Here is a tale of two Black Brothers.
Black Brother #1 is sadistic, brutal, corrupt and egotistical. He is a liar, thief and a murderer. He is conniving, manipulative and will bully others to get what he wants. He uses and disrespects women and would easily sacrifice his wife, the mother of his child, while showing no remorse. He is the poor example of a father figure and has no regard for his ill son. Brother #1 is the personification of evil.
Black Brother #2 is hardworking, honest and family-oriented. He is articulate, bright, clean and a nice-looking guy. He struggles against all odds to provide for his family and dreams of giving them a better life. He loves his wife, is loyal, respectful and tries to meet her needs of him. He loves his son, is a nurturing father figure and a positive role model. He is willing to sacrifice his all to protect, provide and bring some degree of happiness to his child. Brother #2 is the personification of a good man.
Question #1: If you had to choose, which one of these two Black Brothers would you want to be?
Question #2: If you had to choose, which one of these two Black Brothers would you want to be representative of a Black male to the world?
Question #3: If you had to choose, which actor portraying each of the two Black Brothers would you give the Best Actor Oscar?
I have wanted to do this post for a while. I have been meditating on it from time to time when it appeared that Forest Whitaker was the front-runner in winning the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Idi Amin, the former President of Uganda, in “The Last King of Scotland”. He had already won the Best Actor awards at the British Oscars, the Screen Actor’s Guild and the Golden Globes. I wasn’t aware of the movie until all the buzz was building about his performance, so I went to see it. I found the film to be “okay” but his performance was solid. I like Forest Whitaker. I have seen most of the movies he’s acted in and have always found him to be a good, competent actor. Forest Whitaker played Black Brother #1 to perfection.
Weeks before I had also gone to see “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith. I went to see this movie mainly because the storyline interested me: the struggles of a Black father to care and provide for his son. I had also heard that Will Smith’s performance was good, but that wasn’t what drew me to see it. The film moved me. It touched me to the point of tears. I found Will Smith’s character inspiring. He depicted the type of Black man I want to be. The type of man I wish we all were, regardless of colour or culture. His performance lent to the dynamics of the film…. it wasn’t the film. Will Smith played Black Brother #2 to perfection.
When I heard that both Black actors were nominated, I knew one thing for sure. Will Smith wasn’t going to win! I wasn’t sure if Forest Whitaker would win, but I knew that he would win before Will Smith would. I knew Will Smith wouldn’t win for the same reason Barak Obama won’t win, which was so eloquently stated by Sen. Joe Biden: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” This is certainly not the characteristics, attributes or image that America, and most importantly, liberal “white” America, expects or wants of it’s “negroes.”
Forest Whitaker’s portrayal of Idi Amin was very similar to the performance of Denzel Washington in “Training Day”. Even down to the “Big Black Demon” manipulating and leading the young, eager, naïve and good intentioned “white boy” astray. Denzel had also played Black Brother #1 to perfection in that film. Denzel Washington won the Best Actor Oscar for this performance. As we all know, Forest Whitaker won the Best Actor Oscar for his. It is said that history repeats itself. I will add to this: “especially when it comes to perpetuating and awarding the negative stereotype of the Black male in the mass media.”
On a further note, Forest Whitaker has subsequently won for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture at the 2007 NAACP Image Awards.