05th Aug2006

Affirmative Action Gets Supernatural: The Winston Zeddemore Story

by Will

“It’s either French, or you’re speaking with clicks!”

Winston-Zeddemore_opt

So, I’m gonna go for the double-whammy this time. For me and my constituents, I present the pop culture post. For any stragglers from the Reappropriate set, I give you the racism post. All wrapped in one. The topic of today’s post? Winston Zeddemore.

Yes, Winston Zeddemore, played by Ernie Hudson (voiced by Arsenio Hall, natch!), is also known as “The Black Ghostbuster”. But to look at most of the promotional pics of the Ghostbusters movie franchise, Mr. Zeddemore is given the short shrift. Now, growing up, I was much more well-versed in the animated Ghostbusters universe than the movies. Sure, I’d seen the movies, especially Ghostbusters 2, since Channel 5 showed that piece of shit every 6 weeks. In any regard, I lived for the cartoon. There was more attention given to Slimer, Egon was an alibino, and they even explained why/how Jeanine had changed over the years (best.episode.ever).What’s not to love? But as I got older, it became harder to watch the cartoons. Even learning that they were written by J. Michael Strazcynski, of Babylon 5 fame, was not enough to keep my attention. Plainly put, I had outgrown The Real Ghostbusters.

Not willing to give up on my past so quickly, I turned to the motion picture Ghostbusters universe. A darker place, where Slimer only had cameos, The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man was NOT an adorable mascot, and the black guy was just background scenery.

Now, let’s get something straight. I didn’t grow up wanting to be Winston. Nope, I wanted to be Egon, and if not him, then Peter. But I was glad that there was a Black guy. Sure, he didn’t do much, but he was there. Kinda how Indian kids must’ve felt about Haji in the Johnny Quest cartoons. His presence was enough for me. At least, in the cartoon. But the movies were a different story. As far as the movies, he was simply a precursor for Morgan Freeman. All the fool did was drive the damn car! As I’ve aged, it’s become clear that Winston Zeddemore was nothing but an affirmative-action hire.

I doubt you’d find anybody who, following a Ghostbusters viewing, would proclaim Winston as a hero to them. Nope. Nobody. Not even that crackhead on the corner. In fact, here’s a crackhead’s interpretation of Ghostbuster cool factor: “Muthafucka wit da glasses? Dat fucka was smart, son! Bitch who looked like dat dude from Groundhog Day? That playa was hilarious, son!”

I’ll bet it even extends to the supporting characters: “That bitch from Aliens? I’d hit dat. The bitch who answered the phones? I’d hit dat twice. Even that muthfucka from Honey I Shrunk The Kids was dope, yo.” (PLEASE, somebody find me a crackhead who references Honey, I Shrunk The Kids!)But ask the crackhead about Winston. “The brotha? Man, all that nigga did was drive the muthfuckin’ car.”

Face it, in the movie universe, there is no important role for Winston. I was reading the wiki entry for the movie, and they claim that Winston was supposed to be hired earlier in the film, but they waited until later because they wanted to show that the 3 guys had really fallen off their game and needed the extra help. “Extra help”?! All he did was DRIVE THE CAR. And it wasn’t even a cool car, like K.I.T.T. Don’t get me wrong, I’d go for a ride in the Ecto-1 in a heartbeat, but the thing was a repainted hearse with a siren on top. Not an ambulance, like some people believe, but a hearse. That’s some morbid shit. It gets worse and worse for poor Winston. The man is a glorified funeral director, driving around a bunch of crazy White guys who “bust” ghosts.

I think that was the most interesting aspect of Movie Winston: He didn’t even really believe in ghosts. He just needed a quick buck. The dude had been an NYC firefighter, and if ya ask me, he left that line of work not a minute too soon (OK, so it was 15 years sooner than he had to, but you get the point…). But he was of the mind of, “You crazy White dudes are gonna pay me to put on this jumpsuit as we ‘bust ghosts’?” He figured he needed to get while the gettin’ was good. Which, I guess, is still bad because it paints him as some layabout who’s out for an easy dollar. I don’t think he even realized he was strapping a nuclear reactor to his back.

But even outside of the storyline, my disdain extends to the real world aspects of the movie. Ernie Hudson gets next to no billing for that film. It’s Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Ackroyd, Sigourney Weaver, and in some cases even Annie Potts and Rick Moranis. “Ernie Hudson” is only listed when EVERYBODY is listed. He’s like right above the Gaffer. And I can’t look at him, to this day, without thinking, “Man, those dudes didn’t treat you right.” I mean, I guess he knew what he signed up for, and I’m glad he never had any of those popular delusions of “I’m opening new doors for the depiction of Blacks in film.” Hell, if he’d just been “Angry Black Guy”, a cliche we all know and love (Hi, Sam Jackson), he would’ve made more of an impact than “The black dude who drives the Ghostbusters around.”

The original script was written with Eddie Murphy in mind, but prior commitments prevented that. Now, I wonder if they would’ve shoved Eddie in the same role, or if he would’ve been “Wise-cracking, jive-talking, streetwise Black guy? Maybe he’d put a banana in an exhaust pipe, and then run off to China as they clean his royal penis. I wonder if Ernie Hudson wakes up nights, terrified by how badly he failed to fill the shoes of Eddie Murphy. It makes one wonder “what might have been”. Almost as much as the fact that “Beverly Hills Cop” was written for Sylvester Stallone, but that’s a story for another time…

25th Jun2006

Wolvie & Harry’s Matrixy Adventure

by Will

“I was gonna have sex with you, and then we were gonna watch Batman. Your loss!”

So, my mother and I like to frequent this huge thrift store in the area (Unique Bazaar). We usually call it “The Spanish Store”, mainly due to its clientele and the fact that everything is written in Spanish. Anyway, it’s always bad news when we go because we end buying a bunch of crap that we don’t need.

Well, yesterday, I was in the toy section and noticed something. You see, they bag up separate tiny toys into grab bags, in order to move the merchandise quickly. Well, a certain baggy of action figures caught my eye. In this particular bag, there was Wolverine, Professor X, Harry Potter, Professor Snape, and Neo.

At first, I thought, “Why would someone put these figures together? X-Men, Harry Potter , and The Matrix in one bag? That’s almost sci-fi blasphemy! But then I thought again, and realized that it was BRILLIANT!

Think about it. That would be the highest grossing movie of ALL TIME for INFINITY. They would have to print more money just to meet the demand. No movie would ever come close to breaking that box office. It would be the “Ken Jennings” of cinematic blockbusters. I almost fear that Hollywood would simply shut down after such a daring venture. I mean, not only would it signal that Hollywood had exhausted all ideas, but there also wouldn’t been any point. It would be the “Great American Novel” of Hollywood megahits. Whenever people would have brainstorming sessions, every idea would be shot down with a “Well, there’s no way it’s gonna be as good as “Wolvie & Harry’s Matrixy Adventure”. It would usher in the end of Hollywood. But Hollywood will have gone out with a bang.

I think what saddens me most is that this genius, who came up with the greatest idea of all time, will never be discovered because he/she works in this thrift store and might not even know English. I’m getting a Salieri Complex just thinking about it…

11th Jun2006

Say Hello To My Little Friend!

by Will

“A computer actually does real work. ‘Nigger technology’ lets dumb niggers talk to other dumb niggers about dumb nigger shit. Nothing important was ever typed with thumbs.”

As many rappers will attest, I’ve discovered that the only way to properly watch “Scarface” is while holding a gun.

A few weeks ago, I sat watching the movie, thinking to myself, “Something is missing in this equation.” I looked over and saw my Nerf N-strike pistol, complete with adjustable laser sight.

Well, I quickly palmed my firearm, and began to twirl it for the remainder of the film. And I must say that, for those 2.5 hours, all was right with the world.

16th Apr2006

V For Cookie

by Will

“It’s not called ‘gymNICEtics’!”

If you’ve seen “V for Vendetta” (and you SHOULD have by now!), then you will most likely get a kick out of this:

http://www.fanboyplanet.com/derek/mc-vforcookie.php

02nd Apr2006

A Simpsons MOVIE? For REAL?

by Will

“He’s the kinda guy you hate until he’s inside ya.”

“The Simpsons Movie”, eh? July 2007, eh? Only got one thing to say about that: Worst. Idea. Ever.

26th Mar2006

V For Vendetta: The Comic Book Movie As “Art”

by Will

“Are you like a crazy person or something?”

So, last night I saw “V for Vendetta” and I must say that I wanted to cry. I know there are people who panned it, but there are also those who thought it was quite good. I thought it was beautiful. When it was over, I was shaken, but in a profound way. I wanted to cry.

Now, before you go all off on me, as internet trolls are prone to do, allow me to explain myself. You see, I am a comic book afficienado. I’m not a “fanboy”, per se. I’m not obnoxious like the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons. I am one of those people who would like comics to be elevated and accepted as an artform. To me, the term “funnybooks” is a slur a few notches below “nigger”. Yeah, I’m sure that might seem outlandish to many of you, but that is simply how I feel. Comics have meant a lot to me over my life, and they have been some of my best friends at times. As sad as that may be, it pains me when people fail to take them seriously. There ARE more to comics than Batman and X-Men. Sure these are what people think about, but there are entertaining, yet moving tales to be found, such as Art Speigelman’s “Maus” or even Terry Moore’s “Strangers in Paradise”. In the world of comics, just as with music, there is truly something for everyone. But so few people are willing to give them a chance.

I never had any interest in seeing “V”. I’ve never been a big Alan Moore fan, and while I loved “From Hell” since I have a Jack the Ripper fetish, I could never bring myself to watch the trainwreck that was “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. As Jenn has pointed out, the main gist of the movie was “It’s that flick where Natalie Portman had to cut her hair.” But as the release date neared, people began talking about its political message. The next thing I knew, people were worried about the message this movie might be sending. Would it spawn copycats? Was it antipatriotic? I mean, this was a MOVIE based on a COMIC BOOK. Have you ever heard anything like this? Spider-Man didn’t cause journalists to fear that people would try to swing from buildings. Batman never inspired the fear that rich guys might take the law into their own hands. Most of those concepts were deemed too farfetched to matter. But here was a tale which, people felt, hit close to home. Was V a hero or a terrorist? For whom were we to root? This movie got people to thinking. And as I sat there watching it, it got me to thinking, too. I mean, REALLY thinking. And it wasn’t “Could V kick Batman’s ass?” kinds of thoughts. Instead, I thought about politics, about ethics, about religion, about truth. SO\ome might say that it’s sad it took a MOVIE to make me think, but there are others out there like me. And to think, this is nothing new. This story is over a decade old, but is poignant today.

So, when the movie ended, I wanted to cry. In fact, I wanted to weep. Not because it was a sad story. It had its sad parts. Not because it was a happy story, although it had those parts as well. I wanted to cry because I was proud. I was proud that this artform, this literature, was ascending to new heights. I was proud that the medium had the capacity to inspire such thought and emotion. I was proud that the medium had succeeded in hitting “close to home”. And I was proud that this might result in comics finally getting their due in modern society.

12th Dec2005

RIP Richard Pryor

by Will

“…Dead Honky!”

It’s a sad weekend in the world of comedy, for Richard Pryor has died. Yeah, I could go on and on about how he was a pioneer for Black comedians, yadda yadda. But I’d rather point out that he was the only redeemable part of “Superman III”. And now Gene Wilder will never work again. It’s kinda like what happened to Spade when Farley died.

Anyways, I hate that all of these relics of my childhood are passing. First, Mr. Miyagi/Arnold, and now Richard Pryor. I swear, if I hear that Sloth from “The Goonies” is dead, someone’s gonna have to talk me down from a ledge!

04th Dec2005

The Concept of Manhood, Through The Lens Of Glengarry Glen Ross, Taps, and Thundercats

by Will

“I just MAKE plans. I don’t stick to them!”

So, the other night, I ended up having a themed movie night without even realizing it.

First off, I watched “Glengarry Glen Ross”. If you’ve never seen it, it’s essentially about a group of guys trying to make a living in the real estate game. But the underlying gist of it is that they don’t make men like they used to. Rather, there are no “men” in the world anymore. Back in the day, a salesman had his gimmick, and he could turn a buck, and provide for his family. He knew his job because he WAS his job. A man was his job. But by the time of this movie, that concept was outdated. Those men were dinosaurs because the world no longer responded to their sales techniques, while they, in turn, never really adapted to the changing world. The basic question of the movie is “Where have all the men gone?”

Next, I followed it up with “TAPS”. If you’ve never seen that, it’s about the closing of Bunker Hill Academy so that they can use the land to build condominiums. The cadets rebel against this idea and decide to take the school by force until their demands are met, and the school is allowed to stay open. But under all of this, there’s still the question of “What is a man?” and “What is a soldier?” These cadets thought their mission was fueled by a sense of duty and honor, but these were concepts that the world no longer seemed to understand. While they were taught to glorify war and that death in battle was noble, they came to find that even career soldiers had fear. The main goal of war is to stay alive not to die a noble death. Their idea of “manhood” was obscelete, as they found out at the end of the movie.

Then, for some strange reason, I decided to watch Season 1 of “Thundercats”. Sure, Lion-O was a grown man, but that was only physical. Because they were in suspended animation, his bdy aged, but his mind didn’t. So, he’s a grown man with a 12 yr-old mind. So, in essence, the show is about him finding himself as he develops into a man. Lion-O must fully understand what it means to be both an adult AND the lord of the Thundercats.

So, subconsciously, I guess I’m struggling with the whole concept of “what does it mean to be a man?” All of these media projected different opinions on the topic, but none of them provided an answers. In any respect, it was still an interesting and coincidental study…

04th Dec2005

Entertainment Tonight, You Ignorant Slut!

by Will

“It’s as if Disney’s trying to say to the kids, ‘Screw your parents, just run off into the woods and sing Hakuna Matata and everything is going to be alright’.”

You know who I’ve pitied for quite some time? “Entertainment Tonight” reporters. Why? Because they have to pretend to be excited about a project even when they know it’s going to be a piece of shit. The best evidence of this is watching an episode WAY after the fact.

I once went through this phase where I’d put a tape in the VCR, hit “record” and just walk away. On days when boredom struck, I’d put in the tape and see what I’d recorded. There’s nothing worse than seeing Mary Hart or Bob Goen on the set of yet another Tori Spelling TV movie or yet another 80’s tv show reunion, knowing they couldn’t give two shits whether or not JR Ewing was meaner than Boss Hogg.

I remember when they were on the set of Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie”. Now, I don’t like flaunting this around, but those close to me know I watched PR WAY longer than I should have. I was an uber-fan, but even I knew that movie was gonna be a steaming pile of shit. But Bob Goen just wouldn’t come correct. He was determined to tell me, ME, that this movie was going to reinvent the wheel with it’s colorful costumes and high-flying martial arts antics. That movie went on to gross about 2 million dollars. If you know anything about entertainment, you’ll know that equals “bomb”.

Don’t placate me, ET. We know when something’s going to suck. Trying to make us believe otherwise only outs you as the entertainment whores that you are.

25th Oct2005

A Look Into The Minds of Today’s Hottest Black Actors

by Will

“Snakes on motherfucking plane?!”
So, you ever wonder what goes on in the casting process of a movie? Like, what exactly occurs in the relationship between an actor and an agent? Well, the West News Team has left no stone unturned to bring you the true story behind Hollwood’s “casting couch”. No, we’re not focusing on starlets. We go behind the scenes of the casting of some of America’s hottest Black actors. Let’s see what’s inside!

Morgan Freeman

Agent: So, we’ve got this movie we think you’d be good in.

MF: Is there a script?

A: Yeah, there’s a script, but don’t worry about that.

MF: Is Ashley Judd in it? You know how I like Ashley.

A: No, Morgan. No Ashley.

MF: *downtrodden* No Ashley?

A: Sorry, not this time.

MF: Well, who IS in the movie? This ain’t that Timberlake thing y’all were telling me about, is it?

A: No, this is something…different…

MF: Well, who’s in it?

A:…penguins…

MF:Penguins?!! *pause* Well, is there a paycheck?

A: Isn’t there always?

MF: Then, sign me up!

Samuel L. Jackson

Agent: So, Sam..we’ve got this movie we want-

SLJ: IS THERE A BLACK DUDE IN IT?!

A: You bet your Black ass there is! Why do you think –

SLJ: DO I GET TO TALK REAL LOUD?!!

A: Of course! The studio wouldn’t have it any other way.

SLJ: DO I GET TO BE A BADASS?!!

A; SLJ, you’ll be the Baddest Ass in movie history.

SLJ: WELL, SIGN ME UP!

A: Really? Just like –

SLJ: MAN, QUIT TALKING. YOU HAD ME AT “BLACK DUDE”.

Sean Patrick Thomas

A: Hey Sean. Sorry about “The District” getting canceled. Anyway, we’ve got this script-

SPT: Do I get to sleep with a White girl?

A: Umm…not this time around, Sean…

SPT: Do I get to kiss a White girl?

A: Umm…no, Sean. We’ve been here before. This movie takes place in a Black barbershop. How many White girls have you seen in Black barbershops?

SPT:Maybe…she’s visiting her Black boyfriend.

A: Look, Sean…maybe this was a bad idea.

SPT: Fine, but can’t we have a scene where I, at least, dance with a White girl? I mean, I DO have a reputation to uphold…

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