Fred Sanford Meets Sun Ra

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#1 Wed, 2010-11-24 09:03
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Fred Sanford Meets Sun Ra

Ridiculous or insightful? Both? Below is a brief excerpt. The link will take you to the 'script.'


We speak to you from the lower frequencies. Vibrating from the Earth's core, reverberating out through the cosmos, to furthest edges of the universe, scraping the planes of thoughts yet to be. We are Otabenga Jones and Associates.

In 1974 Gil Scott Heron scribed the poem "the Revolution will not be televised." It was an epic screed against the limits of the new television consciousness. And though he belted out this tune with an assured confidence in the failings of TV and Film alike, our illustrious Chairman, Mr. Jones, had not yet become so convinced. Otabenga Jones, a figure walking the shadows of many of our black nation's brightest moments, had begun to consider the medium of film and television as a pathway to unknown worlds. He watched the slow demise of both the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Left in their wake were ripples in the public consciousness, being quickly filled by interlopers, and masqueraders. The visage of Angela Davis gave way to Foxy Brown, and the courage of Bobby Seal gave way to the relentless masculinity of Shaft. (Was there ever a more reductive title for a black figure?) Watching the power of these images wash over the minds of the black masses, Otabenga set out to build an alternate universe. He invited a council of culture architecs and memetic ministers to support his efforts. One contact, NBC writer Ilunga Adell, turned into a play that landed Mr. Jones a one episode gig writting for the Sanford and Son Show.

The pages that follow, hold his only produced script, and a few stolen production sketches he managed to escape from LA with. Its the story of a chance meeting between the title character, Fred Sanford, and cosmic Jazz great, Sun Ra. This script was filmed but ultimately withheld from the American TV audience. Never before aired by NBC who deemed it inappropriate for their viewers due to it's "radical" content. Otabenga stashed the script away in his Aunt's Attic for the next few years, and more recently transferred it to our archives system.

Although this was a project done years before the formalized organization of Otabenga Jones and Associates, it still offers an anecdotal example of how we wrestle with history to become one of its primary framers.

One of the ideas Otabegna Jones And Associates organized around, was to become a repository for alternative accounts of history, and to then interject these accounts into a public discourse. Inserting Sun Ra's futurism as black past, into Redd Foxx's fictional Junk yard of black treasures, connects the remnants of those declining black social movements to a progressive black future, all in an easily digestible half hour comedy program. This subtext did not go unnoticed. Otabenga's firing, and the subsequent cease and desist letters to stop any publishing attempts of this script, highlight the inherent conflict of such an undertaking.

This has been our struggle. Not only to participate in the discussion of history, but to even prove that there is an alternative account of things. That some other things happened, and some other types of people existed, and were present at pivotal past events.


-- 3 = 0, 3 = 1, don'tcha know