Maybe everybody hates Chris, but I don't hate him at all. Most of us know Chris Rock for the genius that he is, and the way he intelligently and hilariously describes the world around us. So, you can imagine my dismay when I got a call from Charlamagne Tha God, morning host for 100.3 "The Beat" in Philadelphia, who told me that Chris Rock had some choice words for AOL Black Voices and the criticism he has received for his film, "Good Hair."
Chris seemed to feel that those claiming that the movie bombed at the box office were incorrect, since the film was only released in a few theaters. He even (accurately) explains that saying his film bombed is like "comparing the movie 'He Got Game' to 'Star Wars'." Good point. Here are some other issues that Chris brought up and how some of these issues relate to wealth, power and ownership.
Chris discusses how difficult it is to do shows, commentary and films for a black audience. This is true, given that African American audiences are not as large as non-black and global audiences. In fact, when Ice Cube (my favorite rapper) released "Janky Promoters," one of the statements made by an executive at the studio was that black movies have almost no global sales market. I am not sure if this was a racist fact or not, but it certainly is a fact.
1) He was criticized for saying that Oprah looks like a slave in one of her pictures. He says that he wasn't saying that she looks like a slave (Oprah is one of his wealthy and powerful friends, he wouldn't be that stupid - I learned firsthand about the backlash you can get from criticizing Oprah); he was saying that the picture was so old that it looked like a slave picture.
2) Chris seemed incredibly emotional and highly flustered in the interview. I am not sure if this is an act, but I certainly hope it is. Chris Rock is a vet in the game, and I'd be shocked that he would be so sensitive about criticism for his film. Chris sounds like he needs a hug from his mama. If his mama is not available, he can borrow mine.
3) Chris mentions in film that black men can be portrayed any old way, while people seem very sensitive to any portrayals of black women that are in the least bit critical. I actually agree with Chris when he says that anyone who criticizes his film needs to see it first. Also, being critical of black women is not exactly a popular thing to do - I find it interesting that all the problems of the black family and black relationships mentioned in Essence Magazine tend to be blamed almost entirely on men. The truth is that in a community, it takes two genders to Tango.
4) Chris is a businessman: He mentioned that he would not release a film about black women if black women didn't like it. During survey testing, he claims that 99 out of 100 black women like the film. The lesson here is that most products are not released to the public unless they are fully market tested. Also, the size and scope of the African American market makes room for a small number of films. At the same time, it is my hope that Chris Rock and others will take ownership of the film making process to ensure that more movies are made for black audiences, using appropriate images. Anyone who saw the "ghetto girl" in the cinematic flop "Couples Retreat" knows what I'm talking about.
5) He seems to have a bit of a beef with AOL Black Voices. When asked about critical comments that Chris received in AOL BV, the entertainer went back into "Need-a-hug-from-mama" mode. I have two things to say to Chris: First, AOL Black Voices is PLURAL, implying that there is no one voice, but many who represent a variety of viewpoints. I, for one, think that Chris Rock's work is outstanding, but I don't represent all opinions on this site. Secondly, if Chris has a concern with comments that have been made, he should do what he did today - stand up for himself!
In China, they have a saying, "The fattest pig will always get slaughtered." Chris my man, you're the fat pig - so don't be surprised when the haters come out to turn you into pork chops. But make sure you also remember that everybody doesn't hate Chris, a lot of people think you're pretty cool.
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