Life from Off the Grind: The Black Panther, The Glee Project, and The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl

July 29th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Liz,

After two years of a grueling “9-5” I have admittedly been breaking hard this summer. I have no shame in my game though and have been enjoying the much needed and rest and time off. In my overwhelming amount of free time, I’ve been able to indulge in many guilty pleasures that have kept me from being productive in any way, shape, or form. If you’re looking for ways to pass the time, look no further because I have a few things that’ll peek your interest. Leggo…

 

The Glee Project

In the midst of a Glee hiatus this summer, I’ve picked up on The Glee Project, a reality show that airs on Oxygen and serves as a highly competitive audition process for the newest Glee cast member. I started watching the show at the behest of a friend and slowly got sucked in against my will and better judgment. The premise of the show is simple—put twelve seriously talented theater kids in a house and pit them against each other to see who will win their dream of becoming the next big Glee star! Every week the kids attempt to outshine each other in acting, choreography, singing, and overall performance and as you can imagine, there is a room full of divas and strong personalities. So, why do I watch, you ask. Well, the talent in the room is overwhelming. Right in the center of all the drama, insecurity, and overly emphasized (and most times faked) emotion is undeniable talent and a few powerhouse voices. And, that my friends, is my weakness. If you can sing well, I will forgive all of your other shortcomings. Sigh. So I put up with all of the BS from the kids, the producers and from Ryan Murphy (who I am convinced thinks he’s god) just so I can hear some good vocals. I mean really, can you blame me? DONE.

Disclaimer: The show does often piss me off though because the producers ask the kids to fake emotion and personality based on their experiences and character traits. It’s like asking them to be caricatures of themselves. It’s extremely problematic and a huge part of the show. They had this episode on showing vulnerability that left me fuming! But yeah, totally worth watching anyway…you can catch most of the episodes on Hulu.

 

The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl and Friends

I started watching this web-series when I still was on the 9-5 grind at a job that often left me less than enthused at the end of the day. I recently had a viewing party with some of my friends and it brought back some vivid memories of me watching this on my lunch breaks (and coffee breaks…and “ugh, I’m sick of this” breaks) and cracking up on how hard I could relate to the main character, J. The series creator, Issa Rae, is also the main character and trust, you will find it hilarious as she navigates her way through life as an awkward Black girl. Luckily, Issa Rae just decided to extend the web-series beyond the original seven episode season due to popular demand. So if you enjoy the series, be sure to support! Peep the first episode. I promise you’ll be hooked.

 

 

The Black Panther Animated Series

I’ve been spending a hellauva lot of time with my younger brother this summer who happens to be a huge anime, comic book, and super hero connoisseur. He recently introduced me to The Black Panther, a Marvel a comic book series featuring Marvel’s first Black superhero of the same name. Marvel Animation recently created a cartoon series based on this comic book in partnership with BET. Now ya’ll know I’m not a huge fan of BET, but the production of this cartoon was something that I could get down with. The premise behind the series is also pretty interesting and brings up several issues.

As a short background The Black Panther is protector and ruler of a fictional African country, Wakanda. Wakanda is the only African country that has not been colonized and is far advanced in technology and medicine than its Western counterparts. Furthermore, Wakanda is home to vibranium, a rare vibration absorbing mineral that is coveted in other parts of the world (All you non-comic book heads, stick with me…we’ll get to why it’s interesting in a bit.) According to Wikipedia:

The Black Panther is the ceremonial title given to the chief of the Panther Tribe of the advanced African nation of Wakanda. In addition to ruling the country, he is also chief of its various tribes (collectively referred to as the Wakandas). The Panther habit is a symbol of office (head of state) and is used even during diplomatic missions. The Panther is a hereditary title, but one still must earn it. In the distant past, a meteorite made of the (fictional) vibration-absorbing mineral vibranium crashed in Wakanda, and was unearthed. Reasoning that outsiders would exploit Wakanda for this valuable resource, the ruler at the time, King T’Chaka, like his father and other Panthers before him, concealed his country from the outside world.”

Can you see why I’m intrigued and also raising an eyebrow? I found the series blog-worthy for several reasons:

1.The fictional nation of Wakanda has not been colonized. In fact, one of the primary duties of The Black Panther is to keep foreign powers out in order to preserve the Wakandan way of life. However, Wakanda is far more advanced than any other country in spite of staying within their own boundaries. A strong underlying theme seems to be a resistance to globalization and foreign influence. The technological superiority of the Wakandans also ties into their stellar homeland security (i.e. they have the weapons to keep people out) and a moral superiority. Many times throughout the series the leaders of the “Panther Tribe” would refer to the West as greedy and selfish, noting this as a reason they refused to share their findings in medicine and technology with them. They often implied that the West would only use this knowledge for profit and financial gain and not for the advancement of people or society.

Which brings me to my next point…

2. There is a HUGE romanticization of the African continent that draws from “ancient African civilization” narratives. There is this whole idea that colonization changed Africa (I mean, it did but…), and if it wasn’t for these colonizers, Africa could be Wakanda. The series paints Wakanda as untouched by outside influence; therefore, their connection to their god, culture, the land, etc. has also been unaltered by the influences of the West. They are still “true to themselves.” It positions Wakanda and the “Panther Tribe” as a kind of noble savage, which is a bit of a paradox given their technological superiority to any other country. The difference is that they seek to use their power for good. * side -eye * It’s so loaded and most definitely discussion worthy.

3. Finally, the show has an all-star cast of black actors and actresses including Djimon Hounsou, Kerry Washington, Jill Scott, and Alfre Woodard. THIS is why I initially started watching the series in the first place, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The entire series is available on Netflix Instant and episodes run about ten minutes each. So yeah, get on that.

Oh, and for all my working people out there…Happy Friday!!  :)

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