Posts Tagged ‘racism’

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Racist blonde nutcase goes off…

 

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Machete don’t Tweet, and his blade may be collecting a bit of rust. This sequel to the head chopping Mexican badass universe shows that the joke has already been pushed too far. It felt like the scriptwriters were just phoning it in.

There isn’t much use keeping track of the plot or any sense of danger in this one. It cheapens itself by massacring just about everyone who appears on screen. It’s a constant stream of bullets and severed limbs without much drama worth mentioning.

Not that I expected Shakespeare in a grindhouse spoof, but still, you gotta care enough that the story actually makes some sense. Here it’s just a vehicle for a series of cameos. The best bits are in the trailer anyway, and so my disappointment is real.

Rodriguez has enough talent to put it to use actually saying something. The Machete franchise has included some racial content, xenophobia, racist white people policies of the US, but he’s largely abandoned that with a few stock caricatures thrown in purely for laughs.

Will I show up for Machete in Space, if the thing gets off the ground? Dunno. Probably not.

2/5, no trailer.

www.indiewire.com

Blood in the Face

Yay for ignorant racism.

“We’re more Nazi than the Nazis.”

 

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This is Oleh Tyahnybok, he has claimed a “Moscow-Jewish mafia” rule Ukraine and that “Germans, Kikes and other scum” want to “take away our Ukrainian state.”

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US warmonger John McCain supports Tyahnybok.  Previously McCain posed with Syrian terrorists well known for kidnappings.

Neo-Nazis and far-right protesters in Ukraine

 

 

Crime (short)

Posted: January 17, 2014 in -
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www.indiewire.com

 

 

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by Jennifer Epps

I normally hate to make Oscar predictions. It usually depresses me. By the time the predictions start proliferating, it’s a cold matter of analysis of the awards already given out by the guilds, BAFTA, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and (to a certain extent) the critics’ associations, like predicting presidential nominees by counting poll numbers and delegates before the conventions. You wouldn’t even need to have seen the movies first, because it tends to be a simple numbers game. I don’t much like thinking along those lines; I’d rather keep my mind on what should win.

This year is different. I actually think that, rather miraculously, 12 Years a Slave is going to win the Oscar for Best Picture. This may be the one time in Oscar history when the film which so unquestionably deserves to win actually does win.

Moreover, the selection of 12 Years a Slave brings a great many other precedents with it. It is the most uncompromising of the movies likely to be on the list of Best Picture nominees. It is not comfort food. It is not the kind of film which requires nothing of the audience, or reassures them about their own complacencies. Although the performances are amazing, they can’t be separated from the crystal-clear relevance of the film — unlike for instance, the striking, masterful, 8-category nominee There Will Be Blood (2007), when everyone talked about Daniel Day-Lewis’ fearless performance but overlooked the damning psychological portrait of an American oil baron. The directing, acting, screenplay, cinematography, editing, and music of 12 Years a Slave are all astonishing, but none of them let the viewer forget that this is a true story — an adaptation of a first-person slave narrative published in 1853 — and that it is a history churning with urgency about politics, race, and justice in America.

And then, of course, there’s the fact that director Steve McQueen would be the first black director to helm a film that receives the Oscar for Best Picture.

I won’t go into whether he will automatically win the Oscar for Best Director too, since we know very well from last year that the two categories are not necessarily in lockstep, but he should. He would be the first black director to do that as well: John Singleton and Lee Daniels are the only two to ever even be nominated in that category. (It’s hard to believe, but Spike Lee has never been nominated for an Oscar for Best Director — only for Screenplay and Documentary — though he did get a well-deserved Golden Globe directing nom for Do the Right Thing.) No black director has won the Golden Globe for film directing before either. If McQueen wins the top Directors Guild prize leading up to the Oscars, he would also be the first black director to achieve that honor.

It’s certainly a year with an abundance of talented, thoughtful, and fiercely independent directors. (Alfonso Cuarón’s technical skill, graceful style, and boldness of vision in his gorgeous Gravity are especially impressive. Even more notable is the degree to which he turned a potentially “Hollywood-ized’ sci-fi actioner into a compelling meditation on space, our dependence on Mother Earth, and the insignificance and significance of a human life.) I feel rather sorry for Steve McQueen’s competitors, in fact, simply because they might have had better chances another year.

The director, who is about as far removed in attitude and appearance from the cocksure 1960’s movie star Steve McQueen, has actually only made 3 feature films. (Although he has directed an incredible number of shorts.) Yet this British filmmaker’s first feature clearly showed him to be an extraordinary artist, idiosyncratic and visionary. Hunger (2008), a biographical drama like no other, was jaw-dropping. He has simply continued to get better with each feature, single-mindedly carving out his own path with utterly unique projects on rock-serious subjects that few would touch. Hunger is about the 1980’s IRA prisoners’ hunger strike led by Bobby Sands: McQueen makes the concept completely visceral by boldly showing us what it looks like for a person to starve to death. His second film, Shame, mercilessly examines sex addiction, incest, and psychic pain with a minimum of dialogue and a shortage of easy answers.

McQueen’s latest, 12 Years a Slave, is a searing period drama adapted by John Ridley from Solomon Northrup’s memoir. It’s a story that, as McQueen himself has said, was crying out to be made into a film. Northrup was a free, educated, black father and husband; a prominent member of an upstate New York community; an engineer and respected violinist. Then he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south.

By focusing on a protagonist who has grown up free, the film is able to expose slavery anew: we can feel the horrors of it more vividly and acutely because the victim is so confident, so used to self-determination. He goes through enormous suffering, his faith and hope are destroyed, and he finds himself unable to philosophically reconcile the horrendous crime against him — yet in this way he’s a kind of witness for all slaves. Though Northrup’s kidnapping is part of an illicit commerce between the states (the process of abolition in the Northern states gave slave owners ample time to divest from their slave holdings, thereby leading many to just sell their slaves to the south), the 12 million Africans who were kidnapped and brought to the Americas before Northrup’s story even began were themselves ripped from their homes, loved ones, and sense of their own humanity in very much the same way.

Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor’s face, no matter how devastated, always reveals the free man inside. And McQueen makes clear the inner dignity of those born into slavery as well, in a variety of scenes with black supporting players — the fact that some are used to this mistreatment certainly doesn’t make it any easier on them than it is on him.

Black men on the boat traveling south try their best to overcome their terrible situation, but the odds are against them. The price of rebellion is death. Another angle is presented by Alfre Woodard, in a cameo as a privileged apple of a white man’s eye; though she plays house rather like a society matron, she bears no illusions about her status or the meaning of the slavery project as a whole — unlike the cartoonish Candyland toadies which Quentin Tarantino had so little sympathy for in Django Unchained.

It is Lupita Nyong’o, however, in a truthful and heartfelt performance as the charming, spirited, much-tormented slave Patsey, who deeply enriches the moral significance and complexity of the world Northrup encounters — and whose continued captivity when Northrup is finally freed helps ensure that we don’t regard it as an unalloyed happy ending. McQueen doesn’t let the audience off the hook.

The movie lays bare in chilling detail a great many of the mechanics of slavery, and even familiar tropes like the masters’ rapes, the wives’ jealousy, and the backbreaking toil are brought home in ways that seem fresh. McQueen’s special ability to invoke the audience’s empathy in Hunger and Shame are even stronger here, where Ejiofor’s raw emotion and spiritual pain lend a depth to his suffering that is almost Shakespearean.

Indeed, the acting is tremendous with the exception of Brad Pitt, and the visiting Canadian he plays too close to the vest (though Pitt should be commended for his vision in producing the film — getting it made in the first place.) Paul Giamatti is first-rate as the slave trader who slaps and shoves his “merchandise’ around and makes domination his business. Paul Dano is quite brave as an overseer who seethes with resentment over Northrup’s intelligence — Dano’s willingness to dig into the ugliness of such a mentality is profound . Sarah Paulson is intense as a brooding, tightly-coiled, wronged wife, full of perhaps the most virulent race-hatred in the movie. And Michael Fassbender (in his third collaboration with McQueen) is wonderful — as he always is — in a colorful, eccentric role as a depressed, alcoholic, hands-on master; his villainy is also Shakespearean, by turns red-hot and soft-spoken, powerful and needy. (In the interests of full disclosure, I must mention that his character’s last name is Epps. Since this is based on a memoir and that might be the real slave master’s name, I pray that there’s no relation.)

There’s such a subtle, wide-ranging understanding of racism in the film, it really is provocative in the way it challenges viewers on issues of personal accountability for social wrongs. The versatile Benedict Cumberbatch is Ford, Northrup’s first master after the kidnapping. Ford is an intelligent and feeling man who admires the special musical and engineering skills of his slave — but he still gives him a violin instead of freedom. Ford’s complicity in the injustice against Northrup is one of the finer points made by the film; Ford sees how much suffering the slave market creates, but he makes only the merest peep and then drops his complaint. (The agony caused by separating parents from their children is an extended topic of the film.) Ford is also impressed, and takes advantage of for the benefits to his business, Northrup’s exceptional levels of education. But when Northrup tries to tell him that he’s a free man, Ford exclaims “I cannot hear that!”

(more…)

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Starship Troopers: One of the Most Misunderstood Movies Ever

There’s a theme emerging here where films are reexamined and dissected for the better.  Sucker Punch got a similar 2nd chance at life with this video essay:

I had to stand up for the Burton/Depp Alice in Wonderland.  I know that Josh Olson stood against the tide with Speed Racer (which I haven’t seen, so he might be full of it!).

I always liked Starship Troopers for what it was, not considering it some kind of master work, but I did get the dark satirical view lording over it.  It seemed in direct conflict with the underlying source material, as if Verhoeven was mocking the book (could be, haven’t read it).

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Abominable Horror: Slavery Lingers On in Neo-Confederate Hate for Non-Whites

by STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
(Reposted With Permission)

The movie “12 Years a Slave” is described in a Wikipedia entry presumably written by its makers as an “historical drama film.” It is a British-American production based on the book by the same name published in 1853 by the African-American man, Solomon Northrup, who endured this agony.

“There have been a number of movies about slavery as it really was. I have hardly seen them all, but this one is the most powerful one that I have seen…”

It received a limited release in the United States last month, and will be released in Great Britain in January, 2014.

It will be very interesting to see how wide a release it eventually gets in the U.S. It is hardly likely to be shown in very many, if any, theatres in the South, except possibly in those catering almost exclusively to African-American audiences. It would certainly not be well-received by those Southerners (and others) who refer to the First American Civil War as, for example, the “War of Northern Aggression” (a term used by the new President of the National Rifle Association, a man who refers to President Obama as a “fake President” and to Attorney General Holder as “rabidly un-American”), nor to those who refer to it as theWar for Southern Independence.”

It is fascinating that the first reference cited in the latter document is: “How Should 12st [emphasis added, and yes, that is exactly how it appears in that document] Century Americans Think about the War for Southern Independence?” In that particular article, the author, a Professor of History appropriately enough at the University of the First Secessionist state, South Carolina, entitles the First Civil War “Lincoln’s War to Prevent Southern Independence.”  Of course, regardless of what it is called, at the War’s center was the struggle by the Slave Power to preserve slavery in the states in which it already existed and to expand the “peculiar institution” to all of the then-remaining Western Territories.  This is a movie that shows the full horror of slavery. Horror, that is, to those who view what was done to one group of human beings by another as a horror. Presumably those who characterize the war as one for “Southern Independence” or whatever, don’t see it that way.

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There have been a number of movies about slavery as it really was. I have hardly seen them all, but this one is the most powerful one that I have seen, and other viewers have described it in the same way. In a way, in fact, it is more like a retro-documentary about slavery than it is simply a drama about the subject. Why do I say that? Because first, most viewers are likely to see the film with some foreknowledge of its origin, a true story with a true beginning (Mr. Northrup’s kidnapping), middle (Mr. Northrup’s 12 years in captivity), and conclusion (Mr. Northrup’s return to freedom). And second, because of the way the film is constructed it can easily be seen as a documentary showing slavery in all of its major horrors, consecutively.

Perhaps the most important point of the film is that it clearly illustrates the Southern justification for slavery, that “blacks” were inferior people, not really human you know. (This has always struck me as quite odd. By the 19th century, after end of slave-importation in 1807, there were very few pure African blacks in the United States. Virtually all slaves were thus of “mixed blood.” Did that mean, therefore, that there was something inherently inferior about the white men who fathered all of those mixed African/North American children too?)

The Southern justification for slavery was well-summarized by Alexander Stephens, the Vice-President of the Confederate States of America, who, after the death of John C. Calhoun in 1850 had become the principal theoretician of slavery:

“Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race. Such were, and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature’s law. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the Negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Cain, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. Our new government is founded on the opposite idea of the equality of the races. Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the Negro is not equal to the White man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural condition [emphasis added].”

And so, serially, the movie illustrates the major features of, to quote Stephens, the “system [that] commits no such violation of nature’s law (sic).” Among them are: the kidnapping of free African-Americans in the North to be sold into slavery; the selling of such people, as property; the separation, by sale, of family members; the constant threat and use of violence against slaves, on any pretext, real or imagined; the practice of lynching, that is extra-judicial execution (even though it meant loss of “property”) of recaptured escaped slaves, primarily to set an example for anyone who thought of trying to escape (lynching of blacks, even in the absence of legalized slavery of course being practiced on a regular basis throughout the South into the 1960s); the use of torture short of lynching; the dreadful working and living conditions; the constant humiliation practiced by the slave-masters; the repetitive rape of female slaves by the slave-masters; the creation of a sub-class of especially docile African-Americans who served on some plantations as intermediaries between the owners and the rest of the slaves; and, until in Mr. Northrup’s case what happens to regain him his freedom, the total lack of any system of justice for any slave.  One wonderful irony of the film is that Paul Giamatti, who plays the slave-seller in “12 Years a Slave”, in Tim Burton’s 2001 version of Planet of the Apes,” itself in part a movie about slavery and the struggle for freedom, played the role of an ape slave-seller in a society in which intelligent apes were the owners, and humans, of any color, were considered an “inferior race” and were the slaves.

As the Confederate Navy Jack, (not the “Confederate Battle Flag,” as we are told by those who are in the know) is waved in front of the White House in an anti-“Obama Care” demonstration; as the former governor of Virginia declares a holiday to celebrate the Civil War but the first time around forgets to mention slavery; as a white woman sends her son out on Halloween in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, saying “it’s supposed to be white with white, black with black, man with woman and all of that; that’s what the KKK stands for;” as Republican candidates and office-holders claim that President Obama was born in Kenya; as Tea Party propaganda is full of racist attacks on the President; as a Republican Congressman in their leadership allegedly tells the President, to his face, “I can’t stand to even look at you:” but most importantly, as the modern Republican Party, all around the nation, is instituting laws designed to take away the vote from African-Americans (and certain of its leadership is saying this more-and-more openly), which happened to be the first self-announced task of the Ku Klux Klan when it was formed in late 1865; it is very important for all of us to understand what slavery, the central focus of secession, the Confederate States of America, and the First Civil War, was all about. In that regard, do see “12 Years a Slave” if it is available where you live.

 


Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition to being a columnist for BuzzFlash@Truthout he is the Editorial Director of and a Contributing Author to The Political Junkies for Progressive Democracy. Dr. Jonas’ latest book is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A futuristic Novel, Brewster, NY, Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, and available on Amazon.

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No Justice No Peace: California’s Battle Against Police Brutality & Racist Violence