Black Representation Month
It's February. Aquarius unite!
Did you know the vice-president is a black woman? Maybe you didn’t, but she’s Jamaican… and Indian… and I’m pretty sure has a couple teaspoons of Welsh mixed in there somewhere, I’’d have to check the recipe again. She is a melting pot and it’s very important to me as a 32 year old man to see myself represented in the halls of imperialist power. Sure, it sucks to live under the foot of a capitalist regime upholding white patriarchal supremacy, but seeing someone like me wearing the boot makes it easier on my neck!
#Representation just feels good. It’s probably more significant for children, who’re developing and need to see people like them all over different mediums of entertainment, not grown adults who can’t let go of their childhood. That’s not to say it’s worthless and should be eschewed completely, white people shouldn’t be let off the hook here. But the online calls for #representation tend to center more around the idea of putting more black faces in white shows rather than more black artists behind the scenes making their own stuff. Even more annoying, a faceless monopoly like Disney can capitalize on this desire and use it to market their own schlock, presenting it not as the money grab it is or advertising for their own theme parks and brand, but as truly “progressive” and revolutionary filmmaking.
What makes a movie progressive? Is it enough to make diverse entertainment if it doesn’t have anything to say about those cultures? White “allies” love to argue that writing any character like you would a white one but casting them as someone different is a progressive-minded approach. In a way it is, particularly in movies that don’t have anything smart to say about people and the experiences that make them different. But if you’re not doing that, you’re already off to a bad start with your movie. There are differences between black and white people, primarily because of our experiences in a racist society. Even a movie like Black Panther—which intends to be this celebration of African cultures and blackness and all that other millennial internet marketing bait—hinges on making Africa appealing through a capitalist (re: white) mindset. Wakanda is cool because it’s wealthy, it has the best technology, it’s untouched, and everyone is smart, sophisticated, and cool through an American POV.
The point is not that Black Panther is bad, it’s that representation is faulty and easy to manipulate depending on the audience that is in mind. A big Hollywood blockbuster made for a global audience, even one starring black people, is going to be appealing and attuned to their needs more than any black person, we’re just along for the ride. And that can be nice, but it’s not significant or special unless you’re a kid.
But that gets us to what this is really about: an entire generation of kids who can’t let childhood go, about wanting to be part of these major blockbusters and YA novel adaptations—or any popular movie being released, more than anything else. That’s the bulk of what this is about and, like most things that start out with good intention, any nuance or critical thought has been abandoned and we’re all the worst for it. No thoughts, just representation.
Don’t you all feel fucking stupid now. Yeah, it turns out you cannot change a system that you’re also happily taking part in.
Read - Watched - Listened
Nationtime (1972) Dir. William Greaves - The mythical black people meeting turns out to be real. The next one will include speeches from Kyrie Irving and the Hood Healer from Twitter, with a special performance by Keedron Bryant.
The Learning Tree (1969) Dir. Gordon Parks - I love Gordon Parks and there are definitely some #shots in this movie that you might expect from one of the great photographers. That said, it is rough sitting through that 1920s racism, especially in country-ass backwoods Kansas. Life as a shorty shouldn’t be so rough.
Bridgerton - Although I have recently become a fan of the costume drama, thanks to movies like The Piano and Age of Innocence, but I still did not think I’d possibly like Bridgerton. It has too much CW energy and I am not actually crazy about the “it’s the past but also modern and they listen to pop songs” genre of historical fiction that seems to exist so they can make things that are current but ignore the internet. That said, I did end up warming to the show, the more it became clear that this entire season revolves around girls learning what cum is and how it works. Sex education is such a failure in this country that we might be watching a preview of where our own society is headed for young people here.
The White Tiger (2021) Dir. Rahmin Bahrani - I can appreciate what this movie is going for. It’s the typical parable of a poor kid working in service of a rich family and sort of the push pull at play when you idolize and obsess over wealthy people while also resenting them and getting your heart broken when you realize they aren’t better people. The dynamic between Balram (Adarsh Gourav) and his “master” Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) is genuinely complex at times, even if it resolves a little too neatly by the end. It’s a fun watch but not for any message being made about wealth disparity or class warfare. Also it’s funny watching a movie where a character repeatedly refers to the film’s title after being on film twitter for the past year.
YN Jay - Ninja Warrior - Michigan rap is absolutely insane. Rap’s most free jazz state at the moment and YN Jay is like goddamn Miles Davis, just experimenting with flows and ad-libs and production styles. He’s using the word “coochie” the way Macgyver would use a piece of gum wrapper to fashion a bomb. It’s truly inspiring how much fun he is having with a genre that is still clinging to the little of it that’s left.
Toxic Masculinity Corner
I have spent the past week watching 80s Mickey Rourke movies, specifically Diner, 9 1/2 Weeks, and Angel Heart. It really is a shame how badly things got out of control for him because he was a hell of an actor. The kind of walking sleazy machismo that young actors don’t have anymore, if they are even allowed to. When Mickey Rourke showed up in a movie in the 80s, there was no doubt he was there to do some fucking. His role as a villain in Iron Man 2 was the last time a Marvel character had any sex appeal.
I don’t know how good of an actor or even a star he could’ve been but I feel sad that we don’t seek more of his type of guy in entertainment anymore. No one cares about sex appeal or charisma at all now, you can only be sexy in a wholesome way. Like you’re hot but I can tell you love your pet cat or you volunteer at a children’s hospital for fun or some shit.
Getting your teeth fixed
The 1975 discography
Pi’erre Bourne beats
Not being broke forever
…And Now Your Last Call
Time has made me bolder, children got older and I’m getting older too. It doesn’t particularly feel good, no matter how much of a good face I put on it. Everyone has the age range they feel the most spiritually aligned with: some were meant to be old folks, some are forever children, I feel permanently at home with 22-27. They are youthful ages yes, but they are also the ages of promise. It is a time in your life where people consider you things like “prodigy” or “wunderkind.” People have hope in what you COULD be, as opposed to the age I’m going to be (32) where it’s all about cashing in on that promise. No more excuses.
I am probably failing. I’ve been a loser most of my life, it only makes sense that it continues. So rather than look forward, I spend a lot of time going back, wondering why that young man couldn’t just live up to his own potential for the sake of avoiding this present moment. Birthdays, amirite?!