Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Why I Decided To Not Support Comedian Kevin Hart’s The Upside.

March 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Ent., News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) I am unsure if it was the uninhibited euphoria flowing from the trailer announcing James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talkor the fact that I was sitting in a dark theater eagerly waiting for The Green Book that Kevin Hart’s new movie The Upside, a remake of the French film The Intouchables (2011), landed on my must-see list. After all, I refuse to have my name placed on the daunting list of Black folk who failed to support Black Arts — Theater, Poetry, Movies, Ballet, Jazz, Symphony — and unwittingly contributed to its disappearance.

In time, my desire to view Hart’s film waned for reasons that toppled my initial euphoria. Once my mind retreated from the emotionalism that always appears for those of my generation regarding a new film involving Black folk. I am old enough to remember how big Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and Thriller, not to mention the arrival of The Cosby Show, were to a community starving to see itself on television.

My politicized mind trumped emotionalism and decided that there were significant problems with The Upside.

Unfortunately for those responsible for The Upside those days of supporting a film because it features a Black star has expired for a segment of Black America; however, first returns for this film also proves that there is a segment of America still willing to support productions for including notable Black stars.

The Upside revolves around Dell, Kevin Hart’s character, a streetwise New Yorker and convict being forced to seek gainful employment by “the proper authorities,” entering an elevator that takes him to the Park Avenue Penthouse place of multimillionaire businessman Philip (Bryan Cranston) who is seeking an assistant to aid his navigation of life. A hang-gliding accident rendered Philip a quadriplegic; Philip chooses Hart.

Although many Americans, including a significant portion of Black America, are desperate for a story resting on the pillars of redemption, hope, and second chances; it never fails that when Race is integrated into the storyline that stereotypes, pandering, and oversimplification enter the production. Put simply; it is far too late in the game for Black America to be rocked asleep by such efforts as they do nothing to alter damaging narrative that follows Black men like a shadow.

My concerns regarding efforts to inject comedic commentary into substantive real-world racial matters are the tendency for Blacks to appear as a hopeless underclass whose only path to salvation is found through a dubious association with wealthy whites; such portrayals render Blacks to be parasites latching onto a host.

Many will counter my concerns with an observation that The Upside is merely entertainment and should not be taken seriously. However, if we were a nation that held regular substantive discussions regarding racial matters, those points would be valid. However, in a nation where such discussions are as rare as Bigfoot sightings, any presentation of Race on the big screen carries a phenomenal amount of potential to advance, stall, or reverse Race matters. Put simply; people believe what they see on the big screen and foolishly allow these displays to guide their understanding of Race.

In many ways, the failure of serious conversations regarding Race on the big screen says as much about Black Hollywood as it does about the film industry’s bottom line financial realities. One can only wonder if Hollywood Studios would “green light” a story such as Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk were it to appear today?

Considering the non-discussion that this nation is comfortable with regarding racial matters, I think that the answer is obvious. It appears that the vast majority of the nation has yet to comprehend that the there is no upside to be found in the generation of stereotypical black characters whose salvation can only be found by catering to the same whites whose wealth was generated off of their multi-generational suffering. Most sensible people would agree that it is time that this nation divested from non-sense such as The Upside and took a real look at the cause, continuation, and potential solutions to Black suffering in this nation. Unfortunately, The Upside does nothing in this regard.

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

Official website; http://www.ManhoodRaceCulture.com

One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.

 


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