There are few things more comforting on a Saturday afternoon than hearing the theme song to Good Times pumping out of the speakers of your television. That driving piano, yelling Gospel singers pumping out a really confusing message for a few bucks, and thanks to Dave Chappelle for letting us know the line was “Hangin’ in a chow line” and not “Hollin’ at your child now”… that’s what it sounded like to me, everybody had their own that was mine. When I hear the song I can smell fried chicken and taste grape pop.
We as a community love this show, even though it is so so so bad. You kind of know it sucks, feel a sense of shame after it, then think is this what some Black people act like… Kind of like listening to a Christina Aguilera CD. Good Times is so bad, many of its stars try not to talk about it. The real reason I have internet access is that on the day the video gets posted to YouTube of Jimmy “JJ” Walker walking off the stage at a comedy club to knock the sh*t outta someone who screamed one time to many “say DY-NO-MITE!!!”, I want to be able to quickly view it. I know it’s coming.
It is tough for me to watch Good Times now, of course the social issues that just smacked the Black community in the face. A hard-working man could not get his family out of the projects. The oldest son had failing grades and was only concerned about women. The political activist, the strong Black voice of the family, was cute little Michael the least threatening member of the family. Thelma’s husband Keith, who was drafted by the Chicago Bears on the show, blows out his knee, needs the Evan’s family to support him. He moves into the projects, because he didn’t sign his contract yet and is broke. Dude didn’t get drafted out of high school, he went to college shouldn’t he have had a degree? If he did not graduate yet, colleges usually extend the education of their athletes so they complete… ESPECIALLY IN THE CASE OF INJURY. Even as far back as the 1970’s. Enough of that. I will not deal with the absolute demeaning of the structure of the Black family.
I live in Chicago, grew up in the Chicagoland area Gary, IN (no Michael Jackson questions or comments please) with a view of Chicago’s skyline across, Lake Michigan, outside my bedroom window. I am pretty aware of the rules and regulations that govern the Black community in this part of the country so I will focus on that.
First I can care less how fine Willona was, you walk into someone’s apartment without knocking in the projects, expect bullets do not expect the Chicago Police Department to come up the 17th floor of your project building to investigate. While we are here… WHO IN THE HELL LEAVES THEIR DOOR UNLOCKED IN THE PROJECTS. If you left your door unlocked in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green Housing Projects, Willona was not who would be coming in unannounced into your living room. Also, what woman trusts her husband and built like a brick house friend enough to let said friend walk in at her pleasure? Another Willona problem, how many single working women can you think of that rented an apartment in the projects? Especially a woman who looked like her. I do not want to imply I think women would or should use their looks to get a man to make sure her living arrangements were a little safer. However, as a teen I went to Cabrini-Green a few times and as an adult before they were torn down, drove past them at break neck speed to not get stuck at a red light, and from what I remember and last saw… I think if it came down to living in Cabrini-Green and dating a man based on his salary, find out his favorite drink and make sure there is a bottle of it every time he comes over to your new safe place.
Nobody eats that much dame oatmeal! With all we know about the health benefits of oatmeal, the Evans family had to be the only African-American family without high blood pressure or risk of stroke. I appreciate the idea of showing parents making sure there was something hot on the table before the kids went to school, but in a Black family, there would be other options like grits or rice a lot of butter and sugar. As smart as little Michael was and his passion for law and desire to grow and become a Supreme Court Justice, seems like he would have been able to convince a social worker to put him in a foster home until James and Florida could give a better meal than oatmeal every morning.
Now to Thelma… Thelma was fine! A couple of years ago while working at Phillips High School in Chicago Bern Nadette Stanis, who played Thelma visited the school. She is almost 60 does not look much different from she did on the show and 17-year-old boys at the school wanted to get with her. BEAUTIFUL. Ghost Face Killa’s “Who’d you rather, Thelma or Willona?” question on Supreme Clientele… the eternal question for every Black man.
One universal truth about Chicago Housing Projects, they do not have building superintendents and they definitely do not have ‘live-in’ superintendents. That would make it a city job, which means if you have job with the city you are, related to an alderman or the Mayor and you get paid 3 times more than you should for that kind of work. So he would be able to afford to live someplace much nicer. Maintenance people in Chicago work in teams, they come out to fix things after a six-year-old gets hurts but only if it makes the 6 o’clock news the night before. Only one guy fixes anything, one guy knows most of the gang members well enough for them to give you a pass, and the other guy has a gun if the guy that should know the gang members was caught sleeping with one of their girlfriends.
The star of the show, JJ… sad to say but by the time we started following the Evans Family JJ would not be in the house anymore. JJ would have started committing crimes so he could be arrested to have his own bed to sleep in every night. There are a lot of messed up things about being locked-up none of them include sharing a sofa bed with your brother. With the bed for himself, something other than oatmeal to eat for breakfast, no women around to chase, and all the Arts & Crafts a juvenile offender can dream of JJ would actually stand a better chance of being a well-adjusted person.
Finally, Good Times gave Janet Jackson her first real acting job. Giving her the misconception that she is an actress or something. Take a look at her future work, Diff’rent Stroke, have her walk in holding Todd Bridge’s hand in tight high waist jeans, put her line as far away from Arnold’s “What you talking ’bout Willis” line so the audience isn’t bummed out by her lack of range. Fame, one season… ONE then the producers decided to pay more attention to Nia Peeples. “Poetic Justice”, Tupac was a natural and you could see he tried to meet her emotionally in their scenes. But the list of people comedian Joe Torry has acted circles around is very short and it has one name on it… JANET JACKSON. How bad was her acting, it made child abuse hilarious. Don’t believe me, go grab your iron walk up to your friends and say “Where you been Penny?” everybody falls out laughing.
Like anything people in the Black community really like fried chicken, Flaming Hots, Newports, Hennessy… Good Times is/or eventually bad for you. So it will always be a part of our community. DAMN DAMN DAMN!!!!