Review: God Bless the Child by Toni Morrison

Again-someone’s work I’d like to see on PBS or rather someone deserving of an American Masters portrait.

Media Diversified

Toni Morrison

by Sabo Kpade

Chief among the preoccupations of God Bless The Child is skin shade: a slight variation from the skin colour that is a main raw material in many of Toni Morrison’s previous works. The lens is still aimed on the same target but the focus has been narrowed.

Bride is a young woman in her early twenties. The fact that she is independent, successful and in charge of a department called YOU, GIRL – a hip cosmetic range – comes as a near miracle considering the hostility that has plagued her since birth. Born with darker skin than either of her parents, her mother Sweetness contemplated abandoning her or smothering her with a pillow. Her husband, suspecting his wife of foul play, left her. An attempt at restitution with a teacher, whom she accused of child abuse in an attempt to earn her mother’s love, results in a…

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3 Things I Learned from Moderating the “Empire” Writers Panel

Someone’s who’s work I would love to see on PBS.

Tananarive Due Writes

Photo credit: Kima Jones Photo credit: Kima Jones

Saturday, I had the pleasure and honor of moderating of writers from the hit show “Empire” at L.A.’s Leimert Park Book Fair: Joshua Allen, Eric Haywood, twin sisters JaNeika and JaSheika James, Attica Locke and Carlito Rodriguez.

For an hour, the writers spoke frankly about their own careers, their experiences in Hollywood, and what it’s like to work for mega hit show “Empire”—which simply must be one of the best writing environments in television. As in…Best. Job. Ever.

They laugh all day. Yes, they argue. Yes, they get the job done. But they have “Good Times” sing-alongs. Their stomachs hurt because they laugh all day. One of the writers actually said this.

But I digress.

Leimert Park Book Fair Leimert Park Book Fair

As a novelist who is also writing screenplays and pitching my novels for TV and film, I’m always eager to hear the secret to success from veterans—just…

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NuPoldark – yeah so I didn’t see it

So PBS is airing the BBC’s remake of BBC’s 1970s mini/limited-series ‘Poldark.’  ‘Poldark,’ is the epic tale of Captain Ross Poldark, set during that other highly romanticized period of the late 1700s in Cornwall, England who wins, loses, redeems, gets stolen from and triumphs over.  Basically the stuff that epic tales run on.

This adaption, like the previous one, is based on the ‘Poldark’ series of historical fiction written by Winston Graham. Unlike the previous series, advances in technology have made certain exterior shots possible in 2015 , that were at best too expensive and too laborious and at worst too much of a pipe dream to be done in 1975 and 1977.

In essence, the tech advances of 2015 allows for the landscape of Cornwall-known to most American audiences as the place where the Pirates of Penzance take place or where the tv series that also airs on PBS ‘Doc Martin’ is set-to share top billing with ‘nuPoldark’s’ star, Aidan Turner.

I’ve seen the original series on Netflix with Robin Ellis as Ross Poldark long before I even had an inkling that it was being remade.  I liked it well enough. I didn’t find myself being hung up on the cinematography conventions of the 1970s, which called for lots of extreme closeups and which made clear what was filmed in a studio (usually tape) and what was filmed on location outdoors (usually film).

Robin Ellis, who cooks and acts here and again, is in nuPoldark.  He portrays Rev. Halse in this adaption. Much has been made of the fact that both Poldarks are in this productions.

So has the fact that the screenwriters for this adaption as well as Aidan Turner did not watch the original series, but revisited the Winston Graham novels on which both series are based. Hence this remake is not a “rehash” of the previous series.

So $64,000 question time: Why am I not going to watch 21st century ‘Poldark’?

It basically again tracks back to the fact that PBS, especially those in certain markets, seem to think that the way they’ll compete against Netflix and cable channels is to continue to be an imitation of the poor man’s/broadcast tv’s BBCAmerica.  The problem I have with this especially as it relates the drama programming is that much like American history, British history has many different facets-granted not all of them pretty. There are so many other stories about the different cultures which make up the Britain’s tapestry that can and should be told.  Endlessly providing stories that showcase one POV/one experience (and an overly romanticized one at that) illustrates shortsightedness and an inability to evolve.

I mean, in five years or ten years or even five months, will we see yet another adaptation of Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice or Upstairs, Downstairs (which despite clamoring to the contrary, ‘Downton Abbey’ is a reimagining of) or Great Expectations or [insert the name of any ] Shakespeare work?

Or will we see an adaption of a work that gives us a pov not often seen, a classic work in print-currently or in the past-deserving of an adaptation?

 

My hope is the latter. Especially because it would allow PBS to live up to its motto of “Being More.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

African American speculative fiction for kids

Again not exactly PBS but I’d like to think if Reading Rainbow were still in production or any number of shows where reading and books were showcased for youth, some of these books would be found on it. I also think that PBS could/should adapt some of these to provide different stories to their audience that actually would allow them to live up to their motto of “Being More” instead of being known as the Zombie BBCAmerica channel or the purveyor of warmed over-leftover British programming.

Fledgling

After Edi read my SLJ article, she suggested I compile a list of African American speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, time travel, alternate history, dystopia, horror, etc.) books for children. As usual, I enlisted the help of others, and below is the list Edi, Doret, Ari, and I compiled. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment. I did not include speculative fiction titles that might appeal to teens—just those specifically published for young readers (MG/YA).

Speculative Fiction by US-based Authors of African Descent


1. Justice and Her Brothers by Virginia Hamilton (1978)

2. Dustland by Virginia Hamilton (1980)

3. The Gathering by Virginia Hamilton (1981)

4. Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush by Virginia Hamilton (1982)

5. The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl by Virginia Hamilton (1983)

6.  Shadow of the Red Moon by Walter Dean Myers (1995)

7. Trapped between the Lash and the Gun

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Announcement: The Classic Movie History Project (2015)

Not exactly PBS, although the local PBS station used to carry older films and provided some background once upon a time in the distant past.

Once upon a screen...

One of my favorite blogging events of 2014 was the Classic Movie History Project, which was the brainchild of Fritzi Kramer at Movies, Silently.  I, along with Ruth of Silver Screenings, co-hosted the event with Fritzi and we’re all back for a bigger and better second edition.

Following is the official announcement, which was written by Fritzi.  Included throughout this post are the gorgeous event banners – designed by Fritzi.  Ruth has done lots of behind-the-scenes work already and I’ve…uh…been sitting on the sidelines looking pretty.  Or…looking in any case.  But really, I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of this and will promote the heck out of it in hopes you’ll join us.  So, without further ado…

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The Classic Movie History Project Blogathon (2015)

We are tickled to announce the second edition of the Classic Movie History Project. I am once again joined by my wonderful co-hosts, Fritzi…

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Life below stairs – the duties of a Georgian housemaid

I came across this blog post in my Twitter feed.  I believe it was from the Twitter handle for Mr. Bates Legal Team, which is a fan handle for Downton Abbey.

It’s safe to say at this point that Downton Abbey has definitely focused more on the “Upstairs” than the “Downstairs.”  And with logical reason. No one wants to know what a cruddy job the “below stairs” really had. That would be too much like real life.

I think that people underestimate how much work went into daily living in the past- especially if you weren’t blessed with wealth and privilege.

Life below stairs – the duties of a Georgian housemaid.

via Life below stairs – the duties of a Georgian housemaid.

TCM Makes Summer School Cool w/ Free Film Noir Course

TCM Makes Summer School Cool w/ Free Film Noir CoursePosted on May 18, 2015 by willmckinleyFor a generation of fans old and new, Turner Classic Movies has been like a film school without the student loans. Now, more than two decades after the channel’s launch, you can remove like from that sentence.On June 1, TCM will become an actual educational institution (of sorts) when it launches Into Darkness: Investigating Film Noir, a on-line course presented in conjunction with Indiana’s Ball State University. The nine-week eLearning class will explore “the means, motives, and opportunities that led Hollywood studios to make these hard-boiled crime dramas” and will be taught by Richard L. Edwards, Ph.D., co-author of The Maltese Touch of Evil: Film Noir and Potential Criticism and co-host of the Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir podcast (with TCM staffer Shannon Clute).And best of all, the course is entirely free – and it’s open to non-TCM subscribers. (TCM promises “free links to online public domain films noir, so anyone can participate fully in this course.”)TCM isn’t fooling around with this thing, either. All those who complete the course requirements – which the network says will take 2-4 hours per week (plus movie viewing, obvs) – will receive a certificate of completion and a carton of Lucky Strikes (I made that last part up, but they should consider it.) Participants will also have access to exclusive “video lessons” and Google Hangouts (live or archived for later viewing) where they can interact with the instructor and other students. There will be a social media component as well, using the

via TCM Makes Summer School Cool w/ Free Film Noir Course.

via TCM Makes Summer School Cool w/ Free Film Noir Course.