Thursday, June 06, 2013

Hollywood May Have a Problem With Having More Than One Non-White Star At a Time

At least that's what this writer suggests as a reason for Will Smith's "After Earth" getting less-than stellar reviews.  I think this particular case -like most really- has a few layers:

  1. Will Smith is obviously trying to transfer some of his star-power to his son Jaden. Why not? Every good parent wants their child to succeed. However, Jaden isn't Will, and Jaden's "cute kid phase" is pretty much done, leaving him at "awkward teen phase" (see Frankie Muniz). The harsh truth is: unless a cute kid turns into a cute teenager right away, their movie appeal will wane.
  2. Will Smith hasn't been making movies on a regular like he used too. Back in the day, I used to wonder why then up-and-coming rap artist DMX was making a new album like every 14 months. But then a strange thing happened: he took about two years off and when he came back, the niche he had created and profited on was filled by others. Then I got it: in the entertainment biz, you basically have to work until you're rich or you retire. Heck even 50 Cent knew this (he was, incidentally, one of DMX's "replacements") although he substituted "die" for "retire." Anyway, the point is Will doesn't have the same clout, and you need mega clout if you're going to try and transition some of your fame to another person.
  3. Hollywood does have a problem with having more than non-white star at a time: I was talking to a friend yesterday who simultaneously agreed and justified this theory: he said that it's because there are only so many really talented people out there that it's wrong to assume that say, five black males can be movie draws. The flaw with that thinking is that there are some many white actors and actresses that can headline movies they've essentially cloned themselves. I mean, I don't remember Mark Walberg complaining that he had to wait his turn because Matt Damon was starring in all the movies that needed a white guy from Boston. So imagine telling Kevin Hart, "Hold on man, Chris Rock is still funny; wait until he hits 40 and then you can shine!" Bottom line: Hollywood has a record of being offensive and prejudiced.
  4. M. Night Shyamalan directed the movie. Let's be honest here: the guy is still pretty much hated and viewed a one-trick pony.

So add the four elements together (perceived nepotism, declining star power, old Hollywood bigotry, despised director) and you get a better idea as to why the movie isn't doing as well as it should.

On the flip side, supporting a movie starring a minority that isn't a "minority movie" (aka, the story centers around the cast's shared ethnicity) isn't the worst cause to take up. 

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