He Got Game

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Alee’s Analysis: The life and times of the black American male is explored in a whirlwind of decades-old stereotypes
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He Got Game is a 1998 movie directed and written by Spike Lee. The plot of the film involves a New York prison inmate Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington) serving time for the manslaughter of his wife. Jake is offered a deal by the governor that would considerably shorten his remaining prison time. The only thing he has to do is convince his son, Jesus (Ray Allen), a superstar high school basketball player and number one prospect in the country, to sign a letter of intent to attend the governor’s alma mater. Just one problem — his son hates him; he has never forgiven his father for the death of his mother.

He Got Game features an all-star –and future all-star– cast. The previously mentioned Denzel Washington and Ray Allen (who knew he acted?) appear, plus Rosario Dawson, Hill Harper, Milla Jovovich, Rick Fox, and Lonette McKee, amongst others. But the most outstanding feature of this film is not the cast, but its amazing two-hour display of social and racial stereotypes. If you ever wondered just what stereotypes exist in and around black American communities about black men, this movie is for you.

Colorism

Every romantic relationship in the movie includes a black male with a much lighter, if not white, woman. From Jake and his wife Martha (Lonette McKee), to a pimp and his main prostitute Dakota (Milla Jovovich), and even, later on, Jake and Dakota. Scenes featuring women almost exclusively include lighter-skinned women, unless she is not meant to be a sexual object (e.g. Jake’s daughter Mary [Zelda Harris]). Because everyone knows black American men love light-skinned women!

Sexism and Misogyny

The women of He Got Game exist as extensions of the men. Women serve as outlets for the men, as sexual partners and means to take out their frustration in verbal and physical abuse. Nearly every scene involves some abuse of women. The only power women seem to have is between their legs. But even their one strength has its limits, as we see with the often abused and hopeless Dakota.

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5 Love Lessons to Learn from Elizabeth Taylor

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Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011) was an American actress known not only for her films, but as a symbol of classic Hollywood glamour. She was also famous for her love of love: Elizabeth married seven men, eight times, besides her many engagements and romances.

Some may call Elizabeth’s love life a whirlwind of drama, secrecy, and restlessness, fit only for a soap opera or romance novel. But as stormy as they were, there are vital love lessons to be learned from Elizabeth Taylor’s many failed relationships.

1. Take your time

Elizabeth first married when she was 18 years old, after having been previously engaged to another man. But beyond her age at the time, Elizabeth was not mentally or emotionally ready for marriage and barely knew her fiancé. She met, engaged, and married her first husband, Conrad Hilton, in less than a year. Both were abusive towards each other and the relationship was shaky from the beginning. As a result, she filed for divorce almost as soon as their honeymoon was over.

Never rush love, and especially commitment. Get to know your partner, and yourself, first.

2. Never act when vulnerable

After the death of her third husband, Michael Todd, Elizabeth became involved with his best friend, Eddie Fisher. Eddie consoled her in her time of grieving. She soon married the already married man, breaking up his marriage. But again, Elizabeth acted too quickly: as soon as she met Richard Burton on the set of their film Cleopatra, she began an affair with him and her marriage Eddie was left behind.

Don’t make commitments in love while going through a hard time. You’re more likely to change your mind later, so save yourself and any potential partners the trouble.

elizabeth-taylor-paul-newman3. A steady relationship can be a good thing

Elizabeth’s first and second marriage to Richard Burton was legendarily abusive, so much so that they were nicknamed “The Battling Burtons”. While their relationship was exciting and dangerously romantic, it lacked a solid base to hold it together. They divorced and remarried, only to divorce again.

Passion and lust may begin a relationship, but a real foundation is what keeps it going over the long run. It’s not all about the chase.

4. Sometimes it just can’t work

Elizabeth and Richard divorced and remarried the next year. Although their relationship was unstable, they couldn’t see that they weren’t meant to be together. That is, until a year after their remarriage, when they divorced again.

You may love a person and they may love you, but if they are not right for you, you can’t force the relationship to work.

5. Always believe

Despite her many unsuccessful relationships, Elizabeth still believed in love. She entered every relationship as if it were her first, always believing that this one would be the last. She loved with all her heart, and even when she broke up with a lover, continued to love them. After her eighth marriage, she never married again, but never gave up on relationships entirely.

Love can be difficult sometimes, but there is hope if you simply believe in it. Even if you fail many times, who is to say that your lucky one isn’t soon to come, or that the experience of loving wasn’t worth it?

Is Chris Brown Truly Sorry?

chris-brown-assault-chargesBy now most people have heard about the domestic violence incident involving R&B singers Chris Brown and Rihanna. If you haven’t heard, here’s a quick recap: In March of 2009 Chris Brown pleaded guilty to physically assaulting his then girlfriend, Rihanna, on their way to the 51st Grammy Awards in early February of that year. Pictures of Rihanna’s extensively bruised face were leaked on to the internet and people the world over responded by ostracizing Chris Brown. Radio stations refused to play his music and music stores declined to stock his albums. Chris Brown was sentenced to five years of probation and his career seemed to be over.

Then, after performing a teary-eyed tribute to the late Michael Jackson at the 2010 BET Awards, support for him poured out and many, including celebrities, asked for others to forgive the 20 year old for his actions. Chris Brown issued a number of statements about his regret for what happened that night. But has he learned or was he simply trying to salvage his career?

Many in America believe that Chris Brown is sincere in his apologies and is ready to forgive him and offer their support. A Los Angeles Times survey asked “was Chris Brown faking it at the BET Awards?” Close to 40 percent of respondents believed that Chris Brown’s tears were genuine. And with his single “Deuces” topping charts, Chris Brown may finally make a comeback.

chris-brown-photoI too think that Chris Brown is truly regretful. But not simply for what happened, but because he was caught and paid heavy consequences for it. I believe that if the effects on his career and reputation were less, he would not be as sorry for his actions.

Coming from a home where his mother was abused by his stepfather, he understands fully the harmful effects of domestic violence. And despite his remarks that sudden anger caused him to beat his girlfriend so severely, as someone who has known many domestic abusers and their victims, I can say domestic abuse is rarely about losing your composure. Abusers want to control and physical abuse is but one method that they seek to gain control over others. Only time will tell if Chris Brown’s underlying thinking is changed, and in the meantime I wouldn’t be quick to think he has sincerely changed.

What do you think? Is Chris Brown truly sorry? Has he really changed?

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