Note to Martellus Bennett: This is not exactly how Spike Lee started out. While the concept of a “Black Olympics” — speed eating watermelon and fried chicken, among other stereotypical delicacies — may have looked funny on paper, the Dallas Cowboys’ tight end would do well to run his student films by a focus group before unleashing them on the public.
After a rather significant media backlash over Bennett’s YouTube masterpiece, the aspiring filmmaker and part-time NFL player has had to take to the airwaves for damage control. While defending his concept, he still managed to prop up the old “If I offended anyone, I’m sorry” bromide. Come on Marcellus, you’re better than that.
So, Black Olympics — racially insensitive and incendiary, or just good, clean fun? Noted fussbudget Jason Whitlock of the KANSAS CITY STAR was not amused, calling Bennett’s video “racial hypocrisy”:
“I wasn’t offended. I was sad. I grew even sadder throughout Friday and Saturday as it became apparent to me that Bennett’s grab for controversy was being ignored.”
Ignored? Hey, we wrote about it a day before you did, Jason.
And CBS SPORTS’ Mike Freeman was similarly nonplussed, saying that the video “sets back a group of people 50 years.”
I assume he means comedians.
But here’s Bennett himself, wondering what all the fuss is about, on the Michael Irvin radio show.
“Me and all my brothers were in the kitchen and as I looked around, I noticed we were eating every stereotype. We got chicken, kool aid, watermelon, we might as well do a Black Olympics. That’s what happened.
“I don’t really think it’s offensive. It depends on your sense of humor and how you look at things. We were just having fun and it was very funny for me and my brothers, when I look at it I just can’t stop laughing. If someone takes offense, I apologize. That wasn’t my intention. It was just us having fun. Some people like what you do and some people don’t. Always in life, anything you do, someone is going to have a different opinion than what you have.”
Here’s the video again, to judge for yourself:
My objection to the video isn’t that’s it’s racist, just that it isn’t very inventive. In my opinion, Bennett committed the worst sin of all — not being funny. It makes no sense that a young man with time on his hands and a video camera can’t do better than filming himself eat in his own kitchen. Where’s the production value? America is hungry for scripts that exhibit fine acting and character development, as well as action.
Skip “Black Olympics” and go see “The Proposal,” folks. And we’ll see you all next week, when we’ll review “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince”.