The film depicts the struggle the black community faces to change the status quo through film. Tommy is an incredible playwrite with ‘Just us’ being pitched by his childhood friend George. After its test pilot is approved they celebrate their creativity by depicting the characters as positive, warm and humane something which doesn’t play out well with the directors.
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With the falling ratings the pressure is piling on Tommy to change the script to the ordinarily predictable African American stereotype. Even after their demeaning efforts, the show is cut off leaving George and Tommy where they were hinged on a retrogressive system.
They face the forces of negativity in their work and fuel it by believing they had failed in their quest for equality. Discrimination is rife in their society since even the audience loses belief in the show by not tuning in causing the ratings to drop.
The film gives us a flashback of when Tommy and George were young and they used to watch ‘roots’ a show which focuses on how a young African warrior is stolen from Africa and sold as a slave is able to create a family which generations later is able to be free from slavery. It tries to outline the importance of freedom and people charting their own paths in life by breaking the monotonous cycle .
The story pans out in today’s society where a clique doesn’t allow for dynamic shifts in the mindsets of people to be expressed through the media. The portraying of black people as criminals doesn’t serve the purpose the show was meant to undertake since it short-changes the viewers and the writers as well.
George and Tommy also take up an important role in the film as the main actors through their interactions to see the show through. Though they are faced with a myriad of challenges they managed to end up as people who added value to society through their show. They also had challenges of balancing their professional and private lives.
Personal values also play a part in the film through Tommy being prone to manipulation by the network executive to appease their thirst to retain the status quo.
It hasn’t been easy for black entertainers to leave their mark in television with some of them getting either demeaning or ‘lesser roles’. The most common catch phrases that have been used by black characters were either given to us by the white man during the slavery days and are now used by black people while referring to each other.
This in turn begs the question does it really matter to us that we insult each other and how does it help us? Some may argue that it helps in lessening the stigma against us with others not paying attention to the words which faded after the independence of all Americans.
To white characters it gives them an edge over black Americans since they feel superior due to their power over the mindset of black Americans. To blacks, it neccesitates for a change of attitudes and mindset. It is a shame that some blacks still think that the only way out of poverty is through crime or drug dealing.
Black-cast dramas have been a revelation when it comes to cable channels because of the way the stories are able to resonate with the audience. Although they haven’t been rampant as expected the growth of the shows has created a buzz in the industry. The industry is very bureaucratic and rigid with any show that doesn’t bring instant success through ratings being shot down.
Compounded with the fact that AfricanAmericans are a minority their needs are not seen to weigh much when it comes to demanding shows because of the low returns compounded with other factors such as being unfairly associated with gangs and drug dealing. With competition from other cheaper to produce shows such as Mexican soaps the average African American will have to wait a little bit longer before they can get their own shown on cable networks.
The promotion of black-cast shows has not been forthcoming with all parameters in cable networks turning a blind eye on the importance of a balanced viewership by audiences. With the storylines of other kinds being recycled over and over again the networks have deliberately looked the other way instead of tapping the unharnessed potential of all the stories that could be changed into stars.
This in turn has led to the formation of a network for black-cast viewing, BET (Black Entertainment Television). It exclusively airs black content while creating awareness of the deliberate attempt by rigid forces to lock out the stories of minorities.
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My ideal African American show would have to be The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show is about a young Will who moves to West Philadelphia to live with his aunt and uncle in Bel-air (Diaz, 2011). This contrasts with his previous lifestyle.
The show’s premise is all about how Will was able to surplus all the pressure of maintaining his ‘hood’ past and concentrate on the lessons to learn from his experience. The central conflict plays out such that Will is against society. He is placed in an unfamiliar setting where he is found wanting in most of his actions such as his etiquette. This leads to him learning the ropes anew while also using his past experiences to move past hurdles he encounters daily.
The person who I feel would be able to capture and own the position of Will would have to be Eddie Griffin while Will’s uncle would have to be Denzel Washington. Eddie would be able to capture the humor while also charm his way out of trouble if need be. I felt the underprivileged boy would be better played by a person who would look the part which Eddie would comfortably do. On my decision to cast Denzel I thought he would suit the wealthy uncle while also looking the part as well.
The film maker should ensure the script is well represented on the screen through cinematography to encompass the theme of the show. He /she is charged with creating the scenes scripted in a manner that captures the audience best while its main purpose would be to evoke emotions.
The film maker is also charged with the moral responsibility of not creating biased works where a certain storyline must be observed to create a balance in the story to bring out the story in its entirety without fear or favor. But it goes without saying that all this is within reach and the only limitation to anything is where minds reach their creative end.
Diaz, Evelyn. “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Star Slams Will Smith | News | BET.” Celebrities, Music, News, Fashion, Entertainment, TV Shows and Video | BET. 28 Dec 2011. Web.