Man Who Directed 10 Movies Claims Hollywood “Doesn’t Let Black People Tell Stories”

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Director John Singleton speaks at the American Cinematheque tribute honoring Samuel L. Jackson in Beverly HIlls

Hollywood isn’t letting black people tell stories. And the proof of that is 12 Years a Slave with a black writer and a black director. Or the career of John Singleton, who has directed ten movies, but complains that Hollywood doesn’t let black people tell stories.

John Singleton criticized the major studios March 19 for refusing to let African-Americans direct black-themed films. “They ain’t letting the black people tell the stories,” the Oscar-nominated director-writer told students at Loyola Marymount University.

“[Studio executives say] ‘We’re going to take your stories but, you know what? You’re going to go starve over here and we’re not going to let you get a job.’ The so-called liberals that are in Hollywood now are not as good as their parents or ancestors. They feel that they’re not racist. They grew up with hip-hop, so [they] can’t be racist. ‘I like Jay Z, but that don’t mean I got to give you a job.’”

He added: “They want black people [to be] what they want them to be. And nobody is man enough to go and say that. They want black people to be who they want them to be, as opposed to what they are.”

So if they’re not giving Singleton, specifically, a job, they’re not letting all black people tell stories?

Singleton got his debut with Boyz n the Hood, a movie that he wrote and directed. He went on to do movies like Poetic Justice and Higher Learning that few people saw or cared about. He still got to write and direct Shaft, which did pretty well, and Baby Boy, which didn’t.

Before that he did Rosewood, which was Django before its time. Then he did Baby Boy, a politically incorrect depiction of black male perpetual childhood. He also produced Craig Brewer’s toxic racial fetishization in Hustle and Flow and Black Snake Moan.

Aside from that he directed one of the Fast and Furious movies and a few other forgettable pictures while working on his Tupac biopic.

It’s not exactly starving in a corner.

“The clear awards frontrunner 12 Years a Slave never could have been made by a major Hollywood film studio.,” Singleton writes in his editorial.

12 Years a Slave was backed by Brad Pitt’s Plan B and financed by Arnon Milchan’s New Regency. Milchan is a huge Hollywood producer and Regency is closely tied to FOX. Paramount was actually angry at not being allowed to finance and distribute the movie.

The obvious problem for Singleton is that his legacy is aging fast and he hasn’t done anything that anyone cares about in a long while. Hollywood is ageist and Singleton is headed for 50. That’s his personal career problem, not Hollywood’s.

Singleton was associated with a style of ‘street’ movies that is very much 90s. He’s still trying to make a Tupac biopic which sums up what’s wrong with his career. America and Black America have moved on.

The black movies that do well are different. They depict a black middle class or a black family. Directors like Tyler Perry and Steve McQueen have found success in Hollywood by representing a different perspective. Historical fictions like The Help, The Butler or 12 Years a Slave have also done well. Singleton is just out of phase with what black viewers want.

  • Judahlevi

    Dark-skinned individuals are not aliens, they are human beings. Every story that reflects human nature is a story which touches all human beings regardless of skin color.

    Is there a white story? Of course not. Light-skinned individuals come from all different backgrounds such as Jews, Germans, Irish, Polish, etc. and each individual has their own story. There are also dark-skinned individuals who also come from these groups.

    Demagogues may try to bludgeon people into giving them money or jobs because of their skin color, but it should never happen.

  • LoneRangler

    The solution here is simple. Stop voting for democrats.

  • DogmaelJones1

    Why does my comment about Thomas Carter’s “Swing Kids” keep disappearing?

  • rjschwarz

    Spike Lee ran into the same problem. Oscar quality does not guarantee ticket sales. Huge sales in the US doesn’t mean a movie is making back the money.

    Black movies (like many comedies) have a small audience around the world. Keep the budget modest and appeal to your target audience so you get every dollar you can of the domestic and you have a chance.

    Make a Tupac biopic and you’ve got east coast vs west coast rappers fighting at the theaters. Not wise.

    • NAHALKIDES

      Spike Lee is a pampered punk whom guilty white Lefties loved to fawn over, but let’s not pretend any of his movies were of “Oscar quality,” even as debased a standard as that is.

      • rjschwarz

        Malcom X was Oscar quality.

      • laura r

        “malcolm X” brilliant. “do the right thing” was also, i found it riviting.

    • laura r

      ghetto blks will have an excuse to fight about anything. they didnt fight @ the nortorious film, interesting.

  • Seek

    John Singleton is a West Coast Spike Lee. Blackness isn’t the most important thing with him; it’s the only thing. It’s all about historical grievance. I saw his remake of “Shaft” when it came out in 2000, with Samuel L. Jackson in the lead, but outside of that, I have little interest in his films.

    • laura r

      mothing is good enough for them, the jews never complained that way. its not easy for anyone in hollywood. tyler perry is fabulas as he covers the water front, i love most of his work.

  • DogmaelJones1

    My two comments that mention Thomas Carter and his “Swing Kids” are still missing. In both instances even as I was typing in the comments, I noticed a “Hold on, your comment must be approved by FPM” above the comment box. That’s never happened before. Does FPM have something against Thomas Carter, or me? Would someone please provide some clarification?

    • James

      They hate bald people on this site.That and penis envy.

      • DogmaelJones1

        The author just informed me that authors of Front Page articles no longer have access to comments.

  • Canadianpatriot

    Mr. Singleton might want to ask conservative filmmakers about trying to make a conservative picture in Hollywood, one with values that, say, portray businessmen as good, decent people, explore how Democratic values, i.e. socialist values corrupt and destroy the lives of black people, how teachers’ unions have helped destroy education, and so on. Won’t happen. Doesn’t happen except in the rarest of circumstances. If Mr. Singleton did that, he might not feel so sorry for himself.

    • Seek

      Actually, there was a recent picture in opposition to the teachers’ unions — “Won’t Back Down,” starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Wake up. As for destroying lives, blacks are a lot better at destroying those of we whites.

  • Kent

    Black people know how to make two kinds of movies

    1)shallow comedies with a drug/sex centric theme
    2)shallow hate propaganda with a kill whitey theme

    Show me an example that proves otherwise.

    • 1stworlder

      28 black guys in TX shot a cell phone video of themselves raping an 11yo non black, we actually have the black panther leader Quannel X to thank for reveling the demographics when he rabble roused about the 11yo consenting. Even Barney Frank would need a cigarette break with 28 guys.

  • Veracious_one

    John Singleton is as good as Al “the liar” Sharpton at playing the racist victim card…