Sunday, March 13, 2011

"The other America": Black actress who played drug dealer in "The Wire" arrested for drug dealing

The Wire employed Black actresses playing believable roles
From what I've read, The Wire was the inspiration for the blog Stuff White People Like. These white people love a show about the Black underclass they live far away from, but -- unfortunately for purveyors of entertainment -- they represent a minuscule percentage of entertainment consumers. The recent arrest of one of the shows Black female actors in a drug raid forced the shows creator David Simon to lament the few roles available to Black actors and actresses that represent "the other America":
Earlier today, The Wire actress Felicia "Snoop" Pearson was arrested as part of a large-scale drug raid in Baltimore and surrounding counties. Slate asked David Simon, creator and executive producer of The Wire (and currently in production on Treme), for comment. He offered this statement, provided to Slate through an HBO spokesperson.
First of all, Felicia's entitled to the presumption of innocence. And I would note that a previous, but recent drug arrest that targeted her was later found to be unwarranted and the charges were dropped. Nonetheless, I'm certainly sad at the news today. This young lady has, from her earliest moments, had one of the hardest lives imaginable.  And whatever good fortune came from her role in The Wire seems, in retrospect, limited to that project. She worked hard as an actor and was entirely professional, but the entertainment industry as a whole does not offer a great many roles for those who can portray people from the other America. There are, in fact, relatively few stories told about the other America.
The problem with filming "the other America" is that critics attack these films for being racist portrayals of the Black community and a perpetuation of negative stereotypes. Remember Precious? Many Black critics attacked it for showing a part of "the other America" -- normal Black life -- the film not having been first airbrushed and sanitized for consumers The New York Times wrote this:
Professor Neal was among dozens of black people interviewed about their perspectives on “Precious.” Perhaps the most provocative salvo against the movie was fired by Armond White, the chief film critic of The New York Press and the chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle. 

“Not since ‘The Birth of a Nation’ has a mainstream movie demeaned the idea of black American life as much as ‘Precious,’ ” Mr. White wrote in his review. “Full of brazenly racist clichés (Precious steals and eats an entire bucket of fried chicken), it is a sociological horror show.” 

“Black pathology sells,” Mr. White said in an interview. “It’s an over-the-top political fantasy that works only because it demeans blacks, women and poor people.”
So you make a movie about "the other America," but then righteous Disingenuous White Liberals attack the film for insensitively showcasing authentic Black life. So then you don't make a film about authentic Black life, but then you get attacked for not giving Black actors and actresses the chance to tell stories that Tyler Perry refuses to share with the world.

Felicia "Snoop" Pearson would have made a fantastic Helen of Troy in the 2004 film Troy. Why on earth wasn't she cast in that role? Look, consumers are rejecting ghetto culture in both popular entertainment and sports. The NBA is on pace to lose at the least $350 million.

Though the NFL has tried to put a white face on the lockout, the vast majority of the players in the league who are living paycheck to paycheck are Black. And it is in that league that Michael Vick -- always a favorite among Black people's list of most beloved athletes -- has had an opportunity for redemption. (We'll have more on the NFL lockout later, although Big Fans probably don't care.)

David Simon, the creator The Wire, has inadvertently shown that the creation of Black Fictional Heroes in Hollywood and on television is real. He only laments that more authentic roles for Black actors aren't available to keep Black people from landing in jail when they could instead receive paychecks for playing Black characters who land in jail for the entertainment of Stuff White People Like-type people.

If only Pearson looked like more like Rashida Jones, she might be able to land roles that are atypical for a dark-skinned Black actress or that showcase "the other America" that consumers reject when making choices about what to entertain themselves with or where to live. Pearson's role in The Wire reflected her real-life mentalities. 

So here's the upshot of why she was arrested: It wasn't because of any lack of available roles for Black actresses; instead, she was arrested for "keepin' it real" and living the life of "the Other America."


Hirsch said...

I got if figured out. This female was, like Robert Deniro, a student of Lee Strassburg's method acting school. When Deniro played Jake Lamotta, he boxed a few amateur fights and put on sixty pounds of weight. She was just trying to simulate her character's role as authentically as possible, so she went out and sold drugs in order to explore her character's dimensions. I mean shit, tell your lawyer something.

Anonymous said...

"You can take the actress out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the actress."

Post Suicide said...

Felicia was probably a drug dealer before she was an actress. Maybe that's why she played the drug dealer so well in The Wire. Let the NBA dig their grave. They'll either keep losing money by appealing to a bunch of "criminals, felons, and thugs". Or try to win back their white fans.

I'm so sick and tired of this "Blacks are under represented in everything" but crime. Disingenuous White Liberals Or Blacks don't like movies about "the other America". So they call it ...

DWL and Blacks will never be satisfied. So fuck them. David Simon is just an ass kicker for the Blacks. Felicia was lucky just to get a role to "portray people from the other America". Would it have been "sad" If she was an R&B singer, were they're plenty of "people from the other America".

Felicia could have had any job and still be busted for drug dealing.

Anonymous said...

As far as OVER representation goes, it's funny that roughly thirteen percent of a population comprise roughly forty percent of news channels' anchors. Where's the latino outrage at their under representation? It's coming and when it does the free ride for blacks will be over.

Anonymous said...

This ESPN doc about Michigan's Fab Five is almost unbearable to watch.

And Mitch Albom's hair dye-job is the worst I've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

Dis blog iz gud, but it wud be eben moe gudder if dere was some wite wimminz commentin on it

Donald said...

SBPDL, you missed one important detail: Armond White is not a Disingenuous White Liberal, he is Black. In fact, I think he is the only Black film critic in America. I am a regular reader of his film critiques, and for the most part enjoy them quite a bit.

While I do think he is better than most of the useless Hollywood hype-machine so-called 'critics' out there, there are a few topics where you just can't take him seriously when he covers them. The most prominent of these involves any movie that focuses on Black people (I think I see a SBPDL trend here).

For example, Armond tore into Black Hawk down because it protrayed US troops only killing Black people (instead of all the White people in Somalia I guess). He will also never stop praising Eddie Murphy or anything he is in, especially his recent terrible movies. Interestingly enough, he recently attacked Tyler Perry in a review with the self-explanatory title "Don’t Scare The White Folks."

You could write an entire article on Armond White. Interestingly enough he probably attacks DWLs and their infestation of Hollywood movies more than any other movie critic, and likely would have been silenced and ignored long ago if he were not Black. He is quite the paradox, and that is what makes reading him all the more fun.

Anonymous said...

"Armond White is not a Disingenuous White Liberal, he is Black."

Yes, but he's a phony. His whole shtick is playing Devil's Advocate. He predictably loves movies with crappy ratings, and hates movies with high ratings. This is how he distinguishes himself from hundreds of other movie critics, by disagreeing with everyone. He's also a racist.

I'm a regular on Rotten Tomatoes, and Armond White is not only the most-hated and ridiculed movie critic, but also the least taken-seriously.

Anonymous said...

First of all Pearson's skin color is just as light as Rasheda Jones.Pearson is not a proffesional actor. She was literally found in some night club and then asked to do the show.Secondly the movie Precious is not representative of 'normal' black life or family.It is however a glimpse into the lives of a certain segment of the population;sociopathic and sick; which lives in America. Do I know people like that? Sure. But most of the Blacks I know are nothing like that. It was in fact an extreme drama, done I believe for shock value because they lacked any other ideas that were interesting.