The girl from Avatar and the escort from Risky Business ( Source: David Redfern / Getty)

What happened to your face, Nina Simone?

Of course there’s a blackface Nina Simone biopic — this is 2016


With the new Star Wars movie setting box office records, and the new Full House that recently premiered on Netflix, you’d be forgiven for seeing the poster the forthcoming Nina Simone movie and thinking it was a reboot of the movie Soul Man from the mid ’80s, with C. Thomas Howell and Rae Dawn Chong.

After all, Zoe Saldana really does blackface in “Nina.” As some SJW on some wholly interchangeable content farm (it may have been Jezebel) pointed out the other day, whoever did her makeup stopped at the base of her neck, which you can see on the poster.

You can see where the makeup, which looks like it might be the same exact blackface makeup C. Thomas Howell wore in Soul Man (sometimes they reuse props from old movies, e.g. Fabienne’s Honda from Pulp Fiction, which was Jackie Brown), ends and Saldana’s own skin begins. Saldana’s own skin is several shades lighter — light enough to pass the paper bag test they probably made her take to win the role.

They’ve also got her wearing a prosthetic nose, which mostly just makes her look more like a guy. I wonder if it’s a guy’s nose, and they made her wear it on purpose, because Nina Simone was kinda masculine-looking.

Interestingly enough, it says on the poster that the film co-stars David Oyelowo, the guy who played MLK in the movie Selma, probably as Simone’s abusive ex-cop husband/manager. I’d be willing to bet that, if you put a wig on him, he’d look more like Nina Simone, and the film would then be critic proof, because to suggest that they shouldn’t have a guy playing Nina Simone would be discrimination against transgender people.

Reading up on the election just now, I stumbled upon an article about how Nina Simone’s estate shit-talked Zoe Saldana on Twitter. Specifically, they told her to keep Nina Simone’s name out of her mouth. This was after Saldana posted some random, banal quote, attributed to Nina Simone, about courage or whatever, as if she were racist Asians quoting MLK (who was against the bin Laden raid) at a pro-Peter Liang rally.

I took this to mean both that they were upset with the film in the way that any reasonable person would be upset with it, i.e. that they thought that it looked retarded, but also that whoever produced the film didn’t cut them a check. Some CAC probably owns the rights to songs like “Mississippi Goddamn” and licensed them for use in the film, which is just . . . precious.

Elsewhere in Hollywood racism, there was that movie Gods of Egypt, which made almost no money at all at the box office, and the Academy Awards, this past weekend, for which no black people were nominated. A few black movies were nominated, like Creed and Straight Outta Compton, but only for their white co-stars and screenwriters.

The Gods of Egypt thing was tragic, because they could have just as easily not made any money at all with an all black cast, and at least then the film would have been historically accurate. Also, a lot of brothers would have cashed checks from that. They would have gone right out and spent the money on Cadillacs, Air Jordans and trips to TGI Fridays, thus funneling that money right back into the economy, which may have boosted the stock market.

When you cut checks to CACs, meanwhile, we don’t know what happens to that money. It disappears into some retirement account. You gotta have a job to retire (unless you live in Portland), and even if you do, you gotta live well into old age. They don’t let you start drawing Social Security until you turn 65, and the average black guy drops dead at 65, if someone doesn’t pop a cap in his ass if he’s 20. Coincidence? Pfft!

Obama’s only got about 10 months left in office. He needs to look into this. I feel like we’re being ripped off.

Take it easy on yourself,


P.S. I turn 35 today, and I also recently opened a retirement account (mostly for tax purposes; I’ll never live that long). Hence, maybe, the digression toward the end there.

P.P.S. People actually did donate to the #FreeByron fund, as mentioned in last week’s newsletter. I might take that money over to the east side and write about it, but it won’t be until I’m done with the next book, which, at the rate that it’s been going, might be a while. In the meantime, you can check the essay I wrote about making out with a pr0n chick in my anthology Writin’ Dirty, and the review of a strip club I wrote on Yelp over winter break.

Originally published at