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'BARBERSHOP' CONTROVERSY
Atlanta Constitution, 10 October, 2002

Critics need to lighten up; it's a film, not hate literature


By ROBERT NEBEL


Robert Nebel is a free-lance writer living in Norcross.

The brouhaha over the film "Barbershop" is much ado about nothing. Activist elites such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King and the Rev. Al Sharpton are forgetting that this is a film, intended to entertain.

"Barbershop" is not an opus on African-American culture. It is not a piece of legislation that reverses gains of the civil rights movement. It is a film -- not a piece of hate literature.

The producers' intentions are far from racist. Quite the opposite. "Barbershop" is a humorous look at life on the South Side of Chicago. It features first-rate performances by some of today's finest African-American artists. If anything, "Barbershop" is an uplifting piece of art.

Nevertheless, it has been criticized by these civil rights activists, who achieved greatness in their heyday but have now rendered themselves out of touch with the nation.

It seems as though Jackson, Coretta Scott King and Sharpton have abandoned the ideals of the Rev. Martin Luther King's commitment to equal opportunity and freedom for all.

Instead of inspiring minorities and helping the downtrodden, they have engaged in selfish pursuits. Mrs. King has focused her energies on intellectual property issues. Sharpton has sued for defamation.

Jackson now engages in quelling free speech by pressuring the producers of "Barbershop" to apologize. He is also lobbying MGM to delete the so-called offensive material from the future "Barbershop" DVD release.

Jackson, King and Sharpton should focus their activism where it counts: unemployment, crime, education and the unfair tax system plaguing the poor.

(C)2002 Cox Communications --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Robert Nebel is a free-lance writer living in Norcross.

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