I turned the big 2-8 today. Hard to believe I'm knocking on thirty's door. Well maybe not knocking--right now I'd say it's a light, polite tap. Like someone golf-clapping with their fist. Anyway, if you've been reading this blog over the last six years, you've likely come across more than a few personal posts of my various struggles, being it coming out, dealing with my family or friendships, or leaving the religion of my childhood behind.
At various points today, like when I lay beside my boyfriend in bed, or visited my parents, who have come a ways in embracing my sexuality and acknowledging my relationship (while I've also learned to let down some of my own walls), I thought back to who I was and what my life was like eight to ten years ago. Granted, I never had to worry about necessities like food or clothes or a roof over my head. But to quote Mary J. and Rose Royce, I was going down. It was all about emotional survival, and keeping everyone at arm's length because if they knew the truth, the world, or at least mine, would end. Dramatic much? Perhaps, but the pain was real. And today, I can honestly say I'm a much happier, emotionally stable person than the 18-year-old who was terrified of being himself, or even the 21-year-old who started this blog on a whim.
Things not perfect, and they never will be perfect. But all in all, yours truly is feeling pretty damn good about life and the direction mine is heading in. I feel like I'm growing up. I feel like a grown up. So cheers to moi on this my date of birth!
"Whether we like to address it or not, the African American community is notoriously homophobic," he said. "We have been coming up on this rough side of the mountain, as far as civil rights issues go, but we haven’t necessarily addressed the fact that there is a whole other side to that civil rights coin, which are gay rights."
--Tyler James Williams on reaction to his role in Dear White People
By now, I'm sure you're well aware the biopic Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B premiered on Lifetime last night. And if you're friends with anyone born after say, 1980, who has a Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram account, you're also more than aware that folks were NOT here for it.
I considered doing a long-form review, but since this egregious mess robbed me of two hours of my life I don't see the need to give it any undue keyboard space. So here a few thoughts:
--Who in the hell worked as casting agent on this film? I'll give them credit for coming close with Alexandra Shipp, the actress who played Aaliyah, (who no doubt is hiding out somewhere far away from electronic devices and wi-fi connections), but what were they thinking with R.Kelly? And why was a Big Sean impersonator hired to play Damon Dash? And let's not even get started on Missy and Timbaland. Really Lifetime? Did someone forget about Google Images? All it took was a quick search for "Missy Eliott and Timbaland 1997" and you could have seen the pre-Under Construction weight, S-curls and finger waves in all their late-90's glory.
--The dialogue on this movie was terrible. Almost every conversation, save for the ones between Aaliyah and her mother, felt stilted and clunky. And no shade against Aaliyah--by all accounts and every interview I've seen, she was an intelligent, thoughtful and articulate individual--but I highly doubt that at 16 or 17, she would have spoken about her music or desire to be an actress in those terms to record executives or agents. Artistic self-confidence aside, she was still a teenager, and the dialogue just didn't feel natural. And, as fellow blogger Toddy English pointed out, the actress' accent was more Southern Cali than native Detroit.
--The absence of Aaliyah's music, beyond a few songs she did covers of, severely hurt this flick, which could've used all the help it could get. I understand the movie's producers had to make due, given the family was not on board. But in the end, biopics about singers and musicians are about well, the music, and the moments when those indelible tunes came to life. While her career was tragically short, baby girl created some memorable cuts. "Age Ain't Nuthin' But A Number," "Back and Forth," "Four Page Letter" and of course, "One In A Million," are all certified R&B classics. Without Aaliyah's signature songs, this could have been a film about anybody.
--No original music meant we couldn't spend time in the studio with Bizarro Tim and Missy and Aaliyah as they created One In A Million, an album which helped set the template for much of late 90's/early 00's R&B. It would have certainly helped strengthen the idea of Aaliyah trying to get out from under the shadow of R.Kelly, professionally and personally. Instead, more attention had to be given to Aaliyah's acting career, which while promising, was not the main reason people loved her. At least in my opinion.
All in all, this was a Grade A, USDA primed piece of flaming hot mess. While I'll give the producers credit for not shying away from the marriage to R.Kelly, Aaliyah deserved a lot better than this garbage. I'm hoping Lifetime does right by Whitney where her biopic airs in January. But even with Angela Bassett directing and the film incorporating her songs (though they're being sung by Deborah Cox) that's a long shot.
The first official trailer Selma, which will be released nationwide January 9, has been released. The look of the film is reminds me of The Butler (though I don't think Lee Daniels is directing).The cast includes Cuba Gooding Jr. Wendell Pierce, and Oprah, who is serving Rosa Parks-meets-pre-jail Sophia realness. There's also Loraine Toussaint, a.k.a Vee, who can always be counted on to turn it out.
Of course, the movie really rests on the shoulders of David Oyelowo, who plays Martin Luther King Jr. Though judging from the trailer, he appears to be channeling the civil rights icon and not parodying him. Watch the trailer for Selma below.