Initially set for release August 21, 2020, Judas and the Black Messiah, the forthcoming film about legendary Black Panther Party organizer Fred Hampton is already creating a lot of conversation. The title of the film references the FBI’s COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) where it was said that the goal of the project was to “prevent the rise” of a Black “messiah” who would lead their people to radicalism and, therefore, freedom. But, as I have argued using The Vernon Philosophy of Black Media Avoidance (VPBMA), no oppressed community can expect to find themselves or their political movements accurately depicted in dominant media. In fact, those media, if consumed at all, should be approached with the greatest caution and primarily (only) for the purpose of criticism or analysis.
The recently-released trailer for the new film “about” Fred Hampton suggests already the correctness of the VPBMA in that, as predicted months ago in our interview below with Fred Hampton, Jr., the film seemingly centers the FBI informant, William O’Neal, and reduces Hampton to the more stereotypical depiction of the Black Panther Party; loud, brash, rhetoric-spitting from a microphone. The politics, ideas, and inspiration of Hampton and the BPP will be caricatured and marginalized to the point of obscurity with the goal that pan-Africanism, socialism, self-defense and internationalism be replaced with hype and spectacle and all presented as an “homage” we will be told is to inspire. Inspire exactly what, we will see. In the meantime enjoy our previous interview with Hampton, Jr. about his father and his involvement in its making:
Fred Hampton, Jr. joined us to talk about saving Hampton House and some of what he thinks about the movie and the experience of being behind the scenes and on set.*
*Originally published February 28, 2020. I mistakenly refer to William as “Eugene” O’Neal.
I’ve always been curious why we get upset about a British black portraying an American. So British blacks are only supposed to portray British blacks? Africans are only supposed to portray Africans? This sounds suspiciously like reverse nativism. Restricting actors to their place of origin is pretty senseless. A British black is going to be called “nigger” the same way we are pretty much anywhere in the world. End of discussion.
Why do they have a British African playing the role of a native Black. How insulting!? We have to many Native Blacks that would love to play the role. 100% correct! Did they change the narrative of Fred Hampton which was vetted by WS. #Shellise’s Point.
Jennifer Hudson played Winnie Mandela, Denzel played Steve Biko…
I used to think I was against the Vernon Philosophy. Then, while watching my favorite VERY WHITE programs, I ask myself, “Would you like to see Black people in this?” and I immediately go, “No, ’cause they’d mess it up!”…..And so it goes….
… and thats how it all began. It’s both that simple and yet not. But I so like that method, “Would I want to see Black people in this?” I remember folks being mad that Seinfeld was a show about NYC that had not world majority folks in it. I always liked that about the show. White folks often don’t see us or include us or want to. And fine! Plus, and I dare anyone to check me on this, there is only ONE world majority character to ever go on that show and not be in conflict with the main characters. So it was honest.
It’s also why POC did not work on “Friends.” The creators-writers were smart enough to see that.