“I don’t know if these industry mofos overlook us cause they might be afraid. They don’t know if we get the spot like that, you might not get your spotlight back for a couple decades.” – Black Milk, Losing Out (Let’s Talk)
Rembert Browne’s entertaining “Rembert Explains” podcast’s latest episode featured Mychal Denzel Smith discussing the thru-line between director Ava DuVernay’s approach to her work and the criticism of that work and the NFL’s Marshawn Lynch who has become famous not only for his spectacular play on the field but for his refusal to follow the rules of the league which he deems absurd.
This refusal to play “the game” is what rankles people. On a recent @Midnight, Chris Hardwick ranted because he was so annoyed with Lynch’s unwillingness to eat shit. We all have things we don’t want to do at our jobs, he harangued. Suck it up and take it. We all have to do that.
Except, maybe you don’t.
DuVernay sees no value in exerting energy towards gaining acceptance into the Hollywood establishment. In fact, she thinks it’s futile. In this episode of KCRW’s The Business (the other podcast I listened to today), DuVernay essentially breaks down her whole mission statement. Why knock on doors that the person on the other side has no interest or incentive in opening for you? Build your own house. Open your own door. I was struck as I have been every time she’s spoken about Selma over the last few months with how certain, confident, and driven she is. Ava takes no shorts.
It reminded me of the now decade old Ken Burns documentary about boxer Jack Johnson: Unforgivable Blackness. This idea of being unwilling to modulate who you are to succeed in the great American experiment and still succeed anyway because you are just that damn good? Yes.
Let’s keep doing this. And to hell with just being unforgivable. Don’t apologize.
Those made uncomfortable by it are undeserving of an apology, anyway.
Their discomfort is the world’s progress.