For The Culture

#LaLaLost…But I’m Still Giving the Side Eye To The Academy

So…I wasn’t gawn say nuffin. But I feel compelled. I usually talk primarily about music, but this is an art moment that really, really matters.

I’m a start off by saying that I haven’t seen La La Land. I intend to, because I love movies and I heard from a few friends that it looks gorgeous. But, that is the best of what I heard about it. It’s tied with All About Eve and Titanic for most nominations ever in an Oscars (14). I think it did so because it made white folks feel good.

“Why just white folks, huh? That’s discriminatory.”

First off, shut up, it’s not discriminatory. Literally no one I know who is not white heard about this movie until awards season rolled around. Shoot, even some white folks didn’t hear about it. With all this fuss, all these record-breaking nominations, all these awards…most people who aren’t white didn’t know what it was. This makes so much sense for so many reasons, but I’m only gonna mention 3 of those reasons:

Hidden Figures, Fences & Moonlight. All multiple Oscar nominees. All great flicks. All Black leads. All captured everyone’s attention in 2016, black or white or otherwise.

This past year was one of the best in recent memory for black films and music. No movies were more critically acclaimed than these three films. EVERYONE was talking about these movies leading up to, during and after their releases.

Moonlight STILL set itself apart. It told a story that had never been told on the big screen and did so with great passion and precision. It reflected identities and experiences we have rarely if ever seen in a Hollywood movie. It was absolutely gorgeous to look at and listen to. It created space for needed conversations. It was cathartic, infuriating, reminiscent, rich and black. as. fuck. Even if you don’t share any identities with anyone that appeared on-screen, you felt that shit because every single performance was stellar.

It was and is entirely litty. One of the best films I have ever seen, personally, if not the very best. It accomplished all of this with a fully black cast, a black writer and a black director, and that proves something that black folk have long believed and exercised: if we’re given the opportunity, we will do something excellent. You can bet on us.

Yet, Moonlight still had to contend with something that made white people feel good. Even though only white people knew about it.

It doesn’t help that La La Land is a musical love story that leans in heavy to the relationship between white folk and jazz. For those of you who don’t realize this, jazz is also black as fuck. Improvisation is a hallmark of blackness, be it jazz, soul food, freestyle battle raps, b-boyin’/girlin’, makin’ a dolla outta fit-teen cent, et cetera. Over the same span of existence that we have improvised in order to live well, we have seen white folks rewarded and lauded and PAID for appreciating and often times appropriating this improvisational quality. I suppose I could write a different post about that later, though.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (the company responsible for the Oscars ballot count) employs Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz to count every vote for every category at the Oscars. These are the only two people who know who the winners are before the show announces them live. There are over 6,000 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture & Sciences (AMPAS) and every vote is counted by hand, several time by ONLY these two people. There are always two copies of the results on either side of the stage, two separate routes taken to the theatre and two separate briefcases that even make an appearance on the red carpet. This system has been in place for 83 years with PwC and there has NEVER been a mistake like this.

Yet, in the moment that for the first time an all black erythang movie wins Best Picture….oops!

No. NO. Get the fuck outta here.

That is why this Oscars “mistake” is so irky. Do you realize that this historic, black ass win for Moonlight will forever be associated with La La Land  because of this bullshit? We are gonna have to be wayyyyyy too intentional to dissociate La La Land from Moonlight’s Best Picture win now, when we didn’t even know what La La Land was 60 days ago, and that’s a generous number.

Among my friends and foes, I am known to be a conspiracy theorist. I stand by it, too, because I rarely theorize over absurd and outlandish stuff (I think). I usually theorize around racial stuff. I do this because white folk have been tryna ruin black folk for ages and have gone to great lengths to do so. Surely, fucking up a moment like this is not beyond them, especially after purposefully running disease experiments on black serviceman. I digress.

My point is, this is not a likely mistake. Yes, mistakes happen, but there is a certain level of performance and production where you just don’t come by many mistakes, especially not the type of mistakes that permanently taint historic moments. As gracious as Jordan Horowitz was, he should have never had the opportunity to be so gracious. My first thought as I watched last night’s fuckery unfold was, “Breh…BREH…they did this shit on purpose. This is the fuckin Oscars, ain’t no room for these kind of errors!”

Maybe that’s where I went wrong though. Maybe I was giving to much credit to an academy that year in and year out awards mediocrity and ignores sheer brilliance. Shout out to Viola, but she shoulda won an Oscar in 2008 for her role in Doubt. I have never seen her not be incredible. I’m not even gon touch on the Denzel snub. Sike! Denzel’s role in Fences was probably his best performance ever, yet he lost to a white New Englander playing a white New Englander. The Oscars Rihanna’d the fuck outta Hidden Figures, too (see the fact that “Work” lost the Best Pop Duo Grammy to a song I can’t think of the name of).

It’s cool though. Black folks will be forever winning. Black culture influences anything and anyone it comes into contact with. It is rich and colorful and flavorful and it belongs to us.

At the end of it all, La La Lost and late in the Moonlight hour, Gawd turned it around.

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Interviews

Interview: Janelle Monáe’s Hair, The Monáe

We been checkin’ for Janelle Monáe for ages, now. She’s one of the greatest living performers out there. She’s got a remarkable body of work and a record label under her belt. She’s expanded to the silver screen and even made an appearance at the Golden Globes this year for two separate films (Hidden Figures and Moonlight). Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention her hair, though.

It’s too lit.

So lit, in fact, that it has it’s own social media presence. You read that correctly.

Janelle Monáe’s hair (who goes by the moniker The Monáe) is a social media force to be reckoned with. She can be found getting non-inclusive folk/occurrences together, taking pics at award shows and was even recording special moments at Beyoncé’s 35th birthday party.

I reached out to Jane’s hair (with explicit permission, of course) and we got to talking about her experience as one of the most revered coiffs in history. Here’s the convo:

The Vince Anthony Show: What’s it like being the most important crown in Metropolis?

The Monáe: It’s pretty cool. I can’t really go into detail because of Droid Control but let’s just say I’m not just any ol’ ordinary crown.

TVAS: What’s your regimen? LOC? LCO? What products do you use?

TM: The LOC Method is amazing. Also, the products Cindi uses taste delish. You ever tried Coconut Shea Moisture Lotion? Best food ever.

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TVAS: Let’s talk about Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair?” What do you think of it? How does it make you feel?

TM: Yes, I actually listen to it everyday. The song really uplifts me. Makes my roots tingle. It’s a really important song/topic. We (hair) take time to grow and when someone touches us…it’s a big Flag On The Play. That song was needed and I’m happy that someone finally made it.

TVAS: Give me your thoughts on wigs.

TM: Wigs are fun. You ever wanna have a great time? Invite wigs. They’re the life of the party. My great Auntie is actually a Wet ‘n’ Wavy wig. Also, Cindi owns a lot of wigs. I play dress up in them. Love em! I think everyone should own at least one wig! They’re important.

TVAS: Dope.

TM: Don’t tell her I told you that.

TVAS: I won’t.

You recently strayed from the pompadour that made you famous. What can we expect from you in the future?

TM: I didn’t stray away from it completely, ya know! Hmmm, the future? I shall never ever tell!

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TVAS: Word. Whats the view like on stage?

TM: It’s incredible when Janelle’s not covering me up with a hat like Quirinus Quirrell does Lord Voldemort.

TVAS: BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHA

TM: Sometimes it gets annoying. I just want to see you guys. That’s why I kick the hat off and the hair pin.

TVAS: Ayyee turn up! Speaking of movies, could you speak on your experience in Moonlight and Hidden Figures?

TM: Sure, I had a blast on both sets! In Moonlight I play Justine. Seen some things, been through some things but I’ve yet to let those things gray me ya know? It was super duper hot so they had to keep me hydrated with lots and lots of oils and Fiji Water.

The weather was perfect during the filming of Hidden Figures. The only problem I had was with the wind tunnel. It’s no joke. I made lots of new friends and learned a lot. People were really weirded out about the whole talking hair thing but after a while they fell in love with me.

TVAS: Do you an Jidenna’s hair kick it? If so, what’s that like?

TM: Not a lot, We’re always busy but when we do we have a great time. He’s very laid back, pun intended.

TVAS: You should consider stand up. Do yall call that “hi top” or….?

 
TM: How’d you know? Haha
 
TVAS: Tell me about your Golden Globes experience. Must’ve been exciting!
 
TM: The Golden Globes were amazing. A lot of people I’ve watched on television…. I tried to jump off of Jane’s head to get to Viola. I absolutely love her but that would’ve been a bit much.
 
TVASListen. I get it.
 
TM: I was decked out in the finest pearls and extra glossy, too. She’s been putting a lot of weird things on me lately, have you peeped that?
 
TVAS: I peeped. It’s a good look though. Looks for days.
 
 
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TM: But, anyways it was so amazing to see Jane & the cast of Moonlight take home a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Drama. I worked hard in that movie. They told me to stay curly so I did and I think I did a pretty amazing job. I didn’t let the heat of the moment get to me. Hopefully we’ll be at the Oscars next. I really want to do a pre-show interview.
 
TVAS: That would be litty! How would you like to be remembered?
 
TM: As the most kick ass crown, ever.
 
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Follow Janelle Monáe’s hair on Twitter and Instagram @The_Monae