Black Entertainment : "Good Times" as Minstrel Show

Discussion in 'Black Entertainment' started by Asomfwaa, Jul 24, 2012.

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  1. Asomfwaa

    Asomfwaa Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Television stations are putting our old shows on the air. I get to watch them for the first time. I don't get how they once had community support.

    See this episode:







    Black Loan Sharks, Black Crime, Black Sexual Aggressiveness, Black Child Activist, Black Tomfoolery through and through.

    How did this get community support?
     
  2. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    I don't mean to offend you when I say this....But, perhaps your AGE is why you don't understand why this got "community support."

    You have to put this in its proper historical context, understanding the ERA this show is placed in and came out of.

    In the 1970s, shows like SANDFORD & SON, THAT'S MY MAMA, GOOD TIMES, the JEFFERSONS , FLIP WILSON, WHAT'S HAPPENING and even the JACKSONS VARIETY SHOW were the ONLY shows where Black people got to see BLACK PEOPLE ON TV.
    ...BLACK PEOPLE WITH THEIR OWN SHOWS! :jumping:

    Yes, it was a time of PRIDE!

    And, actually, the show GOOD TIMES was CREATED by two BLACK MEN: Eric Monte and Mike Evans. (RIP)

    Yes, it was PRODUCED by a white man, Norman Lear.

    But, these two BROTHERS created it.

    The CHARACTER named "Michael Evans" (Ralph Carter) in Good Times is given that name for Mike Evans, the co-creator.

    Mike Evans was also the ORIGINAL actor who played LIONEL, the son of the JEFFERSONS.....He started off on "ALL IN THE FAMILY" before the JEFFERSONS got their own show.

    GOOD TIMES was also a spin-off of the show, "MAUDE." ---Florida Evans used to be the MAID.

    Eric Monte, from Chicago, based GOOD TIMES on the CABRINI-GREEN projects there.

    Eric Monte also created the show WHAT'S HAPPENING which was loosely based on the film, COOLEY HIGH.

    And, yes, there was some tension between the CREATORS of the show and the WHITE WRITERS about the nature and integrity of the episodes.

    So, NO, GOOD TIMES was not ALL some "minstrel show," some Black tomfoolery and shuckin' & jivin....like J.J. and his, "DY-NO-MITE!"---The WHITE WRITERS wanted to concentrate on J.J. and have that character epitomize Black STEREOTYPES.

    But, in spite of all that, this show also addressed some of the issues relevant to and IN the Black inner city.

    Now, I watched EVERY episode of GOOD TIMES back then, and yes, towards the END of the show's run, it did get disappointing; but that is because of James Evans dying off (contract disputes) and the WHITE WRITERS who ran it down.

    Eric Monte and Mike Evans had long lost any "CREATIVE CONTROL" over the show.

    But, then, aint that what white folks always do?....As soon as a Black man get something they see they can make some money off of, they TAKE IT FROM THEM.

    But, I STILL love me some GOOD TIMES! ---particularly the OLDER episodes like from its early days.
     
  3. Asomfwaa

    Asomfwaa Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    It's not age. Minstrel Shows, which plainly pandered to White racism, like "Good Times" does, had a large Black audience. Sometimes so much so that theatre owners would relax on segregation.

    It's well known that Minstrels projected greatly romanticized and exaggerated images of Black life on plantations and all that shucking and jiving as you will. But Black folk still attended.

    These were the only Blacks in theatre, where Black minstrels were seen as celebrities and well-paid types. The parallel isn't removed.

    Maybe Black folk created it and maybe Black folk didn't make minstrel shows (I'm not sure) but beyond that the difference isn't clear.

    The parallel is usually drawn for Hip Hop as being "Minstrelish" but watching "Good Times" or most other Black television shows I don't see the difference.

    I'm just wondering why we keep doing the same thing.
     
  4. houserunner

    houserunner Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Look beyond the entertainment factor and dig a little deeper to get to the social messages. Yes, there was a need to have entertainment in the show as it was a "sitcom"... situational comedy, but they touched on a number of issues. Minstrel is not one of the adjectives I would apply to Good Times.
     
  5. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

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    Great Post Sister Cherry! :toast:

    Brother ABSiblings ... what you're saying reminds me of hearing folk say now, regarding slavery ... "if i lived in that time, i would not have so easily acquiesced to those conditions" ... suggesting they would have done something different, been more revolutionary, made some great change ... almost belittling those that have come before us, second-guessing them ... while they themselves give in to the current conditions of the day.

    Until and unless you actually walked in their shoes, it's gonna be hard to fairly criticize them.

    Even today, children of tomorrow will wonder how you've put up with the things we see now.

    They will wonder, why didn't you do more ... in fact ... we ask ourselves that daily, as we go along with the program(ming).

    We're here right now, not making any major, substantive changes ... yet those folk in Good Times, during slavery, minstrel shows, and a host of many other groundbreaking experiences ... are why young Sisters and Brothers can even dare to dream of doing greater things ... because of the sacrifices made by those before us.

    Good Times was and still is a great show. I find it amazing that many of the challenges faced by the Evans Family, are still experienced by our people today.

    Just had to add my 2 cent on this one.

    Love You!

    :heart:

    Destee
     
  6. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    Well, I still don't and won't knock our ancestors for doing whatever they had to do to survive.

    I will NOT CONDEMN whatever our ancestors STILL IN SLAVERY or FRESH OUTTA SLAVERY had to do to eat/feed their families, even if it was "pandering to white folks."

    ...whether it was Black MINSTRELS or the "Amos & Andy" show.

    HATTIE MCDANIEL who was "MAMMY" in "Gone With The Wind" also met criticism from some Blacks at that time; but she said, "I'd rather MAKE $700 a week PLAYING a maid than $7 a week BEING ONE." ​

    I also will NOT DISCOUNT our Black shows of the 70s like "GOOD TIMES" and others which, MOSTLY, gave Black people something POSITIVE to see in ourselves and as a REFLECTION of ourselves, living such a SIMILAR LIFE in the BLACK INNER CITIES.

    Now, no, I don't know how old you are; but back-in-tha-day, Black people useta throw RENT PARTIES.....When times were EXTRA lean and EVICTION was around the corner, you would cook up some food, get some MUSIC, and move the furniture outta the way for a dance floor!

    Not every episode of GOOD TIMES was minstreling/shuckin & jivin' or "pandering to white folks."----It was also REFLECTIVE of what many other URBAN BLACKS were also living.

    Now, maybe YOU see nothing but "MINSTRELING" in this but I see some REALITY, some showcasing of Black talent and some BLACK LOVE and UNITY to throw a RENT PARTY to avoid EVICTION for an ELDER in your community.





     
  7. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    In another episode, one of their senior neighbors was sometimes eating DOG FOOD because her Social Security Check was cut because she had a "home business" to make ends meet....The check wasn't enough to live on, any way.

    And that was just ONE example of "livin' just enuff for the city."

     
  8. Asomfwaa

    Asomfwaa Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Bless you Sister Destee,

    I don't mean to sound like I'm "half steppin thru history" (see:
    )

    I was more saying "the more things change, the more things stay the same." Or how Sterling Plumpp put it "What you seen wasn't no dust of changes rising. It was the dust of sameness setting."

    I'm more responding to the accusations that Hip Hop (or this generation) is worse than the "Good Times." Double meaning intended.

    Ergo, I'm addressing the idea that we once had more socially conscious entertainment. When it's just been the same minstrel show in a different medium: from theatre, to sitcom, to radio, to music video, to reality TV show, to whatever's next.

    I suppose minstrel shows made Black actors, and minstrel sitcoms made decent (?) Black television shows, but, it remains to be seen why we celebrate these minstrels to this day.

    So to speak, we talk good about Jay-Z and Beyonce even though their realities are despicable.

    It's just the same thing from yesterday.
     
  9. Asomfwaa

    Asomfwaa Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I understand that. I don't mean to seem like I'm "half steppin' thru history" (
    )

    I'm more trying to understand why we keep repeating the same mistakes. It doesn't matter what was done, but what we learn from it. We don't appear to learn anything from the idea that minstrels are not our upliftment.

    That's the thing, though. This is a dangerous sentiment for our people. It's putting before our upliftment self-interest. It's not a new debate. It's something people wittingly do; Hattie McDaniel was met with criticism is the key phrase there.

    I'll look at the episode. Thank you very much. Though I looked up "Rent Party." That originated from the 1920s . . .. You can be assured that I'm not THAT old. :)
     
  10. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    But, that's just the thing.....What would you (or those who criticized her) would have had Hattie McDaniel do for a living instead?? ----according to her education level and skill sets OUTSIDE OF the PERFORMING INDUSTRY, what other means of making a living do you (or those who criticized her) think she could have done instead?

    Yes, she met criticism for playing a "MAMMY" in "GWTW."
    ----Those stereotypes were the norm IN HER TIME.

    But, every Black actor or actress couldn't work for Oscar Michaux, and he couldn't pay the money the white film companies were paying.

    But, the bottom line is BACK THEN, our people did what they had to do to make it.

    And what you view as "MINSTRELING," I see as a part of our HISTORY and the CAUSE/EFFECT of the white supremacy those Ancestors lived through and under.

    ...Many of our greatest, most talented entertainers were all, in some shape/form/fashion, "MINSTRELING" and "pandering to white folks." --They made their money performing for WHITE FOLKS.

    DUKE ELLINGTON/CAB CALLOWAY/BILL BOJANGLES/the NICHOLAS BROTHERS/etc..

    At the famous "COTTON CLUB" in Harlem, Blacks could PERFORM there; but COULDN'T GO IN THE FRONT DOOR as PATRONS there.

    BLACK men and women could SING and DANCE there; but only WHITE people were in the AUDIENCE.


    NEITHER AM I! lol

    But, I was just saying that "rent parties" were a part of African American life in the 70s.

    And, I just cannot/will not discredit "GOOD TIMES," just WRITING IT OFF, by saying that it was NOTHING but some "MINSTRELING" as if to say that it had NOTHING MORE to offer TO and FOR Black people but just some laughs and entertainment.
     
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