“When I was about 25 years old, I worked with two very good actors.[…] Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton both embodied qualities which one is fogyishly tempted to look at with nostalgia. I didn’t know at the time that they were married or that they had a son of about 10 who was quietly gestating all the same attributes.
And now, 30 years later, the boy has been let loose. He has taken the form of Benedict Cumberbatch.
[…]It’s rare to the point of outlandish to find so many variables in one actor, including features which ought to be incompatible: vulnerability, a sense of danger, a clear intellect, honesty, courage — and a rather alarming energy. I take no pleasure in feeling humbled, but there’s no getting around it.
Producer: Lets make a movie called 12 Years a Slave. It’s about a free man living in the North who is captured and sold into slavery, and has to live as a slave for 12 years in the South while protesting his freedom before he finally gets to return home.
Person: Oh, isn’t that a true story? That will make a great movie. Who are you going to cast?
Producer: Tom Hanks!
Person: … but isn’t the story about a black man?
Producer: Race isn’t important. The story can be about a white man who was a slave. It’s about telling the best story we can.
Person: Okay, but the story is specifically about a black man who was free but forced into slavery, and the white people who wouldn’t believe him, and kept him in slavery even after they had proof he wasn’t a slave.
Producer: There were white slaves too.
Person: What? But… I mean why can’t you just cast a black actor to play this character who was historically black? The guy being black was central to the entire story!
Producer: We cast the actor who we thought would do the best job in the role. Tom Hanks has won an Oscar, after all.
Person: There are plenty of black actors who have won major awards. Also, isn’t casting a white actor to play a historically black character taking jobs away from black actors, a group that already has way less representation in leading roles in Hollywood than they should?
Producer: Well, we need a star that can sell the movie. Audiences don’t pay to come and see black actors. They want to see actors they know and love.
Person: Wouldn’t they know and love more black actors if you cast them in more lead roles?
Producer: Okay, fine. What if we use makeup and special effects to make Tom Hanks look black?
Black Panther is.epic because it’s the FIRST time we get a high-budget 100M+ movie with an all black cast portraying black people in a positive AND powerful light. Kings and queens, leading the world in technology, futuristic city, rich, morally righteous, heroes…it just leaves a lot of us speechless. Its iconoclastic breaking every stereotype of blacks portrayed in movies. Think about all the predominantly black movies recognized by the Academy. The Maid, The butler, 12 years a slave, Moonlight, Monsters Ball, Training Day. What do these movies have in common disparaging images of blacks as slaves,maids, gangsters, and prostitutes. BP is the exact intelligent, regal, and powerful.
↳ There is an audience for serious movies, and I think audiences deserve this cinema. We have to keep cinema alive. It’s very important to me. It’s not just superheroes and romantic comedies. We need a space for serious film.
Yesterday I got a question in my ask about any wisdom from yours truly and I said to read more things that challenge your worldview and force you out of your comfort zone. I gave a short list of suggested books but I have expanded it upon request. So here you go!
-Confessions, by Augustine (I read this at least three or four times a year, it’s an autobiography and testimonial based in a Christian worldview but valuable for anyone in my opinion)
-The Art of War, by Sun Tzu -The Analects, by Confucius
-Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
-Plutarch’s Lives vol. one and two (autobiography)
-Socrates: A Man for Our Times, by Paul Johnson
-No Hiding Place: An Autobiography & Asylum: An Alcoholic Takes the Cure, by William Seabrook (this book man… read it.)
-Ann Judson: The Missionary Life for Burma (Ann Judson is one of my personal heroes)
-Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
-Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, by Edward Albee (a play, necessary read in my opinion)
-Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller (yet another play, I’m a theater person and honestly that’s a whole separate list)
-1984, by George Orwell (most people read this in high school but if you haven’t DO IT)
-Night, by Elie Wiesel (much more well known as of late, but it you haven’t read it it will change your life. Read it twice a year at LEAST)
-The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, both by John Steinbeck
-Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan (fun fact: this book has NEVER been out of print since first being published)
-Anthem, by Ayn Rand
-A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf
-The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (holy SHIT)
-The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka
-A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking
-A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael, by Elisabeth Eliot (Elisabeth Eliot is one of my other big heroes, honestly if you like or are interested in any Christian literature read this - you don’t have to be a believer to appreciate it)
-The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, by Giorgio Vasari (literally SO COOL)
-The Man Without a Country, by Edward E. Hale (if you’re like me and got interested in early American history thanks to Hamilton, READ THIS)
-12 Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup (I don’t care if you’ve seen the movie or haven’t, read this)
-Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King
-Hunger, by Knut Hamson (reading this is an odd experience on it’s own, even more odd knowing that Hamson was a Nazi sympathizer)
-Why Don’t We Learn from History, and Strategy, both by BH Liddell Hart (I haven’t read these yet but apparently they are a must)
-Ask the Dust, by John Fante
-Death Be Not Proud, by John Gunther (a profound reading experience)
-Losing the War, by Lee Sandlin (I haven’t read this yet either, apparently it’s an essay about WWII that’s a necessary read for everyone. My theater professor recommended it and I trust the hell out of him. I think it’s free online)
-The Measure of My Days, by Florida Scott Maxwell (READ THIS)
-The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays, by Jay Haley (I promise, this isn’t what you expect it to be)
That’s it for now! Hope this list helps someone expand their reading comfort zone!
Jota is amazing. He was on the Madtown fc (You should join to get all the goodies on the boys) recommending Moonlight and 12 Years a Slave.
As an African American I am so impressed that he is taking time to be interested in African American issues which are so far removed from his everyday life. And then to recommend it to others is just amazing. So proud of him!
I know they are “just movies” but I’ve seen 12 Years a Slave and its a very good historical depiction of an actual account of a former slave. I have not seen Moonlight but its just won Best Picture so I think that speaks for itself. And movies are a wonderful way to better understand cultures.
Plus, in light of Mamamoo’s recent mistake (I say mistake bc they apologized and I believe they really were ignorant) it is important that our faves learn about other cultures before they make mistakes like that. Its much easier to avoid a mistake than to clean up the mess afterward. (no shade, ya’ll I love Mamamoo! Hwasa is my girl!!)
But I digress…my point is I believe that Jota is making a conscience effort to understand something that is different from him. That is amazing, inspiring, and should be applauded!!