Sunday, January 24, 2010

The "Is Black Entertainment Dead?" Episode: Who Stole the Soul?

Back in the 1990’s, African American movies, music, and television seemed to be flourishing. It seemed that in these mediums African Americans were finally elbowing our way into the mainstream. However, in the new millennium, suddenly that production seemingly has fallen off.

As concerns African American movies, quality African American movies are few and far between, and for those which do see the big screen, mediocrity seems to be the prevailing norm.

And not to even mention African American music. From where I sit, the state of African American music has become such that I don’t even listen to mainstream radio any more. African American musical artists, and I use that term loosely, seem to becoming richer and richer; however, it seems to me that the overall quality of the music, especially the messages it conveys, is decreasing tremendously.

If we discuss African American television for just a second, in the 1990’s we had The Cosby Show, A Different World, The Fresh Prince, Roc, and a plethora of other African American sitcoms that became television mainstays. However, lately even those African American sitcoms that we enjoyed, namely The Game, seem to last only one or two seasons.

Maybe it is just me. I don’t know. But you can have your say on this matter. Join me and my co-hosts RiPPa of The Intersection of Madness and Reality and Michele Grant of Black N’ Bougie as we discuss the state of African American and African American themed art and entertainment tonight on Freedom through Speech Radio [click here to access show platform]. Because of the football game, the show will be on one hour later at 9 PM EST.

And remember, the most important voice in this conversation is your voice.


Kandia said...

I seems black entertainment has gone to the dogs in my opinion both in movies and music. The 90's remain the best decade for me in terms of music, tv shows and we had Bill Clinton as a president. I listen to the old school stations on the radio because this stuff they call music now is pathetic..back in the day the lyrics actually meant something, now everything is so shallow and superficial.

Nicole said...

I have to agree also. I gave up on the radio long time ago. I decided to listen to the radio here in New York for one whole week, and as god is my witness, they played the same four damn songs, over, and over!

I do like WBLS and KISSFM. They play Maxwell, Anthony Hamilton,Meshell Ndegeocello[I adore her]Prince, and alot of ol' School R&b. I usually listen to stuff rom my own personal collection. I'm a big Black/rock fan too, so I listen to alot of Fishbone and Living Colour.

msladydeborah said...

I just realized recently that all three of my sons listen to old school stations more now. Even though they are certified Hip Hop/Gen X folks. This says a lot about how they are not feeling their generational medium.

I do not waste my time or money on folks that are not producing quality entertainment these days. There are a select group of new school artist that I like. But there are also a whole lot more that pollute the airwaves with their gibberish.

Max Reddick said...

I would hope that we evolve in our movie and television offerings. However, we seem to simply be rehashing the same old tired formulaic narratives. But then the question becomes, will the mainstream allow us to do more, be more? Is the mainstream ready to except more progressive African American narratives?

Anonymous said...

I wonder the same thing myself. I have a hard time supporting black artists and it almost feels like I'm selling out but, I'm old school. I want music with a message. I want love songs! not the soundtrack to a booty call. No death threats set to a beat either. The sound is changing because the listeners are changing. This generation of listeners doesn't know about it's musical roots in jazz and soul and it's killing music.

Anna Renee said...

My son is 28 and is continuously listening to old school and constantly asking me about this and that. He also finds good artists. But he has to search very hard. It's not on mainstream radio unfortunately. I like visiting the Running Man's because he showcases good black music on a regular basis. It seems that if we wait for mainstream radio and TV we won't get anything anymore. Sad but true.

Shana said...

While I definitely think that television and radio are worth discussing in terms of their consistent decline since the 90s I also think that black theater is something to talk about in a positive light. Despite the fact that it is not a readily available form of popular culture I find that it is quite refreshing and a space where we have been able to continue the strong tradition of black expression.

ProfGeo said...

Max, you hit a nerve. In the '90s I thought a "certain type" of Black movie aimed at the middle class might cross over and be successful enough with the "mainstream" to allow a spectrum of offerings long term. But no... Soul Food, How Stella Got Her Groove Back (which wasn't for me personally but there was an audience), etc.

In today's music there are a few young 'uns here and there but I confess I'm old school. One man keeping it alive online is Bob Davis at and

Anonymous said...

I was commenting about this the other day. Sadly the only interesting black television seems to come in the form of the real life crime shows. The rest of it is just garbage.

Black entertainment is lost. It's almost like the entertainment industry refuses to produce quality black television. And even those in the position to do so don't (BET). Instead you see black people the stars of raunchy reality shows but nothing of substance. I liked the game too and it actually had a plot. But people criticized it to death and now it's off the air.

The Smoking Ace said...

All African-American sitcoms really died when they catergorize all the black sitcoms to UPN and the WB. I think HBO is really bring great African-American dramas like no other in "The Wire" and coming soon "Treme."

FYI- I thought "The Game" was a watered-down version of ESPN's "Playmakers." That show was straight-up raw and uncut.

Anna Renee said...

Update on Runningman's spot:
Some really good music! Check it!

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