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Friday, April 16, 2010

The other Things Fall Apart

I recall back in 1985 and 86 reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. It was part of an English class I had at City College in New York. The purpose was to see some of the great writing from people of color that the standard public school education never even hinted existed.

Things Fall Apart is the story of an African man, back during the early colonial days of the English invading Africa, and how he copes with the forced introduction of European democracy and Chrisitianity. It is quite a book. While I personally did not enjoy it, much to the surprise of my Professor, I did feel the power and statement of the book. If you have never heard of it, I do recommend it.

So you can imagine my surprise that a film called Things Fall Apart is in production now. Hollywood making a film starring and featuring a Black cast, with a less than positive view of Europe, colonization of Africa, and the purposive destruction of tradition and lives of people rich in culture and tradition. I'd have bet money that it would NEVER happen.

And I would win that bet.

Things Fall Apart, the film, is not a take on Chinua Achebe's acclaimed 1958 book. The closest the film gets to any aspect of the book is the fact that African Americans are in the movie. Once you find out who is in the movie and what it's about, you might cry since it shares the name of such a great work.

The film is about "a star football running back, played by Jackson, who faces a personal tragedy as well as his own mortality while in his senior year in college." The Jackson mentioned is Curtis Jackson, best known as the grammatically challenging name 50 Cent.

Talk about a let down. This is another quickie low-budget film, featuring a minor D-list actor (really a glorified rapper, which is the same thing) in a role likely to do nothing but glorify violence and reinforce the misguided idea that the only chance of success for African Americans lies in sports or entertainment.

The film originally was titled Love Me, Love Me Not. I think they should have stayed with that title rather than piggy-backing on the title of a far superior work of art.

Of course I could be wrong. Curtis Jackson might have taken MANY needed acting lessons. The film could be a breakout role, showing Jackson displaying depth and pathos. And Hollywood might actually adapt Chinua Achebe's book. In fact Iran might give up on creating nukes and the Health Care Reform might not cost us extra money. It's all mathematically probable, which is another way of saying realistically impossible.

Look at it like this. The movie will cost around $20 to see when you add in all the costs. The DVD will likely be the same. You could buy the hardcover edition of Chinua Achebe's book for $11. You will save $9 and have a far better time for your money. Plus if you are into the "we have to support Blacks in entertainment even if it's crap" mindset, Achebe is African, so you are still supporting - just quality in the case of the book.

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