Sunday, January 07, 2007


Went out for beers last night. Had a pretty good time. Found out that I didn't win the Sloan, but that's okay. The two who split the prize are REALLY cool. Plus, I can't complain about not winning. I've been overwhelmingly blessed to date, and the contest itself sort of goes against my film school mantra which is to NOT compete against my classmates. Compete against your self. Continue to write against your last script.

Today, I have about two hours of interviews with Lexington, and then about three more hours with two other stars, and a professor. And that should finish my book.

As for my UCLA schedule, Mondays will be a beast, but tomorrow will be pretty interesting. I have a critical studies class, and then I meet with a television agent from Gersh about possible representation. Wish me luck. After that, I have my 434 pitch meeting. The way it works out now, I'll have class on Mondays, and one hour of teaching on Fridays. That leaves the rest of the week free, which is phenomenal. Nothing will get in the way of Icono now.

Oh, I did a couple of interviews for the Chicago Sun-Times and Newsweek about the new movie Stomp The Yard. There was some controversy about the film because my Fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, initially called for a boycott of the movie because it used our images without permission. The makers of the film are Alphas, so things got sticky. I actually support the Brothers via making art, but as an Alpha, I was duty bound to support the boycott. But after about a week of haggling, Sony and Alpha kissed and made up, and it's all good. The next question, however, was whether showing black fraternities and sororities stepping good for our overall health. My inclination is that probably not, if it's not balanced against what our real purpose is. We over emphasize stepping by a LOT, and I mourn the fact that current generations of black Greeks don't recognize it. We're not entertainers, but a lot of us don't know that. I love stepping, but never as a substitute for who we are. Hell, the Sun-Times reporter was asking me about mid 30s folks who were traveling the country to step! That's a damn shame. We've got to do better.


Unruly Brown said...

So if the makers of the film are Alphas, who would they need to get permission from to represent themselves??

I understand how you feel about the emphasis on stepping being a possible negative because I thought the same thing at first, but then I can also see two benefits for how it's done in this instance. One is that it will draw positive attention to Black fraternities and sororities when the only other news non-Greeks really hear about them in as long as I can remember has been related to deaths by hazing. The second is that there are more kids coming up who are interested in stepping and performing than in community service and all the great things the frats/sors do, but stepping is the key to capturing their attention so that they can be enlightened about the primary reasons for Greek existence and thus become part of something bigger than themselves. But I ain't telling you nothing you don't already know, am I. :)

Lawrence said...

Yes, they are Alphas, but I always have to remind people that we are members, but not THE organization. Sort like being a citizen of the government, but not THE government. So as members, we have no right to represent the organization unless duly elected. That said, in a fictional piece, the company needed to gain permission for any depiction, regardless of the affiliation of the makers. We actually had this happen before. In Mississippi Masala, there's a throwaway scene where some white college students are partying. One is wearing an Alpha Phi Alpha t-shirt. That sent our lawyers into a tizzy as an unauthorized depiction of our organization. This is one of the reasons why you'll see brand names on television shows either blurred or taped out.

As for the idea that this can bring attention to BGLOs, I understand that. But I always tell undergrads when they complain about the quality of potential members, you get who you deserve. My problem is that we're probably destined to get a ton of people who simply want to step versus do work. I'm not a great believer in the idea that you attract them with the light stuff and then they'll move to the heavy stuff. My feeling is that folks who do community service, do community service. The ones who don't, don't. So if you attract the light members, they'll continue to be light throughout their lives as members. And that can be a bad thing over the long term.

Unruly Brown said...

That's too bad. I never pledged anything, but I figured there was some type of screening process in place to keep out the riff-raff, but then I guess since you 'can't' haze anymore you can't screen like you used to.

Dkelsmith said...


I just want to say first and foremost that I am a fan of your writing. Keep up the good work, I look forward to reading more from you.

On the subject of the attention that this movie brings to BGLO's, I would have to say that at the current state of things it couldn't do any more harm than what we have done to ourselves. I know at my particular Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. we would see roughly 20% of the line we took on that would actually stay motivated to do things after they had crossed. I mean, everyone talks a good game, and list all of their accomplishments, their vision, and what they want to bring to the Fraternity, but invariably after all is said and done, the partying, the stepping, and the doe-eyed groupies seem to be a much larger distraction than before.

Truthfully I believe that society-at-large views us all as "dancers" because unfortunately that is most of what we decide to show them. From the bad press on hazing rituals to copyright infringement of companies we unfortunately have been making bad press for ourselves. I would rather see us commerialized in the view of society-at-large than have any more analysis of our shortcomings. Just my perspective though.

Lawrence said...

Hey man, first let me say to stay safe over in Iraq. How long are going to be deployed? Second, thanks for the comment about my writing. And third, I completely agree with you. I think we've got to be proactive to get a percentage larger than 20% to be active. Because you know what happens. The 20% get burned out. BTW, my brother in law (and one of my best friends) is a Kappa. I kid him by saying he only married my sister to get closer to the Alpha light! Again, stay safe and know that we are thinking about you.

TIsh said...

I refuse to see the movie. As a recent alumni of an HBCU and not a Greek myself but who have many friends who have pledged I see the movie as nothing as a dis service to both the Black Greek system as well as HBCU's.

Just from the previews I can see that the entire "point" is missed. I have tons of videos of Greeks "stomping the yard" on YouTube and anyone can clearly see what the difference is. The movie just looks like a college version of that movie, that has escaped my head where they dance underground.

It also seems to project Blacks in a light that I don't think helps our image in the least. We're not all just dancing around in college and being oblivious to politics and social issues or whatever. It isn't fun 24/7 in the Black community, we are more than entertainers and dancers and whatever else...I hate this movie is even out.

Want some real stomping on the yard? Go to YouTube and search Hump Day or Prairie View