Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: A Quick Note on Roger Ebert Finding His Voice on the Oprah Winfrey Show

I loved Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert as a kid. Watching their show, then deciding to go to a movie based on Ebert's "thumbs up or thumbs down" was a weekend ritual in my home. Their reviews were the meat of the program. But what really made Siskel and Ebert's show cohere was their amazing chemistry. One couldn't tell if they loved each other or if they hated each other--but we knew they were dear friends:

I will never forget when Ebert threatened to punch Siskel in the mouth for making a playful joke about how his love of black women (random factoid: did you know that Ebert dated Oprah?). Ebert took it as disrespect for his wife and for a moment it was Roger (and not Mike Tyson) who was the baddest man on the planet.

I was deeply saddened when Siskel died. When we heard the news of Ebert's struggle with cancer, there was an exhalation felt across all of ghetto nerd land. Ebert has triumphed even as he has lost so much--his voice, his face, and his television show. But in this struggle, Ebert has reivented himself, or perhaps more precisely, he has found other ways to be quintessentially himself. Either way he is a role-model and in my book a mighty respectable negro:

I shed a tear when Ebert found his voice again on Oprah (we respectable negroes can be quite sensitive you know). I smile when I read his column. For me, the lesson to be learned from Ebert's tribulations is how to be a model of self-deprecation and humility--traits we can all learn from.


Werner Herzog's Bear said...

I spent many years living in Champaign, Illinois, Ebert's hometown, where he has his "Overlooked Film Festival" every year. In 2007 I came down from Michigan for what was feared to be the last one; Ebert could only talk with the aid of a computer and his wife did most of the emceeing. Some of his favorite directors, including Werner Herzog, made the trip to central Illinois out of their great respect.

Needless to say, people were pretty choked up when Ebert introduced the final film of that year, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, (which he had written as a young man.) We all thought it was the last hoorah for the local boy made good. Despite the difficulty of his health today, I am glad that he's still alive and writing three years later.

williedynamite said...

Big up for shouting out the homie Roger Ebert. Like yourself I was a major fan of Siskel and Ebert. I was more of a fan of Roger Ebert. I always dug the mans style and his writing. I like that even though he was a nationally known film reviewer he never stopped loving films. You can tell that he loves watching good movies. Many reviewers become film snobs unable to relate to the unwashed herds of normal moviegoers. There was none of that with Roger. I have to admit that I even liked him more when I aw that he dates sisters. (Roger you get a pass to date the sisters LOL )
I was saddened greatly when he lost his voice, but I was glad to see that he still writes and still reviews films ot this day.Also the dude is on twitter and he tweets like a MFer. If you on Twitter you should follw him.
Bravo Oprah for having Roger on your show. Yeah I did get a little misty hearing Roger talk again.