Yep. Still Black History Month. We’re going to talk about it in the context of the 3 decades between Driving Miss Daisy “beating” Do the Right Thing and Green Book “beating” BlackKklansman as bisected at their exact midpoint by “Crash” in 2004. Mmm-hmm.
Culture is a mirror; that’s why we pay it so much attention.
For those of us particularly sensitive to how certain representations of culture serve to perpetuate systems of gross inequality, however “unintentionally” (as KG would say, “yeah right, mm-hmm”), we also pay attention to how those mirrors are tarnished into madhouse-misshapen misrepresentations … and, of course, to whose benefit those repetitive attempts to force certain cultural representations inures (qui bono, as I encourage folk to ask).
Excellence never lauded or perpetually minimized (“it didn’t do that much; it wasn’t that good; oh (s)he ain’t all that; you’re not quite there yet”).
At the same time, the most minimal “achievements” often from perpetrators with actual venal histories are lauded into prominence, their repeated gross incompetences, even cruelties, minimized into “missteps” where the victims are excoriated with such epithets as “unforgiving” if they – we – refuse to forget; often erased altogether if the perps believe they can get away with it.
We can talk about the interminable wait between awards for some of the craft’s finest practitioners of color, and the fact that only 3 black women have EVER received in non-acting categories, and two of those happened just last night … which says a whole lot about the grudging rate at which progress advances, and the outrage fatigue – about which Senator Booker warned us in January 2017 – which serves as a suffocator whose purpose is to tamp down continued resistance.
We can talk about the copious white fragility on display in the email the producers apparently had the temerity to send out to reporters
We should talk about the fact that, under current rules, Oscar voters are *not even required* to view the films before voting, in the context of what at least one Angry White Dude voter said about *why* he voted for what he voted for (which should sound eerily familiar for everybody who remembers what went down in the national elections ’16).
And we should talk about that in light of the demographics of the current Academy membership
as well as the full anticipation that, despite the entire television audience as well as the Academy having witnessed both what happened and the backlash (I mean, anyone watching her – and remembering her body of work – could tell that even Julia Roberts was not about to Julia Roberts it up over that “winner”), the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite is going to have to be in full use for yet ANOTHER voting year despite the sotto voce whining of “haven’t ‘they’ had enough?”
(We know it’s coming.)
It boils down, to paraphrase Ms. Ava, to #WhoDecides – who gets the power to decide, and, as in the neverending deluge of breaking news in the mainstream media, whose narrative is most prominent, and more importantly, *why* a narrative that warps reality would be pushed, as well as whose interests that might serve.
Deny, deny, deny. It ought to sound familiar. It’s part of a deliberate strategy, by the conscious loudmouth actors and both the conscious and unconsciously complicit, to get and keep a system in place which reasonable democratic actors do not want.
Spike’s films and speeches (and not just Spike’s, of course) direct our attention to precisely how those gross inequalities are directed and used, to whose enduring systemic benefit and to whose detriment — which, moreover, heightens suspicion that Donald J. had been looking for a “reason” to go on one of his flailing attacks since the film’s release date* to spew his usual brand of venom all over it; he’s not just flinging his (quasi-standard, ugh) needy, narcissistic, noxious, jealous, petty attacks, but as his Twitter flail at former Senator Reid earlier today also indicates, he’s doing psy ops.
He’s following orders … and his venal hypocrisy, when major networks have jumpcuts of him making hash of nearly every teleprompter he’s ever figuratively stumbled over, trying to mock a 30-years-revolutionary filmmaker stuttering in part because *he just won an Oscar*, is literally meant to traumatize and confuse us to the point where we can no longer think well.
Which is as bad as it sounds, and why we must employ our reasoning faculties to resist it so vigorously (until we get to the point where we can do it reflexively).
There’s more than one reason why TRE45ON is letting Erik Prince and his mercenaries skulk around over in Haiti
it’s historically the site of the highest number of African-descended slave revolts in the Americas.
It’s the same underlying reason why WGH took Underground off the air when it was acquired by Sinclair Broadcasting (remember them?).
For purposes of sanity as well as strategy, it’s important to remember that Donald himself, (as well as Donald Jr, who’s molded so hard in his father’s image that I might pity him if his output weren’t as consistently toxic as his papa’s), and the racism he espouses and whose structure he flails to maintain at all costs, are symptoms, not so much endgames.
(Even if he doesn’t really know that, it’s important that we do.)
What we have is enough background information to draw the reasonable inference: The attempted at a permeating cultural oppression is a cog in an attempt at a systemic power grab; we know who wants it, who’s behind them, and why they won’t stop their continued attacks on those who know what they’re up to and are willing to call it out on international stages for what it is.
In addition to noting with unease the attempted rise of authoritarian regimes in many of the same NATO countries where anti-immigrant sentiment is stoked, we can pay attention to the similarities in the financiers of such campaigns
and we can pay attention, heightened by further understanding, to the warnings we’ve already been given by national scholars over here
And we can continue to resist with our continued excellence and its recognition the attempted imposition of a cultural, social, political, and financial regime that would serve none of us - not even the stateside-Brexiteer types who were filmed not knowing enough about what they’re voting for to be voting for anything, but can’t be bothered to do anything else as they’re neither willing to think for themselves nor reflect on their apparently unexamined cultural dominance impulses.
(The clip from John Oliver on BREXIT is a must-watch, especially if there are parts of what’s going on that you don’t understand – but if you see nothing else, view the few seconds where the pro-BREXIT voters are interviewed and admit they have no idea what’s really going on, but they’re voting for it anyway even as they simultaneously wonder if they can take it back … and think about the Trump-supporting soybean farmers in states like Iowa.)
Breaking at this writing and relevant:
What we and our allies see celebrated at awards ceremonies like the Oscars, what we’ve watched and shared with our compatriots all year, is NOT just entertainment, for good or for ill. Again, always consider the interests of those who would try to force you to compartmentalize it so artificially.
But when we see ourselves and our magnificence refracted worldwide even in the face of those who would suppress them – and us – as our flourishing doesn’t fit their spurious narrative we can both use our wit and wits to deflect —
and continue to exult, to celebrate our brilliance, perseverance, and performance.