What I have learned over the years from my own personal experiences, is fancy titles (like — Executive Producer) given to black people (by white people) often have LITTLE TO NOTHING TO DO with who has the REAL POWER in that situation.
Giving “titles” is another way of showcasing black people to make it appear that blacks have real power and to make the black masses believe that “things have changed for the better” for black people — even while those masses are being victimized.
I suspect this is especially true in the entertainment industry because this industry LOVES giving dozens of people often meaningless titles, like:
Executive Producer, Executive Co-Producer, Co-Producer, Head, Co-Head, Vice-President, Senior Vice-President, Executive Vice-President, Co-President, etc.
After appearing as a guest on a program this past Friday evening (August 16, 2013) by the host of Black Talk Radio, Scotty Reid, I began to wonder if “The Butler” really was a “black movie” — meaning did black people write the screenplay, direct the movie, produce the movie, and have the last word about the final product that appeared on the movie screen —
OR was “The Butler” a movie that just happened to have some black people in it and associated with it?
First Things First: What is a Black Movie?
In my opinion, a BLACK MOVIE is a movie that is WRITTEN, ACTED, and PRODUCED by black people. There may be some random white and/or non-black people involved in the acting, production, and financing of the movie but the GUTS of the movie come out of the MINDS of black people. Definitely, the DECISION MAKERS are black people.
The WORDS that come out of the actors’ MOUTHS come from an AUTHENTIC BLACK EXPERIENCE and BLACK PERSPECTIVE, which can ONLY come from a BLACK PERSON.
That is MY definition of a BLACK MOVIE.
So, I did a little digging to see what I could find and thought I would share what I found with you and let you draw your OWN conclusions.
Some Basic Questions and Answers about “The Butler” Movie
(I will use this title even though the correct name of the movie is, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”)
1. Who wrote the screenplay for the movie, The Butler?
Strong was hired to write “The Butler” in 2009, a year before Daniels even signed on as director.
“I’m incredibly proud of the movie,” Strong told HuffPost Entertainment about “The Butler,” his first feature film script. “The movie was such a labor of love for so many of us. I think Lee’s done a wonderful job. It’s definitely not just another writing job.”
2. Who Owns the (Distribution) Rights to the movie, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”?
New York, NY – September 24, 2012 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that they have acquired U.S. rights from Butler Films to distribute THE BUTLER, directed by Academy Award nominated Lee Daniels (PRECIOUS).
3. Who are the Producers, Executive Producers and Co-Producers of “The Butler?”
The movie, ‘The Butler’ had a total of 41 producers — who raised a total of $30 Million dollars to make this “Black Movie.”
4. Who makes the most money percentage wise from a blockbuster movie that makes millions of dollars?
From what I gathered here’s some info on payouts that may not apply to all movies
- Typically, directors are paid less than actors and are paid a SALARY, not a percentage of the box office receipts. Even name directors will only make as much as B-list actors in their contracts. If you’re comparing a director to an actress or actor like Oprah or Forest Whitaker, they will be making more than the director on that project.
- A HUGELY successful movie means it’s likely that the producers will make more money than the directors
- The share of Box Office paid over to distributors (like the Weinstein Company) varies between territories. The typical exhibitor’s share in the US is 45% to 55% and in the Rest of the World 55% to 65%. Royalty deals, under which the distributor usually keeps more of the revenues, tend to be more common. In other words, the DISTRIBUTORS (Movie Studios) make the LION’S SHARE of the box office receipts. Keep that in mind the next time you want to “support” a “black movie.”
5. Who were the major decision makers during the production and filming of the movie, “The Butler?”
Obviously, I can’t answer that question BUT I try to follow the logic. Since the majority of people involved in this project, especially the people who provided financing and distribution, were WHITE, I think it is safe to say that WHITE PEOPLE were the MAIN decision-makers for this “black movie.”
And I suspect that Lee Daniels had the LEAST amount of control over the picture, even when it came to NAMING the picture after himself.
Lee Daniels doesn’t “feel so good” about the new title for his upcoming movie about a longtime White House butler, he tells The Hollywood Reporter. But the film’s stars seem to feel fine about the title and the attention generated by The Weinstein Co.’s highly publicized dispute with Warner Bros. over the name of the film, which resulted in it being called Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
In July, The MPAA’s Title Registration Bureau ruled that The Weinstein Co. could not use the title The Butler, which is also the name of a 1916 Warner Bros. short film. Weinstein appealed the decision and tried to get Warner Bros. to back down, but TRB’s appeals board agreed with the earlier decision, so the title was changed to Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
During the dispute with Warner Bros., Daniels was concerned about the title and frustrated.
“Lee was like ‘What are we gonna call the movie?’ ” co-star Oprah Winfrey recalls.
Lead actor Forest Whitaker, who plays longtime White House butler Cecil Gaines, says, “I was talking to Lee about it, and he was frustrated by the process and he was just trying to finish the film and stuff, and I just tried to offer support.”
Castmember Cuba Gooding Jr. explains that Daniels wasn’t sure about having his name in the title.
“Lee was very insecure about the fact that his name would be mentioned,” he tells THR. “But I said, ‘No, Lee, now they’ll know that this is you, all-encompassing of what you do and how great a filmmaker you are.'”
Daniels admits he’s still not comfortable with his name in the title of the film.
“I try to touch impoverished kids and try to teach them that they … can become filmmakers. I don’t want to say ‘look at me.’ I’m not ready for people to look at me,” he tells THR. “I don’t know if they’ll know what you know, which is that the MPAA forced this decision on me.”
But he has another week to make his peace with it.
“Hopefully next week I’ll feel better about the title. Right now I don’t feel so good about the title,” he says.
(to see the video and read the entire article, click on the link below)
After doing some research on this movie, things are actually worse than I thought they were — AND my initial suspicions that this is movie is little more than WHITE SUPREMACY PROPAGANDA disguised as an entertaining and enlightening slice of “black civil rights history.”
That being said — it is up to every individual to answer the question for themselves:
Is ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ — a “black” movie?
After I watch the movie–and that won’t happen until a FREE COPY is available at my local library–I may write another post on what I think about the entire movie.
However, at the present time, I am pretty much convinced that this movie does NOT fit the definition of a BLACK MOVIE — but is in fact, a movie with some black people connected to it — USING some very well-known BLACK FACES to PROMOTE the CONTINUED SUBMISSION and SERVITUDE by black people to white supremacy, white power, and white people.
As Oprah Winfrey said to her black son in the movie, “Everything you have, you owe to that butler.”
The underlying question to me is: who does the Butler owe everything to?
(inferred answer: The white man)