Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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Skin Deep

August 23, 2011

Skin (2008) is the true life story of Sandra Laing, a black girl who was born to white Afrikaner parents in Apartheid era South Africa.  The film tells the story of Sandra’s struggle with identity largely during her adolescent and young adult years.  Raised with her older brother (whose skin is white) Sandra believes that she is white but is subject to the cruel punishment and belittlement of her school peers and teachers who see her as a kaffir.  Sandra’s confusion and her parents’ tireless attempts to prove that she is indeed white lands their unique case at the highest levels of the South African courts.  After testimony from genetics experts and observations of her ethnic features by “doctors” Sandra is legally classified as white and bounces off into the sunset with her blonde haired, blue eyed doll that she values so much.

Of course life is not happily ever after for the family as Sandra’s skin continues to divide her community.  Sandra is an oddity in her dating years.  A novelty for the Afrikaner whites and intriguing to the Swaziland natives Sandra must decide what side of the love fence feels most genuine to her peaking sexual identity.  Sandra’s decision also divides her family wherein her father, a staunch supporter of the Apartheid government, disowns her when Sandra becomes pregnant by a black man. Sandra’s mother, also a supporter of the government (albeit torn by the love for her daughter) too distances herself.  It is when Sandra rears her children that she legally reclassifies herself as black for fear of losing them.

This film is an ironic take on the story of the tragic mulatto.  Sandra is not of mixed race blood but as far as everyone else is concerned it is perception that matters.  There are some hard to watch scenes in the film where she uses bleaches and creams to lighten her features because of her confusion.  Sandra hates her black skin and yet she is not black.  But she is black.  But she isn’t black.  Get the picture?  This film will appeal to brown people who have ever developed a mental condition about being  “light-skinned” or white people who’ve developed a mental condition about their “olive” features.  Skin is not just skin here.  3 Siggies.

 

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District 9: Political and Pure Awesomeness

August 17, 2009

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When I saw the trailer for District 9 I was immediately taken by the concept of a Peter Jackson-produced tale in which aliens and humans coexist.  Even more surprising was the fact that a major sci-fi flick would take place not in America but rather the birthplace of civilization.  Pretty freaking cool, indeed.  Lest I give away too much of the film (which is hard because I’m so juiced about what I witnessed in the frenzied theatre full of Trekkies no doubt) let it be known that this is a movie about apartheid, bigotry, and intolerance under the guise of marvelous visual effects and creepy characters.   And as my friend Dan just put it so eloquently, apparently an alien film is the only way the people can talk about racism comfortably.  Thanks Dan.  By the way, check out his blog on sports, hip hop, and beards- yes, as in facial hair at www.fearthebeard.org.

So here we are in a peculiar time in political history where aliens land in South Africa not to take over the world but just because by some strange happenstance they arrive without rhyme or reason.  After being forced into District 9, a ghetto where drug abuse, prostitution, gun-running, and violence inevitably abound; the government-controlled powers that be decide to move the aliens (derogatorily referred to as Prawns) even further away from the city into another slum…not without first exploiting their weaponry of course.  Nice.  Picked to head the relocation is Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copely) who as the film progresses, transforms from a prejudiced government lackey into a tolerant and sympathetic advocate.

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District 9 is engrossing, clever, and peppered with humor- whereas cat food of all things is like crack to the Prawns.  In the August 14th edition of Entertainment Weekly D9’s director, Neil Blomkamp, a South African gent, observes “it was not (his) intention to make a film about apartheid” but rather to portray the realism of something that could possibly happen.  It is difficult however not to draw parallels between an imaginary film and the political hot topics of today.  People fear what they do not understand and will rush to town hall meetings to scream about socialism if given the chance and camera time.  I’m just saying.  Obama is not saying anything he didn’t say during his campaign, but I digress…

So for it’s political relevance and propensity to spark debates about the bastardization of a culture of any sort District 9 gets tres Siggys.  Go see it and confront that ubiquitous elephant in the room patiently awaiting a discussion.

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So Bad it’s Good?

July 28, 2009

I so love the idea of poking fun at ridiculous films and the bonding experience that they can create.  Besides, they produce some of the best quotes.  Holiday Heart, anyone?  There are those who cringe at the idea of seeing Ving Rhames in full drag.  And then there are those who wish they could croon like Miss Diana, adopt a family, and battle pimps and drug dealers while looking fab.  Discuss amongst yourselves.

Check out this link to the theatrical trailer for The Room.  The psychology behind the buzz is beyond fascinating.

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D.C. or Bust

January 16, 2009
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They Got This

 

So I’m taking a  mini sabbatical from blogging as I will be attending the 44th Presidential Inauguration this weekend.   What else can I say?  This is history and I want to be there to witness it with my own eyes.  I implore everyone to get active and commit to volunteering in a community service project this weekend as PRESIDENT Obama has tagged MLK day as a National Day of Service.  Yes we can and yes we did!  Let’s keep the revival going!  This is a victory for all of us.  To find volunteer opportunities in your area go to:

http://www.usaservice.org/page/event/search_simple

Happy History Making!

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Sean Penn+Baby Voice= Milk Oscar Buzz?

December 6, 2008

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Just give him the Oscar nom already.  I swear, no actor portrays a babyish innocence like Sean Penn.  As I sat through what was his whimsically passionate portrayal of  Harvey Milk in Milk I could not help but think that I’d seen this vulnerable, “goo-goo gaa-gaa” performance before in I Am Sam.  What a wuss!  I say this not at all in a demeaning sense but rather  in awe at how Penn effortlessly makes you believe that you aren’t watching him act for two hours- he just is.

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Though I knew very little about the life of Harvey Milk (and even littler about George Moscone) I knew I was in store for a two-hour saga that would surely cause the tears to well up- and did they ever.  For the record I enjoyed Milk because of it’s political relevance. To be sure, it’s eerie at how the whole art- imitating-life-imitating-art phenomena rings true 30 years later in the era of Proposition 8.   Thus, I was quite intrigued at director Gus Van Sant’s chronicling of 1978’s Proposition 6- the initiative that sought to ban gays and lesbians from teaching in public school.  And then there was Anita Bryant.  You silly rabbit.

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Not to be outdone the supporting cast too deserve their share of accolades.  James Franco’s acting chops have matured since his Spiderman days and he gives a sweet performance as Milk’s homie-lover-friend- to- the-end, Scott Smith.  Diego Luna also gives a powerful performance as Jack Lira, a lover with insecurities that are bone deep (almost painful to watch, really) and Emile Hirsch is solid as Cleve Jones, Milk’s friend and fellow defender of gay rights.  Josh Brolin rounds out the supporting cast as the troubled Dan White, San Franciso supervisor and assassin.

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So why should you see this movie?  If not for Sean Penn then see it for the cinematography.  I still don’t know  which scenes were authentic news footage  and which were shot to look that way.  I don’t think I even want to know.  For 128 minutes I felt as if I were living in the Castro district rather than seeing the movie just a few short blocks away from it.  See the movie for it’s messages about tolerance, too.  Milk’s tagline reads “Never blend in”.  Who can argue with that?

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WHAT WOULD BIG BIRD SAY ABOUT PROPOSITION 8?

November 21, 2008

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Follow that Bird was the first bootleg movie that I ever owned.  Before hustlers got enough gall to take camcorders into movie theaters there was VCR recording from television. I didn’t know any better in 1985 but was I ever thankful for learning that little trick.  You’ll never find me purchasing a copy of Maximum Overdrive any time soon!

Follow that Bird is the story of Big Bird’s cross-country journey back to Sesame Street after a group of social workers determine that he would be more comfortable living with a family of birds.    Miss Finch, the placing worker and a bird herself,  paints a lavish picture of Big Bird flourishing in a home with a feathered mother, father, and siblings that can better appreciate him in all of his birdly glory.  Initially excited about the possibility of leading a new life-though to the dismay of his friends- Big Bird half-heartedly agrees that leaving is the best option and parts ways with Oscar, Cookie, Grover, and his human friends on Sesame Street for new adventures.

Lest I spoil the other plot twists that lie ahead Big Bird later discovers that all that glitters is not gold.  His new parents’ style of parenting is not even close to providing the love and attention that he received on Sesame Street and life in the house becomes unbearable.  As Big Bird escapes and makes his way back home his Sesame Street friends set out on their own journey to find him.

Awww…can’t you just feel the love?  Even as a four-year-old I could tell you that the moral of Bird is that people-or muppets for that matter- don’t have to be of the same species to be considered a family.  Cookie Monsters and Grouches can live together as quarreling cousins and humans can adopt Big Birds as sons or daughters.  Come to think of it, is Big Bird a boy or a girl?

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The subtle and negative messages about “meddling social workers” notwithstanding, Follow that Bird is a winner because it redefines family.  Leave it to Sesame Street to teach messages about tolerance.  Though Miss Finch and her cohorts theorized that Big Bird would be better off with his (her?) own kind they find that the best home is the one where love is taught even if between species.  One can not help but liken this film to today’s political climate where same sex couples are prohibited from adopting.  There are thousands of children who are waiting for someone to simply validate their existence, much less love them, and who would ever want to deny that?  Big Bird didn’t care if s/he had a human mother figure and a Count for a brother.  The need for love and acceptance was all that mattered.  It really makes you think.  How would Big Bird vote?

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What Obama’s Election Really Means…

November 5, 2008

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If you’re looking for speculation on who should be cast in the roles of Hollywood’s inevitable Obama biopic you will be sorely disappointed. Let’s get sociopolitical for a moment.  This is the portrait of America’s new history books.  Not only is this moment extraordinary because Barack Obama-a Black man- has been elected to the highest position in the country, this portrait in itself is historic because the first woman and first children look like me 20 years ago and 20 years from now respectively.  I am speechless.  While this is a time for all Americans to celebrate democracy in action no one can deny the symbolism of yesterday’s election. Lest we get beside ourselves with euphoria and emotion about finally becoming “one people” we must never forget that the election of Barack Obama was a culmination of events that African  Americans suffered and died for.  Non-Blacks will never experience the sweetness of this moment in the same vein as Blacks.

The election of Barack Obama as president means that now is the time for Black people in particular to eliminate the word “can’t” from our vocabulary.  There are simply no more excuses to throw pity parties about what we wish we could do and complain about how we can’t get a break because of skin color and/or economic hardships.  Personal responsibility for ones successes and growth has always been a factor in the history of Black America.  We are owed nothing by anyone.  Barack Obama did not become the 44th president because of his skin color.  He did it because he sacrificed a mediocre life to pursue higher education, had a vision, and dedicated himself to bringing it to fruition.

More importantly, this election is a call for Black men to reclaim their greatness.  If you grew up in a family like mine you probably heard that we are the original Kings and Queens.  Now is the time to act like it.  Black man, if you did not have a role model in your father or any other Black man in your community, with Obama in office you now have something to aspire to.  There is no reason for you to kill each other just for bragging rights.  There is no reason for you to sire children and not actively participate in setting the foundations for them to lead productive lives.  There is no reason to not take pride in who you are.  There are no more excuses.  Enough already!