Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Media: MARY & GEORGE succeeds, SHIRLEY gets attacked and the Pope is . . . dead?

It's always a rare moment when STARZ has a series actually worth watching but, mark the calendars, they've got one with MARY & GEORGE. Academy Award winner Julianne Moore plays the Countess of Buckingham Mary Villiers and Nicholas Galitzine plays her son George. The promotional material informs that it's based on the "non-fiction book" THE KING'S ASSASSIN by Benjamin Woolley. 


Guess what?  Historical accuracy?  It's a corset mini-series, we're really not that concerned.  Does it entertain?  Does it hold your attention?  Do the actors achieve in their roles? 

Yes.  Yes.  And yes.

We bring that up because of SHIRLEY.  The NETFLIX film stars Academy Award winner Regina King in a strong and praise worthy performance as Shirley Chisholm.  In fact, Regina has worked 15 years on this project.  Shirley Chisholm is a historical figure, she provides a strong film role.  But that apparently doesn't matter because, over the weekend, The Board of Artistic Idiots panned the film.

We're referring to BLACK POWER MEDIA.  And it's really time that those working with Jared Bell started asking what they are accomplishing?  He's apparently grinding his axe against his Black father (his mother is White) while anchoring BLACK POWER MEDIA -- at least when it comes to films.

For those who have missed it, BPM has spent the last six months attacking any film with prominent roles for African-Americans.  Months before the Christmas Day release of THE COLOR PURPLE, Jared took it upon himself to trash the film -- one he had not seen and actually knew nothing about.  He'd go on to trash the late Academy Award winner Sidney Poitier who apparently didn't do enough in his career to please Jared.  He'd trash RUSTIN ("too gay").  He'd trash AMERICAN FICTION.  The lonely man in the balcony wearing the raincoat doesn't like any film.

How does that help anyone?  How is that about "Black Power"?

Whoopi Goldberg has made over 55 live action films and, sadly, the bulk of them aren't that good.  The good?  That would include  GHOST (for which she won the Academy Award), GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI, THE COLOR PURPLE (1985), BOYS ON THE SIDE, THE PLAYER, SISTER ACT, SOAP DISH, MADE IN AMERICA, THE ASSOCIATE, THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN, GIRL INTERRUPTED, TILL, EZRA, FOR COLORED GIRLS, HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK, IN THE GLOAMING, SARAFINA!,  JUMPING JACK FLASH and CORRINA, CORRINA.  But those films and the others?  

That's a body of work.  A body of work can be honored as the theme of a film week or on a day of TCM programming.  Whoopi's the first African-American actress with a large body of work in theatrical films and she deserves applause for it.  When she started out in films, you could go whole weeks without seeing any African-American characters in films -- the local stations with their afternoon film weeks.  She'd been making films for a decade when TCM started and you could watch TCM for weeks without seeing a major African-American character in a film.  

Now MLK would understand this issue.  Katha Pollitt and Jared Bll miss reality.  Katha, of course, used the pages of THE NATION to infamously hector the NAACP for 'daring' to ask for representation in prime time TV.  Racist Katha found the NAACP to be 'uppity' for such a demand.  Nichelle Nichols played Uhura on STAR TREK.  After season one, Nichelle decided to return to the theater.  She gave her notice that she was leaving the show.  And?  That weekend at an NAACP banquet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to her and explained that STAR TREK was the only prime time show he and Coretta allowed their children to stay up and watch.  In the video below, Nichelle discusses the case MLK made and how it convinced her to stay with STAR TREK.



 We've moved beyond the days when the only African-American actors starring on TV shows are Nichelle, Clarence Williams III, Diahann Carroll, Bill Cosby and Gail Fisher.  

Now there has been some advancement in representation on TV -- and in films -- but let's not pretend that US TV shows or movies reflect that actual diversity within the country.  Let's also not forget that in the last years, you've been far more likely to see a character of color in any narrative about drug dealing. 


That never concerned Katha Pollitt in all her Whiteness and it apparently doesn't concern Jared Ball in his partial Whiteness.   

Jared's biggest problem may be that he's confused feature films with documentaries.  They are not the same.  LADY SINGS THE BLUES gets at the essence of Billie Holiday, FUNNY GIRL at the essence of Fanny Brice.  These are not documentaries. Cecil Beaton was many things but if we focus only on his work as a costume designer (resulting in Academy Awards for GIGI and MY FAIR LADY as well as four Tony awards for Broadway productions) what do we find?  A very intelligent and learned man, he could whip up a design that 100% reflected the time period a production was set in.  However?  To that design, as Barbra Streisand notes in MY NAME IS BARBRA, "he would add some imaginative detail to a historically accurate gown, just to seduce the cameras."  Jared's apparently wanting neo-realism in film without realizing that is a genre in and of itself.

Fifteen years.  We keep coming back to that  Regina King worked 15 years turning SHIRLEY into a film and instead of applauding her, Jared's tearing her apart.

We're critics.  We rip things apart all the time.  We also praise things all the time.  Do the flaws -- factual or otherwise -- damage the project?  Then we're going to go to town on it.  Same if it's racist or sexist or homophobic.  But a timeline gets condensed?  That's not only not a problem, it's to be expected in film and TV and has been a convention of both mediums since their inception.  

Saturday, BLACK POWER MEDIA elected to savage SHIRLEY.  Supposedly out of concern for facts.

But Friday, for those concerned about facts, something big happened. 


The media made a huge mistake.  They announced a death that didn't take place.  Then they just deleted their report.  They didn't retract it and they didn't apologize for it.  Trina noted it.  But 'truth teller' Jared Ball was yet again left in the dark again as he spent his time ripping into SHIRLEY instead of tackling a real lie.


Obituaries are prepared ahead of time.  In fact, episode 92 of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, "Better Late...That's a Pun...Than Never" -- written by Treva Silverman, is all about that process.  Mary stays up all night with help from Rhoda updating obituaries on famous people.  The two are punch drunk (Treva's stated she wrote the scene as though they were stoned) in the final hours and begin making jokes in the obits they write.  Later that day, a person dies and Ted reads the obit send-up on air.  Lou suspends Mary.


Who got suspended at BING or at DEUTSCHE WELLE?

For an hour on Friday, a DW video report was posted online at BING's news aggregator service announcing that Pope Francis had passed away.


Go there now and you will see "We're sorry, this video is not available."  That's all they did -- Microsoft's BING and DW -- just removed the video.  No correction.  No apology.  They just want to pretend it didn't happen.  An exec at BING told us no one noticed.  We corrected him that Trina noticed it.  

He said no one would believe it.

Really?  The URL in the screen grab we've done?  "https://www.msn.com/en-us/video/peopleandplaces/pope-francis-died-what-legacy-does-he-leave/vi-BB1l7HAC?cvid=6797bb3ef64f4f91806996db18281c55&ei=13."


You can see that, right?  "pope-francis-died-what-legacy-does-he-leave"?  

For one solid hour Friday afternoon, Microsoft's BING and DW told the world that Pope Francis died.

But he didn't.  He didn't even have an accident or land in the hospital.

When they realized their mistake, they disappeared it.  

They didn't retract it, apologize for it, acknowledge it, they just disappeared it.

And Jared Ball thinks the big truth problem is Regina King?  Can BLACK POWER MEDIA explain why, in the last six months, the problem always seems to be an African-American woman.  Last month it was Olayemi Olurin that they were attacking, this month it's Regina King.

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