The Black Snob

Politics. Pop Culture. Pretentiousness.

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Actor Fight!: Jamie Foxx Disses Señor Baby Wipes!

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I’m not even a big Jamie Foxx fan (love his work though in “Collateral”), but that was HEEEEE-larious. From dissing Terrence’s deliciously fey “plastic” selling album to how Howard plays the same dude over and over. Awesome. Oh, and the smack talking. The Zoot suit diss. The story about Terrence trying to play his guitar at a Fiddy show and wondering why the crowd didn’t respond. If we didn’t invent shit talking, we definitely took it up a notch. I loves it! As Kyle wrote at Defamer.com: Don Cheadle, we love you, but we’re beginning our own fanboy campaign: Jamie Foxx as Terrence Howard as War Machine in Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2! (Radio Big Boy, Defamer)

Written by blacksnob

December 30, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Rants: Feel My Pain

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This week in real life “Snob News” I took dear Mama Snob to see “Cadillac Records.” Despite her disdain for all profanity (and the fact that she hadn’t seen a film in a theater since “Harlem Nights” back in 1989), she wanted to see the film because she is a fan of the blues, hardcore.

Mama Snob spent much of my formative years teaching and torturing my sisters and myself with blues music. Everything from Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf (who’s doppelgangers were in the film) to B.B. King, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Johnnie Taylor (who is actually R&B if you ask my mother), ZZ Hill, Denise LaSalle and Koko Taylor. Some of it I grew to love. Others I still can’t stand to this very day. (I truly do not want to pitch a wang-dang-doodle all night long. Or put on my “wig hat,” as LaSalle suggests on one ditty.) But watching the film and, most notably, Beyonce Knowles’ portrayal of Etta James reminded me of what separates great art from great pop art.

In the film, Beyonce is playing Etta James, a woman with a distinct, passionate voice that hits you emotionally to your core. Some of her songs are joyous. Some are gospel. Some are blues. All hit with an undercurrent of suffering.

Beyonce is a perfected R&B/Pop princess with a pristine, over-worked voice who can kill stylistically, but has never moved me emotionally. Basically, her acrobatics are amazing, but she could also be the T-888 of pop singers.

She has been successful in moving me to the dance floor. That’s been a capability of hers since I was in college and someone would throw on “Bills, Bills, Bills.” She’s the queen of the “all-sass, all-the-time, independent/strong black woman” song. The “I’m so awesome and don’t need your tired ass” song, that — as I’ve mentioned before — is more science fiction than reality in relationships. Yeah, sometimes you get to wave it in a guy’s face and sing “if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it,” but most of the time it’s just you, drunk, at home, watching “Mo’ Betta Blues” for the millionth time wondering why-oh-why won’t Denzel Washington come to your house and beg you to save his life?

Did I ever stand in your way, Denzel? Did I ever try to stop you from doing what you wanted to do!?! The only reason you’re here is because you can’t play anymore!

As I watched Beyonce emote her way through the film (and she tried to emote her little ass off), there was something not quite right. Knowles admitted that she really had to dig deep as an actor because of Etta’s anger and inner turmoil, (Etta had it rough and really, really liked liquor and smack, etc., etc.) At the end of the day, she came up with a convincing facsimile of suffering, but I never, for the life of me, believed in that suffering.

It’s not that I don’t think Beyonce has inner drama. Everyone does. Everyone has doubt and failings and pain. My argument is that Beyonce does not want you to know of this drama, any real drama, that is. She’s closely guarded with an even more tightly guarded image. She is more about being the fantasy of what she thinks you want her to be (cue “Sasha Fierce!”) rather than revealing anything of character.

In “Cadillac Records,” Adrian Brody’s character, Leonard Cohen, argues with Beyonce’s James’ lack of emotion in her initial takes of the song “All I Could Do Was Cry.” He makes the point that the song is about a woman watching another woman marry the man she loves. James’ digs deep and finds that pain, albeit it’s not about being dumped by a long-lost love. A scene later you learn about her being the neglected, bastard child of a white man.

Beyonce does good work with the scene, as she does with her few scenes in the movie (the film rushes in so many huge personalities that no one seems to get any justice as a character, including Etta James). But the scene underscores the point that it really doesn’t matter when the song is about pain. The pain has to be real for the song to have meaning. And that’s what separates someone with a wonderful voice who makes an outstanding pop artist from a true artist.

A true artist brings the pain.

I don’t have to convince you that original Fugee’s member, musical genius and lost child, Lauryn Hill has issues. We all know, homegirl has issues. But often, when I wanted to think of a modern song, like Etta James’ classic “I’d Rather Go Blind” or Issac Hayes’ cover of “Walk On By” that makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry, I think of Hill’s “Ex-Factor.”

“Ex-Factor,” on its face, can be taken as a brilliant love unrequited/love denied ballad, but it doesn’t stop there. As Hill explores deeper and deeper into the song and lays out her blueprint of pain, it becomes very apparent that this song doesn’t have to be about a crappy boyfriend or a wayward husband or a married man who won’t leave his wife for you. By the end of the song it is a plea for undying love, the kind you’re supposed to get from the first man to ever love you — your father. And once you cross that threshold suddenly the song is about abandonment — by anyone. Did your mother abandon you? You may cry while listening to “Ex-Factor.” Did you grow up and age out of the child welfare system? You may cry while listening to “Ex-Factor.” Were you abused as a child? You may cry while listening to “Ex-Factor.” Did you spend 35 years as a housewife, raising five kids to find out that your husband has another woman and another five kids, secretly, on the other side of the country? Cry! Ex-Factor is for you.

Hell, you don’t even have to be a woman to cry during Ex-Factor. Just be from the land of broken toys. Be the neglected. Be the rejected. Once you get to the end where Hill pleads, “you said you’d be there for me” over and over she could be singing Pslams for all I know, wondering where is God and why He abandoned her. That’s how universal, yet specific, her vocal pain is.

And what does Knowles have? “If I Were A Boy?” a song, I HATE WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING. It’s a nice enough song. But it’s not particularly deep or painful. It basically entails that if Knowles were a man all she’d do is drink and hang out with guys without question. The video doesn’t hit any harder, which didn’t seem to relate to gender politics at all if you ask any guy whoever had a girlfriend cheat on him with a co-worker. It also resonates if you’re a man who has been routinely emasculated by the woman you love. (BB once sang how he gave you seven children and now you want to send them back!) These things are pretty common place. If anything, I thought the video was about gender equity among cheaters.

Women! We can cheat too! Except, we always have! So never mind!

And, gee. I think Gwen Stefani and the rest of No Doubt addressed this issue better on “Just A Girl” back in 1995. Or Leslie Gore on “You Don’t Own Me” in 1964. Or hey, how about less than two years ago, by Ciara, on a track called “Like A Boy,” a song I actually enjoyed despite it being a blatant Aaliyah rip-off, down to the baggy pants, hair weave and wonderful pop n’ lock routine. At least on the somewhat gimmicky, but fun single it was about being angry that the rules of sex and sexuality were different for men and women. Both Ciara’s and Beyonce’s songs tread similar gender role themes (staying out all night, turning off your phone, etc.) But Beyonce’s “If I Were A Boy” is a sappy, whiny “This Used to Be My Playground”-esque ballad about pseudo-feminism.

Ciara is doing her best Leslie Gore of, “how would you like it if I did it to you, huh? You wouldn’t like that would you! We totally aren’t going to prom now!”

And it’s not like Ciara has a catalog of pain to draw back on (that I know of). But she makes it work. Largely because it’s a revenge fantasy, not about how awesome Ciara is and that she could do that to a guy, but that she WISHES she could do that to a guy. Never once does she say, “Screw this. I’m converting to being an ass.”

And I’m not a big fan of Mary J. Blige, but I call feel the capillaries bursting on every one of her tracks. When she sang that she couldn’t be without you, I believed she could not be without that person. Same went for “No More Drama,” another song which makes me cry despite my best efforts, because, in the end, you are responding to her raw emotion, her appeal to wanting to leave a tumultuous life behind and be the person she wants to be.

Some people say Beyonce wants greatness, hence why she chases those who already have it (see James, Etta). I can’t blame her. A lot of us do. This would also explain why at the last few of Grammy Awards she sang with Tina Turner and Prince as if their true measure of pain and “fierce” would rub off by osmosis. She’s obviously a hard worker, but no amount of hard work can fake pain. When Prince sang “When Doves Cry” you may not have known what the song was about in 1984. Maybe you still don’t. But you know he’s broken up over something. A woman. His parents. God. Himself. Ultimately, for me, the song is about obsession. But, sex, Jesus or obsession are good fallback explanations for nearly every Prince song.

Turner is the same way. She didn’t even write “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” yet the emotions, the sound, the pain were all Tina’s. No amount of wonderful song writing can create that.

I’m not saying Beyonce needs to get in a dysfunctional relationship, be abandoned by her family, pick up a drug habit (or several drug habits), becomes completely disallusioned by fame and moved to the islands, become a conflicted Christian who went pop or go nutbar on me but the great ones give up some pain. There’s really no way around it. Without the pain, you’re just a more charming Mariah Carey who can actually dance. Or worse, Janet Jackson with better vocals.

Both Mariah and Janet have outstanding pop careers. And if you want to be a wealthy, beloved, popular singer, you’re on their heels of catching and surpassing them in sales and accolades. But Whitney, the trainwreck everyone routes for, you will not. Beyonce Knowles can’t convince me she knows the blues. It’s her only real flaw as a performer. Her kryptonite. But she shouldn’t feel bad. It’s a pretty common flaw among pop singers. Usher can kiss Dead James Brown’s ass all he wants. He’ll still sound like someone said “just push play.”

Written by blacksnob

December 29, 2008 at 8:15 pm

Cabaret star, singer, actress, icon and Catwoman: Eartha Kitt dead at 81

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I wanna be eeeeevil! (From YouTube via Defamer, story People Magazine)

Written by blacksnob

December 26, 2008 at 6:34 pm

Merry Christmas from The Snob, Glitter and Chuckles

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Happy Holidays from Glitter n’ Chuckles! Kiss big baby Jesus for Mimi while you wait for Nick to put on the red suit and drive a sleigh lead by a team of My Little Ponies with Sparkle Pony sparkling the way (of course)! Rainbow Brite’s got shotgun with pookie n’ em! Wildin’ out, as always.

I love how cartoon Nick and Mariah look nothing like real life Nick and Mariah. And I like how cartoon Mariah is nice n’ “I just got back from Acapulco” brown, but still has super blonde hair. Awesome. Where’s that pesky barf bag? Anyway, I just did this to torture you because you were all such good sports about my Glitters n’ Chuckles blog hijacking from November.

Now, I’m going to eat some German chocolate cake and watch a bazillion movies. Unless something breaks I’ll see ya’ Monday. Stay totally Sparkle Pony n’ shizz! (Copy of Xmas card from MCODB)

Written by blacksnob

December 24, 2008 at 7:47 pm

Fat Like Me: Oprah Is Big Again (And Not In the Manner She Prefers)

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I wonder why she had to announce it? She’s on TV everyday. You can see that she’s gained the weight back. Wait. She has a magazine to sell. Never mind. (Read her story here.)

That said, as a person who also struggles with weight and diet, I feel for Oprah. (All that rich just won’t buy her thin!) This also reminded me of one of my internal conflicts in regards to weight and the black woman. Obesity is a huge problem in the black community. One of the most common stereotypes of black women are that we are loud, unladylike, rude and horribly fat. Even though most people judge me by my intellect and charm, with me not being a size zero there is always a voice in the back of my head telling me not to lose weight because of my health or because I’ll feel better, but because I don’t want to be the stereotype.

Once again, everything about blackness is woefully political. Even my fat cells. Very, very annoying. I try to remind myself that I’m already refuting a stereotype by existing. I don’t need to be a size two to drive the point home. But the psychology of being black in America and dealing with negative images often means you spend a lot of time fighting the ignorance clogging up your own head.

That, and the public has issues with fat people to begin with, so it’s pretty easy to develop a complex and about ten or twelve eating disorders.

Written by blacksnob

December 10, 2008 at 8:22 pm

Señor Baby Wipes Gets Axed From "Iron Man 2"

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My favorite effeminate, vain, soul-humping pretty boy, Señor Baby Wipes, aka Terrence Howard, was axed from the Iron Man sequel. He’s been replaced by the ultimate black utility actor, Don Cheadle, a man who would probably be more famous if Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Foxx fell off the face of the earth.

Competition, kid. Even Terrence Howard was in his way … until now.

I love The Cheadle (and I LOVED Iron Man — damn, that was one sexy, cool action flick — so I’m happy for him getting in a big pay day blockbuster), but it’s rare for a studio to fiddle with the cast of a film that was so insanely successful. Everyone in the movie was the hotness, from Robert Downy Jr. on down, so I had to consult to insiders to find out why El Vanity No Good Lover Howard didn’t the reboot.

From Yahoo Movies:

When it was announced that Terrence Howard was out of “Iron Man 2” and that Don Cheadle would be taking over the role of James “Rhodey” Rhodes, the question on most observers’ minds was “Why?” The first film was an enormous success, turning a little-known Marvel Comics character into a household name and raking in $318 million domestically. Howard received solid reviews for his work in the film. And the movie itself seemed to indicate that Rhodey would have a bigger part in the sequel when he looked at the silver Mark II suits and said to himself, “Next time, baby.”

Terrence Howard himself seemed at a loss as to why he was replaced, telling NPR that getting the news was “the surprise of a lifetime.” Initial reports said that negotiations between Howard’s representatives and Marvel Studios “fell through over financial differences,” but a recent article in Entertainment Weekly suggests it was more complicated than that.

Howard was the first actor signed to the film and, on top of that, was the highest-paid. That’s right: more than Gwyneth Paltrow. More than Jeff Bridges. More than Robert Downey Jr. And once the project fully came together, it was too late to renegotiate his deal. (Entertainment Weekly)

Director Jon Favreau told Ain’t It Cool News before shooting even began that he had cast Howard with the intention of giving Rhodey a bigger role in the sequels, eventually getting his own suit of mechanized armor to become “War Machine.” But according to EW’s source, “Favreau and his producers were ultimately unhappy with Howard’s performance, and spent a lot of time cutting and reshooting his scenes.”

Consequently, as Favreau and screenwriter Justin Theroux began the process of structuring the second movie, they reduced the scale of Rhodey’s part. With the role pared down, Marvel presented Howard’s agents with a much smaller offer than he received for the first movie.

The agents, according to sources, were so taken aback by this new figure – estimated at somewhere between a 50 and 80 percent pay cut – that they questioned it. Why did they blanch? Multiple sources say that Marvel execs never told Howard’s reps that they had issues with the star’s on-set conduct

So what I’m gleaning from this, el hombre blew it. He was the biggest and highest paid star attached to the film before Downy Jr. proved he could leave the crack and booze alone and pull off the performance of a life time as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. (Damn, he was sexy. But I have a thing for super heroes. If they ever make a black Superman and I ain’t talkin’ Shaquille O’Neil in Steel. I mean, The Rock or Nate Parker. Or someone who is so hot and noble looking that I’ll want him to call me “Lois Lane” Mary Jane Girls style … all night long. You know what I’m talking about fangirls! Screw Margot Kidder and Kate Bosworth. What about me? What about the sisters? We wanna go up, up and away! Rescue my ass for once!)

Back to Baby Wipes, though …

Either Howard is an insufferable bitch or this is the classic case of Hollywood playing the Hollywood Shuffle with the minorities. As much as I love The Cheadle, I’m bummed that I won’t see the smooth cool of my sweet, sweet Señor Baby Wipes. Granted, his ego is probably huge from the back-to-back critical successes of “Hustle and Flo” and “Crash.” From his half assed Terence Trent D’Arby-esque singing to “Iron Man,” to countless magazine covers, Terrence was/is/going to be what every Will Smith and Jamie Foxx and Denzel couldn’t be … a swexy, smooth asshole. A new variation on type.

Smith works hard, but Señor is a better actor. Foxx is multi-talented, but, again, Señor is the better actor. Washington? Well, that’s a toughie. That’s both Tom Hanks, Marlon Brando and Sidney Poitier wrapped in one. He’s Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. Equally talented and charming Morgan Freeman bows down when Denzel comes to his town. I don’t know how he’ll beat that. Denzel is getting older. That means he can’t take some of the parts he used to, I’m seeing a three-way fight to be America’s no. 1 black military/cop/historical figure/investigator/action/drama actor. My point is, Señor was/is supposed to BLOW UP. Not getting in Iron Man 2, the closest thing to a guaranteed paycheck outside of the Batman sequel, not getting rehired after America LIKED you in Iron Man means something really, really foul went down.

You blew it, Baby Wipes!

But C’st la vie! The Cheadle is back, baby, going for another shot at the apple! Get ’em, Cheadle, get ’em! Don’t let ’em know what hit ’em!

Written by blacksnob

November 6, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Happy Halloween From Glitter and Chuckles!

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“Glitter and Chuckles” are my new pet names for Honeymooners Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey. I’ve never seen two people take THIS many pictures of themselves in little outfits with cakes or cookies or theme park characters in costume. Everyday is picture day at Sears and Hazelwood Day at Six Flags Over Mid-America for these people.* Gotta love ’em.

*Inside joke: Back in the high school in the 90s every teen sweetheart couple went to Sears to have pictures taken together, often in matching outfits, which they then wore to “Hazelwood Day” aka “Six Flags Day” in St. Louis. I went to Hazelwood Central High School, the largest school in the Hazelwood district, one of the largest school districts in the state of Missouri. What I’m saying is, Nick and Mariah are totally high school, but that’s OK. Mariah still doodles rainbows and butterflies on everything and is probably really into Lisa Frank.

Oh, and I like how Mariah is rocking the black man’s cookies! Famous Amos!

Written by blacksnob

October 31, 2008 at 8:30 pm