit all day. And, since high schoolers are always so super awesome to each other, there’s really very little chance of mean kids leaving extra hearty presents in the loo for their classmates to have to deal with.

4. It takes like two minutes to teach cleaning, it takes like forever to teach empathy. Who has that kind of time?!?!? There are all kinds of complex reasons why kids aren’t keen on working their buns off and doing outstandingly in school.  There are governmental policies like California’s Prop 13 that keep massive amounts of funds from being collected for greedy ol’ public schools, there are family issues, undiagnosed learning disabilities, a dearth of computers, books and desks for kids who need them most, horrible state-sponsored lunches that provide no nutritional value, mental health issues that come from dealing with a life of chronic poverty, broken homes, not having heat. But UGH!! Like who wants to understand how those things work together?!?! That would take like a lifetime of understanding, consideration and the daily practice of good, traditional, Christian values. Why should any of us have to become emotionally uncomfortable to learn that kind of skill when we could just teach kids how to put on rubber gloves and line trash cans?

Woah! Do you see how freaking difficult that looks! Also, why isn't that lazy ass kid doing some hard labor instead of getting a g-d handout??

Thanks for looking out for us, Newt! You are truly the people’s champion.

Want more of this deliciousness? Here are Bachmann’s 8 Other Reasons Slavery Was So Super Kickass!

And here’s a study that explains how prison is a better place for black dudes to be anyway!

What’s your favorite way to put more regulation on the poor, the browns, the gays or the womens while telling the country that you’re the party of less regulation? Let us know in the comments!

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For Mor-eo! Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!

[Insert Star Wars Reference Here to Provide Segue into Talking About George Lucas*]

When I was about 10, my parents, in a misguided effort to instill some sort of ethnic pride in me, told me I was related to Booker T. Washington.

That would have been awesome had it not been a total lie. I am not related to Booker T. I am however, related to an actual hero—a fact my parents neglected to mention until we were literally standing in front of a picture in the Smithsonian and my mom more than casually said: “Oh, there’s your Uncle Andrew…Did you wanna get lunch?”

Turns out, my Uncle Andrew was one of the Tuskegee Airmen–the pilots who are the subject of George Lucas’s latest film, Red Tails.

This is his picture…the one that’s in the Smithsonian…no big deal…just the Smithsonian.

This is him. As seen in the Smithsonian. Museum. You know, that big one.

No big deal.

Anyhoo, I had the opportunity to hear Lucas speak about this film months and months ago at work. He’s also been doing the requisite publicity tours lately and I caught his appearance on The Daily Show where he repeated a sentiment he’s been touting since I first heard him talk about Red Tails last year.

Lucas has been talking about how the big studios in Hollywood didn’t want to pay for the production or promotion of this film because it was an all-black action movie and they a) didn’t think it would play and b) didn’t know how to market a blacktion movie like that in the first place.

Not the droids they're looking for.

When I heard him say this, I was shocked!!

I mean, Lucas should have known better. Of course a movie like this is doomed! I mean, sure, it’s got huge, awesome fighting sequences, war, drama, amazing special effects work, a compelling not-yet-over-told story and nostalgia. But it also has black people in it. And as we’ve learned from movies like these, these, these, these, these and these, unless it’s a man in a fat suit, putting black people in movies just doesn’t make sense.

And Hollywood is totally faithful to its pattern of not putting out films with elements that have been proven not to work. Just look at some recent big budget flops.

Mars Needs Moms In this animated, boy-centric, action flick based on a book of the same name, a chore-phobic kids goes a a planet where there are no women to make sure life doesn’t fall apart due to lack of laundry.

  • Budget v. Box Office: $175 million/$38 million
  • Notes: Think how much worse the movie would have been if when they went to the Uncanny Valley, they came back with a little black kid to play the lead and not a little white one. The title wasn’t “Compton Needs Crack,” after all.

The Green Lantern – Ryan Reynold wears Spandex and saves some segment of humanity.

  • Budget v. Box Office: $325 million/$219 million
  • Notes: Again, at least it wasn’t a black dude…like it is in the comic books. I mean, the Black Green Lantern? You wouldn’t even be able to see that.

What’s Your Number? – Anna Faris believes she has had too much sex.

  • Budget v. Box Office: $20 million v. $6 million
  • Notes: Just think what a travesty this would have been if one of the leads were of color! They wouldn’t even be able to call up a number because their phones would have been cut off.

Conan the Barbarian – I’m sure this movie is about something, but I was distracted by the 14-pack.

  • Budget v. Box Office: $90 million v. $49 million
  • Notes: “Conan the Blackbarian?” I don’t think so. I mean, a Blackbearian sound adorable. But a big black guy running through towns brandishing weapons? Um, I spent way too much money to live in this gated community so I don’t have to see that.

Prince of Persia – Didn’t realize Persia was in the OC.

  • Budget v. Box Office: $200 million v. $90 million
  • Notes: Very similar to the Conan casting problem. Even though Persia is a country populated by brown people, if you give one of ’em a big weapon–even if it is a scimitar–you’re just asking for trouble.

Clearly there are some things that just don’t work in movies. And that’s why there are only a few hundred movies coming out in the next few years that feature things like animation, white kids, motion capture, novel adaptations, superheros, white guys, New York, white gals, over sexed 20-somethings, contrived ticking clocks, singles who are totally oblivious to the fact that the person of their dreams is standing right in front of them, epics, horses, weapons, big CG crowds, Los Angeles and gigantic budgets.

Though all of those elements are consistently present in movies that do terribly, it’s really just good science to run a few more test cases just to be sure.

No need to figure that shiz out for black folks, though. Totally obvious they can’t make a movie work.

For an equally disturbing trend in TV, click here.

Are you related to anyone awesome (apart from your awesome self?). Do you wish you were? Tell us about your family history in the comments!

*Seriously, someone help me out with the Star Wars references. I’ve never seen the movies.

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F**klection 2012: A Survival Guide – Don’t Worry about the Truth

With Mitt and company surely having some sort of well-coiffed, $10,000 celebration today, it’s time to consider how to get through what has already proven to be an interesting, thoughtful, reasonable, mature election cycle.

Today’s lesson: Eff Truth, brought to you by Ricks Santorum and Perry.

First, a big thank you to Santorum for reminding me why I want so badly to be an Oreo. During a pre-caucus speech in Sioux City, he reminded us just what a burden people of color are with this:

“…I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

To be fair, he was talking about people who are dependent on Welfare and since 84% of the people using Welfare in Iowa are white, his quote made a lot of sense people decide they were going to vote for him after all.

There are some other niggling issues with Santorum’s recent soundbite. He said that he talked to someone at Iowa’s Department of Public Welfare…which actually doesn’t exist. There is a Department of Human Services, but anyone can forget the exact name of a government office that they’ll be partially responsible for dealing with when they’re elected to government office. Also, the Department–whatever it’s being called this week–isn’t facing any fines for not having enough people on its roster. The state gets less money when it needs less money…and thanks to recent improvements, it’s about to need, and thus get, less money.

And I’m still fascinated by the reaction to Rick Perry’s bizarrely-named and ironically-wardrobed “Strong” ad that came out a few weeks ago. In the piece, Perry said that kids aren’t allowed to celebrate Christmas.

While it IS true that teachers, principals, bosses, mean girls, etc cannot force anyone to adopt the traditions of any particular religion in a publicly-funded institution, if someone wants to ignore the teacher in favor of quietly doing Hail Marys all day or tattoo Christ onto their torso or propose a Secret Santa program, or hang Christmas lights or watch some carolers in a public square or put up a Christmas tree, gather their families and friends around and eat too much and tell stories or go to church on Christmas day or donate presents to charities or send Christmas cards or build snowmen or update their facebook status with Christmas greetings or just enjoy the chance to sleep in for once or leave their Christmas decorations up a bit too long, they were more than welcome to do so.

But look, these “facts” are unimportant details, much like the unimportant details we fudge over all the time. Not quite telling the truth is what gets us through our days and weeks. It allows us to date, to get jobs, have friends and to enjoy free food at weddings.

During those events, no one ever says things like: “look, I’m just moderately nice enough to you long enough for a bj or four, then I’m gonna peace out,” or “What I’m really looking for is a job that allows me to spend most of the day on facebook, but to also have an office,” “God, I wish you’d shut up about your stupid blog and your overzealous stance on political shit, I just want to watch So You Think You Can Dance,” or “yeah…you guys don’t really communicate well and have chosen to never work on your commitment issues…I don’t think this is gonna work out.”

And why should we say stuff like that? It’s awkward and there’s a whole bunch of inconvenient fallout that comes from being honest and plus, Americans like stories!

We spend billions of dollars to watch movies and TV shows where people rarely behave honestly or say things that make sense. I mean, imagine if just one person in a writers room half a century ago would have said something like, “Why doesn’t he just tell those girls he’s double booked and schedule one of their dates for the next night?” Sitcom history would have been changed forever. But no one said that. Because that’s boring.

So sure, soundbites are generally made of batshit and we may or may not be on the road to economic recovery and some might say it’s silly that in 20-fucking-12 we’re still wondering whether or not people should or should not have equal civil rights. But thank God for the insane debates. I mean, what would happen if the politicos and the pundits started being honest with us? We’d have nothing to get all up in arms about and fret over. And think of the example they’d set. It’s like we’d all have to start being honest…with each other. Yikes!!!

What do you think about the ramp up to the election? Whose ring are you throwing your hat into and why? Tell us about it in the comments!

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For Mor-eo Oreo: Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!