Turn Off Channel Zero! May 19 screening in Seattle

Listen Up! Turn Off Channel Zero!

[film review by James Clingman, Blackonomic$]

Having had the recent experience of seeing the new documentary film, Turn Off Channel Zero, I was encouraged to see young brothers and sisters speaking out and standing up against the negative Black images being portrayed on VH1, MTV, and BET, all owned and operated by Viacom. Let me say right now that every Black family should have a copy of this film. Not only is it uplifting, educational, and inspirational, it is also anathema to the status quo as it uncovers the real truth behind media that would keep Black folks in check and mentally enslaved.

What I like about Turn Off Channel Zero most is its emphasis on the economic aspects of all the Black negativity that abounds in the media, much of which is perpetrated by our own people, and all of which is accepted by many Black people. The film comes straight at us with a message of self-love rather than self-hate, self-reliance rather than self-oppression, self-determination rather than self-exploitation, self-confidence rather than self-aggrandizement, self-acknowledgment rather than self-denial, self-consciousness rather than self-oppression, and self-pride rather than self-flagellation.

The film is produced and directed by Brother Opio Lumumba Sokoni and featuring Abiodum Oyewole (The Last Poets), Davey D, Professor Griff (Public Enemy), Afrika Bambataa, Dr. Ray Winbush, and one of my favorite “little sisters,” Kenya James (Black Girl Magazine), along with many other young, conscious, proud brothers and sisters from across the country.

Readers of this column will remember my article titled, Buffoonery, Exploitation, and Taboo, in which I railed against the content aired on BET. Turn Off Channel Zero goes beyond that by allowing young people to voice their concerns not only about BET, but also about the trash that appears on the VH1 and MTV, especially the likes of “Flavor of Love” and the latest insult, this misguided sister named New York, her “strange” mother, and the men who participate in the show.

It’s one thing for an “older” brother like me to write about the negativity of these media outlets; after all, as we grow older most of us finally come to the realization that what we used to do and accept was wrong. It’s one thing for me to give advice to our young people and try to guide them in the right way; after all, I am beyond the stage of placing more value on entertainment than I do on education. But it is an entirely different thing for young folks themselves to come out and make decisive, direct, and lucid statements and take in-your-face action against the perpetrators of degradation and derisive portrayals of Black folks. (But that’s what we did in the 1960’s, wasn’t it? I guess what goes around does come around).

I like the question Brother Afrika Bambataa posed: “What’s so good about the hood? We love the hood but it does not love us. Why do we love the hood? We don’t own the hood. We rent the hood.” He also spoke about getting rid of the dope dealers and other negative influences in the hood. That struck me in a positive way because we must own where we live, control the environment where we live, build businesses where we live, and do business where we live.

Professor Griff reminds us that it only takes one person to do great things, one person to make a significant difference, and one person to start a revolution. The young sisters in the film reminded me of the strength among our women and the legacy of Ida B. Wells, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Harriet Tubman. Watching this film was a much-needed confirmation for me, a confirmation that says our young people do “get it,” a confirmation that lets me know they are not afraid, and a confirmation that instilled in me a refreshing outlook on their future. I am proud of those who appeared in the film and those who had a hand in making it.

I strongly urge you not only to watch the film when it becomes available via various media outlets but also to purchase a copy of it. More information on Turn Off Channel Zero found on www.poli-tainment.com and www.luv4selfpublishing.com.

Taking control of the media images of Black people is a laudable and very necessary goal. We can start by following the lead of our young lions, the ones that our BringBackBlack.org movement is seeking. These young folks have stepped up and taken the lead; we must follow and we must help them.

It was great to see the young folks in the film sitting with Brother Oyewole, listening to his historical perspective and taking in his wisdom. That’s what our survival is all about. A collective consciousness among the generations, and a cooperative spirit between young and old, will surely lead us to victory.

This is not about anyone else but us. It’s about the action we take to stop the exploitation of our people; it’s about our resolve to resist selling out; and it’s about our strength, resiliency, and raw determination to hang in there no matter what, to get up no matter how many times we fall, and to prevail no matter the odds. As the commercial once said, “Image is everything.” Do not allow our image to be portrayed in a negative manner without speaking out and taking action against it. He who defines you controls you.
We must take control of our own story and rebuff anyone, Viacom included, that disrespects us in their media, as we move to widen our ownership and control of media. We do not have to watch their negative media, and we do not have to purchase the products they advertise. Start by Turning Off Channel Zero.

article originally published at http://www.blackmeninamerica.com/clingman.htm.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey