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"Stomp the Yard": Almost Boycotted, Banned

1/11/2007 10:29 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Film still from After gang violence and a shooting at one of his theaters last month, the CEO of a theater chain said today that he won't screen "Stomp the Yard," a new Screen Gems movie about step dancing at an African American fraternity that opens on 2,000 screens this weekend.

Asked if the decision was a question of race, theater owner Tony Kerasotes told the Springfield State Journal Register: "You could phrase the question that way, but to me, it's a question of gangs. It's about gangs. It's not about race."

Still, Kerasotes' decision has sparked a fierce debate with the NAACP -- both within the small-town Illinois community and nationally -- about whether the decision to pull the film is racist, or simply a common-sense public safety measure following an unsolved attempted murder.

True, the shooting occurred at a nominally "white" horror movie, ironically entitled "Black Christmas," prompting some to argue against linking racial demographics to a movie's title. One reader of the Journal Register posted a comment arguing, "The shooting, while sad and disappointing about the safety of our society (sic), had nothing to the with the movie being shown!! If anything, the movie was 'Black Christmas' (which was a white movie) had nothing to do with gang violence."

Well, not quite: As lily-white as its cast was, "Black Christmas" likely attracted a majority of non-Caucasian audiences, at least according to exit polls. Indeed, according to horror specialist New Line Cinema's own market research, horror movies, like "Jason vs. Freddy" and the like, have always had black and Latino audiences vastly outnumbering white theatergoers. Primarily targeted at black audiences, "Stomp" should mirror or even exceed the black demos of a horror flick.

What's more, as Newsweek points out, the general president of the fraternity depicted in "Stomp the Yard," Alpha Phi Alpha, accused the filmmakers of using the frat's symbols "without authorization, and juxtaposing the organization with gang activity." As early as November, he urged fraternity members not to participate, long before the Christmas Day shooting in Springfield. (In the end, producers for "Stomp" had to digitally remove all symbols and references to Alpha Phi Alpha.)

With all that in mind, Kerasotes' decision might be over-cautious, but it hardly seems ill-conceived or overtly racist, but that this is happening in Springfield is beyond ironic: Not many may remember, but Springfield, Illinois is approaching centennial of one of the worst race riots in U.S. history, a repugnant event which ultimately gave birth to the NAACP. Sadly, a hundred years later, Springfield's race fires are clearly still smoldering.

UPDATE!!! Sony spokesman Jim Kennedy just released this statement at 7:23 pm, Thursday evening:"We have spoken with the theater owner in Springfield, Illinois and are pleased that he has agreed to open "Stomp The Yard" on Sunday. This is a film that deserves to be seen by all audiences, because it sends a powerful and uplifting message about the importance of brotherhood, the value of education and the redemptive power of love."

COMMENTS

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1.

Mad Balls    

Just frikin Dandy ass for lilly white folks am safe now . Yeah a movie about blacks , dancin' and frats . Oh righty whitey , jus dont forget to ask da' frat fo' permission to use the symbold they honor . Typical white American -- lots' of Crust fo' royalty but the muffins hollow for the people . I'll get a forty And me honey an rent " white Chicks " . Peace out ! Punk !

2788 days ago
2.

blabs    

Excuse me, but was that coherent even to "black folks"?

2788 days ago
3.

PN    

I don't know why that theater chain CEO won't screen " Stomp The Yard." From watching the TV ads for it, it looks like a harmless, fun movie of step dancing. Gangs aside, I think that it will focus more on the dancing and the stage performances. After reading that the theater owner changed his mind in an update, maybe he needs to look past thinking that a movie is violent or gang related.

2788 days ago
4.

Jo Blo    

The only reason he's showing it is probably because gangs threatened to kill him. LOL. Way to go black power!!!!

2787 days ago
5.

Jo Blo    

Black people are the most racist race in the world. Godd*mn degenerate generation x. Eat sh*t and die out like the dinosaurs.

2787 days ago
6.

duh...totally !    

looks lame anyway.....all those teeny bopper movies are a dime a dozen !

yawn................

and if people / gangs go to movies to shoot each other or act ghetto.....freaking ridiculous! ... that's why you couldn't pay me to go to Stomp !

2787 days ago
7.

Jo Blo    

If white people stepped, then black people would complain they stole their dance. Either way, stepping is f***ing GAY. Start making good movies, not this unorginal, vacuous MTV sh*t.

2787 days ago
8.

Whatever    

This movie looks stupid. Stepping is gay. Only brainwashed teenagers would watch that sh*t.

2787 days ago
9.

Lady V    

I can not believe that everyone feel like this movie is race related and violent. I attended an HBCU and it clearly says during one of the trailors that fraternaties are more than just stepping. I am a member of a historically black sorority, but don't get it twisted, to the guy that said black people are racist, if we are soooo racist why do i have white sorority sisters and white fraternity brothers in historically black sorority and fraternity, that is because we have chosen to break those stereotypes. If you all really want to know where stepping originated it is from our motherland, Africa as a form of celebration. Ignorant individuals please do your research before posting malicious, stereotypical statements of Historically Black Sororities and Fraternities and the way that we have chosen to celebrate our history while still serving our community. Shout out to the Divine 9, we will never stop celebrating our ability to maintain a sense of intergrity especially when it comes to serving our communities, striving for scholarship(continued education) and sisterly and brotherly love! Do your research people before stereotyping our great orginizations. Lady V

2787 days ago
10.

Sam G    

I'm not the biggest fan of stepping--I don't like loud stuff ;) but for the people who say it's gay....I'd like to see YOU try it.

2787 days ago
11.

Lady V    

Seems like silkye or whatever the hell his name is really needs to expand his thinking, do your research son, before making dumb comments ok. If you don't know something you need to do your research like i said before, ask someone or just shut up to avoid looking more ignorant than you already do. If you have any questions feel free to ask me before you appear more than just ignorant. Lady V

2787 days ago
12.

TomM    

Boom shack-a-lacka, a-lacka-lacka-boom!

2787 days ago
13.

DiRT    

Either Claude is sloppy or stupid, but horror movies are always better sells to the Black and Latino demographics. Black Christmas is in no way a "white" movie. He seems to back off of the point after he researched it, but he still states: True, the shooting occurred at a nominally "white" horror movie, ironically entitled "Black Christmas," prompting some to argue against linking racial demographics to a movie's title.

2787 days ago
14.

RpG    

There's been problems with gangs in certain theaters. Gang members are the lowest form of life to the standards of cockroaches and lice. They have nothing better to do than to "kick it" in a theater .. sorry, why am I dissing gangs here...they are so F#&^&@ing stupid they don't even have computers. As for "HUGGS fo THUGGS" probably hw was some 50yr old divorcee w/ 4 kids just trying to ruffle this chicken coop here... so F&@#ing RELAX.

2785 days ago

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