Black Movies That Aren't Nearly As Good (Or Even As Black) As We Pretend They Are

Lawrence Ware 04/19/2018. 24 comments
Featured Lists Movies Pop Culture Black Movies Coming To America Halle Berry Hotep Spike Lee Tyler Perry

Every fall Hollywood releases the important films—that is, the movies they think will garner Oscar attention. There will be the obligatory biopics with actors embodying disability or overcoming adversity. There will the political films that uncover a scandal or tell stories centered in human misery. Then there will be the artistic achievements, you know,films about basically nothing but either took a long time to make or have unconventional direction.

As we move into this season, I thought it wise to look back at films that many black folks love and explain why they either should not be considered a black film or why they ain’t worth a damn.

Look, just because a film is watchable doesn’t mean it’s good and there are a number of beloved black movies that are valorized just because they star black actors. I call these the ‘Halle Berry (HB) Awards’ in honor of the preeminent overrated black actress who won an Oscar for being a mediocre white man’s jump off.

HB #1: The Wiz

This movie is boring and it’s directed by a white dude (more on that later). Yes, there are amazing musical numbers. Yes, Michael Jackson danced and sang his ass off. Still, this hot garbage is hardly watchable. The narrative will put you to sleep faster than a Benadryl downed with a glass of red wine, and the acting is aggressively bad. Like, DMX in Belly kind of bad. Diana Ross killed the singing, though. Too bad they asked her to act.

I would wager that most people fast forward through the story and only watch the musical numbers and if you don’t you’re losing at life.

HB#2: The Color Purple

This movie has great acting, great direction, and brilliant source material. My only beef is that Steven Spielberg is the director. I guess they could not find someone black to put behind the camera.

I don’t care how many times you quote the film or how much your big mama watched it, if someone black ain’t in the directing chair, I’m not considering it a great black film.

HB #3: Coming to America

See HB 2. No black director. I refuse to consider it a great black film.

HB #4: Hidden Colors

This is what you watch at the beginning of Hotep basic training. It purports to give insight about the lost history of black people in America, and even if I were able to turn off my philosophical mind, I’d still find some of the information difficult to believe. Further, the director is a noted misogynist and, just being honest, the film’s production values are laughable. This movie is so laced with Hotepism that I needed a bottle of lotion for my ashy ankles after watching it.

HB#5: She’s Gotta Have It

Spike Lee’s first film is aiight. He tries to elevate the material by shooting it in black and white, but the gender politics are antiquated and the acting is mediocre at best. It’s Spike’s first film, and I can tell.

HB#6: Every single Tyler Perry film (except Daddy’s Little Girls) and ESPECIALLY Temptation.

I’m not even going to dignify these films with a thoughtful analysis.

HB #7: Lean On Me

This film is beloved by black grandfathers everywhere because it is a two-hour meditation on patriarchy and respectability politics. Joe Clark begins the film by expelling 300 students, and then begins to treat educators and students alike in a condescending and infantile manner. Oh yeah, a white dude directed this film as well.

‘Fair Eastside’ was dope, tho.

HB#8: All the sequels to Friday

You know those movies aren’t funny. You ain’t gotta lie to kick it.

HB #9: New Jack City

This film has not aged well. The haircuts are laughably bad, the dialogue is VERY bad (Ice-T actually says, “I want to shoot you so bad my dick is hard”), and the acting is worse.

Nino Brown is a cartoonish villain (Did he really put crack in the Thanksgiving turkey?) and the film does not deal with the way housing discrimination and poverty played a role in the explosion of violence in the 1990s. This film is essentially a commercial for the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. I’m pretty sure Hilary got the idea of Super Predators watching this movie.

HB#10: Baby Boy

With the exception of Four Brothers, John Singleton has been making nonsense since 1997, and that’s too bad—he started with such promise.

Boyz N The Hood is a black coming of age masterpiece; Poetic Justice is a ghettoized take on a road movie, and both Higher Learning and Rosewood are essential, tragic films. It all started going downhill when he made Baby Boy—and I can see why.

This is an indulgent film. It tries to be a coming of age tale for a grown ass man, a comedy, a tense, urban drama, and a love story all at once—while failing on all fronts. The direction is sloppy; the editing haphazard, and the acting is so bad that Gary Coleman would be offended. Snoop Dogg is supposed to be a threatening presence, but his arms look so emaciated in the scene with an undershirt that it made me wonder if he would have the strength necessary to pull a trigger if the narrative called for it.

Singleton thinks he is insightful in the critiques of black men as careless fathers, but he merely showcases respectability politics and patriarchy in how the narrative is resolved. The film lacks the insight of Boyz in explicating how institutional racism plays a role in the failure of some black men to play an active role in the lives of their children, and, ultimately, the film calls for men to grow up and be the heads of their households without showing the barriers that could preclude such a happy ending from taking place. Essentially, according to this movie, black men need to pull up their pants, get a job, and take care of their families. But what happens if race keeps you from making a living, saving wage?

I’m sure folks will be coming for my black card or calling my place of employment demanding that I no longer teach classes on black films. That’s fine. Most of you think Coming to America is funnier than Harlem Nights (Editor Note: It is.), evidence that you don’t know what you’re talking about. - Download Hi-Res Songs


Kiss And Make Up flac

BLACKPINK. 2018. Writer: Soke;Kny Factory;Billboard;Chelcee Grimes;Teddy Park;Marc Vincent;Dua Lipa.
2 Martin Garrix

Access flac

Martin Garrix. 2018. Writer: Martin Garrix.
3 Martin Garrix

Yottabyte flac

Martin Garrix. 2018. Writer: Martin Garrix.
4 Dyro

Latency flac

Dyro. 2018. Writer: Martin Garrix;Dyro.
5 Martin Garrix

Waiting For Tomorrow flac

Martin Garrix. 2018. Writer: Pierce Fulton;Mike Shinoda;Martijn Garritsen;Brad Delson.
6 Alan Walker

Diamond Heart flac

Alan Walker. 2018. Writer: Alan Walker;Sophia Somajo;Mood Melodies;James Njie;Thomas Troelsen;Kristoffer Haugan;Edvard Normann;Anders Froen;Gunnar Greve;Yann Bargain;Victor Verpillat;Fredrik Borch Olsen.
7 Bradley Cooper

Shallow flac

Bradley Cooper. 2018. Writer: Andrew Wyatt;Anthony Rossomando;Mark Ronson;Lady Gaga.
8 Cardi B

Taki Taki flac

Cardi B. 2018. Writer: Bava;Juan Vasquez;Vicente Saavedra;Jordan Thorpe;DJ Snake;Ozuna;Cardi B;Selena Gomez.
9 Halsey

Without Me flac

Halsey. 2018. Writer: Halsey;Delacey;Louis Bell;Amy Allen;Justin Timberlake;Timbaland;Scott Storch.
10 Sia

I'm Still Here flac

Sia. 2018. Writer: Sia.
11 Lady Gaga

I'll Never Love Again flac

Lady Gaga. 2018. Writer: Benjamin Rice;Lady Gaga.
12 Blinders

Breach (Walk Alone) flac

Blinders. 2018. Writer: Dewain Whitmore;Ilsey Juber;Blinders;Martin Garrix.
13 Dewain Whitmore

Burn Out flac

Dewain Whitmore. 2018. Writer: Dewain Whitmore;Ilsey Juber;Emilio Behr;Martijn Garritsen.
14 Bradley Cooper

Always Remember Us This Way flac

Bradley Cooper. 2018. Writer: Lady Gaga;Dave Cobb.
15 Avril Lavigne

Head Above Water flac

Avril Lavigne. 2018. Writer: Stephan Moccio;Travis Clark;Avril Lavigne.
16 Mako

Rise flac

Mako. 2018. Writer: Riot Music Team;Mako;Justin Tranter.

Fingers flac

ZAYN. 2018. Writer: Zayn Malik;Alex Oriet;David Phelan.
18 Billie Eilish

When The Party's Over flac

Billie Eilish. 2018. Writer: Billie Eilish;FINNEAS.
19 Kelsea Ballerini

This Feeling flac

Kelsea Ballerini. 2018. Writer: Andrew Taggart;Alex Pall;Emily Warren.
20 Zara Larsson

Ruin My Life flac

Zara Larsson. 2018. Writer: Delacey;Michael Pollack;Stefan Johnson;Jordan Johnson;Sermstyle;Jackson Foote.


Michelle is my First Lady
Here Lies Zay
Sigma_Since 93
AKA The Sauce

Suggested posts

Other Lawrence Ware's posts