Friday, October 26, 2012

Leave Madea in Jail so Middle of Nowhere (& other good black films) Can Be Seen

Last weekend I had the privilege of seeing The Middle of Nowhere with my sister, her best friend, and one of my best friends visiting me from out of town. “So what…who cares…everyone goes to the movies,” you’re thinking. “And I’ve never heard of Middle of Nowhere!” – EXACTLY, you’ve never heard of Middle of Nowhere…and that’s what this post is about.

My motive for going to see Middle of Nowhere came from the suggestion of one of my closest friends, who just happens to be a therapist. (I trust his opinions a lot). He said I reminded him of the protagonist in the movie and that it was an amazing film.  The first thing that struck me was…why hadn’t I heard of this amazing film? I’m not always up to speed on the latest and greatest trends or current events, but I don’t live under a rock.

The most obvious reasons I hadn’t heard of Middle of Nowhere is because there aren’t any television commercials for it, it’s not in the previews for other movies, there are no billboards, and/or any other guerilla marketing tactic to spread the word about the movie. 

“So what Brandon, a lot of indie films go through that same thing. Does Middle of Nowhere have a niche audience? Perhaps it’s just intended for a small group of people.”

WRONG again.  Middle of Nowhere won the 2012 Sundance Award for Best Director. It’s message is not unique to insightful upwardly mobile blacks, or indie film followers.  Why is it that it’s not in all theaters near you, but Madea’s Witness Protection, Madea Goes to Jail, Madea in Space etc. are always in theaters with sufficient box office numbers?

This post isn’t even going to touch on how I feel about Tyler Perry movies, the point I’m pushing for is balance.  More often than not films that feature all black casts  depict black characters that live in the South, primarily Atlanta. The characters are either very successful (sometimes unrealistically) or working class and overly downtrodden. The themes that continue to resurface in mainstream black films are the importance of Christianity, traditional family structures, comedy and food. While I certainly think all of those themes are important, they lack the range of feelings and moments that black (and all other races) people experience and can connect with.  For some reason, the financial entities which sponsor movie production and marketing have all agreed that black films pretty much are all the same: Make ‘em laugh, throw in fried chicken, make them cry/show struggle, remind them of Jesus.  I’m sorry movie marketer decision makers that be…BUT I’M TIRED OF FRIED CHICKEN! I want my black movie healthy tonight…and if I want some fried chicken, I know where to go for that too!

Please view the trailer for The Middle of Nowhere. I’ve also included a link to the AAFFRM – African American Film Festival Releasing  Movement.  ( They are making a point to show the depth and range of black filmmakers.

 Remember, just because a film is all black and/or made by a black person – doesn’t mean it’s only for black people. No one thinks twice about movies made by white people…we assume it’s for everyone. I love a ton of white filmmakers and movies with all white casts… Steel Magnolias being one of them. I think the all black cast that remade it should have left it alone…but that’s an entirely different post. 

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