Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Movie Review: Madea's Big Happy Family

Before you say anything, I'll just go ahead and type it. Yes, I took one for the team. I decided to take myself on a date to determine if Tyler Perry's latest film is indeed "coonery and buffoonery" as Spike Lee and many others suggest. I noticed myself not wanting to see the movie at all simply because the previews made the film seem ridiculous. I also read an amazing blog post that criticized Perry's work which made me want to see the movie for myself. If you can't tell, I try not to be the type of person that judges things before experiencing them for myself.

As I hinted above I hated the marketing and promotion tactics used for this movie because after watching previews or seeing billboards, I had no clue what to expect from the film. Tyler Perry dressing up and posing for posters that had nothing to do with his film did not impress me. I knew that many popular African American actors would be in it including Loretta Devine, Shad 'Bow Wow' Moss, and Lauren London. I was surprised to see Isaiah Mustafa (the man from the Old Spice commercials) as a main character in the film. Actually he was one of the main reasons the film could be considered remotely enjoyable.

I must admit that I wanted to leave after the first eight minutes. Loretta Devine and Cassi Davis had the opening scene and it was nowhere near comedic, Davis' character, Aunt Bam smoked marijuana throughout the entire film and many of the film's jokes were centered around this. I could have completely done without her boisterous character. I can honestly say that I laughed no more than twice during the 106 minute film so it is not a good selection if you're looking to see a great comedy. On a positive note, the film's dramatic elements make it bearable.

Shannon Kane, Isaiah Mustafa, Loretta Devine, and Bow Wow gave noteworthy performances that added to the film's drama. I won't go into much detail but they make their roles believable and caused me to want to shed a tear. As far as a review goes, I think I mislead you into reading this post because I'm not sure I can offer a good one. It does not surprise me that the film has 2.6 out of 10 stars on IMDb because the parts that are enjoyable are somewhat canceled out by the ridiculous portions of the film. Madea's antics among other parts of the are not entertaining and contribute to numerous stereotypes, but I wouldn't label is as "coonery." Teyanna Taylor's role as the "typical baby mama" may not have been funny to me, but judging from her twitter page, plenty of people found it hilarious. Lauren London's character seems too similar to the one she played in ATL so no comment.

All in all, the movie wasn't a complete waste of my $9, but I hope that in the future Tyler Perry does better. Putting a bunch of celebrities in a movie doesn't automatically make it a hit. I believe that he has become adept in creating dramatic films, but it is the comedy that needs work. I do see why Spike Lee and many others may want to criticize, but whose fault is it that Black people are entertained by this? Perry should retire the Madea character. She is not good representation of what a Black woman is or should be yet she is what's displayed to the masses. I never once noticed how saggy Madea's breasts were until last night. Really Tyler, really? I could go on, but I choose not to. If I had to give the movie a rating, I'd give it two out of five stars. That's being nice. I recommend that you go see the film for yourself. I'm sure you'll enjoy it more if you don't purchase the ticket for yourself or go for a matinee showing.

What are your thoughts? Did you see the film?

Thanks for reading,

Alexandria B.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

Left to right:  Paul Thorington, Anthony Albano, and Ray Laranjo.
One of my readers urged me to start writing about current events so it has been my plan to oblige for the last month or so. However, I never thought I'd write about a news story that hits so close to home. Last week, a female college student alleged that three men held her down and took turns raping her in a Miami Beach hotel room while on spring break. One of these men is my friend from school.

According to a Miami Beach police arrest affidavit,the woman said Paul Thorington, 22, of Lomita; Anthony Albano, 23, of Rancho Palos Verdes; and Ray Joseph Laranjo, 23, of Torrance sexually assaulted her on March 23 after she agreed to go to their seventh-floor room at the Fontainebleau to drop off her purse.

KTLA has been following the story and attempted to speak with the suspects by visiting their homes yesterday. Only Thorington was available and he offered no comment. If I were falsely accused, I'd be screaming "I'm innocent!"Perhaps his attorney has instructed him not to speak with the media, but if that's the case he should not have answered the door. When the general public hears "no comment" they associate it with guilt. In fact, when we see the alleged rapists on television it's hard to imagine the suspects are innocent.  

In this case, the innocence of these men is all I want to imagine. I've had classes with Albano and he is one of the nicest people I've ever met. He has too much to lose and would never have to force himself on anyone. Please don't assume that I'm being naive because I presume innocence. At first glance, this case looks bad. Why would three men be sexually involved with one woman? Then again, why would one woman go to a hotel room that was 26 blocks away from where she met three strangers? There are so many aspects to consider before assuming anything. It's best to remain neutral, but it's hard to do that when images of these "suspects" are plastered everywhere. Commenters on numerous websites have labeled them as "monsters" and wished ill upon them without knowing the facts.

That leads me to question whether or not the general public believes that suspects are innocent until proven guilty. It appears to me that only those that know these men personally care to presume innocence while others look at what's shown in the media and do the opposite. It worries me that the cost for these men to have the opportunity to prove innocence is too hefty. The three Southern California natives will have to return to Florida to fight the case. What started as a trip to enjoy themselves has potentially changed their lives forever.

The alleged suspects were booked on charges in Miami Dade County of sexual battery involving multiple offenders and have been released on $50,000 bail each. Arraignment for them is scheduled for April 14. If charged with sexual battery (the Florida designation for what is called rape in California) they could face up to 30 years in prison.

Even if the charges are dropped, the embarrassment of the issue will live on. One simple internet search and you can find that they were arrested. Their names and photos are easily accessible and the alleged victim's identity is protected. Does the media expose too much information about suspects before actual facts are available? Should the public have a right to know so much? Be sure to post your thoughts and comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Alexandria B.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The problem with love is...

Nobody knows what it is...
I've been debating on which angle to take with this post and I couldn't decide so I'm choosing to wing it. No plans, just writing. The topic that has been on my mind for the past few weeks is my disgust with today's music industry. Everyone complains that music has changed, records aren't selling, hip hop is dead, and all that jazz. Quite frankly, R&B has always been my thing so I don't typically care about "artists" like Waka Flocka, Soulja Boy, or Gucci Mane. 

I grew up listening to Anita Baker, Freddie Jackson and countless other amazing artists. I assumed that I'd grow up, find my "true love" and have a life that would enable me to relate to songs like "Angel" or "Have You Ever Loved Somebody." Over the years, I've been forced to come to the realization that the songs that I enjoy the most are ones that I may never be able to relate to. If I asked you to define "love" what would you say? It is my belief that the music that is popular today may be altering our views about what love is.

     Earlier today a friend of mine posted a link to a music video by P. Diddy (Puff Daddy or Diddy or whatever his name is now) and those other people that make up Dirty Money. I can't say that I'm a fan of their music, but the song was titled "Your Love" so I decided to give it a listen. The lyrics shocked me to say the least.  The song is about sex if you fail to include Rick Ross' references to making and spending money. "Imma put it in your face boy as soon as you wake up. Know you wanna hit it, want me to be your little slut..." sings one of those women that usually wear panties as part of their outfits. I don't want to complain, but the song title is extremely misleading. I suppose they wouldn't have gotten much play on the radio if the song was called "Your Sex" but still.

     Here's my problem, I listened to songs like "Sweet Love" growing up and kids these days have Diddy's sexed up "Your Love." These song titles differ by one word. My younger brother and his friends listen to songs like "Toot It And Boot It" and consider it good music. To make matters worse, songs that demean women and suggest that they do things without the use of their limbs are amongst the favorites of many. This day in age all that's needed to entertain the masses is a good beat and/or a catchy tune. This saddens me.

     Gucci Mane, a semi-popular rap artist with an ice-cream cone tattooed on his face, has a song called "I Think I Love Her" and I can guarantee you that it's not about the same type of love that I and many others hope for. I could go on and on about the numerous songs that include some incorrect aspect of love in the lyrics,  but it would be pointless. The bottom line is simple. R&B is popular right now only if it includes a techno beat and love is a word that is becoming extremely difficult to define. Love songs have a new sound, one that I'm not interested in. Don't get me wrong. I know that artists like Betty Wright, Marvin Gaye, and even R. Kelly had songs that were sexual in nature but it was never as tacky as it is today.

     What are your thoughts? Is love a lost cause in today's music industry? Am I being a prude or has the four-letter-word been given a new, sexual meaning? Do you prefer listening to oldies or does the new music suit you just fine? Lastly, I don't want this post to seem like a random rant about how lame I think music is these days so I've included five of my favorite love songs below to add a fun element to things. Check them out and tell me what you think!

Alexandria B.