All Eyez On Me — The Amateur Biopic of Tupac Shakur

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Im sorry, but “ALL EYEZ ON ME” was terrible. 

All of the significant details that framed Tupac’s life are so glossed over. The movie delivers in a very, “this happened, then this happened, and oh…lets not forget about this-real-quick” type of fashion. Two and a half hours is PLENTY of time to effectively illustrate the high’s, low’s and in-between’s that made Tupac the lyrical and prophetic force he became. The film never even makes mention of his mainstream role in “Poetic Justice”. Leila Steinberg, the woman who was basically Tupac’s mentor and central introduction to performance art appears for literally ONE scene. Tupac lived with Leila and her husband for YEARS. Her role in his life was pivotal to his segue into being on stage in front of mainstream audiences. How was her presence reduced to a forty-five second appearance? There’s also no mention whatsoever of the woman Keisha who Tupac married while he was in jail.

The entire production is just so singular. We never get into the mind of Tupac Shakur or delve between the layers of his fears, his internal struggles or the seeds of his unique artistry. “All Eyez On Me” is nothing more than an expensive snapshot of the headlines that most of us 30 and over are already aware of. The ONLY “detail” or tidbit of information that the movie introduced me to is the fact that Tupac was involved in a long term relationship with Quincy Jones’ daughter, Kidada. I had no idea that she was the main woman in his life up until his death.

The film is just so horribly directed by Benny Boom. It’s very difficult to believe that he graduated from Temple Universities film program. There’s absolutely no visual illustration. The narrative isn’t painted on screen. The entire script and overall production spoon feeds the audience – as if we are pure idiots. We jump back and forth CONSTANTLY between scenes of Hill Harper interviewing Tupac in jail circa 1995 and then the actual events unfolding before us as Hill & Tupac verbally discuss them. It’s juvenile filmmaking and a trite cinematic tactic.

The ONLY real standout acting performance stems from Danai Gurira who stars as Afeni Shakur. Her facial and verbal delivery is superb in comparison to the other pedestrian players. I’m not taking anything away from Demetrius Shipp who stars as Tupac, but he seemed to merely be going through the motions during half of his screen time. If it were not for him physically resembling Tupac to the core, I would not have been convinced of the passion, the power and intensity that evoked the spirit of Tupac. “All Eyez On Me” just is not a good film overall and I would much rather see a seasoned director take on such masterful work in another box office or 6-8 part, television series release.

People are jumping on John Singleton for wanting to include a jail rape scene in his version of the Tupac story, as well as Tupac talking to a severed head, but the common, everyday individual has no idea what real life information Singleton was privy to. Tupac may have really been raped in jail, but of course, his image and hyper masculine presence forced him and the public alike to deny such claims. John Singleton’s  inclusion of the severed head and having Tupac talking to this image of himself illustrated Tupac’s love of Shakespeare and the battle of man vs. himself. I would have preferred that type of visual storytelling, as opposed to this pitiful L.T. Hutton/Benny Boom version that has Tupac randomly quoting bits and pieces of ‘Hamlet’ throughout the film. UGH!

…and lets not even talk about the monstrosity that is the ending. Would it have killed the creative team to show Afeni battling with the heavy decision to pull the plug on Tupac’s life support?…or even to show Tupac laying on his death bed and shaking the mattresses with both hands clamped down at his sides because he had something he wanted to GET OUT, but could not speak? THESE are the stories that have been told by close friends who visited him between September 6, 1996 and September 13, 1996. The film should NOT have ended with Tupac’s body laid out on the Vegas strip and a slew of title cards plastered across the screen highlighting his “Hollywood” achievements. The gospel music that played beneath the ending scene was very misplaced and drowned out the heavy emotion.

I don’t care what the millennials are saying about “All Eyez On Me”. It was terribly spliced together, and in such a way that reflected a very amateur team behind-the-scenes. I saw the film yesterday afternoon at the Columbia AMC here in Maryland and I left the theater feeling extremely disappointed. “All Eyez On Me” pales in comparison to every black film released between last summer 2016 and present day.

DO NOT WASTE YOUR COINS! Wait for this pedestrian mess to be released ON DEMAND and in DVD/Blu-Ray format.

Does The Increased Visibility Of Black Trans Women In Mainstream Media Bring Positive Attention To The Countless Black Trans Lives Being Slain On Ground Level?

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written by Bryanna A. Jenkins & edited by Xem VanAdams

BryannaI first began my transition in 2008. At that time, I would have never imagined as a black transgender woman from Baltimore City, that I would see a day where other black transgender women were being recognized nationally for their contributions to entertainment. In recent years, it has become commonplace to witness my sisters dominate television screens, grace the covers of magazines, be included in conversations about feminism and also receive admiration for their beauty, poise and decorum. Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Isis King, Madison Hinton and Amiyah Scott all exist as shining beacons of excellence amongst black transgender women. I applaud each of these ladies who are birthed from the struggles in our community, but use their platforms not only to entertain the masses but to educate and consistently advocate for change amongst the treatment and acceptance of all transgender people.

However, my high is interrupted and I am slapped back to the reality that black transgender women are facing a state of emergency. One of the gifts that the increased media visibility of black transgender women provides is that is has amplified our multiple oppressions.

I’m forced to remember that 17 of my sisters: transgender women of color spread across this country have been senselessly murdered in 2015 alone. I remember that two weeks ago our community lost 5 sisters in one week — with 3 bodies identified in a single day. I have to face the hard truth about a large majority of my sisters being murdered at the hands of men of color who each lady was engaged with intimately or romantically. Every time I see a new headline detailing the story of how one of my sisters has been callously murdered, I think of missed conversations about how necessary it is for black families especially to embrace their children who are transgender and to also continue loving, protecting, and pouring into them. I also think of missed conversations about how space needs to be given to black men who are trans-attracted – helping each one to understand and accept themselves so that they can love transgender women instead of hiding or harming them in fear of social repercussion. I remember that when most of my sisters’ deaths were reported, they were each mis-gendered, misnamed, and vilified in the news. And the one thing that I remember the most is that the same people praising the Amiyah’s, Janet’s, Isis’ and Laverne Cox’s, are the same individuals excusing and condoning the murders of black transgender women on ground level.

There is an ironic dichotomy between black transgender women who have received media visibility and black transgender women who maintain regular everyday lives.

The same people who look to mainstream transgender women as a source of information and entertainment fail to see the humanity of everyday black transgender women whose bodies are constantly under social and physical attack through systems of patriarchy and white supremacy.

There exists a hard misconception regarding the idea that since a few black transgender women have “made it”, that somehow all is well with the black trans community as a whole. I know that is not the case. Black transgender women exist at the intersection of multiple oppressed identities. In America, the oppression of being a person who is black, female, and transgendered is a unique experience that more often than not leaves most black transgender women at the fringes of society. We are most disproportionately affected when it comes to homelessness, unemployment, victims of violence and harassment, faced with discrimination, difficulties accessing healthcare, and being murdered in drove numbers.

Society is still very much uncomfortable with having real conversations about transgender people. The common understanding of our lives is limited to our body parts and neglects our lived experiences. Our narrative has been neglected for so long or has carelessly been clumped into the real stories and tales of gay males.

Additionally, black transgender people have always existed within the structure of the black community at large, but we have always been erased from cultural consciousness due to social levels of hate and intolerance. The experiences of black transgender women have been separated from the experiences of black people as a whole. The increased media visibility has ignited the process of black transgender women socially realigning with the black community in this current climate of black liberation movements.

“Blackness” or what it means to be a black woman in America is diverse and it is indeed varied.

I believe that the work truly begins by having intentional inclusion of issues that affect black transgender women interwoven into movements that are working to address black liberation such as: #BlackLivesMatter. The inclusion would help to change the trajectory of how black transgender people are not only talked about in social spaces but how our humanity is protected and uplifted.

It also remains important for those trans women who start to receive mainstream media visibility to continue bringing the issues of black transgender women to the forefront – using their popular platforms to help dismantle systems of oppression that work to diminish and devalue our lives.

There is a lot of work that still has to be done that will not only involve the visibility of more diverse black transgender women but it will also involve SOLIDARITY from those cisgender people who call themselves friends and allies to our community. Intentional efforts of using cisgender privilege to interrupt patterns of discrimination and erasure for transgender people will be vital if we are to fight for the liberation of the black transgender women we love to see entertain us online, via television or otherwise.

I am hopeful that I will still be living to see a day where black transgender women will not only be celebrated for their contributions to the world at large, but we will also be celebrated for living our most authentic lives — free of judgment, ridicule and shame.

 

Bryanna A. Jenkins, B.S., M.A.

The Baltimore Transgender Alliance

Founder & Director

Trans Activist, Writer

 

Contact Me:

Email: bryannaaeon@me.com

Facebook: Bryanna A. Jenkins

Twitter: @bryannaaeonlaw

Instagram: @bryannaaeonlaw