Back in December, I watched a documentary with my family called “Hidden Colors.” It revealed the contributions and stories of people of color around the globe that have been excluded from our history books and erased from history’s timeline. This documentary mediated an image of black people I had never seen. It depicted my history before my ancestors’ struggle in America and mass colonization of their continent. Below is the trailer for “Hidden Colors 3.”
I’ve wrote a lot about the importance of African Americans creating their own voice due to the lack thereof in the media. “Hidden Colors” unmutes black history and tells the untold histories of my people from a black perspective. I found this documentary to be extremely powerful, and I strongly recommend that you all watch it. The latest installment of this documentary, “Hidden Colors 3,” will be in select theaters [show times] on Thursday, June 26th, 2014.
Watching this documentary had such a powerful effect on how I saw myself and my people that it inspired me to write and perform this poem:
At the end of the day, it is important to question what is mediated to you because everything has an agenda. In journalism school I learned the term “agenda setting”: the news doesn’t tell you what to think but it tells you what to talk about. I argue that this phenomena goes beyond journalism and extends into academia. Our history books and academic curriculum tells us what is important to learn and what is unimportant. I encourage you to explore the unspoken, the untaught. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
When I heard there was going to be a sequel to “21 Jump Street,” I couldn’t wait for “22 Jump Street” to premier. I remembered how “21 Jump Street” flipped the traditional mediated high school stereotypes of whack nerds and popular jocks, completely dismantling age old stereotypes, while creating new ones in the process. So when “22 Jump Street” debuted this past Friday, I was curious to see how Schmidt and Jenko’s college experience would unfold. Here’s what jumped out at me:
Addressing a homophobic culture seems to be at the forefront of “22 Jump Street’s” hidden agenda. Schmidt and Jenko’s interactions are sprinkled with homosexual puns, suggesting they are a couple in the closet, unknowingly exploring the gender spectrum. Also, Jenko is placed in a sexuality class where he discovers the gay slurs he used in high school are now socially unacceptable.
Jenko’s new found respect for the LGBT community even causes him to blow his cover when he overhears drug dealers using gay slurs. When Schmidt yells at Jenko for blowing his cover, Jenko defends himself by claiming if you don’t call people out on their offensive language when it happens, you cannot expect to stop discrimination.
Not only is homosexuality brought up in Jenko’s sexuality class, but (as mentioned before) it is also jokingly suggested throughout the movie that Schmidt and Jenko are in a homosexual relationship with each other. One scene in the movie shows them speaking with a college counselor (who assumes they are a couple) about their “partnership” problems. The movie also shows a “break up” scene between Schmidt and Jenko and how that breakup is resolved throughout the remainder of the film.
In today’s media, it is rare that you see a male homosexual couple. And in the case of “22 Jump Street,” the idea of Schmidt and Jenko being a homosexual couple has a comedic spin.
My question is, would “22 Jump Street” have been a successful movie if Schmidt and Jenko was a real homosexual couple? The fact that a fake homosexual couple was used to address the issue of homophobia shows that the media industry, specifically Hollywood, has a long way to go in attempting to normalize homosexuality.
Overall, I thought the movie was hilarious. I appreciate its effort to remove the taboo of homosexuality from our society. But I caution you all to be aware of the homoeroticism that has creeped into our media. It is as if the idea of homosexuality is fanticized but not accepted in reality. What do I mean by this? I mean that Jonah Hill (Schmidt) can play a sexually ambiguous character in “Wolf on Wall Street” and “22 Jump Street” but off screen, tell the paparazzi (out of anger) to “suck my dick, you faggot.”
So what does romanticizing homosexuality tell people? It tells them that homosexuality is okay only if you are fanaticizing about it and don’t actually act on it. That’s a problem. But playfully underlining Schmidt and Jenko’s relationship with homosexual puns is okay for a society that isn’t quite ready to welcome homosexuality with open arms but is willing to toy with the idea, right?