Viceland Interview: Melvin Van Peebles
Sometimes I think I was an elderly Black man in my past life. That or I just grew up with a lot of Black culture. I wish I could say I watched Seinfeld when it was on, but I was too busy watching Martin instead. As a kid I remember renting both Meteor Man and Bebe’s Kids on VHS and fucking loving it. To this day, Meteor Man still holds as the best Black movie cast of all time. I dare you to find another film with as much talent. I guess as a kid in the 90’s during the heyday of hip-hop and sitcoms starring rappers, I couldn’t really help vicariously growing up Black. And since then I’ve just always been influenced by Black culture (Public Enemy and Eddie Murphy all day). Now, WHY I am particularly drawn to these things…I’m not exactly sure. Filipinos are like the Black AZNs I guess? Minority struggles? You tell me. That’s an existential dilemma for another day.
But speaking as a person of non-African descent, I would have to say that Melvin Van Peebles is the coolest Black dude on the planet. Ever since seeing the documentary How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) a few years ago, he definitely became my new hero not just in film and music or art, but life in general. (Sidenote: best documentary title, ever?) I can’t really sum up his life accomplishments—which regardless of race, is a LOT—but when asked with the hypothetical “If You Could Switch Shoes With Anyone…” Melv would be in my Top 3 for sure. Dude made arthouse French films, pioneered Black and independent cinema in general, recorded one of the first spoken word/early hip-hop songs, and was more or less the real life Putney Swope. The man is cool as ice. Black Chaplin.
Read the whole interview HERE.