The cast of Think Like A Man is on a promotional blitz to ensure the film will be a hit with moviegoers, but will their efforts woo non-black film fans?

While the film, based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling book, features a majority black cast, Tarji P. Henson recently told theGrio she doesn’t think it should be labeled a “black film.”

Last week I asked if you thought TLAM would be able to crossover to non-black audiences, considering two of the film’s main characters are not black, and many of you wondered if this should even be the film’s intent.

Today, I found myself in an interesting conversation via Twitter about the universality of the film. One Twitter pal argued that TLAM limited its potential universal appeal by employing a majority black cast. While I understand his concerns—and even wondered why the commercials created for the film barely included its non-black stars—our conversation made me think.

When it comes to “universal appeal” why are films with black casts engaging in “normal” things like dating or trying to pursuing careers often seen as catering to a niche audience, while films with majority white casts are seen as universal and appealing to all audiences? In both instances diversity may be equally lacking and yet one film is marketed to a specific (black) audience, while the other is marketed broadly.

This conversation is at the heart of the discussions surrounding HBO’s newest series Girls, which lacks diversity, opting to use four white women as leads, and yet is sold as a commentary about millennials in the big city.

So my question is this: Are films and TV shows only “universal” when they include white folks? Can an all-black cast make a “universal” film?

Let’s talk about it!

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  • JeffreyLee414

    We are not accepted in the “universal” context because most see their lives and the things that happen to them as the most important….
    When Americans of African descent step out of what is normally seen as us being it is not part of the ‘universal’ but an oddity… therefore it is not accepted or appreciated.
    We are only being true to the “universal” when we stay as pimps drug dealers welfare recepients convicts murderers slaves single teen parents and a host of others.
    This is what has and will be seen throughout the world and particularly here in the states.
    Take the issue, because I have an issue with it, of The Color Purple…beautiful amazing film but why didn’t the actors and actresses win a single Oscar???but Out of Africa a long boring white film with blacks in the backgound did???
    It is not universally excepted that Americans of African descent can be career oriented educationally impressive and monogymis..we can’t be seen as accomplishing those things without having the white in our life.

  • modern lady

    It shouldn’t be referred to as a black film, but it will always be referred to as that. Just like any movie with mostly female characters will always be a ‘chick flick’ no matter how erroneous or short-sided that term is. People are ignorant-and that will never change.

    • Leo the Yardie Chick

      Too true. It’s funny, though: a film/tv show with a mainly white cast is ‘universal’, yet films with POC/female main casts are ‘niche markets’. Never mind that the themes and emotions driving both categories of shows are often inherently the same, being as how we’re all human and what-not. Huh.

      Then again, folks did freak out about Rue being black in the Hunger Games, so I guess Certain People™ can’t relate to characters past their packaging. Sad.

  • pink

    The movie was great!

  • @Work_Bored

    The movie was great and I saw a very diverse audience, which I was stunned! Only because of the many comments and thoughts of how other races wouldn’t find it appealing. Let me tell you…it could have been a United Nations meeting in that theatre! Lol go watch it! I’m happy it was a majority of African American actors with a director who wasn’t African American; the film could have had any race play the role. (Okay Hollywood) And they (individually) succeeded amongst the many others who auditioned. I hope other roles open up which won’t be a stereotype, typed cast, or the “one black person”audition. And i hope the next book turn movie that is a filled with African American actors won’t just be just by an African American author. I hope this film open minds, to the potential an actor can bring regardless of race but skill!

    _I’ve definietly copied and past the following because the film is that great i want to spread the word!_

    **I hope my point got across because I saw this movie last night and i cannot stop thinking about it!!! i plan on seeing it two more times no lie! lol

    I realized i was engaged the entire time, nonstop laughter for the whole two hours and i cried lol twice. I swear this movie had me running through all emotions. I totally saw my boyfriend in Michael Ealy’s character.

    I’m so happy it made 33 million opening weekend, the cast was perfect and Kevin hart Hilarious!!
    I left the movie theatre wondering when the hell this is coming out on DVD!

  • D

    I think Awkward Black Girl, The Couple, and a lot of what is being done on youtube is widely relatable and the situations, universal. This is squarely mainstream media’s fault.