So I was reading comic book scribe Christopher Priest’s weblog when I ran across a few of his comments about the movie Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

Chris Rock’s Academy Awards monologue, while falling flat for the most part on the dead Oscar crowd, nevertheless had the sting of truth to it: movies created for black audiences have been, by and large, workplace comedies, mostly dumbed down or fairly absurd. His location shoot, where he poled black moviegoers on what films they’d seen in the last year, made me hang my head in shame, that none of the interviewees had seen the brilliant Million Dollar Baby, which co-stared the brilliant Morgan Freeman, but nearly all of them had seen the Wayans Brothers lowbrow “comedy” White Chicks. My favorite film is Oliver Stone’s chilling conspiracy film JFK, followed closely by David Mamet’s seminal work Glengarry Glenn Ross, two films that had virtually no black characters at all. I’m sure none of Rock’s interviewees have seen either film.

There seems to be two factors at work: one, that Hollywood rarely makes intelligent films for black audiences, assuming that we won’t go. Two: that Hollywood’s assumption is largely correct: we won’t go. We want to laugh and party and have a good time, or deal with da hood and thug life and who got shot. It’s as though we have no intellectual curiosity, no cultural aspirations beyond a lowest common denominator baseline. Don’t get me wrong, I think Madere is funny as heck (though I’m not entirely sure it’s not both exploitative of and mocking of black church goers at the same time). I just wish more of us had seen more intellectually challenging films (and read some books while we’re at it). And I wish Hollywood had maybe made some films for our community that required an IQ over 40.

I’m really not bashing Diary… I will probably see it myself. But I’d feel better about going if I knew even one black person who’d seen Laurence Fisburne play Othello.

I saw Laurence Fishburne in Othello. Loved it: Shakespeare with a pimp walk. It didn’t hurt that Othello is my favorite play by Ol’ Willie S.

While I agree with Mr. Priest in spirit, my gut tells me that the brutal fact is that most entertainment is dumbed down across the board.

There is the matter of scale: there are a lot of “white” movie options. Plenty of Million Dollar Babys and The Aviators to offset the Dude, Where’s My Car?s of the world. We’ve only the occasional Ice Cube flick to offset White Chicks and Soul Plane and other minstrelism.

I love to support good movies, especially good black movies, when I can. The hope is that by voting with my dollar, Hollywood would make more of them. That being said, you couldn’t have paid me to go see Diary of a Mad Black Woman on opening weekend. That’s like going to an anti-man church. i made the mistake of taking a date to Waiting to Exhale during its opening weekend. I felt lucky to have made it out with my testicles intact.