My name is Erik Todd Dellums. I am a Black man, a professional actor
and a semiotician and film lover. I am therefore underemployed,
under-appreciated and an afterthought in Hollywood. I am also a man who
rarely sees an accurate depiction of Black people and American History
in film and on television. It's something I've grown used to, but now
I'M MAD AS HELL AND NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!
I am calling all people that truly care about honest representations of
American History in Hollywood to standup and boycott the heavily
promoted film, "Cold Mountain." At a cost of $80+ million dollars and
sporting a stellar cast and crew, this adaptation of Charles Fraizier's
acclaimed bestseller opens Christmas Day everywhere and is being touted
as the film to beat at the Academy Awards. It has generated glowing
reviews for Disney, Miramax and all involved. It is also a sham; a slap
in the face of African Americans everywhere, whose ancestors gave their
lives in the Civil War, fighting for true freedom (Sorry, President
Bush!) from the most heinous slavery system known to modern man: the
American Slavery System. How could a 3 hour film depict life in the
heart of Virginia and North Carolina during the Civil War use 30 seconds
of Black people picking cotton as its total reality of slavery during
this period? In an article in the Washington Post, the film makers have
said that slavery and racism were simply "too raw" an emotional issue to
present in their film. In other words, who would want to see a love
story with the beautiful Jude Law and Nicole Kidman set in the reality
of the Southern monstrosity of slavery.
The film depicts one of the more important battle decision in the Civil
War; a battle in which the Union trained Black Soldiers to tunnel under
Confederate lines; a battle in which Blacks suffered their highest rate
of casualties of any Union division in the fight! This is the great
battle that opens "Cold Mountain." You tell me if you spot ANY Black
actors in the film fighting. It plays like "Saving Private Ryan"
another film in which Black contributions to history -- namely the
Battle at Normandy -- are completely excised from a major film. Shame
on you, Hollywood. Shame on you!
The Weinstein Brothers (owners of Miramax, the distributors of "Cold
Mountain" are smart, astute business men with keen cinematic
sensibilities. They should know better. I ask, could you imagine "The
Pianist" or "Schlinder's List" ever being made with but 30 seconds of
the reality of The Holocaust? Of course not. A film with such a gross
misrepresentation would never make it past page one of a screenplay!
And in reality, isn't The Holocaust, which occured a mere two
generations or so ago, "rawer" emotionally than slavery?
Every year, the Academy Awards give a documentary about "The Holocaust"
it's award and every year Hollywood releases sumptuous, hauntingly
beautiful films about "The Holocaust." And every year I go. Why?
Because I love film. And I love the truth. But there must be some
reciprocity somewhere. I have attempted to sell stories to Hollywood --
true stories -- from our history as Black people during the years of
slavery. The response from Hollywood, "I saw something like that
already in "Roots". What an insult! Why are we as a people always an
afterthought? We must let Hollywood know that we deserve respect. How
do we? By not giving them the pleasure of our dollars. Let a boycott
of "Cold Mountain" begin our response to Hollywood: tell our stories;
tell the truth and we will come. And if Hollywood has a problem with
that, simply say, "I'm not going, because I saw a film like that
Erik Todd Dellums
that is less than the one you are capable of living. - Mandela