I recently introduced my seven-year-old son to the Spy Kids movies. All four films were written, directed and produced by Robert Rodriguez, a Hispanic male. Each time I insert one of these movies into my DVD player, I am amazed at what they do to me. They return me to a time when I used feature films and television shows to imagine a better life for myself and my family.
But as I studied the cast of
characters that Rodriguez assembled for his films, I applauded the fact
that most, if not all, of the roles were occupied by Hispanic/Latino
actors. This feat is almost unheard of in Hollywood because the
perceived notion is films featuring ethic characters in lead roles are
not marketable to the larger community. But all four films were the
talk of the town in households all across America. If you ask me,
that's pretty impressive.
But I am also amazed at how
slowly African-American filmmakers have responded to the need for more
family films featuring African-American characters in lead roles. As
the parent of a seven-year-old boy, I would love to step into the the
family section at Blockbuster to see at least five live action or
animated features that are unarguably African American. Instead, I am
left wanting because African-American filmmakers reportedly do not see
the urgency to produce such films.
Yes, I loved Denzel
Washington and Whitney Houston in "The Preacher's Wife". I also admire
the works of Tyler Perry and other black filmmakers. But wouldn't it
be great to see more African-American versions of "Stand By Me", one of
my all-time favorite coming of age films? Such movies would promote
psychological healing in the African-American community, give
African-American youths the impetus they need to develop their own
platforms for success.
Integrating America's public
educational system was nothing more than a first step. We must now
integrate creative expression, ensuring that films, books and internet
content depict the trials, tribulations and victories of all people. I,
for one, know that we African Americans are more than thugs and
prostitutes. We are also concerned parents and business professionals
who want better lives for our children.
I don't know
what the future holds as I strive to mesh my story ideas with the
three-act screenplay structure. What I do know is I hope to one day
work with directors and producers (either red, yellow, black, brown or
white) who understand the importance of giving African-American
youngsters heroes they can identify with. These children and youths
can only worship Superman and Spider-Man for so long. Why can't someone
who looks like them swoop in to save the day?
If you feel me, holla' back.