Watching the decline...

Archives: Film

Oh And Fuck Roseanne…

Really! Really?

Eating Our Own

As the Oscars continue on the road to death from taking itself way too seriously the Golden Globes, its hipper more loose moraled cousin, continues to follow it down the rabbit hole of irrelevancy. From what I saw, the well meaning and relevant protests and discussion about sexual violence, predation and under representation of women in Hollywood was a resounding success, i.e. its trending. I suppose that my mention of it would, like a dimly lit star in the night sky that mostly goes unnoticed, be a part of the chorus of discussion about the issue.

The attention brought to Women who have been harassed, stripped of power and dignity through violence or implied violence and the inequities in power in this one industry is well deserved, it is supposedly shining a light on the greater, even less empowered world below it. Women feeling constantly threatened, or conversely those who feel empowered to use that to their advantage, are all affected by this imbalance. The different approaches to this end and the varying ways individual women have reacted to the issue has left me again wondering if the multiplicity of voices, many on the same side, can be heard through the noise.

Susan Sarandon, who I respect not only as a actor but as much as one can someone they have never spoken to, a human being, is the latest victim of the reactionary left’s (words I never hoped to ever have to say) group-think.  Somehow, in 140ish characters, the twitter-verse has managed to shame her for not letting her gender dictate her conscience.

As twitter logic goes, regrettably, this is fairly benign, but as the greater trend toward vanquishing the twin dragons of balkanization of any outlying opinion and identity politics are concerned it is another example of the stoopid factor, eating your own when it comes to small differences in opinion, when we largely agree.

Its so absolutely fucking insane that because Sarandon did not follow the part line and support Hillary Clinton (her ABSOLUTE right as an individual, I might add) in the democratic primaries and then dared to support Stein (a woman?!?!?) she is somehow solely responsible for the downfall of the black dress movement and a far worse offender than any male who presided over the casting couch Hillary’s victory would have surely completely demolished.

Here are a few dumb-ass responses to her being an individual with her own voice and position (IRONY ALERT!)

– Oh and by the way, thank you Huffington Post for finally beginning to show a little backbone in calling out stupid, although subtly.

SO what was her major crime? Refusing to support a candidate that very few people were truly happy with for one who was screwed out of party support because he WASN’T a woman? Aside from not making a lick of fucking sense, its entirely counterproductive.

Shit like this pushed into leaving the Democratic Party without abandoning my liberal principals, so am I now a traitor, sexist and bigot for respecting the opinions of others who are largely in line in principal with mine?

When do we stop sniping over small differences and finally begin unifying on GP and figure out the minor shit later? Not that we should swing far in the other direction and support raving idiot’s who are clearly unfit for office simply because they are the official party candidate, but nor should we feel we have to support someone who was clearly a member of the political class, didn’t do shit for Black People yet pandered for our vote simply because she is a woman. An absolutely well qualified woman, but also a woman who allowed her own ambition to let her turn a blind eye to the obvious corruption in her own party.

A vote for Stein or Sanders WAS NOT a vote for trump, it was a vote for the soul and conscience of the Democratic party and a test that my former party failed miserably.

Sarandon is still a hero to me, not as an actor, or as an activist, but for being the target of everything wrong with the left, the lack of serious self criticism, the lack of any real ability to soul search, and the mimicking of everything the right has represented to us since college, robotic reactionary proto-facisim.

The Love of Money is the Root of All Evil….

It all comes down to money, doesn’t it?

Money coupled with power. Power over people via “ideas” that have more in common with emotional revulsion than logic. This is what we are now.

Steve Bannon was at the left hand of the seat of power; he was the co-pilot of the administration, arguably the primary architect of the Trump victory. You’d have to be utterly blind, delusional, Stockholm Syndrome-addled or just uncaring not to see this.  The nearly transparent lie that there was no collusion on the part of Bannon’s appeals to race resentment and the violence that often erupted at Trump rallies doesn’t need calling out, it is there, in plain sight, for all to see.

Nor does the connections to the Alt-Right, real Nazis, and other assorted white supremacists, they too, are plain. Through the denials (what common criminal ever said, “Yeah, I did it, that was me” when being cornered by the cops?) the obstrufications and every logical event to the contrary, Bannon, Breitbart and its network of ideologues and hangers-on continue to play a role in the conversation or at least continue to keep the discussion about them, bolstering the profiles of both the wave riders and the hard idealogues.

There is no such thing as bad press.

So why are we still playing this game?

Why are we still under the delusion that we are living under anything but a proto-fascist state, a state that combines the worst elements of our cold war and second world war enemies.  We now represent the things we have purportedly fought against for most of the 20th century. It’s no longer about left and right ideologies because both would be crushed under the weight of the oligarchy. When there isn’t freedom for anyone, ideology is moot.

It is a cold hard fact that for all of the history of the United States we have been awash in white supremacy. Its taken many forms as the idea of whiteness have been adopted by various Europeans and those of European descent. It isn’t unique to this nation, but the brand of white superiority and supremacy is.  We are unique in the fact that we’ve inhabited a Janus-like guise, out of one face we say we are pluralistic and generous, the huddled masses are welcome to come and add their uniqueness to our own and to our collective culture, on the other we are xenophobic, racist and fearful of difference although demonstrably, once we know each other personally those elements diminish.

We also claim to value our collective contributions to our society. We claim to not see race or sex and that the value we place on our fair values is absolute. Even on our political left, there is this illusion, the corridors of power in our entertainment are littered with the desiccated bodies of the women who know better. Liberal Hollywood is awash in its form of hypocrisy. Weinstein, Cosby, and Baldwin, either get a pass or use their considerable power as men to create false personas that defy their goodness while hiding their toxic badness.

At the risk of sounding SWJish, White Male Superiority in general. Yes, even Cosby.

Masculinity is at least a convening force in all this. I’ve spoken before about how this mirror universe came to pass, how the power structure that was had been challenged by an educated, non-white man, and then an educated (albeit universally unlikeable) white woman and the resulting pushback gave us a starring role in the Truman shitshow we live in now. How the years of ingrained, assumed norms of power and who was inherently qualified to wield it, unraveled while Rural White Male America slept soundly in their beds, secure in the fact that their hegemony wouldn’t be undone by a one-term Nigger president.

See how that happened?

We didn’t elect a white knight, we chose the anti-Nigger, the crass boldness embodiment of everything we would have lynched Obama for, and some things lesser, that we tried to. Trump’s money, his conspicuous consumptive nature on full display in House Horrific gold inlay pimp my penthouse bling, his pussy grabbing dullard braggadocio, his obviously ignorant grasp of policy and its implications, all of it punishable by death for any nonwhite who isn’t signed to Bad Boy or in the NBA.  Trump is gangsta personified.

Must be the money…

Your Heroes Will Always Disappoint You

Updated on 8/23/17 with links. And a few egregious spelling errors.

….so don’t have heroes.

Feminism has been redefined, again and again, mostly by men. I think I went through a short period of calling myself a feminist before I realized the ridiculousness of that statement. I’m not a woman, so the defining of feminism was not for me to do. Like conversations about abortion, I can only actually be involved on the periphery unless I had something directly to do with the pregnancy. Yes I know and love the women in my life but I don’t define who they are.

Feminism and the definition of it are truly woman’s work. I have a right to chime in and ask questions but the defining characteristics of feminism and being female are not mine to judge.  I think our first mistake when we talk about feminism is allowing fearful or manipulative men to set the conversational terms of engagement. Men, although well-meaning, are often swayed by less than honorable reasons to declare themselves “feminists.” there is a running joke that guys who declare themselves feminists are just trying to get laid. Its a trope on every college campus and workplace and it exists because in many ways it’s true.

It is like the friend who declares their “color blindness,” the person who always knows the best “ethnic food spots” but knows not a single person representing the various flavors he can describe in great detail. The guy who likes exotic looking chicks, or the girl who shows up at all the anti-racist rallies and doesn’t have a single Black friend IRL.

Those people. I’ve been one of those people. I hope never to be one again.

I wish I could say that Kai Cole’s essay about her ex-husband Joss Whedon came as a huge surprise to me. Anyone who shouts so loudly about a cause and is so vocally oppositional to those who champion its opposition is often, not always, but often, full of some degree of shit.

Granted, as we should do with everyone, we need to wait for both sides or at least the stream of on set confirmations that will surely follow, until fully accepting Cole’s POV lock stock and barrel. I fear, though, that it may be too close to the truth.

I love Rosemary’s Baby, adore Braveheart and still believe North by Northwest is a classic, but all of the above film’s Directors, were and in some cases still are, shitty to women. It doesn’t make my enjoyment of any of the above less so because they all came from the minds of mild to extreme misogynists. It does, however, because I am a man and have no direct experience with misogyny, not ring as deeply as it would had I been female. It sucks in this case because he was preaching to be just the opposite.

Now you can find a whole host of reasons his activism was nulled and voided by these revelations (if true) but I can’t help but think that along with the truckload of bullshit there is a deep psychological upset in there as well. Not justifying any of it, just looking at everything full big picture.

If what Cole has written is true, not in its natural and understandable POV but its core truth, that Whedon was a faker and manipulator who used his feminist creds to hide his philandering, that will be a hard pill to swallow. For me it’s not as much a personal affront that he cheated, that aspect of his life is his, and his ex’s not the public’s. What tramples on my sensibilities is that everything he’s said, largely in line with my own beliefs, will be used as ammunition against the rest of us, the silent ones who looked at his stances as brave (but sometimes just as bad as some of whats been said on the “other side”)  and echoed his sentiments. It doesn’t make the views any less relevant, but it does make the spewer damaged goods. The messenger and the message have become one, and the messenger has his stink all over the message.

This is why I back away from admiration as a public duty, and this is why I don’t have heroes. They will ALWAYS, ALWAYS let you down.

Why I Love Sci-Fi Films

Prologue: A coworker was telling me about someone who died recently. He was in his 30’s and had just gotten married. Just after getting engaged he discovered he had cancer, he died, I believe, just this past weekend.

We were flipping through his Facebook page and he seemed to have lead a good, solid, yet short, life. The shots in his gallery seemed well constructed but genuine, he seemed to be surrounded by people who loved him and they seemed to be incapable of wiping the smiles off their faces in his presence. 

It got me thinking, is it better, or at least equally good to live long and have an okay life, or to live a shorter, more robust one? Does any of this matter? If for the fact that we have so many conflicting emotions and quirks that seem to battle within us daily do we really live?

This isn’t going to be a pronouncement that takes anyone by surprise. It won’t surprise in its content or its conclusion, it has been made before and will be made again.

Science, or Speculative fiction lately, especially in movie form, has said more about us, where we’ve been, who we are and where we’re going than any kind of art. Music doesn’t even come close, other visual arts pale and theater is just finally catching up. Theater lately has been concerned about where we have been as an element of who we are, using its emotional underpinning to draw us into historical truths we may not have a connection to otherwise. (I’m looking at you Hamilton and Allegiance)

Science Fiction films, like Arrival and Interstellar, bring together pressing issues (War, Famine, Climate Change, Isolation) and instead of drawing us into the story through emotion, the feeling of the films permeates the narrative. It is part of the story; it is not a plot device it’s part of the plot itself. Emotion is so woven into the story, it is almost a genre unto itself, SciFi emo, or something much better put than that.

I posted a few youtube videos a few weeks ago that illustrate the point, and though I hate to be Mikey’s personal evangelist (well, not really) his latest for Arrival, though not nearly as emotionally affecting as the one for Interstellar, still makes the point. On a dual canvas, these films paint the idea that science and logic are good solid things we need to hold on to (in this day of anti-science and pro-stupid even more so) but also that our flawed, messy emotions, our hurt and pain and our joy and love are all essential elements of our humanity. They will save us.

That is what these films do best. They tell us that the conflicting sides within us not only create a tension we need to drive us ahead, but that tension is the place we live inside. That tension is the place of placidity in the right measure and that when you look at a good day or a good week and you dismiss all the flakiness and fear each one brings you just might have had the perfect balance of both. You might just have a life.

 

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