Coffee Rhetoric: Nina Simone
Showing posts with label Nina Simone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nina Simone. Show all posts

December 31, 2012

Coffee Rhetoric's 20 Most Read Posts of 2012


Just like that, a new year will be upon us in mere hours and save for some massive bumps and bruises, we got here relatively unscathed, not having to endure a zombie apocalypse. 2012 has been a year replete with a lot of interesting news-bites, dumb-dumb social gaffes from politicians, some notable highs, and extremely tragic lows. It's also been an interesting year for Coffee Rhetoric. I've had the opportunity to participate in some interesting discussions, serve on a couple of panels and offer insight on being a writer, blogger, and navigator of social media, as well as seeing this humble blog introduced to a wider breadth of readers via mainstream media, many of who I've been able to engage with on here, via Twitter, and on Facebook.


December 07, 2012

"Not I", Said The Fly: I Don't Create Online Petitions

This will be brief...


Dear Armond White,

I know that being an incendiary contrarian of sorts is your thing, but I wasn't the person at the helm of circulating the petition opposing the upcoming film starring actress Zoe Saldana. I did express some valid thoughts on what I found problematic about the casting and mentioned some things about Colorism and the marginalization of a specific segment of Black women, as often perpetrated by the film industry and media. Dismissing a very relevant issue amongst women and young girls in my community as a case of jealousy and "crabs-in-the-barrel" mentality is a bit myopic, non? Particularly since in the same breath, you offered a critique suggesting that Tyler Perry's films simply aren't "good enough".

Anyway, a quick Google search- (and perhaps a thorough perusal of the post I wrote in August for context)- would've provided the name of the woman who actually created and circulated the petition for that upcoming movie. I did link it in my post to provide a source but once again, I didn't start or circulate any petitions demanding the dismissal of Black actresses from film projects.

In the grand scheme of things it's a minor flub, but it's very important to me since it was called-out on a very public platform.

Best,

Tiff J, Coffee Rhetoric

Check out episode 126 of BET late-night talk show, Don't Sleep, to see what provoked this open-letter. 






October 22, 2012

Pictures of Zoe Saldana As Nina Simone Hit the Internet


There isn't anything more I can think to say (yes there is) about the casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone in Cynthia Mort's fantastical interpretation of the singer's (later) life, that I haven't already stressed.

After Zoe slyly re-tweeted a fan's erroneous sentiment that backlash against her portrayal of Nina Simone was a case of "reverse-racism"-- (not sure how petitioning to see a genuine depiction of someone’s image and life qualifies as “reverse-racism”, particularly since the actress chosen to play her identifies as black) -- it pretty much justified what this film really is: a farce-in-the-making. 

Needless to say pictures of Zoe Saldana, reportedly on the set of the biopic in question, have surfaced across social media platforms and I’m not quite sure what to make of the visuals. Aside from feeling dissatisfied with the mediocre wig, what looks like dark(er) makeup (aka Blackface), and possibly prosthetic teeth and/or nose, I’m still even more unconvinced.'


September 16, 2012

Yet More Thoughts About My Nina Simone Post


Since weighing in about the controversial casting of Zoe Saldana, in the upcoming Nina Simone biopic, several blogs and media platforms have picked up on my blog piece regarding the matter and especially since my comments in Tanzina Vega's New York Times piece. There've been a couple of misconceptions, so I feel as if I need to offer some clarity as well as reiterate my stance on the matter...

First and most important, I actually was not the first person to broach this topic, as was suggested on one popular celebrity gossip blog. The Black independent film website, Shadow and Act was the first to present the information about the movie. The site's creator, Tambay A. Obenson initially made mention of the project in April, and he's been keeping tabs on the Nina Simone biopic since then, announcing and confirming in August that Zoe, was indeed, slated to play the title role. With that confirmation intact, I merely contributed my two cents, via a blog post, about the matter. I also did not circulate or start the petition to get Zoe Saldana removed from the project. In fact, a thorough read of my initial blog post, touches on the reasons why Zoe being cast as Nina Simone, are problematic. I never wrote that she wasn’t “Black enough”, I never mentioned her complexion, nor did I question her race. I said she didn’t share Nina’s phenotype. Nina Simone was a vigilant, unapologetic, mercurial, and amazing force, presented in a package that often isn’t preferred in the entertainment industry. 

August 17, 2012

(Mis)Casting Call: The Erasure of Nina Simone's Image

Nina Simone: pioneer, influential, volatile, classical music genius, revolutionary, regal and every bit the High Priestess of Soul.

If anybody is worthy of having her story brought to the big screen for posterity, it would, and should, most assuredly be Nina. Despite having to overcome racism and colorism, Nina left a legacy of music and activism that continues to resonate with her fans, lifelong and new.  

When it was announced in 2010 that a Nina Simone biopic—based on a script by TV writer, Cynthia Mort—was in development and that singer, Mary J. Blige was slated to play her, the public's interest was piqued, though some (including myself) were a bit skeptical about whether Mary had the range and right look to portray such a dynamic and complex figure.  And while Mary J. Blige emotes a similar feeling of consciousness about love and heartbreak in her own music, she doesn't necessarily harness the same sense of social awareness Nina did.  Nonetheless, some of us stayed abreast of the project, which was slated to start filming last year. Alas, it was stalled by a series of setbacks that delayed production and Mary J. Blige dropped out of the film, reportedly, due to funding. 

Folks were left to ponder who would play Nina, and bloggers and fans campaigned for the Black actresses they thought were better suited for the role – including Viola Davis, Lauryn Hill, India Arie and Adepero Oduye, who starred in the Dee Rees film, Pariah – so many were left with feelings of confusion and dismay when Afro-Latina actress Zoe Saldana was announced as Mary J. Blige’s replacement. With Saldana on-board to play Nina, suddenly the film’s financial setbacks were resolved and filming picked up momentum.

While Zoe Saldana is undoubtedly a capable actress and has amassed an impressive acting resume, people are understandably agitated and, of course, the ubiquitous online petition started circulating via Change.org, and chief among the petition's grievances:

"Getting light complexioned actors to play the roles of dark complexioned historical figures is not only a sign of blatant disrespect to the persons they are portraying, but it is also disrespectful to their families, to history, to the people who look like the persons being whitewashed, and to the intelligence of the audience. For too long Hollywood has gotten away with this practice of revisionist history."

 And it’s a very valid gripe that raises some important questions...