What is the purpose of entertainment?
Is it suppose to be used to show you a different perspective on certain things?
Is it suppose to change your mind about something?
Or should it just be for leisure?
For me, entertainment was always just that... entertainment. It was something that would always help me escape. Whether it was listening to my favorite song, watching my favorite television show or heading to the theater to go see the hottest new movie, entertainment has always made me feel good. It has never been anything I had to think too hard about, up until recently. Black scholar Dr. Boyce Watkins has been quite vocal on his disdain for shows like "Empire" referring to them as "coonery" and "ghettofied hood dramas". He argues that shows like this only make black people look bad. Surprisingly, I found many articles and interviews of people saying the same thing. Black critics were mercilessly critiquing black entertainment. I began to see a trend when it came to the criticism; black entertainment is severely ridiculed by both black and non-black audiences for being too black or not black enough. This was concerning to me because as a black artist, I want to be free to create art and express myself, but black artists seem to inherit the responsibility of making the entire race look better and their art can never be their own.
After examining criticism of black entertainment, I found that there were two central arguments: “We need more representation” and “We need more positive representation”. It's clear that Black audiences have a hunger for not only movies created for them and starring them, but movies that project a more positive image of black people.
Those who criticize black television shows and films that have become so popular feel that they only confirmed the stereotypes that white people believed to be true. While the shows and films may do so, I am not entirely sure that a film or show showing blacks in a positive light would change the way those same white people feel about blacks. These black critics are assuming that the films would have a great effect on changing the world view of black people. They also make the assumption that white people would be seeing the films at all. Based off of the content, white audiences probably would find it hard to relate. I believe that entertainment should not be created for the sole purpose of trying to appear a certain way to another audience because there is no guarantee that it will be successful.
Entertainment has become less about being real and more about appearing pleasant and likable. There are some black people still so concerned about white people think about us, that they feel like everything they do should make strides towards showing white people that we aren’t what they think we are. Although we are not what they think we are, it’s 2017 and if they still believe all black people are ghetto and illiterate, chances are, that’s not going to change any time soon. While I don’t doubt that some black people are not fans of certain black films because they just cannot relate to the black life portrayed in the movie, many disapprove because they are afraid of the image the shows and movies are presenting to white people.