98) Armond White reception of Black mainstream films -1994-
“…but what happened to the critical euphoria that had greeted Menace II Society’s opening just a few months earlier? Apparently for all the critics who loved that movie’s fount of Black urban stereotypes, none of them thought enough of it as a work of art to award the Hugheses along with
such year-end critics’ faves as Steven Spielberg, Jane Campion, Mike Leigh, James Ivory. It seemed that Black stereotypes were one thing, but Black artistry–well, no way. This anecdote sums up the critical battle facing Black filmmakers who seem only to get attention when plying stereotypes yet still can’t get respect as filmmakers. So far this year, with the release of Sugar Hill, Above The Rim, and the upcoming The Inkwell, Black mainstream movies remain in their infancy, they haven’t yet graduated to art status–they’er still part of a crude, compromised, pseudo folk art that Black folks understand as little as white critics. ‘Autobiography’ is the word The New York Times used to describe Menace II Society in its opening-day review. It’s the wrong word, of course, but unfortunately America’s newspaper of record sets the terms of the middle-class public’s discourse, and that includes the way the so-called Black intelligentsia thinks and speaks. People who ought to know better followed The New York Times’ lead (carried its cudgel, fulfilled its contract) by treating Menace II Society as if it were indeed autobiographical. A host of…”
To read more of Armond White’s take on the reception of Black mainstream films, purchase a new or used copy of The Resistance: Ten Years Of Pop Culture That Shook The World.