Posts Tagged ‘apartheid’

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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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