“Ideas and images guide our lives. They create the belief systems that control our individual and societal actions. Television communicates more ideas and images to more people in a single day than Solomon or Shakespeare did in their entire lives. More people depend on the medium for news and entertainment, from which they construct their worldview, than on any other venue in the world. When it comes to forming ideas, reinforcing stereotypes, establishing norms and shaping our thinking nothing affects us more than the images and concepts delivered into our lives on a daily basis by television and film. Accordingly there is ample cause for concern about what does or does not happen on television when there is little or no diversity in either opportunities or the decision making process.”— Kweisi Mfume, former President and CEO, November 2003
Maybe the NAACP Image Awards committee didn’t know about the first Black gay television series ever in America, “Noah’s Arc,” debuting on MTV’s LOGO network.
Maybe LOGO didn’t know about the NAACP Image Awards and the submission process or just didn’t care.
I don’t know for sure and I really don’t care. All I know is that the only show on television that dared to push the boundaries of everyday images of Blacks was snubbed.
Now I am not exactly sure who to point the finger at since I know for a fact that not all network executives even know about the NAACP Image Awards or even care about them to be honest.
I remember last year when I called MTV to discuss submitting Karamo from their “Real World” series to the Image Awards and they didn’t even know what the hell I was talking about. Come to think about it, I also remember that the person I spoke to wasn’t even remotely interested in submitting Karamo even after I explained the significance of the Image Awards and the fact that Karamo was one of very few positive portrayals of Black gay men on television.
So here we are a year later. “Noah’s Arc” went from being straight to video production into the hottest show on television, but yet and still there’s no real acknowledgement by Black Hollywood.
Now this is coming on the heels of the 2005 snub of the Black press and Black filmmakers by everyone’s favorite gay media watchdog group the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) at their annual Media Awards celebration.
Gearing up for a second season (hopefully), “Noah’s Arc” introduced Black America to the everyday ups and downs of being a Black gay man in today’s society. If that isn’t diversity on television, then what is?
And it wasn’t only “Noah’s Arc,” Maurice Jamal’s “Ski Trip” aired on national television as well as Debra Wilson’s documentary on butch women entitled “Butch Mystique.” And who could forget Keith Boykin running for President with his partner Nathan Williams as his campaign director on Showtime’s original series “American Candidate.” Then of course there was the independent Blockbuster film “Brother to Brother” from filmmaker Rodney Evans. In addition, the following characters were on cable and broadcast television weekly: ABC’s, Emily’s Reasons Why Not, “Josh” played by Khary Payton, FX’s, The Shield, “Julien Lowe” played by Michael Jace, and HBO’s, The Wire, “Shakima Greggs” played by Sonja Sohn and “Omar” played by Michael K. Williams.
So you see, Black gays and lesbians were on film and television in 2005.
I also know that there are enough card carrying members of the NAACP that do know about these amazing accomplishments to make a fuss about it. After all, I am a lifetime member of the NAACP so I feel justified in voicing my complaint.
But my complaint isn’t just with the Image Awards and groups like GLAAD. It’s with the networks that don’t submit to the Image Awards on behalf of the creators and filmmakers. I mean if Pam Grier can get nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role on Showtime’s “L Word,” then surely someone over at Showtime could have mentioned to their sister network LOGO they should submit Noah’s Arc to the Image Awards. Right?
Then there’s the issue of us. As the saying goes, a closed mouth doesn’t get fed. As long as we continue to remain silent on issues like this, then why should the NAACP or GLAAD take us seriously?
Not wanting to end this rant, rave or whatever you want to call it on a bad note, I will congratulate world renowned and openly gay producer George C. Wolfe on his Outstanding Directing in a Feature Film/Television Movie nomination for HBO’s “Lackawana Blues” and openly gay director Paris Barclay on his Outstanding Directing in a Dramatic Series nomination for CBS’s “Cold Case.”
The NAACP Image Awards will air on your local Fox affiliate on March 3 at 8 p.m.