The Class of 1989

The Class of 1989

In the 1980s, there were only 63 Black films by, for, or about Black Americans. But in the 1990s, that number quadrupled, with 220 Black films making their way to cinema screens nationwide. What sparked this “Black New Wave?” Who blazed this path for contemporaries like Ava DuVernay, Kasi Lemmons and Jordan Peele? And how did these films transform American culture as a whole? Presenting The Class of 1989, a new limited-run series from pop culture critics Len Webb and Vincent Williams, hosts of the acclaimed Black cinema podcast The Micheaux Mission. Each episode, Len and Vincent take us through the Black film renaissance of 1989 – a year of contradiction, controversy, and ultimate triumph for Black cinema – as they analyze the six films that left an indelible mark on the world: Harlem Nights, Lean on Me, Glory, A Dry White Season, Do the Right Thing and Driving Miss Daisy. Produced in collaboration with The Podglomerate.

Episodes

January 24, 2023 2 mins
In the 1980s, there were only 63 Black films by, for, or about Black Americans. But in the 1990s, that number quadrupled, with 220 Black films making their way to cinema screens nationwide. What sparked this “Black New Wave?” Who blazed this path for contemporaries like Ava DuVernay, Kasi Lemmons and Jordan Peele? And how did these films transform American culture as a whole? Presenting The Class of 1989, a new limited-run series f...
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Vincent Williams and Len Webb of the Micheaux Mission premiere their new series with a brief introduction to the six films they’ll study in their 6-part course: A Dry White Season, Do The Right Thing, Driving Miss Daisy, Glory, Harlem Nights and Lean On Me. Produced by the Podglomerate. For transcripts, please visit the website here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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March 13, 2023 34 mins
1989 was not the year of the Black woman in film. The Color Purple was one of the few feature films in the 80s that centered on Black women, and it wouldn't be until 1992 that a Black woman would get theatrical distribution directing a film about Black women. Just like Anita Hill is often credited for the 1992 election being deemed 'the year of the woman,' what seeds were planted in '89 that inspired or provoked Black women directo...
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In 1989, Hollywood money magnet Eddie Murphy and indie film upstart Spike Lee both directed films that left their marks in Hollywood history. Many would see their positions in Hollywood and assume they are worlds apart, but the two men, children of the same generation, are very much in conversation cinematically. Produced by the Podglomerate. For transcripts, please visit the website here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit me...
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March 27, 2023 39 mins
In our class, the big studio movies of 1989 are Glory and Driving Miss Daisy, which look at Black history, but very much from a white lens. This episode explores how Hollywood's ‘business-as-usual’ standards pale in comparison to Eddie Murphy's and Spike Lee's visions and how Black director Euzhan Palcy gets caught up in the mix. Produced by the Podglomerate. For transcripts, please visit the website here. Learn more about your ad ...
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April 3, 2023 31 mins
The Oscar race for 1989 is still remarked upon for Spike Lee's and Do The Right Thing's disregard for best director or best picture consideration, Driving Miss Daisy's equally baffling win and Denzel Washington's second nomination and first win for being beaten like a slave. We explore what was at stake with these films, Hollywood's choice, and how Spike's omission becomes permission for the black filmmakers that follow. Produced b...
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April 10, 2023 34 mins
We look at the after-effects of the films of 1989. Eddie Murphy pivots to Black audiences as the major studios loosen their purse strings for Black (male) filmmakers, leaving Black women to get into the game on their terms. Yes, money, politics, and summer blockbusters are factors, but there's no denying 1989 was a launching pad for what was to come. Produced by the Podglomerate. For transcripts, please visit the website here. Lear...
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April 17, 2023 35 mins
A final examination of ‘where-are-we-now” in the lives of our six films as we reveal the lessons learned by our course. Produced by the Podglomerate. For transcripts, please visit the website here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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A special treat for Class of 1989 listeners, a consideration on one of today's most important Black creators, from WBEZ's hit podcast Making.  Jordan Peele is responsible for modern classics in the horror genre, including the films Us, Nope and the Oscar-winning Get Out. Before all that, he was a self-described nerd. He majored in puppetry in college before dropping out with his friend Rebecca Drysdale to pursue a career in comedy....
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