*There isn’t enough #FixItJesus in the world to have saved this crud.
Sometimes horrible works of art are just as important to digest as magnificent ones, so I encourage you to watch “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B” if you haven’t. It’s terrifically terrible. Afterwards, you’ll understand just why this is one of the most disrespectful TV films ever made. Let’s break down the reasons why I think it failed…
The writing was so starved of substance, Johnny had no Depp *rimshot*. The characters were written with 1/2 a dimension, and most scenes proved flat and lifeless. The point to having a scene is for new information to be introduced in order to propel the movie forward. If there is no change from the moment a scene begins to the moment it ends, there was no point for it. Pointless scenes were fruitful in this project, creating a cinematic snoozefest.
What sense did it make to cast a “twin” for Aaliyah, while actors for every other well-known celebrity represented in this movie were chosen from Bizarro World? Lifetime did know that Aaliyah married R. Kelly and not Wyclef Jean, right? Although Kareem Abdul Jabar captured Dame Dash pretty well, they went too far casting Smokie Norful as Timbaland. Really, Lifetime…really?? (Sidenote: BlackTwitter is doing the absolute most with the memes, and I love every minute of it!)
Most of us knew going in that Aaliyah’s family did not release the rights to her music. I give the production props for trying to handle that omission in a sophisticated manner by including songs she didn’t have control over, but every performance scene was long, dull and poorly lip-synched for the gawdz.
The Shoestring Budget:
I wasn’t surprised to see Debra Martin Chase as the main producer. (Wendy Williams became a co-exec before they started shooting, but will bare the brunt of the fallout because of her fame and endless promotion.) Chase has made a fortune off of Disney productions. Problem is, this wasn’t supposed to be Doc McStuffins. People who tuned in wanted to know what it felt like to be the Princess of R&B. That means adoration by millions of fans should not be imagined with 7 people standing outside a radio station. Mind you, I could have sworn the same girls that played Aaliyah’s background dancers in the high school performance also portrayed some of those fans.
Once the Haughton family put the kibosh on the film, that should have been the end of it. Pressing on was not only a lack of sincerity or regard on Lifetime’s part, the production clearly suffered by the lack of input and knowledge from those who were most intimate with Aaliyah. That’ll learn ya.
In the end, Aaliyah’s story deserved so much more. If you were a fan when she was alive, you gained absolutely nothing new that you didn’t already know, and got minimal insight into the world of a brilliant talent whose light was dimmed far too soon.
Tanya Tatum is the outspoken host of “The Tatum Talks,” a live Blog Talk Radio show focusing on African-American interests. Tune in each Wednesday at 9p EST for a revealing conversation. Join in the daily discussions at www.TheTatumTalks.com. Follow her on Facebook and @TheTatumTalks on Twitter.