This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

January 8, 2010

Images for No. 1 Ladies

I was very happy to see that the amazing HBO series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, has been nominated for three NAACP Image Awards: Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for Jill Scott, and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Anika Noni Rose.

I first wrote about the show the night after its premier:

Last night, about halfway through The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency I realized that I had been tense since the program began. It only took me a moment to figure out why. I had been so looking forward to it, so hopeful for it. But I feared that I would be let down.

But what I suddenly felt at that moment was…relief.

Also, a sort of a feeling of revelation. It is actually possible to depict Black people (and, more specifically, Black African people) without having the required one good White person? Perhaps the White school teacher from Britain with a heart of gold…. Or a White American missionary who begins the tale with ambivalent feelings about the dark people but, through a series of heartwarming interactions and growth-inducing traumatic experiences, comes to terms with both his underlying racism against Blacks and his disappointment with his God…. Or a White female Australian there to save the apes from the ravages of a changing global ecosystem and the bias and ignorance of the natives who have lived amongst the apes for generations….

No? None of these obligatory White characters are present? Just Black Africans going about their daily business and lives? Africans who are proud of and happy in their country (Botswana, in this case) and are not looking to escape to somewhere else? Africans who have the capacity for tremendous good, tremendous bad, and all levels of complexity in between? Africans who face plagues and violence and the tug-of-war of the old and the new with bravery and grace?

The very notion of such a program appearing on my television set is almost too much to comprehend….

I did comprehend the program. And wrote about it regularly. (My posts on the program can be found here.) Sadly, the series is not currently filming a second season and it does not appear as if it will any time soon—although the show’s producers and HBO are said to be “in conversations” to figure out a way to bring it back. I really do miss The No. 1 Ladies and hope that these discussions will be fruitful. Until then, I know what I will be rooting for if I watch the Image Awards.

December 8, 2009

Rinse, Repeat: All (Still) Comes Out in the Wash

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I first posted this back in March. Since that time, I have all but given up on Heroes. A great graphic accompanied this Racialicious post to show just how much characters of colors have lost ground on the program. In fact, the Racialicious rountablers have traded in Heroes for Flash Forward—a series I have seen only one episode of and now feel as thought I may be too far behind to get on board with. I did have a post about Prince alumni Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman’s music for the show. Maybe I’ll get to that, but I’m not holding my breath.

I still have some Nip/Tuck episodes on DVR, but I’m not that enthusiastic about watching them. There’s a new prison storyline with Matt, an older woman-younger man story line with Julia’s mother, and a serial killer wife storyline. There was an especially disturbing episode involving Sean and Julia’s daughter’s  Trichophagia—put me off of my food for the rest of the evening. But no more characters of color and continuing clumsy treatment of LGBT issues.

I’m holding out hope for the new season of True Blood. There will be a storyline featuring a (gay) vampire king. Oh—and it was not Lafayette who was found dead in a car! In the meantime, during my recent trip to San Francisco, my college roommate hipped me to Epitafios. But I have been unable to find the subtitled versions of the first season for rent anywhere. Other than that, I haven’t found any new shows to get excited about, so my TV viewing has been severely curtailed. You’d think that’d mean I’d be getting a lot of work done.

You’d think.

There are only a handful of TV shows that I watch faithfully, week in and week out. For one, I like being in on the start of a television phenomenon, seeing a series unfold in real time. Thus, it is not likely that in mid-series I will start watching, say “Lost” or “The Wire,” even when friends whose opinions I respect assure me I would love them. But mostly, I am kind of commitment phobic when it comes to TV shows, thinking they are bound to let me down as other shows have in the past.

Three of my favorite recent shows have been prime examples of this tendency of TV shows to disappoint.

“Heroes” began with a bang, and I watched it religiously. The concept was great. The cast was a virtual rainbow coalition of heroes and villains. The story lines were engaging. But over time, more and more characters of color either (a) were killed off, or just (b) disappeared from the story lines. (Racialicious has been keeping up with these developments.) This White-washing is all the more troubling because of how often White killed-off characters—but not the POC—have seemed to have the ability to come back to life. Not to mention how the few remaining characters of color have been treated: one gets his memory wiped back to his 10-year-old state; one, after his beheading, appears only as a magical Negro spiritual guide to a White character; one–known only as “The Haitian” (even in Haiti, apparently) just…kind of…falls off the script, but not before being revealed to be less powerful than what he was previously portrayed as.

"I used to have Super Human Powers." Esparta, http://www.flickr.com/photos/esparta/482348262/

"I used to have Super Human Powers." Esparta, http://www.flickr.com/photos/esparta/482348262/

My only hope for Heroes is that the mysterious “Rebel” character is the biracial little boy who can talk to and control machines. It’d be nice, though, if we could see him, instead of just his text messages.

Besides Heroes, there is in my DVR cue the FX network series Nip/Tuck. In this case the offense is not so much “White-washing”—though my favorite character from the past (played by Sanaa Lathan) has never returned despite this show’s tendency to bring back characters from past seasons. Instead, in this case we get a “Straight-washing” of the characters: One of the main female characters who used to be married to one of the male leads finally finds love in a relationship with Ellen’s real-life spouse. But…she ends up back in the bed of the other male lead…then loses her memory…then her partner (played by Portia de Rossi) unceremoniously dies on the operating table. What? Past seasons have also not been kind to sexual minorities: they are frequently mixed-up, conniving, and even (literally) murderous. Can’t just one of these characters be well adjusted?

Well, actually there was one such person. The one character who was a strong, proud lesbian from the start gets sexually and romantically involved with one of the main male leads (the same one who led Portia’s girlfriend back to the straight side—guess his organ really does have magical powers). And, in the season finale—marries him! Perhaps this is meant to be a political statement on the unfairness of California’s Proposition 8. (The series is now set in California.) But if that is the case, they probably needed to be a little less subtle with their statement.

"Vampire Children." Shawn Allen, http://www.flickr.com/photos/shazbot/18449204/

"Vampire Children." Shawn Allen, http://www.flickr.com/photos/shazbot/18449204/

Finally, “True Blood.” I have been a sucker (hee-hee) for the vampire genre ever since I was a child and first saw Bella Lugosi’s intense, sexy stare. So, needless to say I had high hopes for a modern-day vampire tale, set in Louisiana, that appeared to be a parable of the Black and LGBT civil rights struggles. And early episodes of the series did not disappoint. In fact, I was hooked by just the opening credits. But. But. More recently we get a combination, double-whammy, twofer of White- and straight-washing. The sexy Creole guy turns out to be the Vampire-lover killer (and, actually, not Creole at all). Okay. Fair enough. But then the strong-willed ironically named Black character, Tara, seems to undergo a transformation that is not making me optimistic about her further development. Oh, and there is the very interesting shy, gay vampire character who gets killed off.

And the biggest outrage: the disappearance of the hands-down most interesting character: a smart, witty, enterprising gay male character, Lafayette. In the season finale an apparently Black character who we only see from the painted toenails ends up dead.

This. Better. Not. Be. Lafayette.

Really, the main story line–a “Twilight”-like romance between a virginal White heroine and a Civil-War era Southern gentleman vampire–is the least interesting. But it is not likely that the writers will drop it, since that is what the novel series on which it is based is all about.

So, will I continue to give my love to TV programs that don’t love me? When the new seasons of these shows start up again will my feelings be spared the disappointment of my failed TV relationships of the past? Will I decide to write a work of fan fiction in which all the deposed characters of color and LGBT characters from my (previously) favorite programs appear together in their own series where they are all the stars?

Stay tuned, boys and girls…

July 21, 2009

Avada Kedavra, Sectumsempra, and a Whole Lotta Snogging Goin’ On

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A Movie Review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Writing about the sixth installment of the Harry Potter film series without providing spoilers is difficult. By now, everyone who has seen the movie has formed an opinion of it—especially those who have also read the books. At a little over 650 pages, the book on which the movie is based contains far too much “meat” for one film to encompass. The filmmakers likely had to decide which aspects of the book should receive prominence. And, which aspects to only touch on or leave out entirely.

"Anyone for Hogwarts?" Beatnic, http://www.flickr.com/photos/beatnic/3552925744/

"Anyone for Hogwarts?" Beatnic, http://www.flickr.com/photos/beatnic/3552925744/

So if you were expecting the big battle scene following Dumbledore and Snape’s final encounter you would be disappointed. If you were expecting anything having to do with Kreacher and Harry’s inheritance of his godfather’s house, you’d be disappointed. If you wanted anything of the storylines with Bill Weasley, his fiance and the other women in his life, and his unfortunate transformation, you’d be disappointed. If you wanted to see more than a couple of flashbacks fleshing out Voldemort’s past and development into the greatest dark wizard of our time, you’d be disappointed.

This movie was dark, yes. And because of that darkness, perhaps the filmmakers thought that it needed to be counterbalanced by…teen romance. Lots and lots and lots of teen romance.

The entire Scribe household went to see this movie on opening day, along with two additional little girls from our daughters’ school. You’ve never heard such giggles at all the “snogging” going on throughout the film. Hormones thickened the very air at Hogwarts and defined and redefined almost every relationship between and among characters. And meanwhile, in the theater, between passing the large bag of popcorn and boxes of Sour Patch Kids and packages of Twizzlers, four little preteen girls picked up on every glance, every swoon, every flash of jealousy.

I realize now that there was no way the filmmakers could have left out that aspect of the book. The young actors playing Harry and Draco and Ginny and Hermione and Ron and the rest look like what they are—young adults. It would not have done to have them prancing around  playing Quidditch and drinking pumpkin juice and frolicking at Hagrid’s with magical creatures. Hormones had to make an appearance at Hogwarts at this point in the tale.

But the way that romance entered the picture in this sixth installment was a little…odd, to say the least.

The first thing I noticed was how female-driven and -initiated the romance was. Girls used every trick in the Muggle and Wizarding worlds to get their men: flirting, batting eyelashes, slipping love potions into candy treats. A cute Muggle of Color at the start of the movie even gave Harry the old coy I-get-off-at-11 line. The young women in this movie were downright…predatory in their quest for romance.

This is in stark contrast to the book, mostly because in the book we got to see all the internal lusting on the part of, at least, Harry. And this is also in stark contrast because of the addition of a most unusual scene: the Shoelace Incident. The Incident has already been discussed here. I am not sure that I agree that the scene displayed passivity on Ginny’s part. I felt she was still very much strong and in control of the whole interaction, even as she was kneeling at Harry’s feet. In fact, I thought that was one of the most erotic scenes I have ever seen in any movie. And this was in a movie (ostensibly) for children. The silence of the secret room, the intimacy of grooming, the softness of the private kiss… Chills.

The Harry Potter franchise has moved beyond being just a popular book and movie experience. It has become part of Western mythology. It will help define this generation’s identity much like Star Wars helped define a previous one. Its themes will help form my daughters’ and their friends’ ideas about good and evil, friendship and loyalty, race and class, and—yes—sexuality and gender. As uncomfortable as I was at times watching all that snogging with four little girls, I couldn’t help thinking that this still might be a better model for budding female sexuality than the images I was exposed to at their age. It was not perfect by any means. But perhaps better. With all the death and destruction in this series—especially the major deaths to come (assuming the filmmakers decide to portray it)—I guess I can put up with a little more snogging than I am used to seeing  in a children’s film.

This movie was not the movie I would have made. But I did enjoy it and can’t wait for the next installment.

June 22, 2009

Imagining Black Fathers

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This blog post is about a movie I saw recently with my 9 year old daughters, starring Eddie Murphy as a father who learns to love his young daughter—and in the process, rediscover his own humanity—via imaginary princesses in an imaginary world.

Or—

This blog post is about a young father I used to see at a bus stop in St. Paul, MN, standing with his toddler daughter in all kinds of weather, her pink and lavender Dora the Explorer backpack slung around his shoulder and his jeans hanging below his hips.

Or, this blog post is about the way that the MSM cannot get Black fathers right.

Well, all that is a mighty tall order. Let’s start with the movie and maybe I can work in some of the other points. This will be somewhat of a random ramble but I’ll see what I can do.

Imagine That…

If I told you it was a Nickelodeon film…if I told you it came on the heels of another movie about an adult male (starring another, this time White, comedian/actor) prospering at work due to the imagination of a child…if I told you it was yet another movie about divorced adults behaving badly and the children who must bring them to their senses…if I told you the female “lead” (and I use the term loosely as in this movie, like many starring men, the women do not have a whole lot to do) looked an awful lot like Mr. Murphy’s own ex… If I told you all that you might imagine that “Imagine That,” starring Eddie Murphy, would not be a movie you should go see.

I myself only saw it because the grandparents wanted to take the daughters and invited me to go along. I expected to get a few winks in the comfy theater chairs and wake up in time to agree with my girls what a good movie it was.

Instead, I found I couldn’t take my eyes off of the movie. I had been thinking a lot about Black fatherhood, see. And in this movie Murphy’s character is struggling with being a Dad. Struggling in a real way, I thought. He doesn’t “get” his daughter. She touches things and bothers things and piddles around when it’s time to go and doesn’t seem to listen to him. And she has a blankie that she refuses to give up, because it is her means to talk to her imaginary friends. All this is getting in the way of him being a superstar financial investment professional, in line to become the new boss—if only he can outperform a rival with a sexier ethnic heritage (American Indian) with unorthodox methods who the White higher-ups, colleague, and clients seem taken with.

That’s enough of a set-up.

BMW (Black Men Working)

The first thing that struck me while watching the Murphy movie was how infrequently in films we get depictions of upwardly mobile, well educated, high income Black folks who are just people. In some movies (cough***tylerperry***cough) upper income people are bad guys or sell out buffoons or symbolic of all that has gone wrong with The Black Community. In other movies they are merely the best friends or sidekicks to the main White character.

Remember when Eddie Murphy’s movie “Boomerang” came out? I remember reading a couple of reviews by White critics that lambasted the film for its lack of realism in depicting a virtually all-Black high income professional world. (I doubt that these same critics fault any of Woody Allen’s movies for depicting an all-White NYC, but that’s another story.) As if movies have anything to do with what is “real.” As if it is so hard to imagine Black folks with high profile jobs working with other Black folks.

I have been talking a lot about Black women in workplaces. I know that Black men have similar, but also different challenges with dealing with competing masculinities—White, other Black, and other non-Black men of color—at work. By now we have all heard of the research about “baby-faced,” non-threatening-looking Black men doing better as CEOs than other Black men.

I knew a Black man once who was a top executive at his university. Everyone knew him, as he had become kind of a public “face” of the institution. He once mentioned to me that when he is walking around campus after working out at the gym, dressed in t-shirt and sweat pants, the same White people who would readily say hi to him were he dressed in a suit or walking astride the president, did not even recognize him. In fact, they averted their eyes when they caught a glimpse of his big, tall, dark chocolate body coming towards them. He laughed off his comment. I did not know him well enough to be able to tell if there was anger or sadness or anything else behind the laugh.

I know another professional Black man. At first he was only the second “of color” person of any gender at his job. The first was a Black African man. Then a man from India was hired. An admin assistant said, “Have you all met? Now there are enough of you to have a minority association here!” Regarding the first-hired guy, this man was frequently called by his name. No matter that the first spoke with a Nigerian accent and the other, a midwestern pattern, or that the one was very dark skinned while the other was brown-skinned, one was very tall and the other medium height, one had worked there for years while the other only a few months. Oh, but they were both bald, so…

I suppose Barack Obama has a “baby face.” I have written here before how I believe he bends over backwards to be self-deprecating to put people (especially White people) at ease. That’s a lot of time wasted, IMO, that he could be doing other things with his personal energies. But he is well aware of what he has to do. People have a hard time imagining a Black man as a top advertising executive, or financial investor—let alone POTUS.

“Will you be my Daddy?”

I do not know what it is about male stars turning to family/children’s movies at critical points in their careers. But I must say, I am all for it. (Remember, this is coming from someone with two kids.) We’ve seen it with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, with Adam Sandler, with Eddie Murphy, even with Ice Cube. In these movies these men are fathers, or otherwise are caretakers to children. They must overcome former tendencies—with selfishness, with workaholism, with womanizing, with partying—in order to “grow up” and “be a man.” The pathway to this personal growth is children. (Again, the women in these movies are largely absent or at least non consequential.) I have not seen anyone hailing these movies as tackling important issues of gender, or Black fatherhood, or anything else. But I think that is a mistake. I think these movies are trying to tell us something about how some men may be feeling about their roles at a certain point in their lives.

There is a song out that I absolutely despise. It’s by, I think, Twista—the cat that rapid fire raps—and features hook vocals by a  female vocalist. She sings, “I need a Daddy. Can you be my Daddy? …Come and make it rain down on me…” I am pretty sure that she is singing to a potential romantic partner and not a potential actual father figure. The song irks me for too many reasons to go into here. But I do think it points out a twisted (pun intended) view of fatherhood as a symbol. Only recently has a wider spread conversation started about the effect of fatherlessness on Black girls—after much public agreement from all quarters about its effect on Black boys.

Are grown women looking for “fathers” in their beds? Are grown men looking to be “fathers” to grown women who they are having sexual relationships with? From the song I gather that part of the role played by the potential Daddy is mainly that of protector, pleasure giver, and financial security blanket. So with at least two out of the three, we’re back to the upwardly mobile professional Black men. Our music is full of images of Black men providing protection and financial security through rapping and gray/black market entrepreneurship. No critics say that is unrealistic. We can easily imagine that. We do not have as many models for Black men being social fathers to little girls, providing that same protection and financial security. That is, I guess, harder for us to imagine.

As I mentioned in the intro, when I lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, I used to pass by a certain bus stop early each morning as I drove my daughters to school. At this bus stop every morning, no matter how cold or how much snow was on the ground, was this young brother with a toddler-aged little girl. I thought about them and especially him every time I passed by. He was, as I said, young and Black. He was always dressed in the latest “urban” fashion: bubble jackets and sagging jeans and expensive looking sneakers, and baseball caps for every day of the year. If I saw him on the street without the toddler I would probably make all sorts of assumptions about him.

But there he was every single morning. Along with his fly gear, he also frequently sported the little girl’s backpack over his shoulder. At the stop light I’d watch him, backpack over his shoulder, holding the little girl’s hand. I would watch him and wonder why it is so hard for me to imagine someone like him. I do not know, actually, if he was the girl’s father, or older brother or uncle or whatever. I do not know where he went or what he did after he dropped the little girl to the day care center or child care providers or his mother’s house or her mother’s house. But for, probably, an hour or so each morning—whether it was 82 degrees or 20 below—he was this child’s protector and provider.

I try to superimpose the image of that young brother on other young brothers I see on the street, dressed in urban fashions and looking very un-baby faced even as I know they are practically babies.

Imagining Black Fathers

By the end of Eddie Murphy’s new movie, he has gained the love and respect of his (formerly) estranged little daughter. I have noticed that in movies with female leads about career and family, the women often have to give up one to have the other. But in movies about male leads seeking this balance, the one actually leads to the other. Eddie’s character has a new relationship with his daughter and becomes the big boss—despite acting in a way that is considered highly unprofessional (= not putting work first) in his workplace. I do not know how real this is for men. Maybe male work-family fantasies have not reached the same conclusion as women’s have—that “balance” is not incredibly realistic, or even desirable, or it at least involves a redefinition of the word.

(Or maybe we women are being led to believe that only we need to give up notions of balance all together and get back to being subservient to men. But that’s another blog post.)

Maybe in the next Eddie Murphy family flick he can explore both sides—Black men embracing fatherhood in their workplaces and Black women embracing motherhood in their workplaces. Or, even more worth the price of admission, maybe Eddie can co-star with Arsenio Hall or Adam Sandler as romantic partners balancing fatherhood and work roles—along with their roles as ex-husbands to women…and sons to mothers and fathers…all in the context of navigating their relatiopnship with each other.

Wow. Imagine that!

May 17, 2009

Four-Word “Wolverine” Movie Summary:

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — pprscribe @ 10:44 am

Hugh Jackman butt nekkid

May 12, 2009

Love Heals: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

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The 7th episode of the HBO series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency resolved some mysteries and revealed a couple new or unresolved ones. As usual, I attempt here not to spoil the plot. Instead, I will focus on one of the themes for the episode—and, indeed, for the series as a whole.

In the author’s diary for this week’s episode, Alexander McCall Smith talks about the healing power of love that he sees as part of Botswana’s national character. I have already talked a bit about my ambivalence about love as a weapon of justice. But this time my focus is a little different: Who has the capacity to love. No, actually: Who has the right to love?

When this series first began, I kept hearing one question. Is it possible, people wondered, for a White man—a White, British man—to write sensitively and respectfully about a Black African woman?

Some people said, out-and-out, no. Others doubted. Others left the question open, but still were angered that a White male voice should be privileged over the voices of native Black Africans generally and Black Botswanans specifically—especially Black Botswanan female authors. It appeared to me than many people expressed these opinions without ever having read any of the No. 1 books, or seen any of the episodes of the TV program.

I understand the consternation. I once did a video presentation of films that used Black folks as backdrops—in movies about Black people and experiences. (No use cataloging the films I used as examples. Just begin with Glory and Mississippi Burning and Out of Africa and free associate from there.) I have very definite and strongly felt opinions about White and other folks’ appropriation of the creative, artistic and other cultural products of Black and other POC. The White kid on the subway wearing waist-length locs and a Bob Marley t-shirt smiling hopefully at me gets barely a smirk from me in return… Everything but the burden. Yes. I get it.

I cringe when White folks say of their former Black “help” that these people were “like part of the family.” I am annoyed at young White hipsters traveling the globe and “connecting” during their vacation or year-off with black and brown and yellow and red people with whom they come into contact. I chuckle at Madonna’s infatuation with multiculti skin art and rankle at her infatuation with multiculti “orphans.”

Yes. I really get it.

Yet. Is it possible for a White person to truly feel love and respect for a culture not his or her own? How would that look, exactly? How would we discern that from any of the (I think) inauthentic examples I mentioned above?

It seems from the bonus material for No. 1 that Alexander McCall Smith feels love for the people of Botswana he has met, and continues to have a relationship with people and institutions in that country. Do I get to disallow his love, or say that it is not love?

When JLB first tells Precious that he loves her, she responds “I am very glad.” Not the reply he was looking/hoping for. But perhaps that is how I can respond to the professed “love” of cultural outsiders: I am glad that you love me; I, however, do not necessarily love you. And if that is what you were looking for by telling me of your love, then your love is not true.

But if love heals, then am I doing myself a disservice by not opening my mind to the possibility of seconding that emotion? Do I remain stuck in the past, unable to move forward in some sort of racial reconciliation? What prize to I get if I hold the cultural line, not letting any White (or other non-Black) folks in, belittling their attempts to connect and relate, being on the watch-out for the racial betrayal I know is just around the corner?

I have asked many questions, yet I do not have many answers. But so far, at least, the White film and decision makers connected with The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency have not felt the need to inject themselves into the story. We have not seen the appearance of the White British nurse with the heart of gold or the ambitious and naive young White American Peace Corps worker. It is difficult for me to imagine the restraint that this must entail. Surely some cable executive somewhere has said, “This is really great stuff…but, er, I think we need to create a character that people can relate to”—and that character, of course, would need to be White. But so far, we have not had to be subjected to this random White character to appease the (White) audiences. I thank the people connected with the series for that.

I don’t know if it is “love” or not. But I love it. And am very glad to have it.

***My previous posts about The No. 1 ladies’ Detective Agency can be found here.***

April 30, 2009

Forgetting the Water

Filed under: NOLA Post-Katrina Levee Break — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 2:33 pm

A conversation I had with one woman captured the realities that are settling into these families as they face the future.

She told me “We had nothing before the hurricane. Now we got less than nothing.”

September 6, 2005
Statement of Senator Barack Obama
Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

I have been working on a follow-up to my previous DVR alert about the documentary Trouble the Water after finally viewing it. I have been finding my attempts thwarted by the sadness and anger I still feel. On my previous blog I wrote about my reactions while the story was unfolding. Perhaps I will save some of those posts and re-post them here before shutting that old spot down later next month.

In the meantime, I once again encourage everyone who is able to support this film project.

It is impossible to watch it without being struck emotionally. Who can listen to the audio montage of of 911 calls for help—as the water rose around them with no where for them to go, each caller being told time and time again by stunned operators with no adequate call-script to guide them that no help would be forthcoming—without feeling pain?

"front porch of the lower 9th." eschipul, http://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/3144949504/

"front porch of the lower 9th." eschipul, http://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/3144949504/

April 28, 2009

We Don’t Need Another Doppelganger: Random Thoughts on the Heroes Finale

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Where was “Rebel” last night? Is he really on his own now? How old is he? No mother, no father—but no more grandma and cousin, either?

What has happened to the Haitian?

"yet a delicate balance." circulating, http://www.flickr.com/photos/circulating/2592366317/

"yet a delicate balance." circulating, http://www.flickr.com/photos/circulating/2592366317/

Well, we knew Niki/Tracy/Jessica/Barbara/? would be back next chapter. Guess she was still mad at Idris Elba considering the first person we see her kill is a Black guy.

Ando has dubbed himself the Crimson Arc— which “totally seems like a euphemism for menstrual cycles.” Yes, yes. Actually I can see that. And given how Hiro bleeds now every time he tries to use his powers….

Why didn’t Peter take Nathan’s place? They could have, maybe, chopped Sylar’s body up into little pieces then scattered them around the globe.

Why does everyone love Claire so much? Even Sylar had to get his grown-man-creepy on with her?

What has happened to the Haitian?

Sylar’s line as he pulls the blade out of the back of his head—“That hurt“—is one of the better lines of the entire series. Danko’s reaction was good, but they should have tried a few more takes to get more of an “Ohoh-I’m-screwed-now” aspect to it.

How long next chapter before “Nathan” figures out that his new-found abilities with fine timepieces means something’s up?

In every morph scene in every movie/TV show I am always distracted by why/how clothes morph as well as bodies and voices and hair. If it is a matter of DNA (as it seems to be with Heroes) why wouldn’t a Sylar-into-Claire, for example, still be wearing trousers and boxer shorts?

What has happened to the Haitian?

Sylar better not kill Mr. Muggles.

“We are all connected. Joined together by an invisible thread—infinite in its potential and fragile in its design…” Okay.

How long until the “True Blood” season premier?

Down to Earth (draft 2)

Filed under: Riddle, Poem, Tale, or Joke — Tags: , — pprscribe @ 10:26 am

The movie gave her nightmares for four nights running—nightmares like she had not had since her husband had convinced her to watch a gruesome film in which an unknown madman arranged for person after person to kill themselves in inventive and horrible ways. Which was strange because unlike that other movie, this movie was intended for small children. It was animated. It was rated G.

But it was absolutely terrifying, at least once her subconscious took hold of it after her conscious mind turned in for the evening.

"Trash People @ Rome." robie06, http://www.flickr.com/photos/robie06/439048496

"Trash People @ Rome." robie06, http://www.flickr.com/photos/robie06/439048496

Each dream was more or less the same. First she was running through debris-strewn and dirty streets devoid of any other humans. Shop windows jailed blank-faced mannequins observing her as she passed, their wigs askew or gone altogether…some with arms or hands amputated. Newspaper vending machines held breaking news frozen in time from decades ago. The sun shone brightly on hundreds of dusty, cracked windshields of haphazardly parked, driverless cars.

As she ran one thought propelled her ever forward:

Where are the People?

Signs of the People were discarded everywhere: here, a soda bottle, its label announcing better taste and fewer calories…there, a neon yellow personal music player with its postage stamp-sized display cracked down the center. Here and there some of the machines that the People had built were still working. One was forever broadcasting a vacation spot to an island locale, telling of its stress-reducing and partner-reconnecting powers and urging interested parties to book soon to take advantage of low holiday rates. Another was a two-child Ferris wheel outside of what once was a store that sold organically-grown apples and 12-count collections of toilet paper rolls and sweet-smelling multicolored cosmetics and shiny dvds enclosed in thin hard plastic packaging. The two riderless horses chased each other in a circle—nuzzle to tail, nuzzle to tail—to the warbled tune of a long-forgotten nursery song.

But no matter how far she ran, or how fast, she could not see the People themselves anywhere.

There were other things that moved, however, that were not the People or their machines. These were dark brown, hard shelled, long-antennaed things that had grown huge in an atmosphere of chemical non-interference. These things did not skitter from her approaching footsteps as their ancestors would have, or seek shelter in the dark caves of mounded debris. They sunned themselves openly, and congregated in threes and fours and fives to explore the empty containers in her path. She was the one who skittered from them, avoiding stepping on them lest they injure her bare dusty feet.

Then at some point in the dream during the running and searching in the dusty sunlight the point of view shifted, as points of view in dreams often inexplicably do. She was now stalking and hiding, fearful of being seen. Everywhere here was gleaming white—a white hard and sharp and cold like a photograph that had been mistakenly overexposed. Here was high above the earth. Here there was a constant hum, like background music, and the machines that were collectively responsible for the sound whisked around inches above the gleaming white floors doing things that they had been programmed to do with calm routine and indifferent efficiency.

Here there were People. These People had grown huge in an atmosphere of physical non-interference. They floated like the machines, but inclined as if ready to sleep. They drank from soda bottles with labels announcing better taste with fewer calories. But these were not the People. As many as there were here—huge and floating and sipping—there were not enough of them to account for how many there should have been back down on earth. These were only few, comparatively.

Where were all the Others? What happened to the People?

She stalked and hid, here behind a towering bin containing discarded debris from these huge People, there inside of a walk-in freezer containing colorful treats for the People’s future consumption. She was afraid of being seen, but not sure of by whom. She was aware, as she stalked and hid, that she was leaving dirty dusty bits of herself everywhere she went. She was a blight on this cool, clean, calm, gleaming white world. She in her brownness knew that she did not belong here in this place. Nor was she stalking and hiding in an attempt to somehow fit or stay in this place. Her mission here was the same as it had been on earth: Find the People.

(Now this is the point of the dream that for four nights running caused her to awaken with her heart pounding and sweat pooling in the crevices of her neck.)

She was emerging from behind a rolling cart of folded white bath towels that she knew would be soft and fluffy to the touch if she dared to soil them with her fingers. The coast seemed to be clear. No machines or huge People were there to see her. She had only to head to a door a few feet away. But as her foot was landing on her second step a machine that only came up to her waist emerged from nowhere. It was, like all the other machines here, gleaming white. Only a small area where its face might have been was gleaming black, like a dark visor. It was legless, and its arms were like fishes’ fins. Something on its front where its belly might have been revved up and a green light began blinking wildly. At this the machine raised one of its fin-arms, from which had sprouted a weapon as long as the machine was tall. It pointed the weapon right at her.

The revving noise was the last thing she heard those four nights before consciousness rescued her.

She never knew why the nightmares stopped, but was greatly relieved when they did. She never told anyone of the dreams. She knew people would laugh at her. What adult suffers nightmares from a G-rated, animated, children’s film? Watched on pay-per-view from the comfort of one’s own family room, no less?

So she never told a soul. But some days long after the nightmares had stopped, she would taste dust in her mouth, or a strange tangy metalic flavor, and she would be reminded of her frantic search and frenzied hiding and implied violent demise. Usually this sense memory would come while she was surrounded by people–people tossing footballs and frisbees in a park, or people jostled together in a line waiting for entrance to the zoo, or people in their cars while she was in her car sipping four dollars’ worth of vanilla flavored coffee from a paper cup during morning rush hour. Surrounded by the People and all their machines and all their things.

April 23, 2009

DVR Alert: Trouble the Water

Filed under: NOLA Post-Katrina Levee Break — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 5:14 pm

The day before Hurricane Katrina hit, 24-year-old Kimberly Rivers Roberts, a resident of New Orleans’ 9th Ward, turned her new video camera on herself, declaring, “It’s going to be a day to remember.” With hardly any supplies and no way of leaving her hometown, Roberts taped her harrowing ordeal as Katrina raged and the levees failed. Directed and produced by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, TROUBLE THE WATER opens with this unforgettable home video footage, then follows Kimberly and her husband Scott on a two-year odyssey – from the devastation of the storm to their escape from the city, to resettlement in Memphis, to an eventual return to a decimated New Orleans – telling a story of transformation, heroism and love. A 2008 Academy Award® nominee for Best Documentary Feature. (Source)

Begins airing tonight on HBO. Check your listings.

April 22, 2009

African Hearts: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 1:14 pm

Sunday’s episode was my favorite yet. And if you haven’t seen it yet, let me warn you: watch with a box of tissues close by.

In this episode we are treated to a guest appearance by the incredible CCH Pounder. She plays a grieving mother from the US who, though she officially loses her son, ends up gaining more than she ever could imagine. The interaction between her character and the Botswanans reveals what we Americans do “best” when traveling the world: being American. She is (at first) dressed inappropriately, naive about hospitality despite poverty, awkward in acknowledging her connection to the Africans, and—most relevant to my previous discussion—hell-bent on vengeance. But through exploring her son’s “African heart” she discovers African hearts of her own.

The other huge payoff with this episode is the further development of the relationship between Precious and Grace. Again, I try to write these without giving away too much of the plot so I will not say too much here. Suffice it to say that another sisterhood is here forged. And that Anika Noni Rose has got to be one of the most undervalued actors in the business. In this post from That Black Girl Site Corynne says:

Rose, however, layers in much more complex attributes giving her vulnerability, a big heart, and a strong head for business. In most of the episodes that have aired thus far, Rose is the source of comic relief. She doesn’t need to say it word it is imbued in the way she moves as well as when stares thoughtfully and blinks her eyes. But Rose gave us even more this week when she also showed that she can turn in both a comedic and a heartbreaking performance in the same show. Her confession to Precious Ramotswe had me (and I suspect a bunch of you) in tears.

Hopefully this episode will quiet somewhat the concerns of some observers who wanted from this series more of a focus on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the continent. This issue is dealt with here in a manner that is serious without being heavy-handed. Over in “real life,” Botswana’s response to the AIDS crisis is seen as one of the more successful models on the continent:

Botswana’s national treatment programme is now seen as a successful model for other African countries to follow. Though progress was initially slower than expected, the programme made rapid progress in 2004 and 2005, and patient responses have been comparable to those seen in Europe and the USA.

MASA [the national antiretroviral therapy program; the Setswana world for “dawn”] has demonstrated that antiretroviral treatment can be provided on a national scale through the public health system of a sub-Saharan African country – not just through localised projects run by foreign aid workers or researchers. In Botswana’s case, almost all of the actual cost of treatment has been paid by the Government, while other partners have given support by providing laboratory equipment, staff training or patient monitoring services.

…But the struggle to provide universal treatment in Botswana is far from over. All of those already enrolled must continue to receive drugs and monitoring services for the rest of their lives, and people who develop resistance to their current medications must have access to alternatives, which can be more expensive and complex than first-line therapy.

It is much easier to provide treatment in towns than in rural areas, and MASA will need to be further decentralised to ensure that all areas are covered. The shortage of skilled staff will continue to be a great challenge to MASA, and the programme will continue to be very expensive. The need for help from the rest of the world is as urgent as ever.

Botswana’s long-term vision is to have no new HIV infections by 2016, when the nation will celebrate 50 years of independence. (Emphasis added; Source)

***Read my previous posts about The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency here***

148252221_a978e1ff601
“Botswana, condom dispenser.” http://www.flickr.com/photos/mvcorks/148252221/


April 21, 2009

Stand and Fight

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 9:18 am

You’re taking that stand against the power structure. You are standing there small, in your bare feet in the dirt, and you say, ‘No.’ Those are the people that we all must take a stand with, so that nobody ever stands it alone.

~Alfre Woodard, on the film American Violet

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