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HAVE you seen Red Tails yet? Me, neither. A few months ago, George Lucas – whom you know as the creator of Star Wars – was a part of a film that had tongues wagging about whether people should use the Fubu approach to films.
Fubu was a clothing label in the 1990s that was seen in just about every hip hop and R&B video from the US. The brand’s name was an acronym for For Us By Us – Fubu.
What does this have to do with Red Tails? Well, first, Red Tails is a feature-length film about the Tuskegee Airmen who were the first black aerial combat unit in World War II. Lucas wrote the film with some of the original airmen and it has taken 23 years to see the light of day.
Why? Apparently, Hollywood finds it extremely hard to fund a film about black people and have it star an all-black cast. Not everyone can be Tyler Perry. So Lucas spent his hard-earned cash to make the movie, which stars Cuba Gooding Jr, Tristan Wilds, Terrence Howard and Derek Luke.
Then – insert an air of suspense here – talk started to spread that if the film tanked it would be the fault of black people because they didn’t go out and support “their” film.
I don’t know if movie tickets in America show your race on them when you buy them but, hey, the film didn’t do all that great – even with Lucas at the helm.
Why do I bring this up? Because the Fubu approach to film is not new.
Whether the “U” stands for white, black, Indian or any other race, there’s this idea that a film doesn’t have to be all that great but if it’s got over a certain percentage of one race in leading roles it must be supported with hard-earned cash, by any means necessary.
But Malcolm X didn’t die for this, so get your hand out of my pocket – a reference to a line yelled by a man in the crowd just before Malcolm X was assassinated.
The idea is so old that Black Entertainment Television has been doing it for yonks.
This year, the Top TV channel has been screening independent films that star a predominantly black cast, on Fridays and Sundays, with repeats during the week.
These films aren’t Oscar-worthy stuff – believe me – but there are some interesting ones.
They range from taped theatre productions, for which Perry is famous, to proper feature-length films that sometimes have R&B stars in the mix.
There was The Ideal Husband which starred Ginuwine – and if you’ve ever wondered why you don’t see Ginuwine on camera any more, the answer is in that film.
This weekend, you can see Mr Right Now, which is about a man who is what the original Destiny’s Child called a “triflin’, good-for-nothing-type of brother” who can’t even pay Beyonce’s “automo-bills” from back then, never mind now.
This man knows he’s no good, which is why he’s a conman on the prowl for his next victim.
An unsuspecting single mother, who really is just looking for a husband and a man who doesn’t mind playing daddy, falls into the trap. Uh-oh.
The Sunday movie is The Bachelor and this stars Essence Atkins (who was in Half and Half) as a woman who learns what trust is all about when her fiancé gets thrown a bachelor party that no one will forget.
Check these movies out – they didn’t need Hollywood or Lucas to give them a financial helping hand but they made it on to the screen anyway, and you don’t need to be black to enjoy them.
• The BET films are on Black Entertainment Television (Top TV Channel 190) every Friday and Sunday at 11pm. Encores are screened throughout the week.