Childish Gambino Strikes Again With ‘Guava Island’!

Last year, I remember reading that Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino and Rihanna were in Cuba working on a super secret film project.  I hoped they were shooting a music video with a similar vibe to “Telegraph Ave. (‘Oakland’ by Lloyd)” for the track “Saturday” (the song Gambino performed on SNL when he hosted last May) or perhaps for a duet they recorded.  As time went on and a few more (but not many) details about the project came to light, it was clear that the finished work would be a lot more ambitious than that.

Fast forward to this past Friday (Apr. 12, 2019), it was revealed that Guava Island was actually a feature length film, and it would premiere during Childish Gambino’s Coachella set.  For the people that weren’t fortunate enough to snag a ticket to Coachella this year (me), the film became available to stream on Amazon.com for 18 hrs., as well as You Tube, staring 12:00 AM PST on Sat. Apr. 13.  After 18 hrs., the movie would only be available to Amazon Prime subscribers (also me)As most of y’all know, I fell in love with Childish Gambino last year.  With his insane multi-talent (he’s a writer, comedian, singer, rapper and actor), and his phenomenal career in entertainment, this man could do no wrong in my eyes.  So, it should be no surprise that I woke up in the middle of night on Friday (which was technically Saturday morning) and checked out Guava Island for myself.

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Guava Island tells the story of Deni (Gambino) and Kofi (Rihanna), a young couple that live on the titular Caribbean island (I’m assuming it’s Caribbean, considering most of the people there are black and half of them speak Spanish).  Guava Island is beautiful, but po’—and yes, I meant to say po’—thanks to industrialist Red Cargo (played by my boy Nonso Anozie, who’ll always be Renfield from Dracula to me).  Red’s family took control of the island a long time ago by making a profit off the blue silk produced by the island’s silkworms, and as Red became richer, the other inhabitants of the island became poorer, being forced to work day and night for peanuts on the docks or in sweatshops.  Deni, who is a local musician, hopes to bring the island together with a music festival, but Red’s greedy ass isn’t feelin’ that concept.  The festival is supposed to take place on a Saturday night, and Red knows that if everyone’s having fun all night on Saturday, they won’t get up and go to work on Sunday, because God forbid these folks actually have a day off.   With that being said, Red pays Deni with 10 G’s to make him cancel the festival.  What will Deni do?

Guava Island was written by Stephen Glover (Donald’s brother) and directed by Hiro Murai (who also directed the “This Is America” video), both of who whom work with Donald on Atlanta, which tells you that this film won’t have your typical ending.  The film was described as a thriller with elements from the Brazilian film City of God and Purple Rain.  I personally have to disagree with that assessment.  The movie has the aesthetics of City of God, due to the grainy picture and tropical setting (plus, the characters are in abject poverty, much like the ones in City of God), but that’s about it.  The film is a musical like Purple Rain, but the difference is Prince’s film debut had more of a semi-autobiographical feel (like 8 Mile, which most folks have deemed the “hip-hop version of Purple Rain“), whereas Guava Island doesn’t have that same effect, and it shouldn’t, considering that Deni has very little in common with the real Childish Gambino.  As for Guava Island being a thriller, the last few moments were pretty tense, but if that alone makes it a white-knuckle type movie, you might as well say Under the Cherry Moon is one as well, considering Christopher Tracy and Tricky spend the last 20 minutes running from goons and cops.  I know, I’m using a lot of Prince references today.

This isn’t to knock the film, however.  Despite disagreeing with Gambino’s perceived vision of it, I really enjoyed it.  In my opinion, Guava Island is a cute, extended music video (the film runs at about 55 min.) with a beautiful message.  The animation sequence used in the opening credits and the start of the film was especially adorable.  It reminded me a lot of The Princess and the Frog.  A lot of people were upset that Rihanna didn’t contribute a song to the venture, and although that would’ve been great, I can’t say that I was disappointed.  There were so many Gambino tracks to enjoy—new and not-so-new—that I was in hog heaven regardless.  Some of my favorite Childish Gambino songs were included in Guava Island, such as “This Is America,” “Summertime Magic” and “Feels Like Summer,” and nearly all of them were performed as musical numbers.  I loved it.  The acting was on point as well, but with the cast appointed to the film (which also included Leticia Wright, who plays Shuri on Black Panther), that was to be expected.  The only real issue I had with the movie is that it was supposed to be on a remote island in the Caribbean, and nearly everyone had an accent…except Gambino.  Right before the “This Is America” musical number begins, one of Deni’s co-workers mentions migrating to the US for a seemingly better life, and Deni immediately shuns the idea, all the while, speaking with an accent that’s as American as apple pie.  Right.

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Y’all, this film was really good for what it was.  Unless you have an Amazon Prime subscription like me, the 18 hr. window of opportunity to see it has since passed, unfortunately.  However, in this age of technology, I’m sure there’s some other ways to get around the limited screening time to see the movie.  My advice is to try to check it out any way you can; no judgment.  Guava Island is like City of God in visuals only, and all it has common with Purple Rain is the fact that there’s music throughout the film, and it doggone for sure ain’t no thriller per se, but it’s still a great way to spend an hour.  Plus, Gambino and Rihanna make a cute couple.  😃❤️

—Written by Nadiya

Have you seen Guava Island yet?  What did you think of it?  Did you see it at Coachella during Gambino’s set, or did you stream it at home?  Did it put you in the mind of Purple Rain and/or City of God?  Did you like the musical numbers?  Let me know in the comments section!

 

‘Blackout’: The Podcast That Hardly Anyone Is Talking About

What’s poppin’, y’all?  Those of y’all that’ve been reading my blog for the past few months know that lately I’ve been obsessed with all things Rami Malek aka Elliot, and I’m sure some of you are sick and tired of me talking about him.  Well, that’s just tough, because I have yet again another Rami Malek inspired article.  However, it has nothing to do with Mr. Robot or Bohemian Rhapsody.  This is all about Rami’s podcast, Blackout.  Yes, you read that correctly.   It’s a podcast.  Here’s the trailer below:

In Blackout, Rami plays a DJ named Simon Itani that lives in a small New Hampshire town named Berlin (pronounced BURR-lin, which is the cherry on top of the weirdness), that suddenly loses all its electricity, including their landlines and cell phones.  Simon tries to use his position at the radio station to be a voice of reason and bring the community together, but after it’s revealed that the power outage hasn’t just occured in Berlin, but other areas of the country, he and his family soon learn that the idyllic little town they’ve called home is full of nutbags—and I mean serious nutbags.  Prime example, less than 24 hrs. after the power goes out, some dudes start patroling the streets with assault rifles claiming to be part of the neighborhood watch.  I’m assuming they’re part of the George Zimmerman chapter, but I digress.   As more time goes on, it appears that some of those nutbags may have been the cause of the power grid going down.

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This is my first time listening to a serial podcast, and I’m seriously enjoying Blackout.  The series is four episodes in, and it gets better and better each week.  This show is the perfect way for me to partially quench my thirst during my long and torturous Mr. Robot drought.  When it comes to expectations, however, I have to say the same thing I said during my Us movie review.  The same way you shouldn’t go into Us expecting Get Out, you definitely shouldn’t listen to Blackout hoping for an audio clone of Mr. Robot.  Whereas Mr. Robot is about a young man that is very reliant on technology to help people (although his assistance usually blows up in his face), Blackout tells the tale of a man that has to try to protect his family now that technology is scarce to the point of almost being non-existent.  Not only that, but the character of Simon Itani is an affable, sociable, laid back family man in his late 30’s.  Elliot Alderson, on the other hand, is a single man in his late 20’s that’s the complete opposite of sociable, unless you count his long conversations with Mr. Robot, who only exists in his head.

All the actors do a terrific job with their roles, and although you can’t physically see what’s happening, the well-written script and impeccable performances allow you to visualize this dystopia in the making.  Of course, I have to give individual props to my boy Rami, who also serves as a producer to this project.  Rami continues to prove why he’s been showered with numerous accolades in the past few years.  When I first heard that he was going to play a DJ, it was hard for me to visualize that, considering his signature slow and smooth voice.  If anything, I figured he’d be hosting the Quiet Storm.  However, he pulls it off with ease, showing what a great character actor he is.  It’s easy to see an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy Oscar, Tony Winner) in his future.  He’s already well on his way.  My only gripe with the podcast is the commercials.  Unfortunately, each episode contains about five or six annoying (and mind numbing) commercials that take you right out of the exciting story line.  There’s even an advertisement that plays before the start of each episode in the series.  And OMG…they all seem to drone on forever.  Thankfully, you’re able to skip over these atrocities and get back to the good stuff.

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There is one other thing that’s bothering me considering Blackout….no one’s really talking about it.  There were a few articles discussing it before it was officially released, and there’s been about one or two reviews written since the podcast aired.  Aside from a couple of viewer comments I’ve seen on some lesser known sites…that’s about it.  Rami doesn’t really have the time to do a press tour for Blackout; he’s busy filming season four of Mr. Robot in NYC (yay!).  Now that four episodes have aired, the word is starting to pick up just a little bit, and writer/creator Scott Conroy is taking on some interviews discussing the show’s content.  There’s even some talk about QCode—the studio, who along with Endeavor Audio, helped produce Blackoutcreating another podcast with Bad Times at the El Royale’s Cynthia Erivo.  Hopefully in time, the show will build up enough steam to really get people to have conversations about it.   The Deadline article mentioning Cynthia Erivo’s new podcast also claims that Blackout may be made into a series.  I haven’t seen any other reports stating that, but I really hope it’s true.  If so, I hope Rami continues to play Simon, seeing how he’s been killin’ the role so far.

I know that folks haven’t been into radio plays since Ralphie was gifted his Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas and advised to drink his Ovaltine (all fans of A Christmas Story already get this reference), but Blackout is a great podcast and it’s well worth your time.  It’s action packed, suspenseful, and engaging (folks from New Hampshire may not care for the Bostonian accents most of the characters have, though).  You can stream the podcast for free via Apple Podcasts (or your ITunes/Apple Music account on your PC; this method won’t work on your Android) or Google Podcasts.  I suggest that all of you check this series out and let’s get the word out about it.  I need more people to start talking about one of my favorite shows!

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Blackout airs every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

—Written by Nadiya

Have you listened to Blackout yet?  Do you like it?  If you haven’t listened to the series yet, are you interested?  Do you think more people should be talking about it?  Let me know in the comments section! 

‘Us’ Movie Review

If you told me 10 years ago that Jordan Peele would be a spectacular filmmaker that effortlessly blends social commentary and elements of terror together, I’d say you were crazy.  I’d go on to say that Jordan Peele is a comedian—albeit a hilarious comedian—that kills it every week on Mad TV, not a filmmaker, and damn sure not a master of horror.  However, after Mad TV and Key and Peele’s respective runs ended, Jordan surprised us all with Get Out, and now he’s struck gold again with Us.

Us tells the story of Adelaide Wilson (played by Lupita Nyong’o) and her family, who take a summer vacay to Santa Cruz, CA, the location of Adelaide’s old family home.  Adelaide is a bit uneasy about the trip due to a traumatic event she experienced there as a child, and her unease continues to heighten as the day rolls on.  It raises to a boil once she and her husband find a family outside the house later that night, threatening to invade their home.  What’s even more frightening is that the family that eventually takes over the house are the Wilson’s doppelgangers.

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You’re probably thinking what one of my co-workers said when I gave her the breakdown, “I got all that from the trailer!”  Unfortunately, that’s all I can say about the overall plot without spoiling the movie, and trust me, you don’t want this movie to be spoiled for you.  I greatly enjoyed Us.  I didn’t expect the film to be another Get Out—and it isn’t—and I ended up adoring what it is:  a creepy and nail-biting science fiction tale.  I have admit, I didn’t like it quite as much as Get Out, but that’s not to say the movie is weak.  It was just the opposite, actually.  I didn’t really catch the social commentary in it at first, but after checking out some other videos further explaining the symbolism and deeper themes, I got it.  Unlike Get Out, which focused on race relations and white liberalism, Us explores the subject of materialism and taking small things for granted.  I really want to watch the film again with new eyes to catch a lot of the things that I missed.

As usual, Lupita killed it.  I also loved Winston Duke as Adelaide’s clueless husband, Gabe.  In case you’re wondering who Winston Duke is, he played M’Baku in Black Panther.  Gabe’s character is a complete 180º from M’Baku, and it really shows Winston’s range.  All the actors had great performances, and coupled with the intense plot and symbolism throughout, it proves that Jordan Peele is a force to be reckoned with in the genre of horror as well as overall film making.

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To be honest, I don’t have anything bad to say about this film, other than it comes in a close second to Get Out, which remains Jordan Peele’s magnum opus.  I’ve noticed that some folks in my neck of the woods have been saying that Us was a grave disappointment, and one of the first things they do is compare it to Get Out.  I believe these folks went into the theatre expecting a Get Out clone.  Don’t do that.  You’ll be doing yourself a disservice and setting yourself up for disappointment.  It’s basically like watching Jackie Brown expecting an exact double (pun slightly intended) of Pulp Fiction.  Yeah, I agree that Get Out was the better movie between the two, but I also believe I was able to get a lot of satisfaction out of Us due to the fact that I didn’t expect to be a replica of its predecessor.

Y’all, go check this film out.  It’s already made back its budget and then some, so that should tell you something.  Just be sure to go into the theatre with an open mind.  If you do that, and take the film for what it is—which is excellent—you’ll have a great experience.

—Written by Nadiya

What did you think about Us?  Was it as good as Get Out?  Was it better?  Did you expect Us to be just like Get Out, or did you expect it to be an entirely different film?  Did you catch all the themes throughout the film?  Would you consider Jordan Peele to be a new master of horror/film making, or should he go back to comedy?  Let me know in the comments section!  

 

Luke Perry: 1966 – 2019

When I was a child back in the early ’90s, it was all about Beverly Hills, 90210.  There were board games, dolls, clothes; no matter where you went, someone was talking about the show.  After my mother jumped on the 90210 train when I was in sixth grade, I decided to get on it myself, and I didn’t get off until I finished my freshman year of college in 2000.  That was the year the original show went off the air (I didn’t bother with the reboot).  From the time the show started until the time it ended, the character that everyone talked about the most was Dylan, played by none other than Luke Perry.

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I started watching 90210 when the Dylan-Brenda-Kelly love triangle came to a head, resulting in Dylan choosing Kelly over his long-time love Brenda.  It was a choice I never agreed with—even to this day—but nonetheless, Dylan still ended up being one of my favorite characters.  He was definitely flawed (a struggling junkie/alcoholic), not to mention brooding, but he was also cute, charming, humble and had a big heart.  It was easy to see why he was just about everyone’s favorite character.  As a matter of fact, Dylan wasn’t an original member of the show.  He was only meant to guest star on one episode, but he made such an impression, Dylan McKay became a permanent part of the series.

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He left the show temporarily circa 1995 and came back again sometime around 1998, and his reappearance was all anyone talked about.  When he returned, he stayed until the show’s end, and needless to say he stole all the scenes he was in.  During and after Beverly Hills, 90210‘s run, I continued to be a fan of Luke Perry’s and I checked out more of his body of work such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the film, not the TV show), The Fifth Element (yes, he was in that movie…check out the first five minutes), Lifebreath (thanks to this film, I refuse to be an organ donor), Oz, The Simpsons, Indiscreet, and Windfall.  I have to be honest, Windfall as a whole sucked, but I was really happy to see Luke Perry on TV again.  Being even more honest, I was already watching Oz by the time Luke did his stint—I was hooked on that show from the first episode—but when I heard Luke would be guest starring on it, I was psyched.  His character’s conclusion on Oz puzzled me for years.  As time went on, I didn’t see as much of him, but I never forgot about him.  Sadly, I didn’t even realize he played Archie’s father on Riverdale until after he had his stroke.  Luke was still a young man, so I hoped he would make it through, but he didn’t.

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I remember during a 90210 reunion show, Ian Ziering (the actor that played Steve Sanders) saying that deep down, Luke was a down-to-earth farm boy that loved his family and the simple things in life.  I can tell from the outpouring of tweets and Instagram posts that have been released in the last few days that there was definitely truth to that statement.  Luke, you will be sorely missed.  Thanks so much for helping to shape my childhood.

Coy Luther Perry, III:  October 11, 1966 – March 4, 2019

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 —Written by Nadiya

 

The 2019 Oscars: The Things I Loved

Yeah…I know this year’s Oscars was last week (Sun. Feb. 24, 2019), but y’all know I’m late with just about everything, especially this year (damn sinuses).  Anyway, I watched the Academy Awards ceremony last Sunday, and I greatly enjoyed just about the entire three hour show.  To be honest, it pretty much flew by.  There was even a time I had to miss a few minutes, and you best believe I rushed back as quickly as I could.  With that being said, allow me to run down everything I loved about the 2019 Oscars.  Let’s do this!

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The Stars Didn’t Come To Play, They Came To Slay

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Just about everyone (except Pharrell) came to the ceremony dressed to doggone kill.  The guests were so glamorous, I felt like I was watching Old Hollywood stars walk the red carpet during The Golden Age.  Here’s some examples in GIF form (can’t really use the red carpet stills thanks to copyright):

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The Awards Show Didn’t Really Need a Host

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As I’m sure you all know, Kevin Hart was asked to host the Oscars this year, but after his past inflammatory tweets regarding the LGBT community resurfaced, he stepped down.  That left the ceremony without a host, but as the late, great Freddie Mercury once said, “The show must go on.”  I was curious to see how the Oscars would fare without a host, and to be honest, they killed it.  There were one or two cringeworthy jokes, but for the most part, everything flowed.  The best part about there not being a host is that there was less time wasted on monologues and more time spent on the nominees and winners.  Also, Queen and Adam Lambert opening up the show was the bomb!

So Much Diversity!

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Over the years, mostly Caucasian actors and actresses were honored at the Academy Awards, so much so that the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was created in protest during 2015.  However, in 2019, the Academy took some steps to include people of all races.  The esteemed Mahershala Ali won for Best Supporting Actor; Regina King, who I’ve been a fan of since she was Brenda on 227, took home the Best Supporting Actress award, and my boy Rami Malek aka Elliot won Best Actor for Bohemian Rhapsody, the first Egyptian-American to do so (more on that later!).  There were also other people of color that took home Oscars such as Alfonso Cuarón, Ruth Carter, and Spike Lee.  Speaking of which…

Spike Lee Wins (‘Bout Doggone Time)!

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Spike finally took home a coveted Academy Award after all his years of being a legend in the film industry.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t for Best Director (that went to Alfonso Cuarón for Roma), but he did win Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKKKlansman.  His mini celebration on stage with Samuel L. Jackson when he heard the news was gold.  I’ve loved Spike Lee ever since I was a small child (Do the Right Thing remains one of my favorite movies), and I was more than happy to see him finally bring the gold home.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper Get Cozy

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Midway through the show, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performed their song, “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born.  Everyone tuning in—including myself—couldn’t help but notice how much chemistry these two had onstage…not to mention the fact that they were miiiiighty cushy with each other during the performance.  Hmmm…  In fact, Gaga and Bradley were so lovey-dovey that the rumor mill started to turn, suggesting that they may be involved in an actual relationship.  Gaga later went on Jimmy Kimmel Live and debunked the rumors.   She even went so far as to say that social media is “the toilet of the internet.”  Burrrrrnnnnnn.

Olivia Colman’s Speech

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I’ve been a fan of Olivia Colman ever since I saw her on The Night Manager three years ago.  She’s a great actress, but I have to admit that another reason I love her is because she reminds me a lot of a family friend.  With that being said, you can imagine how happy I was when she took home the Best Actress award for The FavouriteWhat made the moment even sweeter was Olivia’s speech.  It was was just downright adorable the way she showed admiration for Glenn Close (and how much she hated beating her role model), love for her husband and kids, and she even shouted out Lady Gaga at the end.  You have to see it to get what I mean, so go to the link.

And last, but certainly not least…

Rami Malek Won Best Actor! ❤️

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A big reason I watched the awards show this year was to see if Rami would win the award or not, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Despite what all the haters had to say about Rami and Bohemian Rhapsody throughout the awards season (and by the way, the BoRhap hate didn’t piss me off…it actually tickled me), Rami still walked away with a Golden Globe, a SAG award, a BAFTA, and last week he took home the Oscar for Best Actor.  Needless to say, I couldn’t have been more psyched.  As I mentioned earlier, Rami made history, as he was the first Egyptian-American/Arab-American to win an Academy Award.  What made the moment even more special is the smooch Rami laid on his girlfriend, Lucy Boyton, when his name was called.  Wow.

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Yeah, my poor baby fell off the stage later that night and folks got a good laugh off of it, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact that he earned the win.  Plus, it didn’t stop him from partyin’ all night.  You go, boy.

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Ouch.  I’m just glad that didn’t happen during the show.

Honorable Mention:  Chris Evans Actually Being Captain America

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He is such a gentleman (and fine, too)!  Love that guy. ❤️❤️❤️

—Written by Nadiya

So what did you think about the Oscars this year?  Did you love the fashions?  Do you think there was more diversity this year?  Did Rami Malek deserve his Best Actor win?  Do you think the show works without a host?  If you liked the show, what aspects of it did you like that I didn’t mention?  What didn’t you like about the ceremony?  Let me know in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jussie Smollett: My Thoughts

Anyone that’s rocked with my blog from the beginning knows how much I love Empire, considering that the very first blog post I published was about the show.  One of the things I loved about Empire is that it introduced me to Jussie Smollett aka Jamal Lyon.  Jamal instantly became my favorite character on the show, and I looked forward to seeing him each week (still do, to be honest).  So when I heard that Jussie was the victim of a hate crime in late Jan., I was horrified.  I was especially horrified when I saw the threatening note that Jussie received before his attack:

NOTE:  THE FOLLOWING IMAGE IS EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE.  IT IS NOT INTENDED FOR WORK OR TO BE VIEWED AROUND CHILDREN.

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We’ve all heard the story at this point:  first Jussie received the hate letter, and sometime later, he was accosted by two men after leaving a Subway restaurant at 2:00 AM in Chicago.  The men poured some type of chemical substance on Jussie that was believed to be bleach, wrapped a noose around his neck and before leaving they shouted, “This is MAGA country!” In all honesty, news of the attack brought me back to when Matthew Shepard was attacked by a gang of homophobic men back in 1998, and subsequently killed.   That same day, I rushed to my blog and started writing about how my heart went going out to Jussie, and how I no longer recognized the world I lived in.  However, in the midst of writing the article, something gave me pause, and it wasn’t just my aggravating ass sinuses.  I decided to fall back for a few days.

When I first saw that picture of Jussie in the hospital, I noted that although his face appeared to be swollen, he only had one scratch under his eye.  That was a minimal injury for a man that was attacked by two other men.  In spite of that, I still continued to give Jussie the benefit of the doubt, thinking that he may have had other injuries that weren’t caught on camera.  Then I saw other people—namely Trump supporters at this point—doubting the story, asking what the heck was Jussie doing out at 2:00 AM, and why would dudes wearing MAGA hats be waiting around in sub-zero temperatures with bleach and a noose?  Although some of the other commentary they provided—which I’ll gladly omit from this post—irritated me, I had to admit to myself that they brought up some very valid points.  Then, the police made it known that there was no video at all of the attack, despite the incident occurring in a well surveilled area.  That started to cause the African-American and LGBTQ community to have doubts as well.

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As the tide started to turn on Jussie, more and more inconsistencies began to come to light, such as Jussie initially refusing to turn over his phone records to the police, and then when he finally did, the information was redacted.   Then there was the fact that he returned to his hotel room with the noose still wrapped around his neck and that the bleach that was poured on Jussie didn’t freeze, despite it being under 0ºF outside (according to multiple websites on Google, bleach freezes anywhere from 27ºF to 15ºF).  I still tried to give Jussie the benefit of the doubt, remembering that he never did anything ratchet or had any real type of drama before all this, and there was no reason for him to create a lie about being assaulted.

Despite that fact, more and more people began to question Jussie’s word, and I was starting to have some doubts myself.   There were just too many aspects of this case that weren’t adding up.  On top of everything else, it was revealed that Jussie had a past brush with the law back in 2007.  He was arrested for a DUI and claimed to be his brother—he even signed his brother’s name on the arrest warrant (R. Kelly, anyone?)!   Then the ultimate happened.  The actual assailants were arrested.  It turns out they weren’t Caucasian racists that were all about making America great again.  They were big, buff Nigerian brothers that knew Jussie personally.  It turns out one of the brothers worked as an extra on Empire during the second season.   To add insult to injury, the men freely admitted that Jussie hired them to attack him, paying them $3,500.00 each.  When the cops raided their apartment, the evidence was damning, turning up ropes, bleach and ski masks.  If that’s not bad enough, a surveillance video from a store was later brought to light, showing the brothers purchasing MAGA hats, ski masks and rope (I guess they decided not to wear the hats at the last minute).

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After this last bit of news came to light, Jussie was indicted by a grand jury and officially made a suspect in his own “attack.”  He surrendered himself to Chicago police and if found guilty, he could face up to 3 years in jail.  Naturally, the internet found his doggone mugshot and posted it at the speed of damn light.  He’s since posted his $10,000.00 bond.

Jussie Smollet - Mugshot 2 (Alt)

This case makes me angry for many reasons.  As I said previously, I wholeheartedly believed Jussie’s story at first.  I mean, who would lie about being attacked?  Even with the fact that the police weren’t contacted right away and his baffling story about a 2:00 AM Subway run, I still believed what he said could be true.  To be honest, weirder things have happened.  I hail from South Carolina, where Susan Smith drove her car into a lake to drown her two young children because…reasons.  Oh yeah, and she tried to pin the blame on a black man before she was ultimately busted.  When I was 12, I remember hearing the tale of Lorena Bobbit, who was so fed up with her husband’s abuse that she waited until the dead of night to slice his dick off.  John Bobbit’s junk was later reattached.  Just recently, in Jacksonville, FL, a man shot a woman he paid $5.00 and a can of Pringles to because the services he paid for weren’t up to his standards.  Dude, you paid five bucks and a can of chips.  So yeah, a man (a bachelor at that) going out late at night in colder than cold Chicago for food and getting attacked on the way back home isn’t that farfetched to me.  A lot of other people didn’t think so either, seeing the outpouring of support Jussie received when the story first broke.

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Now it’s come to light that this was all orchestrated.  The letter was created to bring attention, and when it didn’t create the spark that was intended, Jussie allegedly decided to go bigger and better.  Now all of us that were supporting him feel like damn fools.  A good many Trump supporters have decided to come out of the woodwork to either holler out “See how the left is,” “I told you so,” or to swear up and down that the Make America Great Again slogan isn’t related to anything racist, and this whole thing was a conspiracy that was cooked up the evil, dirty ass Democrats.

What’s even worse is that now when a man or woman is attacked in this country for being black, gay, or both, when it’s reported the authorities and general public will look at it with a degree of skepticism, possibly going as far as to treat the real victim as a suspect.

I don’t know what the hell Jussie was thinking with this stunt.  If he thought the cops were too stupid to figure out what he was doing, he was dead wrong.  Creating this attack to gain attention worked, but now he’s getting attention he may not have wanted.  His name has now pretty much become synonymous with “liar,” and he’s getting drug by his pretty hair by Black Twitter.  Here’s just a few of the memes:

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Fox released a statement saying that Jussie was not going to be written off Empire (a rumor was going around saying this attack was staged because Jussie was cut from the show), but the possibility of him being fired from the show later has increased, no doubt.  Fox has already released a statement saying that he won’t be featured on the last two episodes of the season.  If they cut Jamal from the show, I really don’t know if I’ll continue watching it, considering that he was always my favorite character.  Hell, even if he’s not officially written off, he’ll have a mighty hard time filming the series if he’s convicted and ends up in prison.  If Jussie gets off or ends up serving a lighter sentence like probation or community service, his career is dead in the water at this point anyway.  People will never forgive him for this ruse, and if they—by some miracle—do, they damn sure won’t forget it.

Being completely honest, there’s still a small part of me that hopes that this is all a conspiracy and Jussie was telling the truth all along.  If that were the case, I’d happily put my foot in mouth and retract my statement.  But common sense and mounting evidence continue to refute that small hope.  It’s just been reported that the police recovered text messages between Jussie and one of the brothers, and have an actual check for $3,500.00 in their possession.  *Sigh*

I still love Jamal Lyon, and there’s a small part of me that still loves Jussie Smollett as well…but I have to give him a serious side eye for his shenanigans.

Kandi - The Lies (Alt)

—Written by Nadiya

So what do y’all think about this whole Jussie Smollett situation?  Do you think he’s innocent or guilty?  Do you believe there’s enough evidence to convict him?   Do you think this crime has serious repercussions for black and/or gay people?  Are you still a fan of his after this?  Will you tune into Empire when it returns to TV?  Let me know in the comments section!

 

“Man of Worth” – Recap and Overall Review

Okay, y’all…this review/recap is late as all hell, but it’s finally here.  Let’s do the damn thing.

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The first thing we see during the titles is some kids in a park circa the 1950’s or ‘60s, playing cowboys and Indians.  A Native American man sitting on a bench reading a newspaper watches them for a few seconds, completely disgusted.

Outlander - Otter Tooth (Alt)

The show goes back to 1770 where Claire and Jamie—that’s right, Claire and Jamie, along with Young Ian—finally reach the doggone Mohawk camp.  And it only took damn near seven months.  Thank God for modern transportation.  Anyway, when they enter the village, the Fraser/Murray family makes it known that they come in peace.  Ian tries to converse with them, and he spots the hot guy he sold Roger to.  Hot Mohawk Guy speaks English, so Ian approaches him and asks if they can possibly get Roger back.  Hot Mohawk Guy takes them to his chief, who also speaks English and is more than willing to trade with Claire and Jamie.  At first everything’s going smoothly, but the tribesmen spot the stone around Claire’s neck.  Remember that stone Claire found near that human skull early on in the season?  Turns out that stone really means something, and the chief tells them they have to leave.  Claire offers the stone in exchange for Roger, but no soap.  The chief refuses, saying they will not trade with the family.

The Fraser/Murray clan leaves and makes camp nearby, trying to figure out a way to get Roger back.  While they’re settling down for the night, they’re ambushed by a few rogue Mohawk tribesmen.  The woman leading the attack demands the stone.  Claire offers to trade the stone for Roger.  The woman refuses without a fight.  Claire asks why the stone is so important to her and her people, and the woman sits down with the family and explains.

Long ago, there was a Mohawk named Otter Tooth that arrived from the future.  He preached to the tribe that the Native American people will be near extinct and white people must die, before they kill the tribesmen.  He would paint himself and dance war dances in front of a fire.  Some people in the tribe followed his word and would scalp white people, bringing the scalps back to the village.  The Mohawk became frightened, believing that Otter Tooth would cause soldiers to come to the village looking for vengeance, eventually bringing about the destruction of the tribe.  The chief at the time banished Otter Tooth, but he kept returning, preaching to the tribe not to trust white folks.  However, the Mohawk kept turning him away (sounds like almost the same story with the bear guy in the Cherokee tribe).  After realizing that Otter Tooth refused to leave them alone, the Mohawk sentenced him to death.  Otter Tooth escaped, but the tribe found him and executed him, cutting off his head, so they could no longer hear his warnings about Native American people being forgotten.  After executing Otter Tooth, The Mohawk buried his head far away from the camp…but his warnings about how the Native Americans’ bleak future stayed in their minds.

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If you know the true story of the man in this GIF, you know there’s all kinds of irony here. 

The woman says that whoever has the stone is followed by Otter Tooth’s ghost, and that person has seen the true fate of the Native American people.  Claire admits that Otter Tooth’s spirit visited her before, and she promises to give the others the stone if they help them break Roger out of the camp.  About an hour or so later, while the tribesmen are having some type of celebration, the woman sneaks the Frasers in the village.  Sure enough, just as Brianna predicted, Roger recoils the second he sees Jamie, but Claire calms him down, letting him know that Jamie is her husband, and they’re trying to get him back to Brianna.

Once they leave the hut, one of the guards sees them heading out.  The woman pleads with the guard to let them leave, but he fires his rifle instead, alerting the others.  Jamie fights the good fight, but they’re outnumbered and eventually get caught.  The woman is banished from the tribe for her disloyalty, and the Frasers are forced to leave.  Claire begs to have Roger come with them, but the chief refuses, saying there was no fair trade.  Jamie tells Ian to ask the chief to have him offered instead.   Ian goes to speak with the chief, and when they’re done, Ian tells Jamie to take Roger and go.  He’s staying.  Jamie is confused, and Ian explain that he offered himself, not his uncle.  Ian makes Jamie swear not to return to get him and to leave him there.  Claire and Jamie can’t bear leaving him, but they have to.  They say goodbye, and Ian apologizes to Roger for what he did.  With that, the Fraser clan tearfully leaves Ian at the camp.  *Sob*

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After the family leaves, it’s announced that Ian must run The Gauntlet.  Ah, shit.  The Soul Train Line from Hell.

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Ian starts running “The Gauntlet,” but unlike a 20th century historian that’s probably never really fought a day in his life, Ian knows how to fight off and dodge the tribesmen whuppin’ his butt, and he makes it to the other side of The Soul Train Line.  The Mohawk happily adopt Ian as one of their own, and he’s overjoyed.

Brianna is back at River Run, speaking with Murtagh, who’s hiding out at the plantation for the time being.  First he asks about Brianna’s engagement to Lord John (Murtagh and Jocasta had a little spat about that the day before), but Brianna assures him that it’s just a ruse that will continue until Roger returns.  Murtagh then asks what in the heck she was doing at that jailhouse visiting Bonnet, and she tells him about how she decided to forgive Bonnet’s evil behind for what he did, like Jamie advised in his letter.  She even says that forgiving Bonnet gave her some peace of mind.  Murtagh asks Brianna if she will ever forgive her father, and she tells him that she already has.  Before y’all give this heffa a standing ovation, keep reading.

Murtagh and Jocasta have a nightcap later, and they strike up a conversation about The Regulators.  Murtagh tells Jocasta that with her influence in the community, she could do a lot to help people from being screwed over with high taxes.  This leads to another heated argument where Jocasta accuses Murtagh of always wanting something, and admitting the “fact” that she never liked him.  The argument ends with Jocasta throwing her drink in Murtagh’s face, and he appears to have a look on his face as if he has to restrain himself from laying hands on her.  The scene cuts to the next day, and we see a glowing Jocasta staring serenely out of the window, with her hair down and a smile on her face.  A familiar voice says, “Come back to bed,” and we see Murtagh in the bed, with his silver locks hanging down around his shoulders.  Who didn’t see this coming?

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Back at Nowhere, USA, Claire asks Jamie how Ian, Sr. and Jenny will take the news of their youngest son being a permanent member of the Mohawk.  While Jamie is explaining that Ian has a wild and adventurous spirit, Roger lashes out and starts beating Jamie up!  Claire tries to stop Roger from landing blows on her man, but Jamie insists that he get his anger and frustration out.  Besides, he kind of deserves it…kind of.  On one hand, Jamie did whup Roger’s ass.  On the other hand, Jamie went through hell to get him back and had to sacrifice his nephew in the process.   Roger wails on Jamie for about a minute and some change before he finally gets tired.  Yeah, he’s real tough when the other person’s not fighting back.  When Roger finally stops and tries to talk to Jamie, the latter explains that he didn’t even know who Roger was and whupped his behind due to a case of mistaken identity.

Roger asks why Jamie would beat the living snot out of him if he didn’t know who he was, and Claire tells him about Brianna’s assault and how Jamie mistook him for the rapist, who in fact was none other than Stephen Bonnet.  Of course, Roger is horrified, given that he worked for Bonnet for sometime, and he admits that he left Brianna the night they were handfast.   Jamie demands to know where Roger was when Brianna was assaulted.  Roger sees fit to lay hands on Jamie again, and Jamie warns him that that’ll be the last unanswered blow.  Roger, knowing personally how Jamie’s fistful of responses feel, backs his happy ass up and tells the Frasers about how Bonnet forced him to go to Philadelphia, which is why it took him so long to get back to Brianna.  He also mentions how he found a Craigh Na Dun stone there in the states, and how he was planning on taking Brianna back to their time.  Claire informs Roger of Brianna’s pregnancy, and that she’s stuck like Chuck for the time being; it’s not clear if a baby can pass through the stones.  Claire also lets Roger know that the baby may possibly be Bonnet’s and not his.  Roger says he needs time to think, and Jamie is about to get in his ass for that too, but Claire stops him.  She reminds Jamie that if Roger needs time, he should take it, because this is their spoiled rotten daughter they’re talking about.

Back at River Run, Brianna gives birth to a healthy baby boy, before Claire and Jamie have a chance to get back in town.   When the Frasers arrive at River Run two months or so later, Brianna looks for Roger, but he’s nowhere to be found.  Oh yeah, and you know how Brianna claimed she forgave Jamie?  Yeah, she doesn’t say two words to him when he returns.  She doesn’t say two words to him for the rest of the show, actually.  Oh, and she doesn’t even ask or care what happened to Ian.  Man, this chick irks me.

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Sometime later, Claire is thanking Jocasta for taking such good care of Brianna while they were gone, and she allows Jocasta to hold the baby, extending an olive branch.  Now, a lot of folks had issues with this scene, and I can understand why.  Claire held the baby, and so did Jocasta, but Jamie couldn’t hold his own grandson.  Jamie never got to hold Faith or Brianna; if he did hold Willie, it may have only been for a short period of time, considering that he had to pose as the child’s personal butler and not freely admit that he was his father.  Now Jamie can’t hold his doggone grandchild.  Anyone else get the feeling that Jamie’s being treated like trash this season?  The only crappy treatment Jamie received that was slightly understandable was the one-sided ass whuppin’ Roger gave him, and even that went on longer than it should have.

Brianna is clearly upset over Roger, but she pulls herself together enough to go on with life, and yadda-yadda-yadda.  However, her depression is short lived, because guess who rides up a few days later?  That’s right, Roger.  Yay.  After they embrace, declare their love for each other and all that good stuff, Roger tells Brianna that he wants to see his son.  I liked that part.

Suddenly, Red Coats ride up to the house, and that’s never a good thing.  Brianna automatically assumes they’re there for Murtagh, as does everyone else.  Jocasta has her right hand house slave hide Murtagh in the slave quarters, because why would a self-respecting white man be in there?  Also, I couldn’t help but notice that Jocasta went all out of her way to hide Murtagh, but when poor Rufus was being hunted with pitchforks and torches, she couldn’t wait to serve his rump up.  I get that Murtagh’s her man now, but damn.  Anyway, the Red Coats enter the house, and it turns out they’re there for Jamie.  Thankfully, they’re not there to arrest him or anything like that; they just had to deliver a message from Gov. Tryon.  What, the Pony Express hasn’t started yet?  It took all that?  Jamie reads the message, and reveals that he’s been ordered to lead an investigation into The Regulators.  His first task is to bring the fugitive Murtagh Fitzgibbons into custody so he can die by the hangman’s noose.  Dun-dun-dun!!!!!

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Okay, y’all.  This episode was really good.  I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and the hour flew by so fast, that when the show cut to black I actually yelled, “That’s the end!?”  I really liked that Claire and Jamie finally had some screen time on their own doggone show for the first time in about two or three episodes, but I hated that Ian had to separate himself from his family to get Roger back to Brianna.  Then that brat Brianna didn’t even ask about Ian!  Oooh, she works my nerve!  Also, Brianna claims she forgives her father for what he did, but when he’s actually in front of her, she doesn’t say hi to him, doesn’t hug him, she doesn’t even ask him about the weather.  Plus, she didn’t let him hold his grandbaby.  WTH?

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Uh…your daddy can’t read your mind, boo!  Open your spoiled rotten mouth and talk to him!   As for Jocasta and Murtagh, they make a cute couple, so I was amused to see them hook up.  Maybe now she’ll lighten up a little.  I could hope for her to have a bit more enlightenment when it comes to the enslavement of black people, but that’ll be like asking Donald Trump to give up the border wall.

Now onto my review of this season as a whole.  Let me start by saying that Outlander hasn’t been the same since season one.  The first season grabbed me from jump street and didn’t let go.  The only episode that kind of dragged was “The Search,” where Claire sang an old Scottish folk song to the tune of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” over…and over…and over again (for those of y’all that don’t know, that’s why Murtagh whistled the song to Claire when they were reunited).  To be honest, “The Search” was still interesting, despite the song grating my nerves after the first three times hearing it.  However, the series has been a bit lacking since then.  I still enjoy it, but it’s not as good as it once was.  The problem with season four—as with seasons two and three—is that it starts off slow then picks up halfway through.  A few weeks ago, Sam Heughan posted a clip from The Simpsons on his Twitter page where a judge mentions that Outlander really gets going eight episodes in.  That’s not exactly a lie (it’s really five or six episodes in).  The first few episodes drag, and as I said before, the first episodes from this season felt like something my US History teacher from my junior year in high school would have us watch…only the stuff she had us watch was much more engaging.

Also, I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again.  Another thing I hated about this season is that Claire and Jamie have basically become supporting characters in their own doggone story.  Claire and Jamie are the ones that got me hooked on the show.  I’m here for them, not Roger and Brianna.  One of the good things about season three is that when Claire went back in time to reunite with Jamie, the show went back to being all about them.  No more Brianna, no more Roger.   As a result, the episodes were a lot more interesting and drama filled—good drama, not bratty tantrums.  This go around, the writers provided Brianna and Roger with the most interesting storylines, even when Claire and Jamie were the central focus.  I wish that focus and energy would be spent on the people we came to see in the first place instead.  I don’t want Roger and Brianna’s story to be dull, but don’t trade in Claire and Jamie’s appealing plot points so their bratty ass daughter and future son-in-law can get their moment in the sun.

I was watching Roger and Brianna’s reunion clip on You Tube, and someone commented that if this is the route the show is going to take, the producers are in a world of trouble, because not too many people like Roger and Brianna.  I have to agree with that assessment.  Personally, I don’t have too much of a problem with Roger—his extreme marriage proposal faux pas aside—but that doggone Brianna…I don’t wanna have to deal with her any more than I have to.  Just when she was starting to act like a doggone human being, she turned right around and reverted to the little monster we were introduced to in the season two finale.  As I said before, I enjoyed the show more when Claire and Jamie were at the forefront where they belonged, and Roger and Brianna’s appearances were scarce.  Let that demon child and her potential baby daddy be doggone supporting characters like Fergus and Marsali.  Hell, I’d like more of Fergus and Marsali than Roger and Brianna.  They make a better couple, in my opinion.

Last but not least, all the racism that the Frasers have to face this season left a bad taste in my mouth.  Yes, I understand that this was the cultural norm for the 1700’s, and yes, I understand that it makes sense for Claire and Jamie to endure new hardships with new adventures.  However, the constant racism against black people and Native Americans was infuriating, nonetheless.  Hell, if I wanna see racism, I don’t have to look any further than the news or log on to Twitter.  Shoot, sometimes all I have to do is walk into a store or go to an open house in a nice neighborhood.  I remember when my purebred collie was still alive; people would see me walking her around town—namely the well off neighborhoods—and automatically assume I was a maid.  Go figure.

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Another thing that bugged me about this season was how blasé Brianna was when it came to slavery.  Claire was the second coming of Harriet Beecher Stowe when she arrived at River Run.  Brianna was more like Benedict Cumberbatch’s character from 12 Years a Slave; disagreeing with the practice of slavery to an extent and treating the slaves with respect, but completely apathetic to their plight.  The sad part is that Brianna had a black roommate in the ’70s.  Brianna probably can’t even face that child now, considering that she may have possibly took advantage of some of her ancestors.  What’s even sadder is when Jamie and Claire did their part to help a slave last season, folks on the internet had a fit, calling them “white saviors” and accusing Outlander of being tone deaf when it came to race issues.  On the flip side, when it comes to Brianna and her “it is what it is” attitude, I’ve heard nothing but radio silence.  SMDH.

All in all, this season was aiight.  There were some exciting episodes, but there wasn’t enough Claire and Jamie, and there was way too much Roger and Brianna.  I got tired of hearing Native American people referred to as “savages” (I get that was a popular term in colonial times, but I don’t have to like it), and I got tired of seeing black people enslaved and the characters in the show just being cool with it.  When Outlander gets going, it gets going, but I’m gonna need it to step up a little bit next year.  I don’t want to give up on this series.  We need more Claire and Jamie, y’all.  More Claire and Jamie and less Roger and Brianna.  And less racism.  Go back to Scotland, y’all.

Claire and Jamie 9 (Alt)

—Written by Nadiya

So what did you think about the season finale?  What are your thoughts on this season as a whole?  Did it have too much racism?  Are you fine with how race relations are portrayed?  Did you miss seeing Claire and Jamie on a regular basis?  Do you believe that the show’s focus should shift towards Roger and Brianna?  If Roger and Brianna do become the show’s main focus, will you still enjoy the series?  What do you think about Ian becoming part of The Mohawk?  What do you think about Otter Tooth’s warnings to his people?  Do you like Jocasta and Murtagh as a couple?  Let me know in the comments section!