Saturday, April 25, 2009

The true story of Nathaniel Ayers and Steve Lopez, the men behind The Soloist

Watch CBS Videos Online

I have a lot more to say on this topic of Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.'s new movie, but only enough time to post this 60 Minutes story on Nathaniel Anthony Ayers and Steve Lopez, the street musician an Los Angeles Time reporter on which the new movie The Soloist is based. The movie opened this week and may be an opportunity to discuss the crisis of untreated mental illness in this country and its relationship to homelessness.

One sad point of this story is that people at Julliard didn't at first realize Ayers was mentally ill. It sounds as though they thought he was just one more angry black man.

Steve Lopez, the reporter, has been accused of exploiting Ayers. I don't think that's the case. If a writer does a story on someone and the result is the person's life is improved, then it's icing on the cake. The fact that the writer earns money is fair. He or she is getting paid for writing and researching a topic about which people want to know. If the writer reports fairly without lying about the person and the circumstance, then he/she's done a fine job.

Ayers's family seems to think Lopez's involvement in Ayers's life is a good thing. Why can't others do the same? And if they can't, then they should shut up and put up some money and time to help Ayers themselves.

Here's the link to the LA Times page that keeps us updated on Nathaniel Ayers.


Blue State Cowgirl said...

Fresh Air did a great interview with Steven Lopez, who is very humble and credits Ayers with teaching and helping him as much as he helped Ayers. Truly an inspirational friendship.

msladydeborah said...

I am planning to see this film over the weekend. From what I have viewed on the trailer it runs parallel to The Caveman's Valentine in terms of the basic story line. (A black musical prodigy who is mentally ill, homeless and estranged from his family.)

Is it exploitation to tell the truth about someone's story? I don't think so if it is true. We all know that suggesting someone needs mental health is like cursing someon's mother. But it is an issue that we must deal with because it does exist. This is a matter of fact that too many Black folks do not want to deal with. We would rather turn away or stick our heads in the sand before admitting that someone we know and love has the need for mental health help.

The thing that always bugs me about that attitude is the fact that we have ample justification for our issues. We are not superhumans. I am so thankful that I have not lost my mind over the course of my lifetime. There certainly has been enough stress to do so with justification.

The trailer imagery looked pretty intense. I amsure dealing with lopez was not that easy in the beginning.

Thanks for posting this information.