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No Longer Seeing in Black and White

Today, Christopher “Kid” Reid of the group Kid – N- Play was issued a warrant for not going to court in regards to a DUI that he got in 2010. This was not surprising to me because this isn’t the first time that he has had issues with the law, but it did serve to make me think of how in the 80’s and 90’s, I would have never expected him to be the one to be in trouble. When I say that, I don’t just mean in trouble with the law, I mean in trouble EVER. After all, that is how Hollywood had set him up.

 Or maybe that is how Hollywood set us up.

When I go to the movies, or when I bootleg a movie, I often go with an extremely discerning eye. I look to see if the plot has continuity, I see if there are any failures in regards to the scripting, and I always look for common stereotypes. For example, in a horror movie, the black person dies first. This was shown as boldly as possible in Scream 2 when Jada Pinkett and Omar Epps died before the title screen was even shown. There are other stereotypes as well, such as the token black, which I always pay attention to as well. It is like movie bingo to me. Once I see all of the offending pieces, I am able to move on and possibly enjoy the movie.

I never thought to look for any stereotypes in movies made ‘For’ me. Movies by Black people about Black people never really registered for me as an avenue for stereotyping, because why would Black people go out of their way to press their beliefs, fears and misunderstandings on me? Man, I just wanted to see the newest dance moves!

 But it happens. And every single Kid – N – Play movie ever made is a great example.

Let’s start with their earliest offering. In House Party, Kid plays ‘Kid’, a good kid who goes to school, tries to keep out of trouble, and gets good grades. After he gets in trouble (by no fault of his own, by the way) his teacher says he is going to call his house. This is bad news because there is a booming party that is going to be happening that evening that he has to go to.

Now, I’m pretty sure that if you are reading this, you already know the background of this movie. If you are like me, you saw the first two offerings of House Party, and then it faded out around the time that they began parading Def Comedy Jam comedians through the third movie for no reason. Chris Tucker? Really? For why?

 As usual, I digress.

In watching that movie, though, we overlooked a few things. Actually, a lot of things. Did you notice that Kid, the light-skinned one, was studious, and a good kid, and didn’t want to disappoint his father. He also was the one who was gallant, and kind of nerdy, and didn’t know how to approach girls that he thought were cute.

On the other hand, you had Play. He was the darker of the two, and although he was in no means dark, he fit the bill for these movies. He was the more flamboyant of the two, more outspoken, and much more of a player around the women. Also, while Kid was the one who didn’t want to disappoint his father, Play threw a huge party for his friends in which the toilet was ruined. Remember, in those days, the biggest fear that parents would have when they left the house in movies was “No Parties,” meaning that Play willfully and maliciously disobeyed his parents in having one.

 Need more?

The women in this movie were also interesting in that they were also close friends, but one was light skinned and one was dark. In the case of Sydney, she was a light skinned girl of virtue who was the quiet, almost nerdy one. She lived in a mansion with loving parents who tucked her in at night. She also had a crush on Kid, but she wasn’t going to pursue him unless he approached her first, because that is what a lady does.

Conversely, Sherane was the darker female lead, and she was not only the better dancer, but she was far more outspoken. She also was the one that both Kid and Play lusted after, and she would flirt with both of them as well, leading them on and giving off the belief to the audience that she was, as my mother often said while watching the movie, ‘fast’. She lived in a project in the hood, where parents opened doors with steel grills on their face, and her siblings made the Red kool aid with EXTRA sugar.

This was made by black people.

Also, if you really look at it, every single person in the movie that was ever a hood or a villain was dark. This ranged from Full Force as the three bullies from the school, who when denied access to the house party, attempt to SET THE HOUSE ON FIRE.

 Yes. Reread that.

While the other bad guys paled in comparison as far as the acts they committed or attempted to commit, it still needs to be noted that everything bad that was done in the movie was done by a darker skinned person. Kid’s dad, who while understandably (to me now, at least) upset by his son sneaking out to a party, at that time seemed to be a blustering bully who put other people’s children down with aplomb, and seemed to either be drunk or on the verge of a diabetic coma, was played by Robin Harris. Harris is a dark skinned man. Chill, the kid who kept kicking the table Bilal was DJing at? Dark skinned. Groove, the kid who got drunk to the point of passing out and had to be taken home by Kid? Dark skinned.

Kid and Sydney get to a point where they are about to have sex, after Kid was shot down by Sherrane’s teasing ass. They have this part where after things get hot and heavy, Kid doesn’t have a condom, so they stop. He doesn’t want to have kids, and he doesn’t want to be irresponsible. Good for you, Kid!

 But Rashanii, you say, this is only one movie! This doesn’t prove anything!

 Okay…

 House Party 2. Same characters, same roles. Those have all been established. Now Kid has gone on to college, along with Sydney. They are on their way to doing great their freshman year until Kid realizes that Play has caused him to not have the tuition check to pay for his classes. Silly irresponsible darkie! And while we are discussing character growth, whatever happened to Sherrane? Well, I guess they had already established her as a ho, so they moved her to the left. She was likely pregnant and on welfare somewhere, drinking coma inducing Kool-Aid.

There are a few notable additions to the cast of House Party 2. Kid’s roommate, Jamal, was a white kid who wanted to be black. He had a heart of gold. Miles, on the other hand, was a duplicitous black man who wanted to steal Sydney’s heart. He took every step possible to try and break her and Kid up, despite the fact that he knew she had a man.

What’s your man got to do with me?

This goes on in every one of their movies. In Class Act, Kid plays Duncan Penderhughes, a nerdy kid from the right side of town. He lives in a mansion with both parents, and he is a genius. Play plays Blade Brown (Blade? Word?), a convict who recently was released from Juvenile Hall and lives in the hood with his mom. He is a bully who forcibly makes Kid do his homework for him or else.

In this movie, once again, the female roles are comprised of light skinned VS dark. Karyn Parsons, who is light skinned, played Ellen, a genius in her own right who lives in a mansion on the good side of town. She quotes Shakespeare and has never done “it”. Clearly, she is a good kid.

Damita, on the other hand, is a hoodrat. She lives in the ghetto in a project, where dudes sit outside her stoop on a ratty couch all day long drinking Ripple. She pops her neck, rolls her eyes, puts her hands on her hips, snaps her lips and sucks her teeth when she is mad, happy, animated, making a point, awake… You get the picture.

Bad guys in this movie? Also dark. Wedge the bully and Mink the drug dealer alike are dark skinned black men.

Another thing that just came to mind? Doug E Doug, who plays Popsicle, is the comedic relief (I guess). He is also dark skinned.

It isn’t just Kid and Play movies, though they are the easiest to pick on.

In Boomerang, Halle Berry plays Angela, a good woman who works with kids, and is looking for true love that she thinks she has found in Marcus. She’s light skinned. Marcus is a dog who is played by Eddie Murphy, who changes his ways after he gets his heart broken by Jacqueline, a player in her own right who is played by Robin Givens, a dark skinned woman.

The loud, obnoxious character in this movie was played by Grace Jones, a dark skinned woman. Yes, I know that Tisha Campbell also played a loudmouth, but that makes her the exception to the rule. Plus, unlike Grace, she didn’t pull off her panties in a meeting or scream out that her date was gay in a restaurant.

That is four different movies, all made primarily for black audiences, that have the same stereotypes. But at least 3 of them have a connecting piece. How is House Party associated with Boomerang?

Reginald Hudlin wrote both the House Party series, and the movie Boomerang.

 Then he went and worked at BET, a company who many people tend to think only shows the worst of black people.

 Does Reginald hate black people? Is it a deep seated issue?

 These are the questions…

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