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Blair Underwood Answers Why Black Men Don’t Like Tyler Perry

Underwood Smiles On Tuesday, Blair Underwood held a book signing at the Books-A-Million at the Village at Sandhills. A book signing? Since when did he become a writer? I must admit that this is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone who did not write a book go on a book signing tour… except for ‘authors’ like Steve Harvey and NeNe Leaks who used ghost writers. As wrong as it is, that’s pretty common place. But this?

Underwood actually described himself as the ‘producer’ of the book, “From Cape Town with Love” which is the third installment in the Tennyson Hardwick series. The writers are actually the husband and wife team, Tananrive Due and Steven Barnes. Underwood says that the duo writes the book and sends him three or four chapters at a time. He reviews them and gives creative direction and feedback. He said, “Basically because my name and face are all over, I have a lot of input and a lot of creative ideas.” In other words, he’s the front man to boost sales… Ok. Well, at least he’s honest!

Legitimate writer or not, Underwood’s appearance in Columbia would be the perfect time to ask him about this ‘vook’ idea. A ‘vook’ (spoken with exaggerated contempt) is a visual book; I saw Underwood discussing the new medium on Today last week. The idea is you would read the written portion of the story on some kind of electronic device like a Kindle or an iPad. Certain scenes of the ‘vook’ (don’t forget the contempt) would be acted out as in a movie.

What? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. And the scariest! Are writers today so unimaginative and incompetent that they must rely on moving pictures to tell a story? People don’t read enough already as it is! Well, I was gonna tell Mister Underwood about himself… promoting this asinine, literacy-decreasing idea.

When I stomped into the Books-A-Million, I was all geared up to tear into Mister Underwood about this ‘vook’ thing… further diminishing the value of the real literature and the written word; helping the paper medium find it’s extinction even quicker. I mean, who does Blair Underwood think he is anyway; promoting this blasphemous electronic poison? Pushing this new-age crack into our communities!

As you can imagine, I had worked myself into quite a tizzy. To maintain my anger, I kept rewinding those thoughts in my mind and repeating them aloud from time to time; I didn’t want my rage to decrease or to forget what I was mad about!

IMG00001-20100525-1905 After a few minutes, I was told by the organizer that Mister Underwood was in an interview with Brandi Cummings, the host of WISTV’s Awareness. She told me that perhaps I could get a 5-minute interview if time permitted. While I was on standby, I paced and repeated to myself… “pushing this new-age crack into our communities…” When he emerges from that back room, I’ll be waiting for him, I thought.

And I was! When Mister Underwood walked out, I glared at him with the same hatred that I have for snakes and cheaters! Then, when Blair (notice the change to first name) saw me, he smiles, reached out and grabbed my hand. His eyes said, “Hey, baby. Here I am. Sorry I kept you waiting. ”

And with that, the vook made perfect sense.

Since my pointed questions about the vook (spoken much softer, now) no longer applied, I had to think of an intelligent, yet provocative question to ask Blair. I got my opportunity when a woman in the audience asked him about his role in the Tyler Perry’s movie, Madea’s Family Reunion. That question served as the perfect segue to ask him something I’ve asked many black men before: Why do you think black men hate Tyler Perry and the whole Madea phenomenon?

Blair tried to dodge the question by saying, “I can’t speak for them. You have to ask them.” Now who does he think I am? Some second-year journalism student or something? I’m That Teowonna!

I probed a little further and Blair finally relented, answering, “You know, I really can’t [speak for them] but I can say what I’ve heard. I think for men, when you see a man dressing up in a dress, a lot of us don’t want to see that, necessarily. I tend to look at the big picture. I tend to look at the success he’s had and the money he’s made; the actors he’s employed; the crew members he’s employed. And like anything… to me… [unintelligible] he’s like a family member. So I’m not going to attack Tyler for what he’s doing. I want him to keep growing and getting better.”

Well said, Blair Underwood! Now about this vook…



I hope you guys in Columbia don't get too star struck!!! LOL Thanks for keeping me informed about what's going on. You bring up a good point about celebrities and books. So many people don't realize that when they buy a celebrity book like Sarah Palin or Andre Agassi, they are not buying their actual writings. It makes actual writers like us, seem a dime a dozen. When in actually, writing is not an everyday thing. That and the easy access to Print on demand, has led to the saturation of the literary market. Keep up the good work!!

Fellow writer,
Corey washington Delete Reply

Hey Teowonna,

Rachel from Vook-here. I have to admit, even though you spoke our name with contempt, I found your blog post really amusing and well-written.

Two thoughts for you:

1) Tananarive Due just wrote a great blog explain why she likes the Vook, and how she relates to it as a writer:

2) Why don't I give you a review copy of "From Cape Town with Love?" and let you see what you think. (Warning, Blair is all the videos, so you may find yourself using that softer tone...)

Anyway, tweet me @vooktv or email rachel at vook dot com if interested. Delete Reply

Well, well, well... if it isn't the chief crack dealer herself... I'm going to check out Miss Due's blog AND accept your offer. Miss. Due first came to my attention when her book Joplin's Ghost was reviewed on NPR. Do they know she's pushing this vook? This better be good... or else I'm gonna have to recommend they kick her out of the club! Delete Reply

I loved this post! Very amusing. I have to admit, though - kinda diggin' the concept of a Vook! I know crack is whack, but vook-can-cook up new opportunities: it is potentially an innovative way to reach readers and to cater to people with different learning styles... Delete Reply

I have to take some time to research Vook because I am just learning about it for the first time, but in my humble opinion reading is fundamental to success. If you are an avid reader that flows into your communication and writing skills and those skills are essential especially in the information world we live in. We've got teenagers how are photo addicts and just flip through magazines looking at pictures not pulling forth new nuggets of information to enrich their lives or the lives of those around them. Folks are getting stuck on short cuts and to me a Vook sounds like another short cut that cuts into the value one gets from actually reading... but Ms. Rachel @vooktv I will check out your links before I make my final assessment of vook. But these are my initial thoughts. Delete Reply

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