December 03, 2015

The Wiz Live! or Racists Ruin Everything

In case you don’t know, NBC’s The Wiz Live! makes its nationally televised debut tonight at 8:00 pm, much to my (and loads of other people’s) delight. If you’re a fan of the 1978 film version directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, Nipsey Russell, Mabel King and a host of other Black entertainment notables, then this a big deal. Furthermore, if you’re a fan Stephanie Mills’s soul-stirring version of Home from the 1975 Broadway version of The Wiz, and saw the clip of her rehearsing with newcomer Shanice Williams (the new Dorothy), then you’re really stoked for tonight, no doubt.

This is all cause for an exciting night at home, snacks and wine on deck, right? Right? Well, not according to Whiteness… which works to piss on the proverbial parade of any person, place, or thing that poses a threat to its power and/or privilege; and anti-Black sentiment extends to the world of entertainment and theater—whether racists are having a collective hissy-fit over actress Amandla Stenberg being cast as Rue in the first installment of The Hunger Games, lobbing ugly racial hate at singer FKA Twigs for being engaged to Twilight actor Robert Pattinson, or threatening to boycott the new Star Wars movie for its inclusion of a Black Storm Trooper—anti-Blackness isn’t exclusively perpetrated by old-timers from the American South, the GOP, and Donald Trump supporters; liberals, millennials, and Gen Xers alike are just as hateful… despite some of these same offenders liberally vulturizing Black culture and vernacular, but I digress.

A Twitter-search of ‘The Wiz Live’ will expose a host of clueless white folks who’ve never even
heard of the 1975 Broadway production of The Wiz or watched the 1978 film adaptation, but who felt equipped enough to complain about what they perceive to be ‘reverse-racism’ because, Yemaya forbid, if everything isn’t centered on Whiteness. Notwithstanding the fact that the 1939 musical-film fantasy The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, was an all-white affair.



Whiteness (and those who uphold the concept of Whiteness) can't be bothered with things like facts, history, and research. They don't care that the television, film, and theater industry has routinely catered to Whiteness since time immemorial, and continues to do so. They also lack nuance in their arguments and have zero understanding about why the stage and film adaptation of The Wiz exists in the first place, why the film is considered to be a cult classic, and that this current version of The Wiz is a rendering of at least one of those previous versions. But then again, it's difficult to learn anything of value, or be excited over an event that's meant to garner a new audience and fans, when drowning in a sea of White tears.

Whiteness operates without rhyme or reason when it comes to having to accept representation of other groups; and it harbors no desire to grasp the relevance of Broadway productions like Porgy and Bessthe importance of trailblazers like Oscar Micheaux, or even the necessity for filmmakers like Ava DuVernay. All the purveyors of Whiteness care about is lashing out against any perceived threat to their privilege... progress and representation be damned. But what can one expect from a segment of people who probably pat themselves on the back for being progressive, but who derail efforts to dismantle and have national dialogues about racism by exclaiming, ‘All Lives Matter!’; and who think Donald Trump is a viable candidate for POTUS?

When you consider your person-hood, narrative, and experience to be the default, or as more worthy of being seen and represented on stage and in the world of entertainment, the concept of an all-Black film, television, or theater cast, or even the inclusion of a Black character in a predominantly white film franchise, is cause for false alarm. 

Scrambling to constantly uphold Whiteness and White Supremacy, even towards something as benign and revolutionary as an all-Black televised stage musical based on… well… an all-Black Broadway musical, has got to be a miserable and sucky way to live. Because I can’t fathom, or abide, anybody seriously still choosing to dive deep into the dark, dank confines of their shitty feelings, after seeing the cast photo of Queen Latifah dressed up as The Wiz.

In any event, I'll definitely be clocked in for The Wiz Live! tonight, while sipping on a glass of White Tears.



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