Posts By Bené Viera

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Let Kerry Washington Hypnotize You While Talking James Baldwin For Vanity Fair’s Hollywood Issue

Olivia Pope, our bad, Kerry Washington took a brief break from saving high powered D.C. clients from their scandals to talk Baldwin. James Baldwin that is. On Scandal she’s always involved in drama — the kind you have when you’re powerful. In real life the 36-year-old’s life is a lot less messy. All the woman who hails from the Bronx wants to do is talk books. And maybe save the world.

For ” target=”_blank”>Vanity Fair‘s 2013 Hollywood issue a crop of Hollywood’s elite sit down with a camera crew to share whatever moves them. The woman whose quiver lip has become famous from Thursday’s debauchery on Scandal, plays dress up in a three and a half mini-short on the importance of reading. Shot in black and white Kerry’s curly tresses are in a poofy up-do. Her love for author James Baldwin seeps through the screen. “I love him. His work is so important,” she says. “I remember stumbling upon him at a time when I was sort of grappling with who was right, Malcolm [X] or Martin [Luther King Jr.]…And then James Baldwin came along in my brain and I thought, ‘Oh exactly. There’s this middle road.’”

We could listen to Kerry intelligently talk about history and literature all day. But we mostly can’t stop gazing at her regal beauty, which is hypnotic. To watch the full video head over to Vanity Fair and look out for their March Hollywood issue that hits stands any day now. Meanwhile be entranced by the allure of Ms. Washington who turned 36 today. Happy Birthday, Kerry!

[Photo: Vanity Fair]

Related: Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, Ben Affleck Cover Star-Studded Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue

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The Problem With Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino’s idea of American slavery pictures Jamie Foxx riding horseback and spinning a pistol on his index finger while wearing a ridiculous blue getup with white ruffles, spewing corny-if-rebellious catch phrases like, “I like the way you die, boy.” Yes, the godfather of motion picture vengeance’s latest, Django Unchained, reverts to a significant era in history to swap victim with victor (much like 2009’s Holocaust-based Inglorious Basterds). Instead of a group of Jewish soldiers vengefully plotting against Nazi leaders, Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave turned bounty hunter, guns down any white man who impedes in the rescue of his enslaved wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Despite Tarantino being an equal opportunity history books trivializer, the problem with Django Unchained is it’s being presented as the “hip-hop generation’s Roots” as opposed to the feel-good revisionist history it is.

Per usual, Tarantino wanted to make his audience uncomfortable. I cringed as I sat through an early December screening of Django amongst a predominantly white audience in New York City’s School of Visual Arts Theatre watching horrific, graphic scenes that included freshly welted black backs and canines eating an enslaved man alive. Even more unbearable, though, were the snickers heard during such a visually intense movie that makes light of centuries of injustice. Jonah Hill’s three-minute cameo scores cheap laughs off an amateur racist sect’s poorly constructed masks (“I can’t see sh*t!” one Klansman blurts). The word “nigger” is spat more than 100 times through the film’s two-hour-and-45-minute span.

To save you the $13 cost of admission, here’s a rundown of the plot: Two years before the Civil War in the antebellum south, German bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) purchases Django to identify three murdering thieves known as the Brittle brothers who have price tags on their heads. In exchange, Dr. Schultz mentors Django in the art of murder, playing Batman to Django’s Robin in the pursuit of his lady. They take off for Mississippi when they learn of Broomhilda’s whereabouts, at Calvin Candie’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) vast Candyland plantation deep in the racism-rich South. It’s like the King of Diamonds of plantations—female house slaves dress in fine bouffant dresses and his right-hand house slave, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), gives insight on business matters, and even sasses white visitors. Candie himself is a sarcastic, slick-talking overseer who indulges in violent Mandingo fights while his slave mistress watches, cocktail in hand. As the film nears its end, Tarantino’s signature twists lead to an expected bout of bloody, gory action.

All trigger-happy abolitionist fun, right? A good ol’ spaghetti western complete with Rick Ross and a James Brown/2pac mash-up on the soundtrack. You’ve got to wonder how many moviegoers will watch, munching on nachos and popcorn, and depart their seats thinking, “Slavery wasn’t too bad after all,” or worse, “Why didn’t all slaves just revolt?” Let’s get real. Django’s opportunity to shoot down slavemasters one-by-one would’ve never happened—he’d be hung after the first white man he killed, but most likely would’ve never sought revenge at all. The institution of slavery was deeper than whips and chains; it was a deep-rooted mental oppression that psychologically suppressed its sufferers.

Sure, Django Unchained is not a documentary intended to inform. But even though Tarantino has stated that he was “uncomfortable” presenting the slave experience, the whipping scenes and BS phrenologist comparisons of a slave’s skull to that of a free man don’t always play that way on screen. I wish that he would have put the same level of thought into developing Jackson’s well-acted role, which hardly surpasses the “house nigger” caricature. Or avoiding the Great White Hope meme (see: Glory, Dangerous Minds, Blind Side, The Help) that finds Foxx playing sidekick and Washington as a voiceless damsel. In reality, there was no nice German savior swooping in to emancipate the enslaved. Freedom was an impossible task seldom achieved by slaves making ultimate sacrifices.

Tarantino lauded himself for being familiar enough with the subject of slavery and black culture to critique Roots, Alex Haley’s thorough cinematic exploration of American slavery. “When you look at Roots, nothing about it rings true in the storytelling, and none of the performances ring true for me either,” he told The Daily Beast of the film adapted from literary fiction masterpiece Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The enslavement of Africans in the U.S. for more than 400 years was much worse than could ever be portrayed on screen, yet Roots is still the closest depiction of the often-closeted atrocity. Django Unchained is no Roots. The problem, however, is Tarantino’s packaging of his latest effort as some type of eye-opening, thought-provoking, progressive piece of art.

Slavery has long been America’s dirty little secret that’s often left untouched. Most Americans aren’t versed enough on the effects that unfortunately linger today. Any film, entertainment or not, has a responsibility to address the topic with a certain level of information—and acknowledgement of slavery’s lasting effects—presented.

Jamie Foxx told VIBE magazine that “Every two, three years there is a movie about the holocaust because they want you to remember and they want you to be reminded of what it was.” He argued African-Americans should recall slavery with the same urgency, and that’s why this film must be supported. Difference is, America doesn’t wish to forget the Holocaust. And Django Unchained may very well remind America of its dark twisted past, it does so by misinforming and making the masses feel good about it first.

[Photo: IMDB]

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Frank Ocean Penned A Beautiful Note And Sang About Strippers To Land At #10 On Our 12 Celebs Who Dominated 2012

It was the year of the underdog. Odd Future crooner Frank Ocean went off on his own and captured the world’s attention with his stellar songwriting. Doing very few interviews, and rarely figuring on TV or in front of paparazzi cameras, even during the promotion of his debut album Channel Orange. Ocean let his music speak for itself. With one big exception: the letter he wrote on his Tumblr on July 3. It was a missive that he’d originally planned to include in his liner notes disclosing that his first love was a man. His coming out was met with cheers from fans and peers, who applauded his bravery. A week later, his debut shot to No. 2 on the Billboard charts selling over 130,000 units in its first week. Frank Ocean’s smooth voice, impeccable songwriting and low-key profile are why he’s #10 on our list of celebrities who dominated 2012.

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Bobbi Kristina In Her Second Car Wreck This Year

Bobbi Kristina Wrecks Her Car Again

 

Deciphering Bobbi Kristina and her adopted brother/fiance’s relationship status is insignificant considering the 19-year-old crashed her Chevy Camaro in Alpharetta, Georgia this morning. Luckily she was uninjured and it doesn’t appear that drugs or alcohol were involved. TMZ reports the teenager lost control of her car causing her to drive down an embankment where she hit a couple of trees. Police issued Brown a citation for “failure to maintain lane.” Read more…

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Chris Brown Responds To Writer Who Thinks He’s A ‘Worthless Piece Of S—’ Then Deletes His Twitter Account

Chris Brown Deletes Twitter Account After Feud With Comedian Writer Jenny Johnson

The age old adage goes, “If you can’t stand the heat get out the kitchen.” Apparently the heat was too much for Chris Brown considering he deleted his Twitter account last night after a nasty feud with writer Jenny Johnson. Just another day of celebrity breakdowns on Twitter, starring the normal people who provoke them.

Chris was minding his business and tweeted how old he looks for a young 23-year-old. Jenny, who has a history of agitating the star on Twitter and writing vitriolic posts on her contention for the pop star, used Chris’ tweet as the prime opportunity to tell him, “I know! Being a worthless piece of s— can really age a person.” Most likely Jenny didn’t expect to receive a response from Chris himself, but she did. Read more…

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Zoe Saldana Continues To Catch Hell For Her Role As Nina Simone

Zoe Saldana Nina Simone Controversy

Zoe Saldana may be in over her head with the lead role as Nina Simone in the biopic, Nina. The casting of Zoe was immediately met with side-eyes and constructive criticism. Cynthia Mort, director and writer of the film, was called out by Nina’s daughter for not consulting her or the family to make sure Nina’s legacy was depicted accurately. The controversy spun into an even bigger debacle when pictures of Zoe on set in black face with an afro wig hit the ‘net. And it ain’t pretty. Read more…

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What Are Ryan Gosling And Rooney Mara Doing On Stage With The Black Lips At Austin City Limits Music Festival?

Nothing screams frenzy like a celebrity sighting, or two, at a musical festival. Yesterday, “Did you see Ryan Gosling?” texts were already reaching our crew while we battled the heat at the opening day of Austin City Limits Music Festival. We laughed at the mere thought of actually running into a celebrity (aside from the ones we interviewed) amidst at least 50,000 people. Turns out spotting Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara was not as impossible as it seemed if you were watching the Black Lips perform. Read more…

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Ciara Takes The High Road, Although We Rather She Didn’t, When Addressing 50 Cent And Chelsea Handler Drama

Ciara Responds To Chelsea Handler Accusations

Perhaps Chelsea Handler isn’t over 50 Cent. It’s the only reason we can come up with that she’s still talking about him all while blaming Ciara for breaking up their friends with benefit situation relationship. Who knew an ex could breakup a, uh, non-existence relationship? Now that Ciara‘s promoting her forthcoming album One Woman Army she hit up Big Boy’s Neighborhood show on Power 106 to discuss the new single “Sorry.” What Big Boy really wanted the tea on how Cici felt about Chelsea’s accusation. And, well, Cici kept it cute … although we secretly wish she hadn’t. Read more…

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Stevie Wonder Files For Divorce From His Wife After Three Year Separation

Stevie Wonder Files For Divorce

Just when our mourning over Tom and Katie’s divorce subsided, TMZ reports after 11 years of marriage the legendary Stevie Wonder has filed for divorce from his wife Kai Millard Morris for irreconcilable differences. In the divorce documents obtained by TMZ, Wonder asks for joint custody of their two sons ages seven and 10. In 2001 the couple tied the knot, separating eight years later in October 2009. Despite his feelings toward his soon to be ex-wife, Mr. Wonder agrees to pay both child and spousal support. Such a stand up guy. Our inquiring minds want to know if Mr. Wonder sang “I Just Called to Say I Love You” to his ex-wife in an attempt to reconcile. Sad to see the couple divorce after over a decade, but let’s all hope this doesn’t get nasty. And for our poor little hearts, no more celeb divorces this year. Please!

[Photo: Getty Images]

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While The Other Jacksons Are Fighting, La Toya Jackson Gets Her OWN Reality Show

La Toya Jackson Gets Her Own Show

There’s some good news from the Jackson family after all the bickering amongst MJ’s kids and siblings. La Toya Jackson has landed her OWN reality show, Life with La Toya, set to premiere in 2013. Now we know why she has managed to stay away from all of the Jackson family shenanigans. Can’t mess up the once in a lifetime chance to have her own show on Oprah’s network, now can she? Read more…