Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lifetime (The Television Network)

Right now I'm sitting in front of my television watching Betty & Coretta starring Mary J. Blige and Angela Bassett. The story is supposed to be based on the relationship between Betty Shabazz (Malcolm  X's widow) and Coretta Scott King (Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow). I'm about 30 minutes into this movie and I can already tell you I'm not feeling it. Why? For the following reasons: 
  • Mary J. Blige (and most black singers/musicians) is not a believable actress. 
  • This film completely disregarded Myrlie Evers (Megar Ever's widow), who is MY favorite of the three widows. Myrlie was also friends with these two women...
Betty Shabazz (left) Coretta Scott King (center) Myrlie Evers (right)
  • Malcom and Betty did not have a happy marriage according to Manning Marable's Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. I read the book and I believe him. Malcolm wrote several letters to Elijah Muhammad detailing his turbulent marriage to Betty. Manning does a good job detailing those letters in his book. This film portrays their union as one filled with devotion and love, which apparently was false.  
  • By all accounts Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr. didn't have a great marriage either. His escapades were caught on tape by the FBI. In 2027, those tapes will become public. They were banished to the National Archives by a judge in 1977 following an investigation that revealed the FBI's illegal Cointelpro activity. Supposedly, those tapes won't be so shocking and damaging in fifty years time (this was the judge's logic).
  • Ruby Dee's narrations were somewhat confusing. I wasn't sure if she was speaking from her memory (I'm sure was friends with both women) or reciting lines from a script. 
  • This isn't a complaint but an observation: This is the first time Angela Bassett has portrayed Coretta Scott King. She has portrayed Betty Shabazz twice. The first time was in the film Malcom X. The next time was in the film Panther. Portraying Civil Rights icons must be her thing because she also portrayed Rosa Parks.
Lifetime, the television network, has been showing a lot of "black" movies. They devote almost every Saturday to "black" movies. According to the previews, next Saturday they will be broadcasting a film starring Toni Braxton and a white man.

This devotion to showcasing stories about black women is quite shocking considering I remember the days when Lifetime was synonymous with white women getting their asses beat by white men in made for TV movies. 

I know some of you remember Lifetime in the 90's. The channel was loaded down with an endless stream of "white women getting the shit beat out of them" movies. Those made for TV movies were ALL based on true stories! If anyone ever thought white men and white women have perfect relationships they got a SERIOUS wake up call after watching some of the shit that was shown on Lifetime back in the day!

I remember watching Lifetime as a kid and thinking to myself, "Goddamn! White men are crazy as hell!"

There is one movie that comes to mind immediately when I think about Lifetime... A Cry For Help: The Tracy Thurman Story...

We never saw films about black women on Lifetime. Never. If we ever saw a black woman on Lifetime it was usually in passing as an extra in a movie! Now suddenly, within the last 2-3 years we see whole days dedicated to films about black women!

I don't know. Maybe the powers that be decided to devote LMN (Lifetime Movie Network, which is a completely different channel) to those old school "white women getting the shit beat out them" movies while promoting diversity on Lifetime. Obviously these "black women have fucked up lives too" movies are moneymakers or else they wouldn't continue to produce them.

Anyway, I enjoy this newfound diversity on Lifetime. Change is good. Keep up the good work Lifetime
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