SOCIAL ANGST is more than just a blog, it is an invitation to aid in the building of wealth through the shared task of information distribution and discussion. It is a call to engage – engage in society, engage with your peers, engage in your political system, engage in spreading the wealth that is information, and engage in multiplying that wealth through discussion – so that collectively we may become more socially aware, more socially responsible, more socially vocal and ultimately more socially valuable.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Decade In Review:
A Decade of Formative Black Entertainment.

While the state of Hip Hop maybe in dispute (it soared, committed suicide, was pronounced dead and is currently in the midst of a transformative resurrection), one thing that can't be refuted is the viability of Blacks in entertainment over this past decade.  Here's my list (in no particular order) of this decade's greatest in Black entertainment*:

(*Please note: that I am excluding Oprah from this list on the grounds that she is "Mary Poppins perfect" in any decade)

Tyler Perry:  Love him or hate him (I love him, no like really, really love him), Tyler Perry has been a force to be reckoned with over the last 10 years. In 2008 Perry became the first Black American to launch his own major TV/Film studio.  And if that's not enough for you, he is also on course to become a bonafide billionaire.  Now, there are some of you who will say that Perry's body of work reinforces negative Black stereotypes (we'll just have to agree to disagree) but even those among you who are so siddity that you can't see the value of Perry's cinematic offerings (yes, that's right, I'm calling you siddity) will have to admit that his resume (did I mention he OWNS the rights to ALL of his films)  is undeniably a work of unparalleled success.

Will Smith:  Before Barack Obama, there was Will, Black ambassador to White people.  Recently named Entertainer of the Decade (film), by Entertainment Weekly, Will's clean cut goofy charm has helped change the face of the summer blockbuster. In doing so, he has garnered the respect and professional pull to become one of the major players within the entertainment industry.  Since 2000 Will has starred in 11 major films - The Legend of Bagger Vance, Ali (for which he received a Best Actor Academy Award nomination).Men In Black II, Bad Boys II, I, Robot, Shark Tale, Hitch, The Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Legend, Hancock and Seven Pounds - earning no less than $10 million per role.  But his success as an actor goes far beyond his monetary compensation.  Will Smith has changed and continues to change how minority actors are viewed in Hollywood.  In 2008 he helped produce The Secret Lives of Bees, a sugary sweet story of race and color-blind affection, and he is currently working on the production of Karate Kid a remake of the classic.   

Sean (Jay-Z) Carter:  Let's start with the fact that he's 40-years old, because in the world of music, longevity is as scarce as an R&B singer who avoids Auto-Tunes.  Then let's add his 11 #1 albums - a record previously held by Elvis Presley - and mix in the fact that he has a net worth of $150 million making him #17 on the Forbes top 20 Wealthiest Black Americans and you still only get a glimpse as to why Jay is one of the most influential entertainers of the this decade.  This is a guy who makes things happen.  He told a t-shirt friendly generation of hip hoppers to grow up and changed the urban market sales of button-ups (note - no longer button-downs).  He dared producers to stop relying on Auto-Tunes to make hits and magically the world of hip hop began debating the technology for the vocally handicapped.   He has a command of influence  that very few of his peers can rival and a (sometimes cut throat) entrepreneurial gift that keeps him on the top of the entertainment media game.

Beyonce Knowles:  Realistically, a conversation regarding prominent Black entertainers cannot be complete without the mention of Ms. Beyonce Knowles.  Entertainment Weekly has named Knowles Entertainer of the Decade (music), a title that the young artist has worked diligently for over the last 10 years.  In the last decade Beyonce has made her mark in music, movies and fashion - her last album, Sasha Fierce receiving 10 Grammy nominations, her role as Deena Jones garnering her 2 Golden Globe nominations, and her fashion label House of Dereon doing relatively well since it was formed in 2004.  However, it is Beyonce's influence that has made her one of the most powerful people in entertainment.  Her very personality sells as evidenced by her lucrative Pepsi, Tommy Hilfiger, Armani and L'Oreal endorsement deals.  In fact, the young diva is so socially commanding that Forbes named her number four its 100 Most Powerful and Influential Celebrities list, number three its Top-Grossing Musicians list, and number one on its Best-Paid Celebs Under 30 list *.

The NeptunesBillboard Music's choice for the Best Producers of the Decade, Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo are the creative entities behind some of the best music to meet your ears.  In the last decade they have worked with some of the biggest names in music, including Jay-z, Madonna, Snoop, and Britney Spears.  According to Wikipedia, The Neptunes produced almost 20% of songs played on British radio and 43% of songs play on US radio.  In the last decade they have produced major mainstream radio hits including:  "I'm A Slave 4 U" (Britney Spears), "Hot In Herre" (Nelly), "Beautiful" (Snoop featuring Charlie Wilson), "I Just Wanna Love You (Give It To Me)" and "Excuse Me" (Jay-Z), "Shake It Fast" (Mystikal), and "Milkshake" (Kelis).

The Wire: It is one of the most critically acclaimed television shows ever created. Included on the Time list of 100 Best TV Shows of All Time, it is such poignantly realistic interpretation of impoverished urban America that William J. WIlson, a Harvard professor of sociology and African-American studies is slated to offer a class that will use the series as a case study for poverty in America. Wilson, (somewhat jokingly) states: "I do not hesitate to say that it has done more to enhance our understanding of the challenges of urban life and the problems of urban inequality, more than any other media event or scholarly publication...including studies by social scientitsts." Wilson is not overstating here.  Never before has a work of art so honestly depicted the plight of poor Black American communities than David Simon's series The Wire.  For five seasons Simon allows audiences an unexpectedly raw and honest look at the lives of drug slinging criminals, hero-complex plagued cops, crooked politicians, and a series of failing systems (law, education and media) so broken they may be impossible to fix.  Never has the dire state of poverty stricken urban America been so obvious than during an episode of the hour long drama.  The Wire is more than just television, it's substantially academic.

Tyra Banks: Model turned Mogul Tyra Banks has had turned herself into a recognizable brand over the last 10 years.  As a model, Tyra broke barriers as any model of color does entering the whitewashed industry of fashion.  However, it is her more recent accomplishments that have skyrocketed her from beauty to businesswoman.  With two successful shows (one of which - America's Next Top Model - has become the blueprint of fashion minded  reality spinoffs) under her belt and her new venture - Banakable Studios - Tyra is poised to be remembered for her business savvy as much as her famous bustline.  

Michael Jackson:  Forever and always there will only be one King of Pop, and even from the grave Michael Jackson substantiates why he alone is entitled to that crown.  His list of accomplishments is far to extensive for me to catalog here but his global philanthropic endeavors are among his greatest achievements.  He has be credited with supporting more charities than any other artist - 39 charitable organizations - either with monetary donations through sponsorships of their projects or participation in their activities *.  Announcement of his death earlier this year devastated millions nationally and even more abroad, yet even in death the pop star continues to set records.  It has been reported that ticket sales for This Is It, a documentary filled with footage of the late king as he prepared for his upcoming tour, broke advance ticket sale records, selling out shows months before the movie was slated to be released.

Honarable Mention:
TV One for helping to bring Black televsion programming out of the depths of coonery.
Digg Google Bookmarks reddit Mixx StumbleUpon Technorati Yahoo! Buzz DesignFloat Delicious BlinkList Furl