Gillette Commercial and America’s Take on Masculinity

This past week Gillette debuted their newest ad campaign that tackled what many people consider to be toxic masculinity in our society. Once I viewed the ad, my only opinion was when are other companies going to follow suite with creating more content that is responsible and socially correct? I thought it was very fitting for the social climate and undertones that we presently face in both society and via media. Did I expect the backlash that was given towards it? Yes. Why? Because nothing that addresses social correctness or being morally right is every taken easily.

It takes a strong person to address the wrongs in the world. And it takes a stronger company to address those wrongs while having products that are explicitly geared towards a group of people that are presently labeled in society as contributing to some of the injustices of our nation and world. Check the commercial out below. Do you think Gillette hit the mark or do you think they were just taking advantage of a sensitive time in media and politics?

Celebrating Heritage Months

With 2019 upon us, it is important to remember and recognize the upcoming Heritage Months through the year. Hopefully, you can find a local or national form of celebration to learn more about the cultural relevance and experiences of each month in the upcoming year! The following represents the National Heritage Months currently observed in the United States. The information was also provided by http://www.diversitycentral.com. Please check out the website for more information about diversity and multicultural iniatives and cultural events.

January-None Currently Observed

February-African American History Month

March- National Women’s History Month/Irish American Heritage Month

April- (March 13-April 15) National Deaf History Month

May-Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Older Americans Month and Jewish American Heritage Month

June-Gay Lesbian Pride Month

July-None Currently Observed

August-None Currently Observed

September-National Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month (Sept 15-October 15)

October-National Disability Employment Awareness Month/National Italian American Heritage Month

November- National American Indian Heritage Month

December- None Currently Observed

Underground: Why Its Presence on Any Screen Is Desparately Needed

It’s been well over a year since we last saw our favorite characters running and escaping all odds to get into freedom. But my heart and mind still feel like it was just yesterday that I recieved the crusshing news the this gem of a television series was set to be cancelled by the very network that had oringally supported it. Many feel that it was during a time when one of televisions biggest company mergers was occurring and the new incoming execs didn’t want anything to do with creative programming on their network. All of the other shows that featured actors and creative drama were also cancelled in favor of tired and recycled syndicated programs that can be found on various networks. 

Others seemed to think it was a matter of the subject matter that was being covered on the show itself. Many historical shows in the past have not always portrayed the African Diaspora or the African slave experience in a way that Underground effortlessly did. Each week the show would feature and highlight the southern slavery and way of life experience that many viewers were not aware had occurred in history. 
And lastly, many networks decided to pass up on the television series gem due to the financial costs that were behind making a historical drama. However, with the quality of projects that have been loosely produced and promoted in media, having a project of substance like Underground was an investment in historical documentation for our nation, socially and for our future. 

I personally feel that it was combination of all three responses. Recently, streaming services have been very adament about establishing original programming and most of the newest and most interesting serials have been originals created and produced by the streaming services. However, the biggest profit of most of the streaming services are the older syndicated programs of the past few decades. The programs are usually a form of nostalgia for audiences who have not had the opportunity to experience them in a while and they are usually an introduction for audiences that were not around to witness them. However, syndicated programming can only support a network or platform for so long. 

Many social media analysts and execs argue that the attention span of the audience is almost as fickle as our fashion choices. Many would even say that television audiences wouldn’t support a show that is not laced with salacious drama and scandal that is commonly riddled in “reality” television programming. I on the other hand witnessed a network showcase a television masterpiece, partook in weekly Twitter conversations with the stars of the show and other fans, received a fan giveaway prize and waited with baited breath to see a network turn its back on the fans that brought new life to the channel and a new generation of viewers to an often forgot about station. 

So, in the words of my two-year daughter while reading bedtime stories, “What’s next?” Currently the answer to the question, is nothing. There have been no talks of reviving the series or picking up the series in different platforms. Personally, I suggest a movie format   that could neatly wrap up the stories of Miss Ernestine, Noah and Rosalee among others. I along with millions of other fans that tuned into the show every week would happily support it. Underground is not just a show that featured fictional slaves and their experiences on the road to freedom. 

Underground represented a movement of people that desired to see the truth told about a history of people that canceled many often relegated to pain, misfortune, and suffering. Underground represented a voice for the countless generations of slaves and indentured slaves in America that did have the opportunities to feel and express their feelings about their situations once they arrived here. Underground ultimately represented a stark comparison of where our nation currently stands when it comes to positive, uplifting but powerful depictions of people of color in the media. 
No matter how popular reality television has made ordinary and unknown citizens in our society, it is no comparison to the stories of real hero’s and heroine’s from the past.

Their experiences helped to influence our futures and it is unfortunate that like their existence television execs still want to remain oppressive to their stories and mark in history. We’ve seen what happens when people rally behind a cause. Shows and programming have triumphantly returned despite their initial cancellations. Hopefully, the creators and actors behind the series can one day find the pull to bring this show back on any screen willing to accept their magic. Though chances are extremely slim, hopefully 2019 will open more doors for black storytelling beyond fantasies and thrillers. Just maybe, Underground can be the flagship that inspires more to bring reality back to television. 

Creed II: Experiencing and Embracing the Family Ties that Connects Us

With the return of the highly anticipated movie, there was much speculation about how Creed II would measure up against its predecessor. However, after a few minutes into the movie, you realize that it was well equipped and written to stand on its own.

Given the knowledge that this film was not going to be helmed by its original director Ryan Coogler, there were concerns from fans and critics alike that the movie’s core character storyline structure would be different. However, adding Steven Caple, Jr as director was a great addition to Creed movie franchise. In my opinion, the movie flawlessly executed the plans and aspirations left over from the original film. The transition between the characters storylines appeared effortless as the main character and the supporting characters displayed growth and humility; two qualities that are often lacking in today’s film standards and plot lines.

But the aspect that made me most appreciative of the movie was its display and relatability when it came to family ties and bonds. As a semi-spoiler alert for anyone that has not taken themselves with the quickness to see this film, both of main character Adonis Creed, as reprised by Michael B. Jordan and the lead antagonist Viktor Drago portrayed by Florian Munteanu, had a lot of aspects that were in common despite their very different upbringings. I felt it was these similarities that allowed the audience to see both of the characters from a different narrative, despite the shortcomings and or insecurities. I also felt by showcasing the element of family in this film, that is set up the film to be thrust into the franchise stratosphere with an entirely familiar yet different feel.

Based on the film’s success at the box office over the Thanksgiving Weekend, it is no secret the film will be up for a possible third installment. However, what is very unlikely is the return of the franchise showrunner Rocky Balboa helmed Hollywood film legend, Sylvester Stallone. His storyline in so many ways was finally addressed, and neatly packaged should the character and actor decide to hang up their gloves. Also, the actor himself as expressed that after 40 years he was ready to give the franchise over to the bright and buzzing talent of Michael B. Jordan. At the time of this article post, Creed III has yet to be announced. However, with the creation of the Adonis Creed Family and the potential to bring back other characters from the past to stand in the way of Adonis’ title, Creed III would definitely be a great contender in the ring of movie releases by 2020.

Nappily Ever After: Finding Yourself Amid Societal Confinements

So, let’s just first start by saying this post is long overdue. However, I have finally gotten the opportunity to share my thoughts about Netflix’s latest breakout movie Nappily Ever After. If you didn’t get the hint from the title of the film and this article, then you should know that this movie is focused on hair. Specifically, African American hair. And if you really want to get even more detailed, African American Women’s hair and styling processes.

The streamable movie, which debuted in late September on the service, features famous movie actress Sanaa Lathan as Violet Jones. Violet, is a highly successful marketing promotor that has lived most of her life in the confines of the ideal “perfect” image. Spurred on by the likes of her mother, Paulette Jones, who is portrayed by acting legend Lynn Whitfield, Violet struggles with accepting her hair and appearance in its natural form. From starting her day extremely early to primp and mull over her appearance to avoiding wet situations, Violet has settled in an unnatural and un-maintainable lifestyle.

In typical, Lifetime Movie “esque” fashion, her world comes tumbling down as she is given the reality check of a lifetime when her longterm boyfriend presents that he has grown bored with her perfection. Naturally, a person that has spent most of their life confirming to images of beauty that are often mainstream and westernized standards, they would want to change everything and go for a more daring path in life to end their current conundrum. And Violet does just that. If you haven’t seen the movie, I will hold back on providing a full overview of the film.

But if you have seen the movie, I will say that I was happy with the ending and the overall message that the film represented. For far too long, the African American and other minoritized communities have accepted what has been forced upon them as “beauty” standards and norms. That mindset and time are now viewed as toxic. Watching Violet display both her struggles and triumphs as she discovered her true feelings for her own beauty was rewarding and refreshing to see. Over the past few years, the natural hair and just natural movement have gained a lot of attention from beauty companies and fashion houses. Hair product lines have now targeted and marketed their products to people that feel their natural beauty is more than enough.

One final message that I gleaned from the film was the importance of surrounding yourself with people that believe in your overall life visions and your development. I am a firm believer in that your life’s journey is not a straight path. There are several twists and turns and even plot changes that ultimately shape you as a person. With that in mind, it is quickly forgotten that sometimes the people that start your journey with you don’t always continue or end it with you and vice versa. And even though, Nappily Ever After had a quirky delivery, but in all, it represented the quirkiness of life when you are in search of your self and who you ultimately present to the world. Catch it on Netflix while it’s available!