Posts Tagged ‘white’

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The fascist right is unleashed and we are repeating the 1930s.

Community Center That Received Threats To ‘Blow Up’ Refugees

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Mosque fire reported in Texas

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Somebody got fired, but it isn’t clear who.

Racist Bro Posts Offensive Comments Alongside Photo of Black Co-Worker’s Kid

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Heavily-armed white men patrol Ferguson

Extreme right wingers, armed to the teeth, and spouting their love of Trump claim to be on the protester’s side. Which is sort of absurd, if you listen to their rhetoric.

Oath Keepers volunteer Sam Andrews told RT: “Why the National Guard was not here supporting the St. Louis County Police and supporting the highway patrol and protecting these businesses, to me, is either such a grotesque incompetence or downright criminal negligence.”

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Hollywood and the Whitewashing of History

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This needs to be juxtaposed with hundreds–even thousands–of murders of black criminal suspects, strangulation, torture…

COPS TOOK DYLANN ROOF TO BURGER KING AFTER HIS ARREST

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Dylann Storm Roof: 5 Facts 

Cops say Dylann Storm Roof, a Columbia-area native, sat for several minutes in a Bible study Wednesday night before opening fire inside the the historic Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Roof’s Dad Gave Him a .45-Caliber Pistol for His Birthday

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Big fan of Apartheid

Apartheid: the Tyranny of Racism Made Law

 

Still freaking out over interracial marriage.  Wow.  When news of the gays reaches this guy…

 


  

Django’s Vengeance

Joe Giambrone

Tarantino strikes again to howls and a little hostility.  Django is at 88% with critics and 94% with audiences on the Tomatometer.  We know that Spike Lee refused to see the film at all, and so I was interested to see what the negative reviews were going to point out.

Obviously, the blood, the gory violence, but many are calling the film self-indulgent and too long.  On that point I disagree.  The film was about as long as it needed to be to resonate as an epic, a large scale western with social commentary on slavery.  Perhaps the extra time wasn’t spent in the expected ways, but running time alone is no excuse for a shoddy review.

One of the reviews that caught my attention was by Dana Stevens:

There’s something about [Tarantino’s] directorial delectation in all these acts of racial violence that left me not just physically but morally queasy.”

That’s an interesting point.  Obviously the staging is effective.  To what end is debatable, but it’s certainly well executed and harrowing.  When dealing with something as unthinkably massive as centuries of atrocities against millions of people, and the racial psychosis, which accompanied it, I’m not sure that showing blood and violence is all that inappropriate.  It could be argued that no amount of red corn syrup can make up for the real history that is meant to be conveyed, however abstractly, through these unexpected genre motifs.

Another review by J.R. Jones said,

Like the earlier movie, in which Jewish-American soldiers assassinate Hitler, this one draws heavily on minority group revenge fantasy, the only difference being that the trick isn’t as impressive the second time around.

To which I would reply that the word “trick” is condescending.  And Django Unchained is a considerable improvement over Inglorious Basterds, which was less fun and less focused.  This American story may even be too close to home for some.  While it’s fine to beat up on Nazis, after so much conditioning over the decades, the idea of beating up on genteel white American males packs its own baggage here.  Racism is still alive and well, and thus racially-charged American films can be risky, not to mention “tricky” to pull off.

David Germain writes for the AP:

“Django Unchained” is Tarantino at his most puerile and least inventive, the premise offering little more than cold, nasty revenge and barrels of squishing, squirting blood.”

Germain didn’t notice the iconic, mythical imagery?  Scene after scene gives inventive twists in order to expose slavery to the modern viewer in ways that they haven’t seen before.  Tarantino, of course, is going to be Tarantino, and you can’t fault him for that.  You either appreciate a B-movie exploitation take on serious subjects, or you don’t.  As for the revenge narrative, on that I do agree with Germain.  It does confine the story to a set of expected outcomes, and it does lessen the impact of the ending somewhat.  That is the trouble with all genre pictures, and yet is one of the main reasons they keep getting made – audiences supposedly like consistency.

This is a revenge film, and that is pretty much made clear even by the title.  Is that sufficient reason to dismiss it?  As one would The Count of Monte Cristo?  Revenge is a strong motivator, but it is also a peg in the viewer’s mind on which to hang some weighty topics.  Django’s revenge isn’t purely personal, but racial, a response to great historical crimes.  Great historical crimes that have not been avenged or rectified in the real world, for the most part.  Right there is the topic simmering below the silver film grains.  A great wrong was done to an entire class of people, and they did not exact the kind of revenge dramatized through the person of Django.  Django is a fantasy, through and through, and was never meant to be anything else.  His existence is purely on an intellectual plane, the realm of conflicting historical narratives.

Does Django work as intended?  Perhaps 94% of the audience today thinks so.  I think so.  The narrative was immersive and the journey worth taking.  Was it perfect?  Of course not.  No movie is.  Was the violence gratuitous?  In places, yes.  In others it was uncharacteristically restrained and realistic.  Bullets do kill people.

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I was particularly piqued by some of the reviews by African American reviewers.  This is the meat of the issue, and I’ll quote a few opinions.

Tanya Steele wrote:

“In Tarantino’s imagination, he could accept slavery if he thought of it as black people fighting back under the gaze of a white male. This works for a culture that does not want to confront the evils and system of slavery. We want to believe that it wasn’t all that bad. That it was endurable, escapable, provided opportunities for heroics. Black people were slaves because we didn’t fight back. Django was a character created by a privileged white male.”

Seriously, that’s a stretch that just doesn’t work.  Django’s predicament arises from a plausible bounty hunter narrative.  Django is “under the gaze of a white male” to make this plot work.  It is the initial condition which allows the story to unfold. By story’s conclusion the white bounty hunter is not only dead, but Django is free and victorious.  His progression from slave to skilled assassin to free and clear hero comes in stages of development.  Tarantino is certainly not endorsing slavery, and his white bounty hunter character isn’t comfortable with the practice either.  It is this character who also grows and rejects the practice to such an extent that he would rather kill the plantation owner at the cost of his own life than to simply shake his hand.  These myopic, cherry picked complaints ignore the rest of the story.

Cecil Brown wrote in Counterpunch,

African American critic Wesley Morris hated it. He called it “unrelenting tastelessness — […] exclamatory kitsch — on a subject as loaded, gruesome, and dishonorable as American slavery.”

Pretty damning stuff at first glance, but Wesley Morris actually gave the film 3.5/4 stars and also wrote,

I really like “Django Unchained,” but I didn’t like watching it amid the moronic laughter of some of his movie-geek fans. No filmmaker gives you as much as gleefully as [Tarantino] does. He’s 49 now, and there’s a new maturity in his style.

I can understand that Cecil Brown “hated” the film, but clearly Mr. Morris did not.

I’m quite sensitive to the perception of white money, white director, white screenwriter, black cinema.  Understandably this is a very prickly topic, and can be perceived in any number of ways.  Cecil Brown compares the plantation presented in the film to today’s Hollywood:

“What are the social conditions that would permit Django to be the big howling, empty nigger joke that it is? One of these social conditions, certainly, involves the relationship between black actors and Hollywood as a symbol of the plantation system. …The plantation is called CandieLand (Candyland) and is meant to refer to Hollywood itself as a producer of entertainment (Candy). Get it?”

Really?

As Hollywood did not exist during the timeframe of the film, I saw no references in the film itself to suggest that this is so.  Actual candy predates the motion picture system.  This is an assumption, and a bit of a leap onto a pretty thin branch.  It may be Tarantino’s style to infuse everything with references to Hollywood, but the plantation system during slave times?  Would Tarantino even think of this comparison?

That metaphor seems to originate with Ishmael Reed, who was admittedly biased against the film right from the opening credits.  Reed wrote:

“Tarantino’s fictional blacks apparently lack that part of the brain that makes one compassionate. While some blacks are being brutalized other blacks go about their business. In one scene, a black woman is being whipped while nearby a black woman is enjoying herself on a swing.”

Those particular characters are obviously there to make a point about the divide and conquer strategies employed during slavery to create different classes of slaves, the house slave vs. the field slave.  As such it would be more appropriate to examine in terms of class, and not race.  The house slave vs. field slave distinction is obviously not an invention of Tarantino’s, as Mr. Reed knows full well, but an expression of known historical phenomena with resonance and relevance today.  This is a highly-charged emotional topic, but it’s certainly not all concocted whole cloth by the director.  He is merely pointing his camera in that direction.

Reed then admonishes the film for what it isn’t.  It is not a story about a slave revolt.  That’s true.  It uses the genre cliché of a single man on an obsessive quest to save his lover.  This makes for a tighter plot and a more focused story.  It could have veered off in any number of directions, but this is the story.  A slave is freed, learns to become a bounty hunter, becomes a top-notch bounty hunter, a killer, and saves his wife from slavery.  How this particular narrative could earn so much ire, I still don’t understand.

We should be angry over slavery as well as racism.  But lashing out at those who are trying to shine a light on both?

Tarantino has not only looked at slavery unflinchingly, but taken it to new levels of abstraction for modern audiences to ponder over.  This is a very brave film that uses certain pathways into modern audience perceptions so as to bring home very real historical points, points which apply today.  The psychology at work is universal, and power disparity and the stripping of human rights goes on right now somewhere in the world.  Tarantino has used his own understanding and skills to craft a new take on an old subject, the way it most certainly wasn’t taught in high school.  For that alone he should be treated seriously and given some leeway, some fictional license to explore things on screen.  The alleged hidden racist agenda of the director is simply not supportable.  Filming a situation and endorsing a situation are two very different things.

Tarantino responded to some negative audience members at a preview screening:

“It’s a rough movie. As bad as some of the shit is in this film, a lot worse shit was going on. This is the nice version.”

I do support the film, and I consider it worthy of serious consideration.  Coincidentally, the NAACP has nominated the film in four different categories for its “Image Awards.”

“Despite a controversy over its use of the n-word, Tarantion’s film collected four nominations, one for best picture and others for Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington.” (Hollywood Reporter)

Joe Giambrone is a filmmaker and author of Hell of a Deal: A Supernatural Satire. He edits The Political Film Blog, which welcomes submissions. polfilmblog at gmail.

 

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His people

Posted: October 14, 2012 in -
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More geniuses reported on here.

by Randy Shields

Hey Raheim,

Thanks for letting me borrow Avatar, The Hurt Locker, and Blind Side. You really hooked me up this time. How did you know that Caucasian porn is one of my guilty little pleasures ? Having merciful, just, compassionate and brave white people always available and their goodness spurting off like Old Faithful, OMG, is so hot. Here’s my review:

I have to hand it to us: we whites are the most selfless, courageous, beneficent people who ever walked the face of … the silver screen. From pistol-packing white mama Sandra Bullock sashaying into the hood to tell off the home boys in Blind Side (how come those black savages aren’t doing honest work for six bucks an hour in one of Bullock’s millionaire husband’s fast food chain restaurants/plantations?) to the white gimp hero being made whole in his blue heaven of Avatar (white men can jump on Pandora!) and leading the blue savages to victory (after he and his kind brought them carnage and mayhem) to The Hurt Locker soldiers de-mining bombs unfairly planted by the sand savages (after the soldiers and their kind brought them carnage and mayhem.) The problem is always savages — savages, savages everywhere. Savages of every color and stripe (the Na’vi!) and not enough white people to save them. Whites! Carnage! Action! Salvation! Hang in there, magenta people, wherever you are, we’re on our way to save you (from us, after the introductory offer of carnage and mayhem.)

(Memo to white Christians: time to get couples counseling because, while you’re keeping the home fires and hell fires burning, the God you worship apparently hates you: He keeps carousing out there in the Third World and even other galaxies, giving away all the cosmic bling — the buffalo, the oil, the “unobtainium” — to the savages.)

I know you liked Blind Side, Raheim, but if you want a classic football movie check out North Dallas Forty with its humor, injuries, legal and illegal drugs, racism, sadistic coaches, greedy owners, groupies, the stamping out of individuality, and the camaraderie and love of competition that keeps players hanging in there to the bitter end. Should Blind Side get points because it’s based on a true story, this tale of a white southern Republican family that adopts a young black male who goes on to college and pro-football? Nah. It left me cold. I’m not interested in the America that accidentally coughs up a diamond every once in a while for our pleasure and pacification — I’m interested in seeing movies about everything that capitalism deliberately devours and shits out to produce that diamond or, more accurately, fool’s gold. Probably in the last 300 years in America there were a couple dozen instances of white people helping out black people — and Hollywood made blockbusters out of all of them.

In Avatar, put aside the white male hero character going off the rez — that’s too easy to slam — I didn’t buy Sigourney Weaver’s character trying to schmooze the tall athletic Na’vi. Wouldn’t the American empire have sent somebody like NBA Commissioner David Stern to see if the blue freaks could hit the turnaround jumper? The empire needs to be entertained too, you know. Isn’t an NBA commish born to negotiate with chief mercenary Stephen Lang, concerning the merits of a possible new expansion franchise, the Pandora Tail-Shtuppers? Even if Pandora was destroyed, a few Na’vi could have been brought back as “hardship” cases and been mentored and tutored about the discovery of their country by “explorers” Lang and Weaver and then suited up.

I’ll say one thing for Avatar, though: this film is a crack across the mouth of America, America’s military, and everything the American empire is doing in the world. Director James Cameron turned up the squirm knob on American filmgoers cuz by all rights they should have been cheering and whooping that the underdog Na’vi heroically defeated a fiendish aggressor. But there wasn’t that kind of cheering in American theaters (unlike foreign ones) because — oops, cognitive damn dissonance, these villains are the sacred and sainted troops whom it’s so important to glorify at all times. Avatar does not support the troops — and if it cost $300 million to put that statement on screen it was worth it. You can’t get that statement out of the mealy-mouthed “leaders” and supposed radicals in the antiwar movement. Maybe in America you can only tell the truth if you have $300 mil in your pocket. Or are completely broke — anything in between and you’re just a corrupt little weasel in waiting. Apologies to real weasels — we humans just labeled you really funny and it’s a great oversight that our names aren’t reversed and we aren’t all singing I-I-I-I-I-I am everyday weasels… Weasels… need weasels…

That said, Avatar’s not that threatening on a more basic level. A movie of noble savages saying a little prayer for each innocent creature they needlessly slaughter ( there seems to be a lot of juicy fruits on Pandora ) puts humans back in their cribby comfort zone. Humans are always open to the Good News of the possible necessity of killing something. Americans, in particular, can deal easier with their skyscrapers being knocked down than the true nightmare, the end times scenario: the cheeseless world of the scary vegans. To show you what America really fears, I offer you all the many anti-terror laws used against eco and animal activists during the Bush years (not so much a time of the Great Fear as the time of the Great Big I-Don’t-Give-A-Damn.) The words “soy cheese” and “tofu” elicit more instant hatred and alarm than “fuel oil” and “fertilizer.” (The best sequel to Avatar: an invasion by a thousand vegan missionaries brandishing Cornell University’s “The China Health Project” and Tom Regan’s The Case for Animal Rights while simultaneously hunt-sabbing the Na’vi and dodging all of Pandora’s carnivorous creatures. Na’vi eyes would glaze over, preceding their surrender, as we vegans carpet-bombed them with sermons on non-animal sources of B-12 and the hoax of protein complementarity.)

Now the Hurt Locker does support the troops which is why big bad liberal Hollywood gave it the best picture Academy Award over Avatar. This tedious sand fly soap opera is nothing but war propaganda. Scene after scene about the terrible difficulties that invaders, occupiers, and war criminals face. After 90 minutes of murderous foreplay, America finally gets off: a dead young Iraqi boy has a “body bomb” implanted in his torso by the diabolical insurgents and our white hero can’t bear to blow up the dead kid so he basically does open heart surgery to remove the bomb at great risk to his own noble self and carries the dead kid to the safety of the American conscience. It’s so good living here in the White Imagi-Nation. Jesus Christ, we’re good people. We would never stand by and let our government kill one million Iraqis or turn another four million into refugees or destroy their country in a simple tax/wealth transfer from our children’s future to Lockheed and Halliburton’s present. No, we sacrifice our own lives, the most valuable and meaningful lives on this whole damned planet, to make sure that even dead ragheads get a proper burial!

O courageous Hollywood directors, there is a heroic story to be told about Iraq — it’s the Iraqi resistance, particularly the Sunni resistance. At one point the Sunni were fighting the great American murder machine, the fanatical al-Qaeda interlopers and the numerically superior Shia. And in the winter of 2007 with the chaos boiling over it looked like the Sunni just might pull it off and make Uncle Sam cry uncle. But American generals screwed their courage to the sticking place — and put the Sunni on the payroll. I often wonder at the mental gymnastics that friends and loved ones of US soldiers go through. One night we went to bed knowing the Sunni are depraved terrorists who plant IEDs and the next morning the newspapers said these irredeemable murderers are now getting our tax dollars (the “Sunni Awakening” was really the Pentagon Awakening to the fact that it was about to get its five-sided ass kicked out of Iraq.) But where oh where on earth is our revenge supposed to go? And who knew that there’s so much Christian forgiveness at the Pentagon! And no congressperson or prominent media person says a word — just get used to it you idiots, we’ll tell you day is night and shit is sugar and you’ll buy it every time. We’ll tell you who to hate and when to hate and how hard to hate and then tell you to stop on a dime and you losers will do it every time, even if the blood and limbs of your sons and daughters are fertilizing Fallujah. This government is bankrupt because you’re bankrupt.

The Hurt Locker and Blind Side are two “true” stories that paint a more deceptive picture of what life is like in 2010 than does Avatar’s 22nd century Pandora.

Anyway, Raheim, keep the flicks comin’. And don’t forget to shower the weasels you love with love.

Randy Shields can be reached at music2hi4thehumanear@gmail.com.

The darling of predominantly white middle class festival audiences, Beasts of the Southern Wild, has not met with universal adoration. I haven’t seen the film, but a scathing review at New Black Man in Exile: No Love in the Wild, by Bell Hooks (long).

At the center of this spectacle is the continuous physical and emotional violation of the body and being of a small six year old black girl called Hushpuppy (played by the ten year old actress Quzenhane Wallis). While she is portrayed as continuously resisting and refusing to be a victim, she is victimized. Subject to both romanticization as a modern primitive and eroticization, her plight is presented as comically farcical…

It is a major mystery that moviegoers adore this film and find it deeply moving and entertaining. Amid many real life tragedies of adult violation of children (i.e. Penn State,) violations that subject small children to verbal abuse, physical and psychological violence’ sexual assault, it is truly a surreal imagination that can look past the traumatic abuse Hushpuppy endures and be mesmerized and entertained by Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Ultimately this film expresses a conservative agenda… But there is nothing radical about the age-old politics of domination the movie espouses – insisting that only the strong survive, that disease weeds out the weak (i.e. the slaughter of Native Americans,) that nature chooses excluding and including.

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The Stories Hollywood Won’t Tell

Darwin Bond-Graham

As far as film genres go it’s hard to find another that exceeds the racism, chauvinism and brutality displayed in westerns. The very material upon which westerns are based is an historical era characterized by one of the world’s most massive genocides, the colonization of a half continent, and the theft of even more lands from a “mongrelized” nation, Mexico. Virtually every western flick produced before the 1970s is seething with anti-Mexican and anti-Indian racism, reflecting the reality of the day, and by the day I mean both the 19th Century frontier, and 20th Century US mediascape. Plots are built around the irrational “depravities” of the sub-races as they rampage across the “wilderness” attacking peaceful and industrious settlers. Virtually every early western is about the white man’s attempts to defend his women and community against the “savage” red-skinned humanoids who heed no laws or honor.

Later westerns turned the mirror on the white man to some extent, showing that evil also lurked in the master race of colonizers. He was the black-hat villain, and as if to certify his criminal insanity he often consorted with dark Indians and especially mixed-race Mexicans. The heroes remained the same, the tall white-hat gunslinger. Sure there’s a lot of variations and even quite a few exceptions to the rule. More than a few westerns were built around the anti-hero persona of men like Clint Eastwood. But the genre’s overall narrative from its earliest days, with films like The Big Trail, has been about white civilization’s survival in a savage wilderness, and the justness of manifest destiny in American history.
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