Hollywood and the Emasculation of the Black Male Image

When we think about Hollywood, we think about movie stars, the red carpet and blockbuster films. We enjoy the glimmer and glitz of it all, however, most could not fathom the idea that Hollywood has a secret agenda.

African Americans represent a significant portion of the movie going audience, yet we have failed to realize that Hollywood may not have our best interests at heart. This goes beyond the mere casting process or selection of films nominated for Oscars. The diversity issue seems like a major story, yet are we’re missing the real issue.

The truth is, we have failed to realize that Hollywood is not in the entertainment business but is really in the business of global propaganda. I could dive deep into the many issues that have been misrepresented on screen, but none is more notable than way African American men are shown. Keep in mind that Hollywood is a global machine distributing its message throughout the world.

Since D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” in 1915, we’ve had to look with a critical eye at Hollywood’s message regarding black men. If you’re a movie buff, you’ll notice right away that racism is not relegated to the real world; it’s also obvious in the depictions of African American men in film.

White America has always had issues with black male sexuality. If we look back at the musical groups of the 1960’s, we see that the groups and their music captivated audiences, especially white women. These black male groups were enough to woo white women into bed, presenting such an issue that record companies removed images of black men from album covers and replaced them with white male stand-ins.

This censorship of black male masculinity continued with Prince and Michael Jackson. Their images were tailored so as not to seem overly sexual, instead bordering on gay or metrosexual. It was okay for groups like the Beatles and Guns and Roses to boast about sexual conquests with women but mainstream media would not dare allow Michael Jackson and Prince to openly admit they were sleeping with tons of white women. This would not only upset the white male authority, but would upset black women as well. There would be panic in the streets! To the quell that hysteria, their images were tweaked to be less of a sexual threat, or in some cases, more of a threat. That’s why we question Prince’s and Michael’s sexuality to this day.

When it comes to black actors, it’s obvious that Hollywood has a real interest in tailoring their image. Most of the top actors often appear in films where they must cross-dress or where we must question their sexuality. One of my favorite films is Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element,” starring Chris Tucker and Bruce Willis, which celebrities its 20th year anniversary this year. Note that in this file Chris plays a famous musician who sleeps with a lot of white women. However, this image is too strong and too masculine for movie audiences. Not only did the producers go out of their way to craft the character as bi-sexual, they wrote his character with over-the-top antics which clearly demonstrate that he is a scared wimp who continuously screams out like a woman for help from Bruce Willis. His Prince-like outfit is decorated with red roses, again hinting at his questionable sexuality. Why not portray him as a strong heterosexual male? Because, again, black women and white males would be threatened by his mojo. It would also mean he would have to stand up as a man and fight the aliens, taking the spotlight from Bruce Willis.

Chris’s castration is nothing new, but is part of a trend. We see this with actors like Will Smith, as his son Jaden parades in front of the camera wearing women’s clothing, and Taye Diggs voguing and cross-dressing in front of the cameras. It has been reported that actress Charlize Theron dressed her adopted black male child in girl’s clothing. One must wonder if all this is an orchestrated effort in dethroning these men and boys from their places as Kings.

The seed of black men has historically been a threat. We’ve seen this during Jim crow with the one drop rule, where southern whites stated that no matter how white a person looked, if you had one drop of black blood you were black. This stems from their fear of genetic annihilation as the majority of people on the planet are of color. Since whites represent the minority population, it is important that they prevent miscegenation. Hollywood has a long-standing history of trying to not only emasculate black men, but to warn white women about them. The 1933 classic film “King Kong” is the perfect example of this, told in subtext. Kong, representing the black male, falls in love with a white woman played by Fay Wray, who tames his beastly manner. Kong is killed by the white heroes, thus preventing the strange union between him and Fay Wray. This was a message to white women to stay away from black men. I encourage readers to study the film’s many symbolisms, as they speak to the fear of black male sexuality.

Will Smith’s 2008 picture “Hancock” is another example. His character’s only weakness is that when he encounters his wife, a white woman played by Charlize Theron, he loses his power. In fact, she also loses her extraordinary powers. At the end of the film they agree not to be together and she ends up in a relationship with a white male. Can you see the obvious message here? To understand more about the plan for emasculation works take a look at my short comedy film, White Power at: www.whitepowershort.com. It details the techniques used to vilify black male masculinity.

It is no secret that many black men find it difficult to advance in corporate America. Many have lost their deep baritone voice, instead speaking with a higher pitched tone avoid sounding aggressive. Others feel the need to take a more submissive position by not speaking up on basic rights issues, for fear of being terminated. Their white counterparts are typically given a wide berth on an array of issues. A black man who complains or raises his voice his is quickly labeled as angry or difficult. Black women, on the other hand, are given much more latitude in these matters. If they speak up or get an attitude with their boss, they are viewed as just being a bit sassy.

Hollywood mirrors corporate America. In this writer’s opinion, that’s why President Obama was so beloved. He represents the fictional black movie character type who was happy, reserved and didn’t complain about unfair treatment, even though the Republican party had a field day with racial epithets. Had Obama been married to a white woman—like the white woman he previously dated—he would never have won the Presidency.

I could go on and on about the ways black male image is under attack in Hollywood. Anyone who denies this fact is either asleep or refusing to admit the truth. There is a real danger that this emasculation will continue. We can now see how Hollywood has shifted its attack to young black boys. They need to be secure in their manhood and we need them to be future Kings and warriors ready to fight white supremacy. This will not happen if black men and women stay silent and continue to support Hollywood films that work against our basic human rights and seek to socially engineer our image.

Ronald K. Armstrong is an award winning screenwriter and filmmaker. He has produced a number of films and also lectures on Hollywood’s subversive propaganda techniques. In addition, he gives seminars on how others can break into the film industry.

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