What People are Saying about Nina Kennedy's Review of "Maestro"

The provocative title of my last blog (Bradley Cooper's "Maestro": Ho-Hum! Another Movie About White People) brought lots of comments, re-posts, and controversy. Interestingly, all positive comments came from black people (American and otherwise), and several whites as well. All negative comments came from whites. It was shocking to me how blissfully unaware some of the non-melanated people are when it comes to the history of racism in Hollywood. They have no idea of the degree to which African Americans have been discriminated against, excluded, relegated to servant status, or portrayed as criminals. When a film about Leonard Bernstein completely ignored his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, I could not keep silent.

Here are some of the comments:

Mark Bailey:

"Brilliant review -- I agree with every word. Thanks for posting it. I was deeply bothered by the homophobia and gay-shaming in the film, especially by Felicia. The lack of inclusivity is yet another missing link that is essential to understanding even a remnant of his artistry."

Thomas Warfield [Re-posted]

"This is an important read….. 

and the deep friendship and long-lasting professional relationship with William Warfield (my uncle) is missing as well…"

Thalia Moore:

"Nina, Thank you for your honest and thoughtful critique, Maestra!"

Khary Wilson:

"I appreciate this review. It's a perspective I've never considered and I'm not mad at it."

Anansi Kassandrides:

"The title has me HOWLING!

Also, issa fair review IMO. A period piece that goes through the Civil Rights movement, about someone who did actually participate, and that part of his life is MIA? All we get is a nurse for his sick wife and a Black boy for him to try to push up on at the end? Seems like a missed opportunity to put it mildly. Given the things WE have been called IN PRINT IN MAJOR NEWS PUBLICATIONS, I think a little spice in the title is no problem. 🤷🏾‍♂️"

DèMontrà DèVonneè Cole:

"I haven’t seen it. I’m excited to watch it. This write up by Nina Kennedy was quite good I thought."

Terrance McNicholas:

"'Another movie about white people?' Wow! Just Wow!"

Jackie Brown [Re-posted]

"There's a lot of chatter about Maestro, the film about the legendary conductor and composer, Leonard Bernstein. I advise you to read this brilliant critique by Nina Kennedy."

"It's really quite a brilliant take; I learned a lot. I also read another critique that pointed out failure to portray his active support of the Black Panthers."

Patricia Ann Neely [Re-posted]

"Food for thought."

Carolyn McDonald:

"🙏🏾🤎✊🏾 thank you! I had a feeling it was what you say."

Sherrie Fell:

"Great Article Nina. I haven’t seen the film yet… but sadly, I’m not surprised at the exclusions you mentioned… but the trailer did have a Ho-hum! Feel."

Susan Wicks:

"Great blog Nina!

I actually loved this film - brilliant film making - lush gorgeous soundtrack - great acting - 🎭"

Zachary Gordin:

"You make great points! Thanks for sharing this. 🙌🏽"

Shelley Marlow:

"Thank you, Nina! Well said."

Talise Trevigne:

"Thank you for this! So nice to read that people see right through this very pallid and wasted attempt at retelling history. Please leave it to those who truly know. Thanks!"

Deekay Zee:

"Love this!"

Alex Davis:

"Great article, thank you for writing and sharing 🙏🏼❤️"

Tim Butz:

"Insightful assessment, Nina. Thank you for highlighting another side of this story. Far too many missed opportunities."

I was also surprised to learn in some of the comments that some Jewish people do not consider themselves to be white, even when their ancestors are from Europe. By using the word "White" I am referring to people of European ancestry. I am fully aware of the Sephardim with Iberian or North African ancestry, but no Sephardim were portrayed in Maestro.

When I went on to point out that pianist André Watts and soprano Grace Bumbry had been excluded from the news broadcast lists of people who had died in 2023, composer Kevin Scott wrote:

"I tossed off a letter to ABC News with David Muir in mind, stating that it was a disgrace that they didn't mention André Watts' passing, and they never did respond. If Watts were a 77-year old R&B gospel rapper who had twenty kids from fifteen mamas and knew how to profane everyone from the normal person on the street to DJT, he would have been all over the news and they wouldn't stop talking about him.

Instead, silence. Total silence. A total disgrace."

If you're not paying attention, you won't recognize racism when you see it. And some of us see it all day every day. Hopefully, the tremendous box office success of The Color Purple on Christmas Day will force Hollywood producers to think twice about excluding black characters.


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