(Originally posted on Facebook on 9/28/15)
by Jay Ray | @jayrayisthename
In early-2014, when it was announced that big budget filmmaker Robert Emmerich would direct a low budget feature film about the Stonewall Riots of 1969, an interesting note accompanied the announcement - it would be filmed on a soundstage in Montreal. How would they be able to capture the “feeling” of New York City necessary for the film? How would the film look on a lifeless soundstage for a story so filled with life and the stories of people, already pushed to the margins and then pushed over the brink?
When the trailer for "Stonewall" arrived in August, 2015, the collective sigh of the gay community was loud - really really loud - and rightfully so. The trailer essentially took the bones of the Stonewall story and did that thing that Hollywood does - make it glossier, more acceptable and in this case much whiter. Like, middle America white. No one was checking for it. The Director was immediately on the hot seat for playing the revisionist role to which he urged the world to wait and we’d see that the trailer didn’t actually reflect the tenor of the film. If he was being interviewed by Maury we would have certainly heard the now famous words “and that was a lie.” The trailer was exactly what people thought.
What happened next wasn’t a surprise. Major media outlets, LGBT organizations and publications and talking heads panned the film. Not only panned it, but essentially raked it over the coals. "Stonewall" grossed exactly $112,414 at the box office opening weekend, a universal fail.
So why am I frustrated? As a Black American we have repeatedly been championing for change, most recently as part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Ironically, at the exact same time that we’re fighting for our lives, we are also more rich and have more spending power than ever. Yet … we can’t seem to focus that economic power to force the change we need. We cave when it comes to aligning against things that don’t have our best interest.
My point ... we must use that dollar in our pocket wisely. It’s part of our power.