The 1990s was the golden era of black cinema, most notably, hood films. Films such as New Jack City, Boyz N’ the Hood, Menace to Society, Set it Off, Fresh, Juice, and Dead Presidents came out of this era (the genre really started during the late 1980s with Spike Lee joints like Do the Right Thing). The 1970s were all about Blaxploitation: Superfly, Shaft, Coffy, Foxy Brown, Sheba, Baby, Slaughter. Slavery movies/series are big within the community: Roots and 12 Years a Slave. Although representation can vary in terms of the way black people are depicted in motion pictures, negative stereotypes and characters tend to outweigh positive ones. I think a completely different era of black cinema should be on the rise. While I consider hood films to be my favorite movie genre, I can acknowledge that we need something new and fresh. Black films that center around heavy subjects such as gun violence, abuse, are still relevant and should have a place in entertainment. We just need something to balance everything out. The platinum era of black cinema will have more uplifting and positive elements in the films created within the genre. The struggles that we face may be a part of our stories, yet, they aren’t our entire stories. We’re more than just struggles, setbacks, and hard lives. We should be associated with more things that will push us forward. If we ever get to experience a platinum era of black cinema, here’s what it would look like in my opinion.
****Black women in luxury– In society, black women are expected to struggle and settle for less. Throughout film history, black women are depicted as the “ride or die chick”, the side piece, the girl from around the way, the baby mama, the mammy, promiscuous, and so on. When we finally do experience a new wave of black cinema, black women should conform to roles of characters who are educated, self-aware, and know their worth. Women should be living their best lives in wealth, elegance, homes/lofts/condos/apartments, etc. They will be ambitious, pampered often, femnine, classy, honest, and intelligent unapologetically. These women would be in healthy relationships with men who LOVE them, RESPECT them, CHERISH them, ENCOURAGE them, PROTECT them, and PROVIDE for them. They’ll date and marry men that are relatable to them. There can be variations of this type of character. She can look polished, but won’t have to necessarily spend an excessive amount of money on her looks. If she chooses to shop at a thrift store, H&M, Rue 21, Walmart, Target, and Rainbow, she’ll look like a million dollars when she enters a room. She can be more comfortable with spending her earnings on experiences rather than material possessions. She can be serious when it’s time and still carry a highly playful and upbeat spirit. She can be viciously funny or straightforward. She can be health conscious or eat an entire large pizza by herself when no one else is around. We’ve seen the token “bourgeois” black girl in films. During the platinum era of black cinema, she will serve as a dominant character and they’ll even be more than one of these types of women per film. We deserve to be represented in this light.
*Note: Other variants of black women should be normalized as well: the quirky black girl, the black girl who’s into anime, the black girl who doesn’t care at all about politics, etc. I feel that black women have internalized abuse and mistreatment so much that many of them believe they don’t deserve more than what they’re accustomed to. That’s not true and there are black women who are feminine that could use more representation.
Healthy family units– We should see more families together meaning, a married couple in a home with their one child or children. A married couple with no children who take on new and fun experiences together is important to see as well. The home should be free of abuse, toxicity, dysfunction, and cheating. The family should be financially stable. Even if there is a hiccup in the finances which is normal, it should be temporary and creative solutions to earn money should be taken, not solutions that involve breaking the law.
Better measures would be taken to exit poverty– Within the black community and throughout certain films, there are very low life expectations and expressing the want to have more is like speaking a foreign language. In hood films, while the characters may discuss frustrations of their circumstances, they resort to selling drugs, robbing, prostitution, and have high hopes of becoming entertainers because this is all they know. Resources can be limited depending on someone’s circumstances. Those who live in these types of environments aren’t familiar with anything else, so hood professions are easy to get into. In the new platinum era, characters would be able to attend college or go straight to work out of high school, pick up trades and new skills, start businesses, have financial stability, and will surround themselves with well-rounded people. These new characters will be authors, journalists, medical professionals, artists, entrepreneurs, sport therapists, lawyers, engineers, and educators. When someone experiences poverty, it can also become a mindset. In the case of the poverty mindset, characters will go to therapy to begin healing.
Travel and vacations would be constant themes– Instead of spending all of their time in the same city/state, characters in platinum black cinema would go to various states and countries out of the year. Characters would gain different experiences outside of their normal environments. Vacations would be fun, exciting, and even horrific at times. Traveling to different places will even resort to these characters permanently relocating to new places for better opportunities and different ways of living.
Characters would be solution based– Being that blacks still face oppression, we become lost at how to fix our own issues. In hood films, characters can commonly be seen talking about the problems that they face being black in low income areas. During the new wave of platinum black cinema, characters will address the problems that affect them and pose solutions to fix them; they will take action to resolve problems that are within their control.
Suburban living– So, I titled this point “suburban living”, but living conditions won’t only be limited to the actual suburbs. Living conditions would consist of apartment complexes low in crime rates, duplexes in decent areas, and regular suburban homes. Characters may or may not live in mansions depending on the storyline.
What’s the purpose of a film if there’s no conflict, right? Black issues can still be addressed in film, issues just won’t be so repetitious. Other issues can be highlighted that we don’t see often in black cinema: mental health, divorce, illnesses/diseases, and bullying. Some common issues that can be used include financial issues and racism. It’s time we normalize blacks in better living conditions and of higher statuses. We don’t always have to be seen in dysfunctional situations. Some of us do have standards, some of us aren’t content and are more than capable of achieving greatness, some of us do have parents who are physically, mentally, and emotionally present. Many of us turn our dreams into a reality. Some of us do take wonderful opportunities when presented and make a way out of no way. We always talk about how awesome the 90s were in terms of what the era did for black cinema. Golden, it truly was. Now, we need a new wave of black cinema. That new wave will be platinum.