With 122 fatalities, 750 injured, and nearly 6 miles of debris, the tornado that hit Joplin, MO., last Sunday is the deadliest single tornado in 60 years. Please continue to pray for this devastated community. And if you’re looking for ways to donate to the various relief efforts, see the opportunities to share below.
• Click here to donate funds to the Joplin, MO Disaster Relief.
After government troops collided with armed tribesmen, causing 10 fatalities, Yemen braced for the worst. Protesters gathered on Friday to demand that President Ali Abdullah Saleh end his 33-year-rule. With the intensity rising in Yemen, and frequent battles between the local government and the tribesmen, residents brace for the worst. Let us keep Yemen in prayer.
3 ART JEREMY GEDDES OIL PAINTINGS LOOK LIKE PHOTOGRAPHS Contemporary artist Jeremy Geddes continues to leave his fans mind boggled with his realistic paintings. His latest, “A Perfect Vacuum,” is perhaps, his most incredible yet. The piece is the first reveal of a series, which will premiere at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in spring 2012. If he isn’t considered one of the greatest realist oil painters of all time, he is sure to enter the conversation as a candidate next year based on this incredible preview.
4 MUSIC THE GREAT DEBATE: DOES BEYONCÉ EVER DO ANYTHING ORIGINAL? As much as I appreciate Beyoncé’s fierce return, I understand why some fans cannot respect the fact that not only has she ripped off Pon de Floor, with her new single, Girls, but also her Billboard performance was, yet, another great idea from someone else. #Bottomline: Beyoncé is without question an incredible artist, but is her propensity for grabbing inspiration from other artists simply a case of “the sincerest form of flattery,” or is it something else?
5 EDUCATION BARRY BONDS’ REPUTATION ON THE UPSWING
Bonds was convicted last month for obstruction of justice for lying to a grand jury about using steroids last month, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing good deeds. After Giants fan, Bryan Stow, was beaten outside Dodger Sradium, and left in a coma, Bonds offered to pay for his two children’s future college tuition. The tuition is a start (awesome job, Mr. Bonds), but healing for Mr. Stow is probably the first thing on the Stow family’s hearts right now. Let’s keep them in our prayers during this difficult time.
Case Study: Aaron Castellanos started a T-shirt business, which showed promising signs of growth. So he ordered excess supplies on credit, which turned out to be a huge mistake. For help, he turned to veteran entrepreneur Norm Brodsky, who advised him to change to a print-on-demand model which would allow him to better control inventory while still making a margin. In this age of variety and customizable products, businesses need to ditch the “Ford Model-T mass production process” and embrace the “Pandora give the customer exactly what they want” model.
SEO might be the single most important aspect of any online business. The problem is that most companies, even large ones, do not capitalize or even understand how vital it is. Using a tool like Wordtracker, search for keywords that users would search for when researching your company’s services. Second, you want to ensure that the search engines can find the keywords easily. Third, you want to use a site like Validatos, which will find bugs in your coding and ensure that your site is as organized as possible.
ABC’s new series Good Christian Belles was originally called Good Christian B****es, based on Kim Gatlin’s book of the same title. Due to obvious backlash, they changed the title. The show takes place in Dallas, Texas, where Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb) returns after a divorce. Amanda finds that her old high school acquaintances have not changed; they are still full of both good Christian geniality and scandal. Honest depiction of Christian life or unnecessary defamation?
Since her Oscar-nominated performance in last year’s True Grit, I HEART Hailee Steinfeld and cannot wait for her to star in this new take on the Shakespeare classic. Lilly Collins, who portrayed Sandra Bullock’s daughter in The Blind Side, was originally cast in the film but canceled due to schedule conflicts. I know Steinfield can nail this role! See an iinterview below!
10 CELEB WHEN SPONSORSHIPS GO WRONG: JUSTIN BIEBER PERFUME
I have no doubt that Justin Bieber can sell anything, including perfume. But this awful commercial would fall flat if it weren’t for the swarms of pre-teen girls that dream of getting a kiss from Bieber “Someday,” the name of the fragrance. Watch the commercial that should have never been below!
Two weeks ago, I was counted among the 7.7 million viewers who tuned in to BET to watch The Game. I will admit that I must have been living under a rock because I thought The Game was an actual football game. I didn’t realize it was a real show until I started seeing a slew of social network statuses and tweets, counting down to 1/11/11, and tons of advertisements posted on buses and billboards. I was curious to see what was this great show that everyone was raving about?
For the clueless, like myself, The Game is a dramedy that follows the lives of three African American pro football players and the complex relationships they have with the women in their lives. This season opened with the characters experiencing an array of issues, from “baby mama” drama to sleeping with the boss’ wife … I was not impressed, and the show did not gain a new fan. Passionate fans suggested that my “not getting it” was a result of me not seeing any of the previous seasons, which was necessary to fully appreciate the show and each character’s story. They advised I watch the reruns.
The creators of The Game attribute its popularity to the fact that it’s relatable and represents a down-to-earth, Black woman’s perspective. And the viewers seem to agree. With a major public outcry, the show’s fans were able to resurrect it from the TV graveyard two years after it was canceled by the CW. Now the show’s ratings are higher than ever, and BET’s gamble has apparently paid off. There is something to be said about this show’s ability to harness such viewing power. Meanwhile, it’s also opening doors in Hollywood by putting talented Black actors to work who might not otherwise be as competitive in the majority market.
Though the show serves up a platter of stereotypes, at times it’s clear that the writers intend for us to laugh at the characters rather than with them. The opening dialogue in the second episode of this new season began with the character Tasha (played by Wendy Raquel Robinson) apologizing to her white friend, Kelly (Brittany Daniel), for hooking up her ex-husband with his new girlfriend. “I don’t know what I was thinking interfering with a strong intelligent, beautiful, white woman, and the love that she found with her light-skinned Black man,” Tasha says. “I guess it was just another case of a Black woman hating on a white woman.” “Well, your people are very emotional,” Kelly responds, as the camera pulls back to reveal that this “real” moment was actually part of the taping for a reality show starring Kelly. It’s clear that Kelly is still fame hungry after racking up a fortune from divorcing her NFL husband, and we’re meant to take her show as a commentary on — or perhaps even a mockery of — programs like Basketball Wives.
I recognize that any sitcom featuring a majority Black cast that has ratings that can contend with the “big boys” like The Office (which draws about 8 million viewers) is an important feat worth celebrating. Yet the celebration of this milestone is somewhat bittersweet, as it comes for a show that’s a carbon copy of every Black stereotype and one-dimensional character we’ve seen before — better executed, perhaps, but still more of the same.
Although I may be late to The Game, I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in my disenchantment with it. Despite the show’s hardcore following, it has drawn criticism from some who believe it reinforces negative images of African Americans. Ironically, the show’s lead actress, Tia Mowry, is best known for her 1990s TV series, Sister, Sister, and roles in Disney films that project a more positive and wholesome image, which is probably another reason why viewers like me find it hard to embrace The Game.
In an interview with BET.com, Mowry complimented The Game‘s creator, Mara Brock Akil, stating that she felt blessed to be able to play real down-to-earth characters. “That’s one of the main reasons why people love Mara and her writing. She writes these characters that are grounded, who are real, who are not perfect….”
Controversy is nothing new to Akil, who prior to The Game created Girlfriends, which also received some heat for its negative portrayals of Black people.
But don’t get me wrong. I understand that these shows represent a slice of Black life that many people find appealing, and it would be unfair to hold them up to the standard of a family series like The Cosby Show. The Game is more comparable to Desperate Housewives. Both shows feature wealthy women, with loose moral values, who have more secrets than truths.
Ultimately, The Game is a soap opera, and if you try to see it for anything more than that, you’re likely to be disappointed like me. For all its success, the show feels shallow, with predictable plots centered on catfights, sex, and paternity scandals. And while it may be giving “the people” what they want, I think it’s another example of how television thrives on the crudest aspects of Black American life.