Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Baby Mama" Drama...
From Your Mouth, To Their Wallets!

"... you done taken my Blues
and gone."
- Langston Hughes

From Jerry Springer to Maury Povich the drama of "Baby Mamas" has served as a dollar generating, bottom-line staple of daytime television "reality" talk shows. Introduced with "earnest concern" by the program host, the typically teary or vengeful teenage Mama tells her tale of love and loss. The Daddies follow. With Hip Hop swagger, these Romeos dis' even the most genteel of baby mamas... to the point where you wonder why these women choose to publicly broadcast their connection with such mean spirited and juvenile men.

At best, these Mamas and Daddies enjoy a trip to the big city, a night in a hotel and maybe a limousine ride to the studio. Their most realistic "reality" however, is based in a tug-o-war of allocation and resources. The baby Daddies are battling, until DNA proof and beyond, any obligation to trade their limited dollars for pampers over the purchase of the latest Nikes. With each damning accusation and "bleeped" curse, the diminished value of the child in question becomes more cripplingly obvious. While this debate will continue off camera, the networks, Mr. Springer and Mr. Povich are headed to the bank.

All this brings me to the recently released film, "Baby Mama" where despite its Tyler Perry-esque title, the movie is about a monetarily comfortable white female, with a Baby Daddy and a $100,000 to buy off a surrogate Baby Mama at her disposal. Unlike her TV counterpart, she gets to call all the shots... baby gain, no pain, spared even the worry of stretch marks!

That this film got produced, and its leads Tina Fey and Amy Poehlar get described as "edgy" and "hip" comic talents, served to remind me of the kudos lavished on John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd for the film, "Blues Brother's." They too, mined African American language and culture, to the enhancement of their "hipness" and enrichment of their careers. In that film, we were at least treated to the impressively natural cinematic skills of Aretha Franklin and the well honed talents of James Brown, Ray Charles and Cab Calloway.

Even as I marveled at all the African American talent on screen, I was haunted by the realization that Aretha Franklin could never have proposed the exact same script and talent, called it, "Blues Sisters" and gotten it produced (25 years later, she has yet to star in another film). For me, the film, "Baby Mama" goes one insulting step further, it employs just a single African American actor as doorman and ever-ready "Baby Mama" language coach.

Like the white, mousy, suburban office worker in the movie, "Office Space," who, while driving his car and groovin' to the blast of the radio's rap music, suddenly rolls up the car window at the approach of a Black man, "Baby Mama," also takes, enjoys and withholds, offering no acknowledgement or empathy for the people or culture of its title's source.

The Harlem Eye -HarlemOneStop


Anonymous Anonymous said...


let me get this straight.

you're upset because white filmmakers have appropriated the phrase "baby mama?"

the coining of that phrase is something you feel a sense of pride in, and ownership of?

talk about defining deviancy downward.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Raiheen said...


That is the most lopsided argument I have ever read in my life, you are upset because a term that is looked at a degrading in most communities is being co-opted by another, like white people calling themselves Nword why would you argue that point it is ridiculous, you should really be ashamed of posting this, your mind works different, but not in a good way

3:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home