Movies Are My Wife

Married to the Movies — Mdino's Blog


What do black men think?  What do they really think?  With wit and journalistic skill, as well as a cinematic sensibility rare among documentary filmmakers, Janks Morton explores the possibilities presented by this question in WHAT BLACK MEN THINK (2007) available at indieflix.  The film is an examination of the issues facing the black community with a kino eye view of the African-American male experience.  While Morton does not let white racists and the damage they’ve done off the hook, he places a great amount of focus on the “Great Society” and the “War On Poverty” of the 1960’s.  Morton believes that the liberal policies of the Lyndon Johnson administration led to a dissolution of the black family (most prominently displayed in a skyrocketing illegitimacy rate), which in turn has had a devastating impact on black society as a whole.  To illustrate his point, Morton interviews a wide variety of black political and journalistic personalities.  Here Morton engages not only the liberal establishment figures appearing so often in the media, but more conservative commentators such as Jesse Lee Peterson, Shelby Steele and Armstrong Williams.  This alone sets the film apart from many other dissertations.


While pundits such as Peterson decry the “blame the white man” approach taken by leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Morton resists the temptation to identify completely with one side or the other.  White and black liberals come in for their licks as mentioned, but white mainstream society is under scrutiny for our appetite for some of the more negative media interpretations of black culture, such as gangsta rap and Tyler Perry drag comedies.  Indeed, the penchant of black entertainers to mock black womanhood is one of Morton’s main targets.  Perry and Martin Lawrence among others are brilliantly trashed in a segment in which young black men, one by one, hold up women’s wigs and derisively name the actors most associated with African-American gender bending.  For not only do such interpretations affect the views of the white society in which blacks must live, they also have a profound effect on black attitudes as well. 

Of course, Morton also debunks many myths about black men, including the crazy belief that there are more black men in prison than in college.  This is done in a very cinematic way by innovative staging and editing of man (and woman) on the street interviews illustrating the great chasm between popular belief and actuality.  Many, if not all of these myths, are propagated by the media loose in our land, (black and white), and find popular support among both the right and left.

There are a lot of wrongs that must be righted and more is to be discussed as the director suggests a sequel is in the works.  With Janks Morton at the helm, it is bound to be a riveting ride.



December 11, 2009 - Posted by | documentary, independent film, indieflix | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. powerful summation my friend, About the best analysis I’ve seen (fair and balanced-:) ever on that film…much appreciated…Janks

    p.s. I;ve got another film and a book out since that project if ever you want to lend your expert analysis again

    Comment by WBMT | January 3, 2010 | Reply

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