Well…I Watched It! Lovecraft Country Episode One – Sundown

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A couple of weeks ago saw the debut of the new HBO series, Lovecraft Country, based on the book of the same name by Matt Ruff. In the book, a young black man named Atticus goes on a road trip through the Jim Crow South, with his uncle, and childhood friend, to find his father, who has mysteriously gone missing up North. They stumble across racist cops, sundown towns, Lovecraftian monsters, and occultism, in their travels.

I watched the first two episodes of this series. Normally I would not have watched any show that’s based in the Jim Crow South because that’s just a particularly triggering time period, but the writers and producers are black, so I was willing to give it a chance. Its still a very nerve-wracking show, but in a kind of  good way, because its also surprisingly cathartic, entertaining, and not wholly based on Black pain and suffering. The characters are very likable, and there are other, more personal issues they deal with besides racism.

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I can honestly say I enjoyed this episode. I know that sounds weird, considering how I’ve complained about no longer being interested in shows that are based on black pain and suffering, in different eras, but this show, along with the Watchman series, was very entertaining. For one thing, the plot isn’t necessarily based in suffering. the Jim Crow era in which the story takes place is simply the backdrop, and the way the story is written, the racism of the white characters is just one of the primary obstacles that the protagonists have to navigate, occasionally in the form of harrowing car chases.

It doesn’t hurt that the three main characters, Atticus, the very fine looking lead character, his uncle George, played by the incredible Courtney B. Vance, and the gorgeous Leticia, Atticus childhood friend, played by Journee Smollet, who you may remember as Black Canary, from the Harley Quinn/Birds of Prey movie, released earlier this year, are all immensely likable, and reasonably smart.

Outside of the mystery itself, the series presents a lot of ideas about black people that don’t often get seen in popular culture, which are merely glimpses into the lives of regular black people, in the midst of horrific circumstances, because that too is as important to our representation, as seeing ourselves be heroic, hearing our own stories, or seeing ourselves existing as a culture in the future. We get loving black couples, black people who love books, clothes, and superheroes, ordinary disputes between family members and black people snatching  little moments of joy, even in the darkest times.

Lovecraft Country Jurnee Smollett GIF - LovecraftCountry JurneeSmollett LetiLewis - Discover & Share GIFs

The episode begins with Atticus on his way home from the Korean War. Its 1954, and that particular war (the one depicted in the MASH series) ended around 1953. He’s dreaming of a mashup of all the scifi he’s ever read, Cthulhu, John Carter of Mars, and an ass kicking  cameo from #42 himself, Jackie Robinson.

When the bus he’s riding breaks down, he and the only other black passenger, rather than being allowed to hitch a ride with a local farmer, have to walk several miles to the next town. During their walk is when we get Atticus broad opinions on fantasy stories with racist characters, or written by racist writers, like Robert E. Howard, or Lovecraft himself. Genre fiction, whether movies, books, or TV,  has always been problematic for black people. Most of it was not written with us in mind, and what was, often had negative connotations.

When Atticus gets home, he finds the neighborhood is preparing to have a block party. This is something that really resonated with me, because I remember attending quite a few of these, during my childhood. My family is/was huge, so most of the block party consisted of me, my little brothers, and a seemingly vast number of cousins, uncles, and aunties! Anyway Atticus finds out from his uncle George that his father has gone missing but left a note saying he could be found in a place called Ardham. That’s right, not Arkham, but Ardham House. He, and George are joined by Leticia, a young woman that Atticus knew when they were children, because Letty was the only girl in his Science fiction book club, but who is now a traveling photographer.

Lovecraft Country Jurnee Smollett GIF - LovecraftCountry JurneeSmollett LetiLewis - Discover & Share GIFs

Uncle George offers to come along because he is the publisher of the Chicago based green book. His wife, Hippolyta, offers to come, but George says no, out of a sense of protection. He knows how dangerous it would be for her to do such a thing., considering that he once had both his knees broken, by some racists, while on a previous trip for his travel books.

The travel books, that George writes, (based on the real life Negro Motorist’s Green Book), aided  black people in navigating through the Jim Crow South, listing problem areas, like eating and sleeping places that were safe, but most especially, listed all the Sundown Towns, in both the North and South. At that time, these were all white towns, in which black people would be  either run out, or murdered, if they were found within the town limits, after sundown.

https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/sundown-towns/

Welcome to the world’s only registry of sundown towns. A sundown town is not just a place where something racist happened. It is an entire community (or even county) that for decades was “all white” on purpose. “All white” is in quotes because some towns allowed one black family to remain when they drove out the rest. Also, institutionalized persons (in prisons, hospitals, colleges, etc.), live-in servants (in white households), and black or interracial children (in white households) do not violate the taboo.

“On purpose” does not require a formal ordinance. If, for example, if a black family tried to move in, encountered considerable hostility, and left, that would qualify the town as “sundown.” Note that some sundown towns kept out Chinese Americans, Jews, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, even Mormons.

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One of the most hair raising, but exhilarating, chase sequences occurs when George mistakenly takes them to a cafe that does not serve black people, and the local firefighters chase them out of town. They are saved by Letty’s well honed survival instincts, her ability to drive like a maniac, and a little bit of hoodoo, from a mysterious benefactor.

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This same benefactor comes to their aid at the end of the episode, after they get stopped in a sundown county by the local sheriff, who challenges them to get out of the county 8 minutes before sundown, but without speeding. This is very  probably the slowest, most nerve wracking car chase in television history, and does a spectacular job of showing how frustrating, and enraging it was to live during the Jim Crow era, in which those who held authority, (yes, the police, but regular citizens were encouraged to get in on the fun), could terrorize black people on a whim, or simply for their own pleasure.

They do follow the cops rules and manage to barely make it out of town, only to be stopped by the police in the neighboring county, who were lying in wait for them. This is an especially relevant point, because it speaks to the arbitrary nature of the rules. It ultimately doesn’t mean anything that Atticus and the others followed the rules. They’ll be killed anyway, because a group of people determined that they should, and no amount of rule following would’ve saved them. However, the three of them  are  inadvertently saved by monsters.

Lovecraft Country' Premiere: 5 Things You May Have Missed in Episode 1,  “Sundown” | Decider

*I want to point out some of the images used in the show, which is rich with detail. This particular image here was based off some famous photographs by Gordon Parks.

Lovecraft Country Ep 1 Easter Egg // Another Gordon Parks Reference :  LovecraftCountry

And here is another, which can also seen in the episode:

Gordon Parks photo 1956, Lovecraft Country 2020 | MLTSHP

*There’s also a famous interview from James Baldwin, which is used in voiceover, before the trio’s second encounter with the police.

1965 debate between Baldwin and conservative author William F. Buckley.

*Hippolyta (George’s wife) is also the name of Wonder Woman’s mother, and George has a daughter named Diana.

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The cops take the three of them into the woods to execute them. This is an especially chilling scene when you think about how many black people might have been murdered in this fashion, who were never missed, or whose bodies were never discovered. In fact there are a host of activities that black people don’t do today, not just because we were discouraged from participating in everyday American life, but because, even today, we are still recovering from the trauma of the constant terrorizing and policing of our actions, which lasted some sixty to seventy years. Activities like road trips, camping, swimming, walking on the sidewalks, or just out enjoying nature, could (and did) get us murdered.

Until the seventies, many state parks were off limits to black people and earlier this Summer a young black man posted videos where he was threatened with lynching, by a white mob that assaulted him in a park. The bottom line is that many of the nature activities that white people took for granted, were enduring traumas for PoC, but especially black people. So when you hear us joking about not going into the woods, or never going hiking, keep this in mind, as one of the factors.

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/americas-national-parks-face-existential-crisis-race/story?id=71528972

“When I’m walking to work with park rangers or with other campers and hikers who treat me in some sort of way that make me feel unwelcome, that make me feel unsafe, that is startling,” Tariq said. “And that goes unchecked because there’s, there’s just no channel for us to be able to challenge that in such remote places.”

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https://bloomingtonian.com/2020/07/05/bloomington-man-threatened-with-noose-during-assault-at-lake-monroe/

As much as white people claim to be afraid of black people because…..crime, or something, I don’t think many of them have ever thought about what it must be like to live one’s life in constant fear of stepping on white people’s toes, at work, or the store, in a park, or just out of doors. Always having to watch what you say, how you look, dress, act, and carefully structure one’s facial expressions, lest you set one of them off, as if they were unexploded ordinance.

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The police take them into the woods to execute them, but before that can happen, they are all attacked by what viewers are calling Shuggoths, but what the characters in the show are calling vampires. They are covered with eyes, shun the light, and can move extremely fast, so they manage to take out the five or six cops rather easily. Letty and Atticus escape to an abandoned cabin, along with two of the cops, one of whom had their arm bitten off. After George joins them in the cabin, they make a plan to get more light from the cars parked at the edge of the woods. Atticus wants to go, but is prevented from doing so by the cops who 1) don’t trust him, and on top of that 2) aren’t very bright, because why would he leave his friends behind just to spite the police? The cops nominate Letty to run to the vehicles.

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Okay, I’m going to have to stop here for another aside. These are the same type of white men who will happily kill a black man for breathing too hard in a white woman’s direction but are perfectly happy to sacrificing a black woman to save their skins. In their minds, black women are not worth protecting. So even though they are armed and can take care of themselves, they insist that this black woman attempt to outrun the monsters, to save their skins. To calm everyone down, Letty does make a case that she is faster than Atticus, having run track as a girl, and off she goes.

And this is the way that people should be running in a Horror movie. Letty is seriously hauling ass! I wonder how many times Journee had to do that scene, because this is not a stunt double, and she is seriously working  out! There’s none of that glancing behind, or tripping and falling shit in your typical generic horror movie. This is also probably the reason black people don’t get to star in too many of them, because they would be boringly short films.

 

Letty makes it to the car, and heads back to the cabin, where the two cops are so busy concentrating on holding those two scary black men in check, that they don’t notice that one of them is turning into a one of the creatures that attacked them, but that’s not what’s interesting . What’s fascinating is  even though the cop next to him is turning into a nightmare that’s going to eat him, he is hesitant to shoot him, despite Attticus’ and George’s warnings, instead choosing to keep his weapon aimed at the two unarmed black men in front of him. See ,this is one of the reasons I don’t trust white people, (no, not even my white friends), with my safety. After decades of fear-mongering propaganda, the majority of them simply do not have good judgment when it comes to what’s actually dangerous, and what isn’t.

Lovecraft Country Jurnee Smollett GIF - LovecraftCountry JurneeSmollett  LetiLewis - Discover & Share GIFs

The cop turns into a monster and eats the other cop, which is a nice conflation of the idea that there are other types of monsters in the world, but the human ones are the scariest. Letty arrives with the car just as the monster turns its attention to Atticus and George, but they still need to hold the monsters off until daylight, or fight them, and that’s when the mysterious benefactor arrives and calls them off using, what else…a dog whistle!

We next see the three travelers arriving at Ardham house, exhausted, and  covered in blood, where they are welcomed and expected by their happy blond host, and yes, I’m immediately suspicious.

So that’s my first impression of the show. I have,  since the posting of this review, watched a couple more episodes, and the show manages to keep that same energy for each episode, which is more like a connected anthology than a serialistic show. The second episode finishes out the first story arc at Ardham House, and the third focuses on Leticia buying a haunted house. Both episodes continue with the same wealth of detail, racist white men, and historical asides, including references to the Garden of Eden, and a chilling cameo from Emmet Till!

There are so many layers to this show, but its also just entertaining, even if you don’t get, or see, all the socio-historical references. The show is fun to watch, with a lot of exciting moments, because its well written, and  the characters and plot are compelling.

Hannibal: Season Three…And the Beast from the Sea

[These last reviews of the Red Dragon arc were originally published after the end of the series in 2015. I’ve edited these  reviews to reflect new thoughts and information.]

The last episode I reviewed was about the different character’s perceptions, as has been the theme for most of the series., but this episode is about Agency, how each of the characters have it, take it, and/or employ it. Agency is the ability to affect change over the environment by one’s actions. One can affect change oneself or use proxies to do so.

We pick up the narrative where we left off in the last episode.

Graham is outlining the situation for Crawford. Crawford is incredulous that Dollarhyde ate a painting. Graham surmises that Hannibal knows who Dollarhyde is, and that he was once a patient. He’s only half wrong. Dollarhyde is Hannibal’s current patient through secret phone calls, after Dollarhyde masquerades as Hannibal’s lawyer. We flashback (not really) to Hannibal telling Dollarhyde to save himself by attacking Will and his family. This is about Dollarhyde taking and using agency, regarding his relationship with Hannibal, the Red Dragon, and Reba, but he is also Hannibal’s proxy.

Look Ahead At The Red Dragon.  GIF | Gfycat

Hannibal is using Dollarhyde to get back at Will for rejecting him. Lecter does, as Bedelia states later,  have agency in the world, even though he is locked away. The difference is that she attributes this agency to the wrong person. She thinks the person executing Hannibal’s agency is Will Graham, when its really Dollarhyde. This is Hannibal, once again, playing his old game of I love you/I want to hurt you! Will may be tired of it, but Hannibal always finds this game amusing (except when Will enacts this particular game against him.)

Oh yeah, the flashbacks aren’t actually flashbacks. They’re conversations that Lecter had/is having, with Dollarhyde, over the phone, but are imagined from Lecter’s point of view, and usually from inside what he calls his mind vault. Being given Lecter’s POV is often done without any warning for the audience, an effect with which I’m not entirely comfortable, as nobody really wants to be in Lecter’s head, and is probably equally disconcerting for people who are “first watchers” of this series.

Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde and Rutina Wesley as Reba ...

As the next full moon approaches, Reba and Dee (as she calls him), spend some quality time together. I don’t see a whole lot of chemistry in their relationship, (that’s just my inability to see romance between characters, in general), but these are both very good actors, who convince me that they’re in the beginning stages of a relationship. Dollarhyde wants to, but can’t let the Red Dragon go, not even for Reba’s sake, not even as he fears for her. While she cuddles with him on the sofa, he watches home movies of his next possible target, Molly and Wally.

Will’s wife is at the vet because the dogs are sick. She doesn’t understand that the Red Dragon always kills the pets  first. I know this from reading the books, but she believes she poisoned the dogs with some  food from China, because that was a thing going around in the news at the time this show was written, and Fuller, who absolutely loves dogs, was so incensed by that, that he put it in the script.

Top 30 Molly Foster Graham GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

Graham goes to Lecter to beg for the identity of the Red Dragon, but Lecter would rather tease him. This is one of the quietest, and most sinister arguments, I’ve ever heard, conducted almost entirely in sharp whispers. This may also be the reason I can’t  understand what the hell is going on. I managed to get around this by remembering to turn on the captions.

Dollarhyde tries to murder  Will’s family, hunting them through their house, and injuring Molly. Both she and Wally survive, but Will, naturally, feels incredibly guilty about what happened. He has a conversation with Wally, about the killer’s mental illness, which forces him to divulge the time he spent in a psychiatric hospital. The conversation does not go well. Incidentally, we don’t see or hear from either of these characters again, and no end is written for Molly, as Will seemingly forgets all about her.  Make of that what you will because the fans certainly did.

and the woman clothed in the sun | Tumblr

Will, incensed, confronts Lecter, who readily  admits to giving Dollarhyde Will’s home address. Crawford, and Alana threaten Lecter into cooperating with Crawford’s scheme to capture Dollarhyde using drop boxes.

Because he failed to kill Will’s family, Dollarhyde imagines himself getting beaten by the Red Dragon. Reba walks in on him just after this event, and there’s a very tense moment where he is probably contemplating killing her, as he has not quite come back to himself, and the Red Dragon, having been deprived of the other kill, wants to be satisfied.

Fans of Interracial Romance - Movies & TV: Hannibal - Rutina ...

This scares Francis because he genuinely cares about Reba, and in an effort to be proactive, to save her from himself,  shows up at Reba’s job and breaks up with her, saying that he’s afraid he might hurt her. Reba, not knowing or even suspecting any of this, (she is a true innocent), is understandably angry, and tells him to get out. It looks bad no matter what he does. From her point of view, they slept together a few  times, and now he suddenly doesn’t want to be with her, having given no indication  that he’s no longer interested.

These are both fine actors, who really sell this scene. I am touched by their conversation, (even though I hate romance movies). I suddenly realize that Francis isn’t as much afraid of hurting her, as he is also afraid of being in love, and being loved. In the flashback sequence with Lecter, he talks about how she makes him feel, and believes himself to be completely unworthy of the level of happiness he feels with her, or her desire for him. Love can be terrifying, especially for someone unused to giving or receiving it, and who has some deep self esteem issues due to child abuse.

I would also like to commend the show for showing an inter-racial relationship as if its no big deal. I like it that the show treats the characters, especially the women, like people, and doesn’t feel the need to change the dialogue to reflect the  character’s race or gender. The same dialogue spoken by a White man in the movie, is the exact same dialogue that’s spoken by a Black man or a White woman on the show. In fact the only major recurring  characters to remain unchanged are Graham, Lecter and Dollarhyde.

Francis watching Reba touch the tiger/the beast in Hannibal 3.10 ...

Dollarhyde calls Lecter, not knowing that their conversation is being overheard. Lecter gives him a quick warning, because that’s the kind of shit he does, and afterwards is duly punished. Alana keeps her word to him, by having all of his amenities taken away, including his toilet seat. He also gets restraints and the famous Lecter mask, first seen in Silence of the Lambs, (but was also seen on Will Graham in the second season).

Will talks to Molly at the hospital and she nominally forgives him for what happened to her. She’s not really blaming him, but yeah, she’s still pretty pissed that the man Will was hunting, tried to kill her, and her son. Will then goes to see Lecter in his new accommodationless accommodations. The story is not over. Normally, after the attack on Will’s family, the films end with the restoration of the status quo, and Dollarhyde dead, but Fuller has a lot more story to tell.

This is one of television’s strengths. It has the ability to tell complicated, interwoven, long form stories that cannot be done in a two hour movie. It has the ability to flesh out characters and plot in a way that’s more difficult on the big screen, (unless the movie is totally dedicated to a specific person or subject.)

Latest Hannibal 3 X 09 GIFs | Gfycat

On TV, the writers can create a tapestry of a story, using multiple threads, and deeper characterization, and I think this is where TV has really gained momentum as a  storytelling medium, especially in the last ten years. TV didn’t always take full advantage of its serial nature. In fact it always tried to do what movies did, but in  less time, as it would try to wrap up it’s mini- stories in the space of 45 or 50 minutes. Fortunately, its starting to break away from this model somewhat, and watching a series requires a certain level of dedication, if a viewer wants to understand the entire story.

None of that however, is going to help the casual viewer to understand whats going on in this show. I love this show, but this level of complexity, always just slightly out of grasp, may be the reason this is the show’s last season. You know there’s more depth to the show then you understand, but its ten o’clock in the evening, your mind is gone, and there’s a lot of urgent whispering that requires you to turn on the captions, so you can find out just what the Hell is being said.

Hannibal: Season Three …And the Woman Clothed in Sun

“ And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth. ” Revelations 12:3-4

I was a teenager the first time I read the Book of Revelations, so naturally,  I found it pretty terrifying. Mostly because of some incredibly lurid imagery, I just wasn’t expecting the Bible to have. Reading it when I got older, I was less afraid, and struck instead, by the incredible beauty and poetry of those chapters.

Most people don’t know this, (Hell, I didn’t know it and I went to art school), but the painting featured in the movie version, but which I’ve not seen in the show, is one of a series of paintings by Willliam Blake, about the Book of Revelations, and his interpretation of the Rise of the Antichrist. The one featured in the  Red Dragon movie is the painting  titled The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed IN the Sun.

The second painting in the series, and  that of the first episode of  The Red Dragon arc of this series, is titled …And the Woman Clothed WITH the Sun. There are two other paintings in the series, which are also the titles of the next two episodes.

Hannibal and The Tooth Fairy are clandestinely discussing Francis’ transformation into the Red Dragon. This episode is sort ofabout how characters perceive themselves, vs, how others perceive them, and each character discusses who they are, which is contrasted to the reality. For the first time, we hear Francis declare himself to be the Dragon. This is how he perceives himself,  but what we see in Hannibal’s imagination is the two of them sitting in a room together, while Hannibal looks at an ordinary man, but Hannibal responds with a line from Blake’s poem, The Tyger, in expression of the awe that Francis craves.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Great Red Dragon And The Woman Clothed With The Sun GIF | Gfycat

 

Bedelia, Lecter’s psychiatrist, is giving a public speech about the nature of her relationship with Hannibal the Cannibal, and how she managed to escape him. She is trying to create the public perception that she was one of Hannibal’s victims. Will Graham is there, and  calls her out on her bullshit. Will’s perception of her is very different.

The two of them have a long meeting, and I have come to the conclusion that not only is Bedelia batshit-insane,  she is also pretty terrifying. Not violent, so much as completely disassociated from what makes a person human, and while I want to think Lecter is responsible for that, this is most likely all her, and may be the reason he liked her so much.

 

A Plethora Of Fandoms. Sticker GIF | Gfycat

 

Now contrast Will’s scene with Bedelia, with my favorite scene, which is when Francis takes Reba to meet the tiger.  This entire scene is about perception. Francis views himself as the beast. It’s not quite obvious, but Reba has kind of caught on to that, and seems to  know what he’s thinking. Apparently Reba can frame “thy fearful symmetry” just fine, of both the tiger, and Francis. I think this perception of what Francis may be thinking is what informs her actions towards him, later. Even Fuller states that this is a deeply sensuous moment between the two of them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lady,_or_the_Tiger%3F

Francis describes the tiger’s color. Is that helpful to her? Depending on when and how she lost her sight (as we are never told), does she remember colors? In the book, Reba lost her sight as a child, and jokes to him about what animals she remembers. I can’t imagine this Reba knows what he’s talking about, if she’s been blind since birth. This scene is shot to perfection, as we see Reba’s skin tone against that of the glowing yellow fur of the tiger. She listens to its heart, while Francis stands there, barely able to contain his depth of feeling.

reba mcclane | Tumblr

Francis takes Reba to his home. She is impressed by his home, and his thoughtfulness in arranging the thing with the tiger. They drink wine, listen to music, and Reba makes the first move.  This is a woman who doesn’t believe in  letting an opportunity to enjoy herself slip away. (Rutina Wesley appears to have these huge man-hands, which is deeply disturbing, and distracting. Her hands are as huge as Francis’ head.)

Their love scene gets the slo-mo treatment, interspersed with shots of Frank’s dragon tattoo. Francis envisions Reba, as the Woman spoken of in Blake’s painting, floating and goddess-like, in liquid gold, the same color as the tiger. Its almost like he’s worshiping her, but without the context that in the Book of Revelations, the Woman clothed with the Sun, is the Dragon’s downfall.

Later, while Reba is sleeping, he uses her hand to touch his face, but it’s not sexy, at all. It’s deeply sad, that he’s so lonely, so removed from normal people, and so starved for affection, and all of it self imposed, as he has deep self esteem issues, because of his disability. Reba is probably the only woman to ever touch him, in a very long time, with any form of love, especially his face, as  he’s very self conscious about his cleft palate.

The next morning, he is summoned to the attic by the dragon’s  voice, where he and his alter ego argue about what to do with Reba. The outcome of the fight is …uncertain, but I think Dollarhyde wins this round. He then takes Reba home.

Hannibal manages to  get Graham’s address and home number. This does not look good.

Hannibal' Seeks Revenge in '...And the Beast From the Sea'

Will and Bedelia are still talking. Will tells her she deserves to be eaten by Lecter. I’m as disgusted with her as he is, and I see why he’s so pissy with her. She was wholly complicit in Hannibal’s crimes, but claims it was curiosity that kept her with him. She’s as much a sociopath as Lecter, but couches it in  a veneer of professionalism.

Zachary Quinto is guest starring in this episode. That man is everywhere. (Fortunately, I’m in love with him, so I can watch him anywhere.) Lecter used to be his counselor, and he claimed he got worst under his care. This scene switches back and forth between Graham and Bedelia, and her session with Quinto’s outraged patient. He starts having a seizure. Something that was subliminally planted by Hannibal.

To her credit, Bedelia does try to help him, but she botches the job by reaching too far into his mouth, in an attempt to reach his tongue, which she believes he is swallowing. This was apparently before she became inured to death. Now, she could probably watch him choke, with all the compassion of an insect. This is the event that gave Hannibal leverage over her, to coerce her to travel to Italy with him.

The elephant in the room is this deeply intimate relationship between Graham and Hannibal. It’s no secret that fans are shipping the Hell out of these two, and Fuller is well aware of this, and likes to play it up. Will asks Bedelia if Hannibal is in love with him and she tells him her perception of their relationship. From the beginning of the series the primary theme has always been about perception. How Will perceives the world around him, how Hannibal looks at the world ,and how the supporting characters view the two of them.

For Everyone Who Has A "Thing" For Hannibal And Will Graham | Will ...

Will approaches Lecter with the Red Dragon symbol he found at the Leeds’ home, and Lecter informs him of its meaning, mentioning that the full moon is in eleven days, so Will better get a move on, before the next family dies.

 

At the Brooklyn Museum, Francis goes to see the the main Blake painting, and just as in the book and film, he eats it. This is probably his attempt to stop killing by ingesting the painting’s power, or so Will guesses. When Graham shows up, they finally meet face to face, which doesn’t work out too well for Graham, and Francis tosses him through the air like a kitten. Its easy to forget how large the actor is who plays Dollarhyde, next to the rather diminutive Graham. In a prodigious show of strength, Francis picks him up and throws him across the room, before making his escape.

Since the show hews so closely to the filmed version, (which is not unlike the book), this really plays off the difference between television and film. In every respect, this particular part of the series is just like the film, only with a depth of detail that movies simply don’t have time for, in the space of two hours. It’s really like watching an alternate universe version of the same story.

This is also one of the reasons that television is in the midst of a kind of renaissance of storytelling, right now. The creators of these shows, informed by social media and digital streaming, can take full advantage of the medium, take serial storytelling to its ultimate conclusion, and respond to fandom critiques of their shows, almost in real time. As a result, movies are just a very different medium of storytelling,  and simply can’t do what a series does, in providing the depth of  character detail that fans crave.

This leads to one of the differences I noted between Transformative fandom vs Curatorial fandom. Curatorial fandom is most often concerned with the minutiae and plot detail provided in movies, which have characters and relationships as less of a priority. It’s not that movies don’t have either of those things, its that its more difficult to get deep into such issues, in a two hour genre movie, that has more pressing concerns, like advancing the plot. However, you can get more in depth character development, and relationships in a ten or twenty hour series. In fact, the success of a series depends on how invested the audience can get into the characters.

Hannibal Season Three: The Great Red Dragon

Amazon.com: Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter Series) (9780425228227 ...

We have conculded with the portion of the Hannibal/Will Graham story that began in season one, when they first met over the body of Abigail  Hobbs, and ending with the capture/surrender to the authorities of Hannibal Lecter. This is one of the first episodes that doesn’t have a reference to food or dining in its title.

The story has moved forward three years, to begin  The Red Dragon storyline, from the book of the same name, along with two films, one from 1986, titled Manhunter, starring Brian Cox as Hannibal, and the other directed by Brett Ratner in 2002,  starring Edward Norton. This last part of the season follows the book, and the two films, closely enough, with Will Graham coming out of retirement to catch a serial killer called  The Tooth Fairy, or as he calls himself, The Red Dragon. But there is also a lot of new stuff added as we find out what the other characters have been doing.

Hannibal "The Great Red Dragon" Season 3 Episode 8 | TV Equals

Alana Bloom  has become the Administrator of the asylum which houses Hannibal Lecter. As she says, she is holding all the keys, and has him exactly where where she wants him. She was the surrogate mother to her and Margot’s son,  who is also the heir to  the Verger fortune, and she lives with Margot, who we don’t get to see this season. Jack Crawford is still doing his thing at the Criminal Minds Bureau, and has not remarried after the death of his wife.

Crawford’s old forensic team, (Price and Zeller), have  moved on, achieved promotions, and gone their separate ways, and we don’t learn anything new about him. Chilton stepped down from his position at the hospital to become a true crime author. He wrote a bestselling book that  absolved Hannibal of responsibility for his murders, which Hannibal rebuts in a popular psychiatric journal, just to spite him.

Hannibal: "The Great Red Dragon" Review - IGN

We do get to see Hannibal too, and when we first meet him, he is sharing some Blood Pudding with Chilton as they discuss their past together. Hannibal has entered a state of mind where he has zero fucks to give about being a cannibal, as he cheerfully needles both Chilton and Alana about how he adulterated the foods and beverages he gave them.

Chilton then Hannibal by claiming that he is old news, and that nobody wants to hear about him anymore, because a new star has risen, The Tooth Fairy, so named because he likes to bite his victims. If you’ll remember, that is a callback to a speech, that Alana was giving to Will’s profiling class, in the first season.

Hannibal recap: The Great Red Dragon | EW.com

The greatest change has been to Will Graham’s life. He has moved on from Lecter and married  a woman named Molly, with a son, Wally. The three of them live on a farm with their stray dogs, while Will fixes boat motors, and tries to ignore any news of The Tooth Fairy. After the Tooth Fairy’s latest killing, Jack Crawford  shows up to pull Will back in, desperate for his help in capturing  him. Molly doesn’t like this, but realizes that Crawford will take Will anyway.

Crawford makes the same futile promise to Molly that he made to Alana several years ago, that he would keep Will safe, so he has not learned from that time period, it seems. But Molly relents, actually encouraging Will to leave his family, and go help Crawford. Crawford hands Will a letter from Lecter, who has been writing to him regularly. Wil lreads it and the press clipping of Dollarhyde’s most recent muder ,and burns both in the fireplace.

Hannibal Season 3, Episode 8 Recap: "The Great Red Dragon" | Collider

And I just want to talk about this moment, because one of my biggest pet peeves, in a lot of series and shows, is the depiction of wives and mothers. They are often depicted as clingy and disapproving of their husband’s work, especially in crime and cop stories. The movie version of Molly is exactly like that, but it is a cliche I’ve seen across a lot of media, so its very refreshing to see that Molly understands Will’s talent, knows the good he has done, and knows that he is saving lives, and encourages him to do so. Its very refreshing to see her give her approval here, rather than nag him for leaving her, or endangering himself.

 

We get to do a profiling walk-through with Will, as he tours the home of The Tooth Fairy’s latest victims, the Leeds. I just want to point out one more time that this is not anything like the way actual profiling gets done. Profilers rarely get to visit the actual crime scenes and touch stuff. They normally work from photographs and investigative reports.

I find it difficult to believe that Will can do any profiling since he never turns on any lights in the house. For some reason, Hollywood has decided that profiling needs to dramatized by having it be done in darkened rooms, with flashlights, since this is the exact approach that was used in the movie.

Behold the Great Red Dragon! : “Hannibal” Season 3, Episode 8 ...

Price and Zeller return after a long hiatus from the series. Price’s character is now an agent, and Graham, Zeller, and Price  pick up their dynamic right where they left off in their forensic investigation of the Leeds’ homicide. Price and Zeller had long gotten used to Graham’s interruptions of their analysis with insights into the killer’s mind.

Unlike the police procedural versions of the  first and second season, we spend a not inconsiderable amount of time in the presence of The Tooth Fairy, aka The Red Dragon, aka Francis Dollarhyde. Fuller doesn’t dwell on showing Francis committing his crimes, focusing instead on Francis’ mental illness, motivations, and private life. The end result is not the  sensationalism of the murders, but the mindset of the perpetrator, resulting in the profile of a man who, as Will Graham says, with his usual level of empathy, later in the season, was not a freak, so much as a man with a freak on his back.

SEASON 3 EPISODE 8: "THE GREAT RED DRAGON"Francis Dolarhyde's ...

 

We are introduced to Francis, and I’m assuming this scene is set sometime around, or just before, the time that Hannibal was captured,  as Francis sits in the cafeteria at his job, contemplating an issue of Time magazine, in which there is an article about Blake’s painting of The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun. He is so enamored of the painting that he gets one of the paintings tattooed on his back. He also has a great deal of admiration for Hannibal  Lecter, and  like a lot of serial killers in movies, has a murder scrapbook filled with press clippings of his and Hannibal’s murders.

As we will discuss in a later post, the Red Dragon painting is actually a series of watercolor paintings, based on Blake’s images from the Biblical Book of Revelations. This has the effect of bringing a religious element into the discussion of this season.

francis 'the great red dragon' dolarhyde | Tumblr

 

The reason we know this scene happened several years ago, is that it takes about that long for someone to get the kind of full body tattoo, that’s displayed on Francis’ back, at the end of this scene. Tattoos of that size, with such photo realistic detail, are often called “Full Suit” or “Body Suit” tattoos, and can take upwards of a 100 hours to finish, especially if the recipient has never had experience with tattoos before.

Francis then has a set of specially made dentures that are copies of his grandmother’s dentures. In the book, he simply used his grandmother’s old dentures, and they were ill fitting. This is definitely  giving me some Psycho/Norman Bates vibes. According to the book, (and only shown in some of the episodes), his grandmother was emotionally and physically abusive, and one could argue, she was sexually abusive as well, as she regularly threatened his manhood, for urinating in bed. We learn this during a scene where Francis hallucinates in her voice, which is also a callback to the movie Psycho, with Norman’s mother berating him in a voiceover. All of this has to be put in the perspective of serial killing, as two of the markers for it is childhood abuse, and bedwetting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_killer#Development

After Will does his walkthrough of the crime scene, he feels he’s not in the correct mindset to be able to solve the crime. He thinks he needs Lecter to help him get there, and tells Crawford he’s going to see him at the Hospital. Crawford agrees.

At the end of the episode is  Hannibal’s  long hoped for reunion with the man Freddy Lounds referred to as his Murder-Husband. This too is a callback to the last episode of the first season, when Hannibal approached Will’s cell, after he was falsely arrested for the murder of Abigail Hobbs, as the same melancholy music plays in the background.

Hugh Dancy Hints To When 'Hannibal' Could Return

ehl Irs GIF | Gfycat

 

Starring The Landscape: This City Is Horrible

There are two different stories in horror: internal and external. In external horror films, the evil comes from the outside, the other tribe, this thing in the darkness that we don’t understand. Internal is the human heart.

John Carpenter

 

city gif on Tumblr | Night city, City lights at night, City aesthetic

When I was a child, the very first city related Horror movies I remember, were Godzilla, and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, two stories about larger than life monsters destroying the biggest things humans have ever built — cities. These movies made an indelible impression on a little girl who lived in the city, and loved dinosaurs. It explains my love of Kaiju stories, from Godzilla, to Cloverfield, to Pacific Rim, and how movies about the destruction of cities have often moved me the most.

I grew up watching these films during the Cold War, between Russia and America, under the constant threat of mutual nuclear annihilation. I remember having nightmares about that, and avoiding movies and shows where it was depicted.

The underlying tone of most of these films is apocalyptic, with many of them indirectly referencing atomic energy. The destruction of entire cities, by some ravaging creature that was caused by atomic bombs, was often a stand-in for nuclear holocaust, natural disasters, or mankind’s hubris. These movies were terrifying, but still invoked awe and wonder, for something greater, whether that was a giant ape, a massive venom spewing dinosaur, or a fifty foot tall woman. They also provided a sense of comfort, as order, and the status quo, were restored at the end.

The stories are all about scale. The monsters are larger than life, meant to distract our attention from the city, and have the side effect of making us realize the more important things in our lives, like our loved ones, or unaccomplished personal goals. The monsters are often huge and unknowable things, that are impossible for any one individual to overcome, much like the city itself.

The monster must rival the size of the city. In 1953, New York got destroyed by a rampaging beast, awakened in the Arctic, by an atomic bomb. It was one of the first atomic age horror movies, and it set the stage for the destruction of New York, by similar beasts, like King Kong, the Cloverfield monster, and Godzilla, for the next fifty years, albeit with different motives.

Best Godzilla 1998 GIFs | Gfycat

After Godzilla in 1998, New York was destroyed again in 2008’s Cloverfield, where the lead character, who has planned to move out of the city, realizes what’s most important to him is his ex-girlfriend, when the city is invaded by some giant creature, of unknowable origin. He sets out to rescue her, in an effort to let her know how much he values her. The live action scenes of the two of them trying to escape the destruction of the city, by the rampaging creature, are juxtaposed against the live action footage of their lives during happier times. Here, the horror comes from the contrast of their human connection, with the disruption of order represented by the monster.

In 1954, long before he reached New York, Godzilla (Gojira) trampled Tokyo for the first time, and that film is an example of true urban horror, tragic, and awful, channeling the real citizen’s pain and bewilderment, after the nuclear bombing of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki nearly ten years before. None of the many Godzilla films that followed captured that level of intensity.  Godzilla even became an endearing and protective father figure, in a series of zany comedies, which featured other monsters. It was almost like the Japanese were healing themselves of their trauma, through film.

That is until the Fukushima disaster of 2011, a real life horror, in which a massive, earthquake-driven, tsunami, caused a meltdown of the nuclear facility in Fukushima on the same day. Nearly 16,000 people lost their lives, and the entire city of Fukushima had to be evacuated. Five years later, Shin Godzilla was released, and successfully captured all the horror and tragedy of those two events , becoming yet another example of Japan reliving its worst nightmares, through the medium of film.

 

 

As in suburban settings, there are three types of Horror stories about the city. someone or something invades the city, which brings about the city’s destruction (external), something insidious is growing within the city or its people, (internal), and destroys its citizens, or it’s the setting itself that is the horror. Movies like Dracula, Blade, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Train to Busan, are examples of these, although they have different goals. One is about the xenophobic fear of disease and contagion from outside the city, or growing within it, one is about the dehumanization of city life, and the loss of individual selfhood, and another is about human connections during its destruction.

Francis Ford Coppola’s version of the Dracula myth was released in 1992, and by that time, most of its original xenophobic themes had been papered over with themes of sexually transmitted disease, and romance, but there are still remnants left behind. Dracula is an outsider, from the Middle East, who brings the plague of vampirism to the busy streets of London, which, in the Victorian 1880s, was in the midst of an industrial revolution. In the real world, talk of outsiders bringing disease, has once again reared it’s ugly head, as the British government threatens to separate from the European Union, while its members speak out against illegal immigrants from places like Iran, Pakistan, and Iraq. So it’s quite a coincidence that there happens to be a yet another version of Dracula, this time set in modern day London, airing on Netflix right now.

Body Snatchers Point GIF - BodySnatchers Point Epic - Discover ...

Contagion is also one of the themes present in the movie Blade, and its sequel, Blade 2, as New York threatens to be overtaken by a plague of vampires growing within the city of New York, and is also the theme of several alien invasion films, where “sentient diseases” are passed on to unsuspecting human beings through non-consenting fluid exchange, in movies The Invasion, a remake of the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, a movie which is not as effective a story, without the sounds and images of the city of San Francisco as the backdrop. The setting is contrasted against the funny, quirky, Dr. Matthew Bennell, and his close friends. One of the other messages of the movie is how the city encourages social isolation, and dehumanizes the inhabitants, as much as the alien invasion.

In fact, the nature of city life, makes it nearly impossible to tell who has been reborn as an alien, and who has not, and that is the point. The people of San Francisco are so separated from one another, that no one really knows any of the people around them, so it’s impossible to notice if anyone has changed, even after multiple people tell the lead characters that their friends, lovers, and spouses, are not who they say they are.

The individual stories of the invasion victims are tiny, compared to the size of the city, and only heightens the pointlessness of their struggle to tell the world that an alien invasion has occurred. City people are so good at not minding the business of others, that by the time Dr. Matthew Bennell has noticed that people are losing their humanity, it’s too late to do anything about it. The city and the invasion are too huge and implacable for one person to make a difference.

The theme of dehumanization is also captured in movies like Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and Train to Busan, where a select group of individuals run a gauntlet of ravenous, once human, creatures, while trying desperately to hold onto the last shreds of their own humanity, both literally and figuratively, as civilization collapses around them. The focus of these types of stories are on the humans attempting to survive a chaotic environment, rather than the inhumanity of the monsters. The audience is drawn into the story through the kinds of decisions they make, which determine what kind of people they are. The audience is meant to identify with them, and place themselves in their shoes, thereby illuminating their own character.

 

 

Zombie movies are  a way to tell an intimate story in an oversized location. Many horror movies set in cities tend to focus on small dramas that happen during its destruction. In Train to Busan, the lead character, a callous business man, who cares more about his job than his family, learns to reconnect with his neglected young daughter, the people around him, and his own conscience, as he tries to protect her, during a zombie apocalypse. The zombie apocalypse is used as a backdrop to tell the story of a man regaining his humanity in the face of everyone losing theirs.

Sometimes, city dwellers themselves are monsters, and the the city is shown as a darkly cynical place, a cutthroat “urban jungle”, where people prey on one another, and no one can be trusted. City living is badmouthed in other movies. There are people who will rape or kill you at a moment’s notice, something which was not entirely an incorrect observation, especially during the 60’s and 70’s, when New York city was a much seedier, and more pornographic place, and Times Square in particular, before its gentrification and cleanup. Now, Times Square is clean and neat, but in the 70s, it was rife with strip clubs, open prostitution, porn theaters, and drug use. The frantic sights and sounds, river of traffic lights, buzzing of neon signs, sleek fashions, inclement weather, and constant chatter of people, are the hallmark tropes of city living. Cities are shown as cold, fast, sleek environments, often at night, using cool blues, and hot reds, which serve as  visual shorthand for lusts, and desires, but also  the emotional disconnect of the characters.

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 The movie Candyman was loosely based on a combination of African American urban legends, and the lives of the Black citizens of the Cabrini-Green housing projects of North Chicago. In the years since its creation in 1957, crime, gangs, and administrative neglect, created horrifying living conditions for its residents. Now add an immortal monster, that preys on their pain and sorrow, and what is depicted is an insidious horror, The Candyman, who was created out of  Black anguish, and white racist hysteria.

Much of Cabrini Green was eventually torn down in the 90s, and the last few buildings were destroyed in 2011. In 2020 Jordan Peele will release the spiritual sequel to the 1992 original film, which will tackle themes of displacement, and gentrification by affluent white residents, who of course, are not immune to the horrors of the city, no matter how much they tell themselves that they are improving it with their return.

Seven: The Brilliance of David Fincher's Chase Scene | Den of Geek

In 1995s  Se7en, Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt, she a schoolteacher, and he a cop, move back to the nameless every-city featured in the film. Unused to the grit, and callousness, she tells Morgan Freeman’s William Somerset, “I hate this city…the conditions here, are horrible.” And she is right. In Se7en, it is always raining, everything is gray, and littered with garbage, and the only warmth to be found is in Gwyneth’s character, and the home she has made for her and her husband. Throughout the movie, Somerset gives several speeches about the apathy of the people who live there, and how easy it is for human beings to not care about each other. The two people who claim to care the most about the city’s plight, are on opposite sides of the law. One is a serial killer, whose only solution seems to be causing more misery, by killing its weakest inhabitants, and the latter is Somerset’s hotheaded partner, who is eventually broken by his interaction with the former.

Cities can be a visual shorthand that represents the dehumanizing future that comes with technological progress. Got a horror story involving robots (The Terminator), or virtual reality, (The Matrix), then the best way to tackle so many sub-themes at once, is to set it in a city. Movies that question humanity, (The Fly), and reality (The 13th Floor), through technology, are almost always set in cities.

Movie of the Month - Dark City (July 2017) - Movie Forums

Just the name of the movie, Dark City (1998), invokes images of tall buildings, trash strewn alleys, crime, and permanent darkness, all of the shorthand that’s been used in Film Noir to indicate the horror of city living. Film Noir comes out of the German Expressionist cinema of 1920’s Berlin, and the American movies released in the 40’s, are based on that concept, while also referencing the crime and pulp fiction novels of the 30’s. In Film Noir, a person’s fortunes can turn on a dime, and human beings are the monsters, and with their suspect motivations, and weaknesses of character, they often bring about their own demise.

Dark City contains several monsters, including the actual  city itself, as it grows and transforms, at the whim of its alien masters. This is a literal parallel to real life cities, where, unlike the country with its bland stability, sites and markers come and go, the city grows and changes, and no where is there a fixed position.

In Dark City, a nameless man is pursued by strange men in black, for a series of murders he doesn’t remember committing. He spends most of the movie in pursuit of his memories, while discovering that the city itself is a lie. As the story progresses, we are introduced to alien possession, superpowers, and multiple themes about identity, alienation, and existential dread, which would be more difficult to impart, if the movie were set, for example, in the desert, which is representative of a different type of isolation.

It is said that there are a million stories in the naked city, and whether they are small and intimate (Rear Window, American Psycho, 1408), or huge and bombastic, (War of the Worlds, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman), that’s a promise for many more lives and cities to be destroyed, and more themes to be explored, in the foreseeable future.

Let’s hope we can survive them all.

Notes on: The Old Guard

 

The Old Guard Tog Sticker by NETFLIX for iOS & Android | GIPHY
Joe and Nicky

The Old Guard has totally blown up on Tumblr. The movie, which aired on Netflix last month was a real treat for women who love action movies, so much so, that there has been a lot of great meta writing and fanworks on the site.The movie is based on the Graphic Novel, by Greg Rucka, about a team of four immortal warriors, Andromache of Scythia,(Charlize Theron), Nicky, Joe, and Booker,  living in the modern world,  fighting a pharmecutical CEO ,who wants to use them for medical experiments. In the meantime, they need to find and recruit a brand new immortal, named Nile Freeman, and deal with a betrayal within, and outside of, their group.

Its one of those big idea movies, where the rules are all laid out beforehand, and  doesn’t stint on the development of its characters. It has some truly lovely scenes between Nicky and Joe, and Nile and Andy. I thought the movie was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed the characters and their interactions. I think its really worth a watch if you like action movies, with strong, ass kicking, smart women, who interact realistically with one another, along with a well illustrated, found family dynamic. There’s also a strong philosophical thread that runs through the movie, which asks questions about the purpose of living, and what its like to be alive for hundreds of years.

The Old Guard Tog Sticker by NETFLIX for iOS & Android | GIPHY
Andromache of Scythia aka Andy

The Old Guard is a fairly predictable film as far as the plot. What makes it groundbreaking however is its Black female director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, the well executed action scenes, its racial diversity, its Black female co-lead, and the presence of a canon gay inter-racial couple, who both survive to the end of the movie.

I read a lot of meta on this movie and was moved by how much fans seemed to really embrace this movie, especially Nile, since fandom hasn’t always been any good about its approach to black female characters. Its true that some fans tend to infantilize her, but that’s somewhat understandable, since the character of Nile is a brand new, baby-immortal, just learning about her powers, and the actress who plays her, Kiki Layne does have a kind of sweet baby face.

The story makes an effort to set up the knowledge that the characters are immortal, but that their survival is not a guarantee, so the tension about who will survive, remains really high, no matter how many fights we see them get into in the film

The Old Guard Nile Sticker by NETFLIX for iOS & Android | GIPHY
Nile Freeman

One of the things I loved about this movie is that the stakes never were less than. You would think, because the characters are unable to die, that there’d be nothing for them to lose in the several firefights, but there are many intangible things they can lose. They can lose their freedom, they can lose their trust, or their friendship, for Nikki and Joe, they could lose each other, or even their sense of purpose, or self, the way Andy did.

 

Another love of this film was the character arcs. We find out at the beginning of the movie that Andy has been retired from fighting for over a year. She’s given up, she’s cynical, and has no hope that she has done anything useful for the world, and we watch as her character gets back her reason for fighting and Nile is the key to that. Andy doesn’t just go out and save Nile. Nile saves her too.

Even their treatment of Booker’s betrayal comes from a place of compassion. Yes, they’re very angry with him, but they don’t permanently exile him either. They think a hundred years of being separated from his family is punishment enough. They’re not out to physically harm him, or cause him emotional damage, but there have to be consequences for what he did. They know being alone however is horrible for him (it’s the reason he betrayed them in the first place) but it’s the only consequence they have available.

The Old Guard Tog Sticker by NETFLIX for iOS & Android | GIPHY

 

For male directors character development and emotions, may be a 3 or 4 on the scale of priority in a movie, and I normally don’t have a problem with that manner of filmmaking. I’ve watched enough action movies to be able to glean the emotions in them, but usually that’s not a male director’s focus. I’m mostly thinking of movies like Winter Soldier, Inception, and Fury Road, (and quite a large number of Asian action films,) where the focus is on the plot and action, with character development as more of an afterthought.

I think there are a number of male action directors who do bring emotionalism into their work, and manage to be successful at it, but I think the difference is for male directors their priorities are simply different than female directors. For women directors though, the priority on relationships, character interaction, and character development, may be at a one or a two, thereby making the plot much more character driven than in male directed films, where the plot is more situational, but that’s just an observation I’ve made with my limited sample size.

There really aren’t a wealth of action movies out there directed by female directors ,and the ones that do get made, are  either always being trashed as the worst movies ever, or lauded as the second coming of Jesus. There seems to be no in between, reasonably thought out, reviews or critiques. Everything is either the best of times or the worst of times.

And yes, I am geeking out over the addition of a Black female character as an action heroine. There really are not enough female action heroes, but there are almost no Black or Asian ones. This is why I’ve become a lot more discerning about the kinds of shows and movies I watch now. I’m thoroughly spoiled for diverse content, that has depth and at least some meaning, and  very dubious about sitting through any more all white, all male productions of shows and movies. I’m definitely not willing to sit through any of the lazy, sorry, excuses PoC have gotten in the past for not having diversity both in front of, and behind, the camera.

The Old Guard is a lot of fun, with just a touch of melancholy. Its just deep enough to be satisfying without getting too heavy. The plot isn’t really all that remarkable, and very predictable, but what the characters and director do with the plot is worth watching. It’s got some great action sequences, and although there are a couple of moments of cringey dialogue,  and the music is sometimes overwhelmingly blase, its not too bad, and doesn’t stray very far from its comic book origins, as the script was written by Rucka. Theron carries most of the emotional heavy lifting in the story. In fact, she almost overpowers the story, but that gets nicely weighed by the other characterizations, and action scenes.

Fans are clamoring for a second season ,especially since there was a ice set up for it, in the last 30 seconds, but the word isn’t out yet on whether or not there will be one.

 

The Old Guard Tog Sticker by NETFLIX for iOS & Android | GIPHY

As for what Tumblr thinks:

This was a beautifully written examination of the movie’s characters. Please visit their Tumblr site for more insightful observations of their newest obseesion.

fuckyeahisawthat

 

the old guard: loneliness, connection and immortality

 

APPARENTLY I am writing a thing about The Old Guard today.

 

(Bear in mind that I haven’t read the graphic novel, although I’m eager to now, so this is solely based on the movie and some things I’ve read about the comic in articles about the movie.)

 

Under the cut for spoilers, although the discussion is fairly general.

 

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THE OLD GUARD (2020) — Sleeper Awakened

fuckyeahisawthat

the old guard and moral uncertainty

One of the things I love the most about The Old Guard, which I haven’t seen discussed much, is that there is no why to their powers. There’s no origin story, either via destiny or accident. There’s no prophecy, no curse, no ancient god, no super-serum, no lab accident, no mutant spider bite. If there is a reason why these people, in particular, are like this, we don’t know it and they don’t either. Where their immortality comes from, and why it fades when it does, is a complete unknown.

 

In other contexts I could see this coming off as a frustrating lack of clarity in worldbuilding. In The Old Guard I think it works as an essential piece of the philosophical landscape in which the story operates.

A parallel and interlocking component of this landscape is the fact that the immortals exist in a world where there are very few, if any, other superpowered beings. There are no pre-ordained forces of darkness, no aliens to fight, no neatly-arranged supervillains that only they can defeat. There are only humans.

 

This means they have to create their own framework of meaning for their actions, the way the rest of us mortals do. The mythology of their world doesn’t provide any built-in delineation of good guys and bad guys and What We’re Fighting For. There’s no easy certainty of purpose or moral clarity to be had.

 

 

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The Old Guard Kiki Layne GIF - TheOldGuard KikiLayne Action ...

fuckyeahisawthat

Let’s talk for a minute about how The Old Guard shows Nile as a character who’s worthy of protection and caretaking without infantilizing her or minimizing her agency.

I’m thinking particularly of the scene when Nile wakes up from the nightmare about Quynh, which honestly might be one of my favorite moments in the whole movie. The three guys are all sleeping in the same room as her and they all immediately wake up and reach for their weapons, ready to throw down. Like, at least a couple of them look like they’re sleeping on cots. They could have spread out around the space, but all three of them are sleeping in the same room as her, armed. Only Andy has chosen to separate herself and is not-sleeping in the next room.

 

And their reaction isn’t just an ingrained response from a very long life of combat. They’re all very clearly focused on Nile and whether she’s safe, and once it’s clear that there’s no physical threat, they want to make sure she’s okay emotionally and help her understand what she saw in the nightmare.

 

This is one of those moments where context sensitivity matters a lot. Because we can easily imagine a scenario where the exact same scene would play as overprotective, condescending or downright creepy. But when the focus of the scene is a Black woman, a moment that says this character is worthy of both physical, bodily protection and emotional support reads very differently.

 

We already know Nile is a tough and self-sufficient character. She’s an elite soldier who grew up in the inner city, raised by a single mom who pushed her to succeed. She has excelled in a dangerous, physically demanding, male-dominated career. She is, in many ways, the template of the Strong Black Woman, and a lot of movies would have left it there. But with this scene, and all the other little moments of care and attention she receives, the other characters are saying, hey, we know you are tough and self-sufficient, but you don’t always have to be.

 

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Dorothy Surrenders: Guard Up

grizvser is writing some very nice meta about this show, especially the two lovers, Joe and Nicky. Please check out their Tumblr site for more astute observations about the show and characters.

grizviser

Okay, so I’ve seen a lot of people say that Joe and Nicky were way too hard on Booker and that it’s out of character for them to have reacted so harshly to his betrayal, but y’all gotta remember (and I say this as someone who loves Booker): Joe and Nicky paid the heaviest price for Booker’s betrayal.

 

They were the ones who were kidnapped and tied up. Nicky had to watch Joe get stabbed repeatedly by Merrick. The two of them were the only ones who got experimented on, poked and prodded at and sliced into, and who knows what could have happened to them if they hadn’t been saved so soon. They had to deal with the trauma of possibly being kept there for god knows how long. When Booker and Andy were captured, they were only trapped for a little while before Nile came and rescued everyone. They never had to deal with any of that trauma.

 

Not only did they suffer the torture themselves, but they had to watch the person they love suffer too. If Booker hadn’t betrayed them, none of the events of the movie would’ve happened. Joe had to watch Nicky not only get tortured, but get shot in the damn head. All of this is because Booker sold them out.

 

Combine that with the fact that the two of them are clearly very loyal, honourable men, who are undoubtedly devestated that someone they trusted and thought of as their family would sell them out just because HE didn’t want to live anymore? Joe and Nicky are happy to be alive because they have each other, but Booker put that at risk because of his own feelings of grief. Even though I understand Booker wasn’t motivated by any malice and I’m empathetic to his struggles and feelings, it’s understandable why Joe calls him selfish. Joe is willing to live for eternity because he has Nicky (and the whole guard too, of course), and Booker’s actions could have taken that away from him.

Nile forgives him quickly because she’s new and doesn’t fully understand the weight of his actions, meanwhile Andy is more sympathetic because she, too, is a little bit tired of living, yet Joe and Nicky, the ones who want to live, bear the brunt of a lot of the suffering that came along with Booker’s choice.

 

Now, I do think they will get over it sooner than 100 years, but right now, the betrayal was so raw and the impact of what happened so fresh in their mind, I understand their reasoning.

 

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yusuf al kaysani | Tumblr

grizviser

One of the best things about Joe and Nicky in The Old Guard is their sexuality/relationship is a very important traits of both of their characters, but it’s not their only trait.

 

So many times when I hear people talk about gay/queer characters in media, I hear, “their sexuality isn’t an important part of their character” or “they just happen to be gay,” and I’ve always thought that was bullshit and a cop-out. Sexuality and romance plays a HUGE part in people’s lives. People spend a lot of their time looking for “the one”, looking for romance, looking for a relationship or sex or both. Think about classical male heroes and how often they bed women (think James Bond, James Kirk in Star Trek, etc.) Wouldn’t you say sexuality is a huge part of their characters? Yet with gay characters it’s said to be “not important.” It’s just a cop-out.

 

Joe and Nicky’s sexualities are very important because their relationship is so incredibly important to both of them. It’s portrayed to be the reason they’re both still happy to be living while Andy and Booker have grown jaded and suicidal due to loneliness. They are the most important thing in the world to each other. They aren’t “badass but just happen to be gay.” They are badass AND gay.

 

They’re incredibly competent fighters who can brutalize an entire army but when they go home they flirt, they wink at each other, they snuggle, they kiss, they talk about their love for one another. They’re no less masculine when they’re expressing their love for one another than they are when they’re massacring an army of soldiers.

 

Yet still, their characters are not reduced to just the token gay guys who are also tough. They have their own distinct personalities. Joe is impassioned, quick to anger, protective, playful, romantic, vengeful, but with a soft heart full of deep love. Nicky is quiet, reserved, compassionate, loving, and sweet, but also calculating and sarcastic and a force to be reckoned with in a fight.

 

They’re both such distinct, powerful personalities and it’s portrayed through their individual actions as well as through their love for each other. It fills me with so much joy that these characters were allowed to be so unapologetically, textually gay without it being an afterthought and also without it becoming the centerpiece of the story.

 

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And these aren’t all. Visit Tumblr and type in The Old Guard to find whole blogs devoted to the topic, fanart, and various headcanon, and fictions.

Hannibal Season Three: Digestivo

So, I know all of you are now watching my favorite show, since its airing on Netflix. Yay!!! I don’t know if any of you guys have reached season three of the show (there’s no rush, take your time), but when you finally make it, I’m ready for ya’ with some of my more  interesting thoughts on those episodes.

Mizumono (S2E13), Digestivo (S3E07), And The Woman Clothed W GIF ...

Digestivo is, hands down, one of my favorite episodes of season three, as it finishes out the arc just before the Red Dragon book, when Hannibal is in prison, but I’m not entirely certain why, I like it so much, so lets examine this. I think its because, although I’ve definitely seen Will being dark before, this is really the first time I’ve seen him actually working in tandem with Hannibal, of his own volition, and the two of them are every bit as terrifying a team as I suspected they would be.

In a lot of ways, Will is more terrifying than Hannibal. Hannibal has engaged in years of disciplined hiding of who and what he is, while Will’s dark side has simply been suppressed, with few outlets, given the type of life he’s lived. Will’s violence doesn’t have any controls, and is completely unpredictable. Hannibal revels in Will’s violent tendencies, but even he doesn’t know when it might be unleashed, or against whom,  even himself. Will is chaotic.

In the last episode, Lecter was interrupted by the police, as he was just about to chow down on Will’s brain, with Jack Crawford as a witness. The police grab Will and Lecter, to take them to Mason Verger’s Muskrat Farm, in Maryland. I was under the impression, when I first watched this, that these were men in Verger’s employ, but it turns out that these are actually the Florentine police, capturing Lecter for the Mason’s bounty, which is actually  illegal. The police are not allowed to capture suspects for reward. At least that’s how it works in the US.

3X07 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The police are about to kill Crawford for witnessing the abduction, but are taken out by Chiyoh, who seems to have gotten over her issues about killing, now that she’s gotten a taste for it, I guess. Remember, she  refused to kill Lecter’s prisoner in the dungeon, from the episode Contorno. So either she’s suddenly become more bloodthirsty, or she simply insists on killing on her own terms, and not Lecter’s. After all, she did comment to Will, that sooner or later, they all become what Lecter wants them to be, whether they like it or not, and this seems to be a truism throughout the series. Fuller himself has stated that Lecter is analogous to Lucifer, a being that wants to usurp God, (which he does), and corrupts human souls to his side (which Lecter often does).

While this is going on, Mason Verger and his henchman/cook/nurse’s aide, Cordell, make plans for cooking Lecter, and transplanting Will Graham’s face onto Mason’s. There’s a truly gruesome (but also deeply funny) image of a cooked Lecter, as the two discuss frying him like a Peking Duck.

Yes, the plot has pretty much gone completely batshit,  at this point, and the creators seem to know this, as there is a, not quite faint, tongue-in-cheek vibe, to the entire season, as if the people involved can barely keep a straight face. The show has completely jettisoned even the idea of the police procedural as it segues into the Red Dragon plotline. It’s probably better to look on this season as somewhere slightly to the left or right of Camp. The only thing that saves it from that, are the horror elements and acting, which are portrayed seriously by the cast. 

Hannibal' Delivers a Romantic 'Digestivo'

 

Chiyoh frees Crawford, in exchange for the location of Muskrat Farm, while Crawford wonders how he’s going to get out of Florence without the police noticing. Chiyoh, at least, manages to get out of town, as she eventually shows up at the Farm, after having a truly hilarious conversation with Bedelia, who is high as a kite during her scene, but still manages to get in a dig at Chiyoh about serving Lecter’s needs, which is really rich, coming from someone who spent the first half of the season enabling him.

Alana and Margot discuss making a child using Mason’s sperm, with Alana as the surrogate, after Mason shows Margot the surrogate mother of the child she would have had with Will, if Mason hadn’t had her uterus extracted. (See, that is the kind of thing that I could only be typing about a show like this.) 

hannibal digestivo | Tumblr

Hannibal, Will, and Mason, have dinner together, while Mason tortures the two men with the knowledge of what he plans to do with them. I will not mention in detail how Mason thinks Will has a pretty face, or why he would want Will’s face in the first place. (Will’s attractiveness has lowkey been an underlying theme since season one, but will be openly mentioned, by several characters, in season three.) In the commentary for this episode, Fuller says that Mason intends to rape Lecter, while wearing Will’s face (this is in reference to Mason’s comment about Lecter being in his shorties by then), if so, this is the first time that Fuller is introducing  sexual motivations for violence, into the series, as he says he has tried to avoid such motivations before.

endlessly fascinated — The Hot Darkness of Hannibal Lecter's Mind

During the dinner, Cordell gets a little too close to Will, who bites a chunk out of his cheek, and spits it on the table. We’ve seen Will be violent before, usually in dream sequences, and this shows his evolution from the first season, when Will was having trouble simply discharging his weapon at a criminal, and Alana mentions biting behavior in serial killing, in a lecture she is giving in one of Will’s classes. This is also an echo from the movie Hannibal Rising, when Hannibal bites the cheek of one of the men who killed Mischa. 

Contrast that with Will’s behavior in previous seasons. He has nothing but contempt for Cordell, and afterwards, he looks, with some slight embarrassment, in Lecter’s direction, as if to shrug that he’s sorry he’s being a such bad boy. Hannibal is, of course, very proud that Will is becoming what he always wanted Will to be, and smiles like an indulgent father. Murder husbands indeed.

Dee Discusses: Hannibal 3×07 | Media Nerd Alert!

Alana and Margot scheme to save the life of Margot’s child, but are too late, by the time they find the surrogate, a massive hog. They  discover that Will and Lecter are on the premises, and that Crawford is still alive, and may bring the FBI into the equation, although Mason says he has handled it. Alana is rightfully concerned that Mason has not killed Hannibal yet, fearing that Hannibal will escape before revenge can be exacted.

While Cordell gets ready for the surgery to remove Will’s face, Alana and Margot visit Hannibal. This is interesting for Alana because this is the first time she has seen Hannibal since they tried to kill each other. She has a profound grievance at his betrayal of her, and as it turns out, he also fed her human flesh in the form of the  “special beer” he made.  Everything she has done this season has lead up to this moment, but Alana is desperate to save Will, because he was never part of her issues. In exchange for saving Will from Mason, the two of them set Hannibal free. He counsels Margot to kill Mason after they impregnate Alana. The two of them speak to Mason explaining what they did. Mason, incensed, tries to shoot them, but a fight ensues, and the two end up drowning him in his own aquarium.

Hannibal' Delivers a Romantic 'Digestivo'

Hannibal kills Mason’s henchmen, rescues Will, and kills Cordell, placing Cordell’s face on Mason, instead. He manages to get Will to his home in Wolf Trap Virginia, with the help of Chiyoh, who shoots the last of Mason’s henchmen.

Hannibal takes will back to his home, where Will delivers his final goodbye to him, a promise he manages to keep for three years. After Will regains consciousness, he makes it clear he will have no more to do with Hannibal, not because he doesn’t love him, but because he simply does not have the stamina to live the kind of life that Hannibal wants. I also suspect that he is simply appalled at his behavior with Cordell, and  has fully reached the conclusion that Hannibal is not only not good for him, but that he and Hannibal together, are not good for everyone else. When he is with him, is when Hannibal is happiest, because Will is at his worst. He tells Hannibal that he doesn’t want to know where he is or what he’s doing, and to stay away from him.

Hannibal Lecter Mads Mikkelsen Will Graham Hugh Dancy Digestivo ...

Hannibal is heartbroken again, but his reaction this time is the opposite of what happened at the end of season two, when he tried to kill Will to show that Will hadn’t emotionally affected him. He makes no pretense  about being emotionally unaffected by his association with Will, now. Jack Crawford shows up, and asks after Hannibal, who gives himself up to the FBI, claiming that this way, Will will always know where he is, and be thinking about him.

Will, opening up, confides: “I miss my dogs. I’m not gonna miss you. I’m not going to find you, I’m not gonna look for you. I don’t wanna know where you are, or what you do; I don’t want to think about you anymore. Good-bye, Hannibal.”

After seeing Lecter taken away by the FBI, Chiyoh leaves. There’s nothing more for her to do here.

Hannibal GIF and a Graf: The Doctor Surrenders to the FBI | WIRED

 Throughout the series we have been inundated with images, and discussion, about the breaking teacup, and time. This is a reference to the instability of Lecter’s relationships with others, and him trying to undo the destruction of lives that often follows in his wake.  These discussions and images often occur to Hannibal during moments of regret with Will. He cannot reverse time, and undo what was done, and cannot seem to fix what was broken. His relationship with Will is broken, and while he understands why, he doesn’t know how to fix it. 

I also think the teacup is a reference to himself. The act of eating his little sister after her death, (something he confesses to Chiyoh), sets in motion the entire chain of events that leads to this moment with Will, and another relationship that ends up destroyed. Hannibal, in his lowest, and most honest moments, believes he is broken, so naturally his relationship with the people he admits to loving, (Will, Chiyoh, Abigail), can only ever end in destruction. He cannot turn back time and change who he is. What is broken, can only remain broken, and he cannot be repaired. Will cutting him loose is the closest he will ever get to such an outcome. He turns himself in,  not because he thinks the teacup will be repaired, but because that conscious act will keep it from breaking.  He cannot turn back time, but perhaps he can freeze it, and keep the teacup from being destroyed. As long as Will knows where he is, and is thinking about him, their relationship can remain unbroken, and  in suspension, which is exactly what happens over the next several years of their separation.

 

 

Addendum

Lets talk about the show’s handling of mental health issues, which I think has been, if not favorable, then at least sympathetic, and that includes Will Graham. This is a show about a murderous psychiatrist, so in the first and second seasons,  the audience is often presented with characters with various mental illnesses, and the show takes pains not to just show such patients as violent, but to show them as also victims within a system.

The first time Jack Crawford meets Will Graham, he is somewhat insensitive, blatantly asking him about his mental disorder, and pulling off his glasses, which is representative of the general attitude that other characters show towards the mentally ill. The show itself always treats such characters with a certain degree of sensitivity, even when some of the characters do not.

Starting with Will Graham, these characters are almost never shown as murderous, or even dangerous, for its own sake, and when they are shown as dangerous, it is usually because of extenuating circumstances, and not necessarily their mental illness. When they are violent its not out of malignancy, or because mental illness makes a person violent, but because they are being driven by their illness to alleviate their pain. 

In season one’s Coquilles, the murderer is driven by a brain tumor. He suffers from delusions that make him believe that certain people are angels meant to watch over him, while he sleeps. His victim’s deaths are a side effect of what he does, not his primary motivations, and that distinction matters. This also the case with Georgia Madchen in Buffet Froid, who kills as a side effect of her delusions, not because that was her primary goal.

But the ultimate depiction of sympathy towards mental illness takes place in season three, in Su Zakana, where we encounter Peter, a man suffering from a form of brain damage that doesn’t allow him to look at things, while touching them at the same time. At every opportunity, Will shows care, sensitivity,  and compassion towards Peter, and believes him when he says he’s not a killer. 

In fact, Peter isn’t a killer, but he is being manipulated to take the fall for the actual killer, not unlike how current political systems take advantage of, abuse, and misuse the mentally ill. Will shows care and sensitivity to Georgia Madchen as well. It is one of Will’s signature traits that his empathy draws him to such people, and the writers are always careful to make these characters sympathetic to some degree.

None of the mentally ill on the show are evil just to be evil. They are not trying to kill people. Many of them don’t actually believe they’re causing harm, and the harm they do cause is a side affect of their attempt to relieve their pain. Fuller is walking a very thin line here, but I believe it deserves merit. The show isn’t a perfect depiction of mental illness, but it does take care not too easily fall into tropes about it. The show still makes the mistake of associating monstrous behavior with mental illness, and horror, however.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror Movies That Everyone Forgot

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

This movie was made in 2001, by the same director of the 2014 French film, Beauty and the Beast, Christophe Gans, and it shows. It’s a gorgeous looking film. In fact, it made my Most Beautiful Movies list from a few years ago, and stars Mark Dacascos, and Vincent Cassell, that villain from that last Jason Bourne movie.

The movie is a curious mixture of history, politics, romance, martial arts, and mystery, based on the myth of the Beast of Gevaudin, in 18th century France. The Beast killed hundreds of people over a number of years, and was never caught. The lead character Gregoire De Fronsac,  was based on the man who actually investigated the killings. Dacascos plays his Indigenous sidekick from America, named Mani, who has mad martial arts skills, just because Dacascos has them.

The monster is a kind of steampunk version of a lion and was created by a member of the nobility to destroy the current monarchy by terrorizing the populace. Actually, I’m still not sure why the monster was created, but Monica Belluci plays a prostitute spy, and naturally, we get some titty shots, because its Monica, and the movie is set in France.

 

 

Orca; The Killer Whale (1977)

One of the interesting trends I’ve observed in these Horror movies is the Indigenous sidekick who gets killed. So maybe there’s a reason why these movies were forgotten! Nevertheless, I added this movie because it’s one of my mothers favorite films. It should tell you something that while she is indifferent to the movie Jaws, she likes a number of Jaws ripoffs. I on the other hand love Jaws, and hate all the ripoffs, of which Orca is one of the better ones.

It has this ridiculous plot about a killer whale, that stalks and avenges itself, against one of the fisherman who killed its mate and offspring, even going so far as to destroy an entire seaside town, and permanent maim his daughter, and kill his Indigenous sidekick, because as you know, any movie set in nature, must have one of those, else how will the viewers understand the setting. Once you get past the silliness of the plot, and a certain amount of dialogue that exists in service to it, it’s really not a bad film. Some of the action setpieces are very impressive, and the fishing and water scenes are pretty good.

It ultimately comes down to a man against fish fight, between the whale and the fisherman, at the end of the movie. I won’t tell you who wins, but it’s worth watching just to find out, and listen to some of the ecology issues prominently mentioned in the movie.

 

 

Ravenous (1999)

I really wish people talked about this movie more, because it’s a fairly deep film, tackling the interrelated issues of Manifest Destiny, the consumption of America’s resources, and people, genocide, and colonization, and  just a touch of homo-eroticism, as a kind of accent.

Lt. John Boyd catches a bad case of cannibalism during the Mexican American war, and because of his cowardice, is sent off to a remote post in the Rocky Mountains. There are definitely some Donner Party elements in the plot, although that real life historical event isn’t specifically referenced. While there, he fights against his murderous nature, until he meets another like himself, Colonel Ives, who is gleefully cannibalistic, and wants him to join him in eating any passing travelers through the region. Once again the plot comes down to a raw, knockdown drag out fight between the two primary characters. Again, I won’t tell you who wins, but it’s worth watching to find out.

 

Exorcist III (1990)

This movie is totally different from the critically acclaimed first film, and the much defamed second one.

You may have heard that all the other Exorcist movies really stank in comparison to the first movie, and that is certainly true of the second film which was incomprehensible and overlong. But the third movie of this trilogy is surprisingly good, although it doesn’t have a lot of resemblance to the first.

It picks up several years after the first movie, and the detective we see on the first film, Kinderman, is older and wiser, but still very much haunted by the loss of his first friend, the priest from the first movie, he’s investigating the bizarre death of the priest he’d befriended at the end of the first movie. This leads him to a supernatural force that movies from body to body, destroying anyone who was involved in the original exorcism, and begins circling closer and closer to his family.

This movie is not as loud and audacious a movie as the first. In fact, it feels like an entirely different genre, but there are some genuine scares, and the mystery is disturbing and intriguing. makes a cameo in the movie to dispense some mockery, ridicule, and demonic philosophy as a possessed asylum inmate. it’s worth seeing because it’s a genuinely creepy film with a likable, intelligent, and tenacious lead character.

 

 

 

 

House (1986)

I remember watching this movie back in the 80s, when it was first released to TV, because  that guy from Greatest American Hero, and Carrie, William Katt, starred in it, and I was still at that age when I was fascinated by men with really big hair. I didn’t exactly have crushes on them. Its just that a lot of White men in the 80s had really huge, luxurious, hair and I found that exotic, because it was something I only saw in movies and TV. The white men I saw in my everyday life, like my two classmates, or my doctor, just had regular, completely unremarkable, hair.

Anyway…the movie, released in 1986,  is about a man who movies into a house he inherited from his Aunt, after the disappearance of his son, and subsequent separation from his wife. Not long afterwards, he discovers all manner of strange goings-on, like hallucinations, nightmares from his stint in Vietnam, a closet that leads to a nightmare dimension, and the malignant ghost of one of his companions from Vietnam, played by Richard Moll. Things become increasingly dangerous, as he keeps getting attacked by various monsters, until he realizes he must go into the nightmare dimension to battle his fears, if he wants to live.

This movie was part of a huge trend of low budget, supernatural comedies that came out in the mid- 80s, thanks to the release of The Evil Dead films. While some of it was played for laughs, it turned out to be a lot more serious than funny. Its probably time for me to watch this again as  I haven’t seen it for bit.

 

 

 

 

Pontypool (2008)

This is probably one of the most unusual zombie movies ever made, and it was definitely made on a budget, as you can see, since it only has a cst of about three people. The basic premise is people being turned into zombie like creatures by their use of language. Certain strings of words, and sounds used together cause them to become mindless attackers of the uninfected. The entire movie takes place in one studio room, with most of it consisting of outside phone calls to the studio, outlining the chaos happening outside, but eventually the infection makes its way inside.

Of the cast, the only one I actually recognize, is Stephen McHattie. I remember the first time I saw this actor, many decades ago, in a little known sequel to Rosemary’s Baby, titled Whatever Happened to Rosemary’s Baby?, another forgotten Horror movie, in which he played the titular character, as a tortured young man. (I remember having a huge crush on him when I was about 16.)

 

Haberdasheries and Hemoglobins On Youtube

Today, I have decided to laugh.

Okay, maybe its not all sweetness and light, but I find Youtube amusing and interesting, as I carefully curate the things on my dashboard, to minimize bullshit. Here’s a list of ridiculousness that I stumbled across, and a short list of Youtubers I subscribe to. This is maybe half of them, but its a pretty good snapshot of the subjects that most interest me.

 

Tony Baker Voiceovers

From now on, I’m going to use the word “The Skibbity Pap”,  every time I love smack one of my nieces or nephews on the back of the head. These Tony Baker videos have been around for years, but they’re new to me, and I just love them. Whenever I need a quick pick me up, I just put on one of these, and I’m soon crying for a completely different reason!

Also “skibbity pap” just sounds like the kind of thing that cats would call those love smacks they enjoy giving to anyone, or anything, that wanders into their orbit.

 

 

Two things that are  deeply funny to me, are how the animals love to sing R&B songs to themselves, when they’re alone, and continuing adventures of Rudy, and his dogs.

 

 

The Patriot Act

ASMR: signifies the subjective experience of “low-grade euphoria” characterized by “a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin”. It is most commonly triggered by specific auditory or visual stimuli, and less commonly by intentional attention control.

This is one of the weirdest/funniest videos on Youtube, as Hasan Minhaj, from Patriot Act, gets in on that whole ASMR experience, by helping you relax while you’re doing your taxes. Watch the whole thing!

 

 

Beau of the Fifth Column

The first time I stumbled across one of Beau’s videos, I did what maybe a lot of people did, and skipped past it, because I really didn’t want to be bothered by yet another opinion video, from a straight white guy, about social issues that didn’t affect him. I’ve had my absolute fill of white men, “objectively” playing devil’s advocate on  social issues.

But his videos kept being recommended to me, so I gave one a try, and was pleasantly surprised by how open and level headed he is. I don’t always agree with the things he says, but he always clearly, and honestly explains what, and why, he believes it, in a way that doesn’t talk down to the viewer, or occlude the issues with erasure and lies.

The titles of the videos are often misleading, but once you start watching, you realize that he is someone who thinks very differently from most people (even me) about a thing.

 

 

 

CinemaWins

I am more than a little tired of this idea, that more than a few people deeply believe, that criticism must be negative. I keep trying to tell people that any opinion, whether its positive or negative, is actually a critique of whatever  you just consumed, because that’s what “criticize” means. Yes, loving something, and stating why, is a perfectly valid critique.

This critic says he originally started this channel as a rebuke to the Cinema Sins Channel, (which I hate). I chose this particular video because I love this movie as much as he does, and for all the same reasons.

 

 

Jesse Dollamore

I knew what I was getting into when I stumbled across Dollamore’s videos, because I started watching him back in the days when he was taking down the low hanging fruit that is Tomimo Laurencias stupid ass. At least part of the reason I like his videos are the incredible insults he levels at trump and his cronies, because they’re almost poetic. Feckless moron, and googly-eyed nitiwt, are what come to mind. I love a good, and well delivered, insult.

 

 

La Guardia Cross

Papa La Guardia says:

New Father Chronicles began in November of 2014 when my daughter Amalah was 1-week-old. I had no idea what I was doing, so I decided to chronicle my journey on YouTube and make fun of myself along the way. Our 2nd daughter, Nayely, was born in April of 2017.

My channel is filled with the silly adventures I have with my girls, infant and toddler interviews, my interpretations of their babble, silly skits, and the things I’ve learned or unlearned as a parent. Sometimes Leah and I mix it up a bit and share some pretty personal moments as well. Why? Well, we’re far from perfect and we’ve learned a lot from our mistakes.

This was one of the first videos I ever saw, and its at least a couple of years old as his baby girls are about three and five now, and I’m not sure where I heard of it, or what I’d watched, that this was recommended to me.

 

 

 

Renegade Cut

Okay, these are just really good reviews, and the critic makes an effort to make his critiques relevant to real world events, like this one about how Black peopel have always been talking about police brutality, which has permeated almost all of our tele-visual arts.

 

 

 

Sir Stevo Timothy

I’m not sure how this video got recommended to me. I thought it was funny, but still  wasn’t quite  sure what to think, when I saw the first one, so I did a little research to figure out who the hell this guy was. it turns out that this character is a parody of a certain type of racist, loud, old, ignorant, Irish uncle. He manages to make the things he says so stupidly ridiculous that you cannot possible take his opinions seriously, and even manages to slip in  some progressive thoughts, if you pay attention.

This video is one of my favorites because no matter how hard he tries, he is simply incapable of ignoring that his passenger is a Black man (from Dublin).

 

I’m probably not supposed to laugh this damn hard at these videos.

 

 

 

The Fish Locker

This video doesn’t seem like it fits anything else on this list, but  its surprisingly soothing to watch this guy combing the rocky beaches of Scotland for seafood, with his wife and son.

This is like ASMR beach combing.

 

 

 

Tkviper

And here are the real ASMR videos of Tkviper just walking the many different streets of Japan, while its raining different types of rain.

 

 

 

Aeon Flux

Does anybody remember these cartons from MTV’s Liquid Television, in the 9os? I remember watching hte hell out of these at the time. I think I still have the full DVD set.

Most Hated Film Tropes

All movies have tropes, sometimes the use, misuse, and overturning of those tropes is what makes a movie worth watching, but they all have them, because that’s what usually determines the film’s genre, for example. Certain things have to occur for something to qualify as Horror, Fantasy, or a Western. I don’t have problem with tropes in general, but some things I am really, really, tired of seeing, or is a sign of lazy film writing.

 

The Magical Negro

A magical negro is usually a Black man or woman with some type of inexplicable superpower, (but sometimes not), who shows up to help the White protagonist deal with some problem they’re having in their life, often without reciprocation from the white protagonist. These magical people are never selfish, deciding  to help any nearby White people maximize their love lives, for example, rather than using their considerable powers to make their own lives better, or save themselves from harm.

Part of the reason this idea is so offensive to me, is not necessarily because the Black person has superpowers, but that they use those powers in service to White people, rather than relieving their own oppression (if they’re shown to have any backstory at all).  They don’t have families, they’re never seen around other Black people, they never discuss their own problems, they have no lives of their own.  Most of the time their origins are mysterious.

A classic example of this trope is John Coffey from The Green Mile, a giant Black man, with no past, and no future either, as he is sentenced to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit, yet nevertheless, spends much of the movie solving the problems of the white prison guards in his orbit, rather than trying to solve his own. I get that he is a Christ metaphor, but watching this movie is very distasteful for me.

Some other classic examples include Oda Mae from the movie Ghost (a Black character with no life or backstory of her own,  beyond helping the ghost of the white protagonist reunite with his wife) There are  movies where the trope is done so well, that I’ll give it a pass, like Red from Shawshank Redemption. A character that just manages to skirt by, with this trope, are Will Smith’s Hitch, as his being a love talker for hire is the entire point of the film and he gets an entire storyline devoted to his own love life.

But my least favorite character, in all of filmdom, is the character of Jezelle, from the movie Jeepers Creepers, a psychic nobody, who takes time out of her busy schedule of doing, we don’t know what,  to provide exposition and aid, to two White, twenty-something, strangers, who are being chased by the movie’s monster. Her only purpose in the movie,is to show up and psychically help these strangers, rather than use her abilities to keep herself safe from the monster. In fact, using her abilities brings her into direct interaction with the monster, in a way that would never have happened if she’d just stayed home, because her pronouncements don’t change their futures, and puts her life in danger.

 

 

 

The Black Guy Dies First

Its not so much that they die first, so much as they never make it to the end of any horror movie.

Black or any other characters from minorities are often said to be the first ones to die within horror films.[1] While it is not necessarily true that these characters die first, a larger percentage die at some point in the movie.[7] Complex did a survey of 50 horror films that starred black characters, finding that only 10% had black characters that died first in the film; however, a great deal of those characters still died at some point in the movies.[1] On top of their imminent death, these characters are also notably given a lack of character development, especially in comparison to white counterparts.[1] According to Valerie, in her breakdown of the development of black characters in horror, black characters stand a greater chance of survival if they are teamed with a white woman by the end, if the entire cast is black, or if the villain is a black person. However, Complex also reveals that black characters who survive the film almost certainly die if there is a sequel.

—– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_horror_films

A great example overturning this trope is Tales From The Crypt: Demon Night, which stars two, totally bad ass, Black women, one of whom does not make it to the end to the film, (although she does go out like a BOSS), and Jada Pinkett, who  not only becomes the Final Girl, she also gets to be the hero, who defeats the monster. Examples of the first sort are far too numerous to mention. You can pretty much count every slasher movie made in the 80’s and 90’s.

Keep in mind, however, that Night of the Living Dead showed us that even if the Black person is the star of the movie, that is still no guarantee they will survive it.

My most hated version of this trope though, is the movie Logan, where an entire Black family gets introduced, only so they can be killed, a few minutes later. Now, I get that the point of their deaths is to illustrate that Wolverine is, very probably, one of the most toxic characters in Marvel history. Death follows him around like a lapdog, so much so, that anyone who interacts with him, on even the most superficial level, will meet with a quick, and pointless death. If not by him, then through someone associated with his sordid past. In fact, everybody in this movie dies, from the Mexican gangbangers at the beginning of the film, to Charles Xavier, to Laura’s surrogate mother, and Logan himself.

In fact,  Logan is full of dead  PoC, solely because they had some kind of interaction with Wolverine, whether benign or negative.

*Sigh*

Movin’ on…

 

CPR Only Works When You Shout At the Recipient

Gob, I hate this one!

I absolutely hate this trope. I have always hated this trope. Its a stupid trope, meant to create a false feeling of suspense, when a major character dies onscreen. Its often used wrong anyway. CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) is not even meant to bring someone back to life. You don’t just give a person CPR and they wake up and start breathing, as if they just had a nightmare. It’s also meant to last longer than the couple of minutes they show you onscreen. You are not simply restarting a person’s heart. You are doing the job of the heart by keeping their blood circulating, so that the brain continues to receive oxygen, thereby lessening brain damage, until the heart can be restarted.

In Movieland, if CPR isn’t working but dammit-you’re-not-gonna-lose-them you can always just start hammering your fist into their chest. Preferably whilst shouting. This is called a precordial thump and should only be performed once by a highly trained medical professional in front of witnesses when there are no other alternatives – any other time and you’re just giving a corpse a beating.

          ———  https://whatculture.com/offbeat/11-common-movie-tropes-that-would-actually-ruin-your-life?page=4

And screaming epithets has never worked on an unconscious person. That’s just ass-stupid.

I really hate this trope!

 

 

The White Savior

https://shadowandmovies.com/what-is-the-white-savior-trope-green-book/

This is probably the most irksome trope for PoC, because it’s literally everywhere, but now so much has been written about this, in the past five years, that it has actually become a part of everyday film criticism, whereas before it was something only recognized by a handful of people.

 

My most hated version of this trope, and the first time I truly noticed it, was when Mississippi Burning was released, in the 90s. The movie starred Willem Defoe and Gene Hackman, and I hated, hated, hated that movie. It is a classic White Savior film. I hated it because its such a blatant piece of utter bullshit, because it is very well documented what the FBI got up to during the Civil Rights Era, demonizing and interrogating the intentions of MLK, and the protesters (COINTELPRO). MB centers two White FBI agents in the middle of a story about Black people fighting for their rights. Everything about the movie is just wrong. its the Green Book of the 80s.

For a full list of resources see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO#U.S._government_reports

Now the definition has evolved to include any heroic white character in movies dealing with Black oppression, or during slavery, which slotted a whole new group of movies into the White savior category.

 

Image result for white savior gifs

List of Associated films:

12 Years a Slave Hidden Figures, Avatar, Blind Side, Gran Torino, The Matrix

 

 

The Sissy Villain

Yes, the image below takes place in a children’s cartoon, and depicts not only the Sissy Villain, but sexual assault by an animal like, predatory, gay coded (creature?). The Sissy Villain isn’t always this bad, but GOOD LORD! This was in a children’s cartoon! There are, on occasion, good depictions of this trope, like Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid, who was based on the transgender actress Divine, and the cross dressing Dr. Frank N’ Furter, from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, who is beloved by audiences.

Where this trope is especially insidious though, is in children’s cartoons, like Scar, in the lion King, and Him, (the above character), from the Powerpuff Girls. But this type of villain is also spotted in movies with British villains, where the villain not only has a British accent, but is succinctly spoken, sometimes with effete mannerisms, as in the movies, The Patriot, Die Hard, and  Skyfall. The Sissy Villain has a  strong homophobic element involved in their depiction, as they are often contrasted against the manly, masculine heroes.

They can be found in far too many historical, and action films, basically, wherever the manly hero is found. Sometimes the Sissy Villain is shown as predatory, and  a way to make the villain seem even more evil, such as Jame Gumb in Silence of the Lambs, and Jack Randall from Outlander, who is not only the villain, but  a rapist. Actually,  whenever it seems Hollywood needs a villain, who is predatory, deceptive, and shady, they  just code them as gay, (and often British).

 

 

 

 Cop’s Nagging Wife/ Wet Blanket Wife

Actually there are several different versions of the Wet Blanket Wife, but I want to focus on a very specific version of her. The Wet Blanket Wife, is always ready to sacrifice other people’s lives, so her husband/boyfriend/significant other, can stay home with the kids, or go to one of their children’ s musical recitals, or have a dinner party.

A perfect example of this is the scene in The Incredibles, where Frozone’s wife insists that he is going to ruin their evening, if he goes out to engage in superheroics. Don’t take this the wrong way, the scene is still very funny, but hiding inside it is the insidious trope of the Wet Blanket Wife, who  seems more concerned with their dinner party, than the lives of the citizens being endangered by the movie’s villain.

Or take the movie Red Dragon, where the Wet Blanket Wife’s complaints are ostensibly legitimate. After all, Will Graham nearly lost his life while doing his job, as a criminal profiler. She wants him to stay home, and not endanger his life by going back to his job profiling the latest serial killer, that’s destroying whole families. On the surface I get it, but the way its framed in the movie, makes her whiny and unlikable, and  completely uncaring of the deaths of the victims.

The Wet Blanket Wife lives in cop films, however. She can be found wherever a police officer, or detective has been accused of neglecting his family because he loves his job too much, or not coming up with the alimony for that month, or just never being there for her. and the kids. This trope was famously lampooned in the movie Hot Fuzz, but takes place in far too many other action movies involving detectives.

 

 

White Women are Virgins/Women of Color are Whores

At the same time, our American culture has a long history of sexualizing women of color and holding up white women as paragons of sexual purity. Women of color are lower than pure-minded white women: spicy, sexually imaginative, animalistic. Although it’s natural to desire the superior white woman sexually, only white men are good enough for her, and they must spend their manhood proving their worth. This mindset lingers in our collective unconscious and is expressed in myriad ways. It gets a lot more nuanced than that, so I’d encourage those of you who haven’t to read up on this.

          ——– https://thenerdsofcolor.org/2016/04/08/white-virginwhore-of-color-daredevilproblems/

The above definition says everything I wanted to say about this trope. This trope can very easily be found in the TV series Daredevil, on Netflix, where the oversexualized, and violent Elektra, whom Matt is very attracted to, is contrasted against the blonde, and innocent looking, Karen Page, who is so pure that he feels unworthy to be with her, and who must be protected from harm. Note, that Elektra receives no such masculine protection.

This trope can also be found in the first season of HBO’s Westworld, but to a purpose. Maeve, a Black woman who owns a brothel, is portrayed as sexy and sassy, while her compatriot Dolores, is at first set up as pure and virginal. She is the kind of female character who is protected by white men, while Maeve is the type that is exploited.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/westworld-analysis-dolores-and-maeve/

 

The Faux – Medieval World Settings

Yeah, this one is especially tired.

No matter where in the world these stories are set, or how much worldbuilding a creator may work really hard to put into their work, the end result always appears to be set during Medieval times, with that level of technology. There’s always taverns, beer, wenches, and sword fighting. In some cases, sometimes the wheel has not even been invented! Its not that it matches any particular country or even government system, so much as it looks vaguely like Feudalism, with its associated social hierarchy. I call these, Lord of the Rings ripoffs.

As I mentioned  in an earlier post, I didn’t find my way into Fantasy through the usual channels. I started out reading Horror, than switched to Scifi , and eventually made my way to Urban Fantasy, so I don’t have the same level of reverence for LOTR, that other people do, and frankly, I found all the hype for these types of stories to be deeply tiresome. I don’t hate the genre, (I enjoy the films), but I have no patience for High Fantasy dramas most of the time, and even when I do come across something I like, there’s not as much emotional engagement in it for me. High Fantasy set in other countries (Japan, the Phillipines, Africa) don’t bother me though.

Things to Ponder – Black Lives Matter Edition

Anti-Blackness permeates every single industry in America, and its about time that many of these industries started asking themselves serious questions about how deep the racism goes, holding their employees accountable for racist actions, and how these industries can do better in the future.

Law enforcement everyone  knows about, but anti- Blackness goes wherever white people congregate. Racism is both systemic and individual, because the individual white people, who make up these systems, refuse to reckon with it, to examine it in themselves, and keep trying to ignore, erase, or run away from its symptoms.

 

Law Enforcement

Serpico on Police Racism: ‘We Have This Virus Among Us’

NYPD Frank Serpico GIF - NYPD FrankSerpico SeriouslyThough ...

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/11/george-floyd-protests-serpico-police-racism-good-cop/

Nearly half a century ago, Frank Serpico became a household name in the United States—and in many countries around the world—after he was portrayed by Al Pacino in the classic 1973 movie Serpico. The award-winning film told the true-life story of the New York City detective’s efforts to expose corruption and abuse inside the police department.

 

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Education

The banality of racism in education

Racism high school History education poc race Reverse racism ...

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2020/06/04/the-banality-of-racism-in-education/

We asked, “How much of the difference in test scores between white students and Black students can be explained by discrimination against Blacks or injustices in society?”

 

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Music

The Music Industry Was Built on Racism. Changing It Will Take More Than Donations

Childish Gambino's 'This is America' video is a beautiful nightmare

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/music-industry-racism-1010001/

Amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, record labels decided to use Tuesday for a rare industry-wide reckoning. Two related conversations have unfolded in parallel. First, can the music industry use its vast resources and wide influence to help reduce police brutality and combat systemic racism? Second, can the music industry finally face down its own history of racism and build a more equitable future?

 

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Film

Institutional racism in the film industry: a multilevel perspective

internalized racism gifs | WiffleGif

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/EDI-05-2017-0108/full/html

The findings highlight how power structures, network-based recruitment practices, as well as formal and informal learning lead to and sustain racism in the film industry. However, agency on an individual level is observed as a way to break those patterns.

 

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Publishing

Over 1,000 Publishing Workers Strike to Protest Industry Racism

Author of social media post called out as 'racist' claims post ...

https://www.vulture.com/2020/06/publishing-strike-racism-book-industry.html

The publishing industry is standing against systemic racism today by striking, donating money, and serving the black community. Over 1,300 workers have committed to taking the day off and using it to “protest, donate a day’s pay, phone-bank, join in mutual aid efforts, and work only on books by Black creators,” according to a statement shared with Vulture and cosigned by five Macmillan workers 

 

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Banking

This Is What Racism Sounds Like in the Banking Industry

You’re bigger than the average person, period. And you’re also an African-American,” the employee, Charles Belton, who is black, told Mr. Kennedy. “We’re in Arizona. I don’t have to tell you about what the demographics are in Arizona. They don’t see people like you a lot.” Mr. Kennedy recorded the conversation and shared it with The New York Times.

 

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Technology

Black Tech Employees Continue to Face Workplace Racism

How UMBC Got Minority Students to Stick with STEM - The Atlantic

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/black-tech-employees-continue-to-face-workplace-racism.aspx

Miley says a fellow Google employee—who was not security personnel—raced in front of him and physically stopped him, demanding to see Miley’s badge.  It wasn’t the first time that a colleague had body blocked Miley when he was trying to go to work. 

 

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Retail

Claims of Racism at Zara Portray the Retail Industry at Its Worst

Racism GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

https://populardemocracy.org/news-and-publications/claims-racism-zara-portray-retail-industry-its-worst

This week a new report casts a spotlight on employment discrimination at a particular retailer: Zara, a fairly new clothing chain in the United States which nevertheless is part of the world’s largest fashion retail company. Based on interviews of 251 Zara employees in New York City, researchers at the Center for Popular Democracy uncovered troubling pattern of concerns about racial discrimination.

 

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Travel

Three First Steps Toward an Anti-Racist Travel Industry, as Told by a Black Editor

How the Travel Industry Can Do Its Part in the Fight Against ...

https://www.heremagazine.com/articles/anti-racism-travel-industry

As the travel and hospitality industry works to become anti-racist, one Here editor (and Black traveler) lays out three steps industry leaders can take on the road to diversity and inclusion.

 

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Medicine

Racism In Medicine Isn’t An Abstract Notion. It’s Happening All Around Us, Every Day

Clinicians Push Back on Racism in Medicine | MedPage Today

https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2020/06/12/anti-racism-in-medicine-hospitals-ayotomiwa-ojo

Racism is part of my daily experience, even as a medical student rotating through the teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School. The health care system is one sector within the larger framework of white supremacy embedded in American society. 

 

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Environmental

Coronavirus Death Rates Are a Direct Result of Environmental Racism

Capitalism, environmental racism and resistance | socialist.ca

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/k7ev93/coronavirus-death-rates-environmental-racism

Along with other forms of systemic inequality, environmental racism can cause many of the underlying conditions that make the virus particularly dangerous for black and brown communities.

 

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Theater

Four Black Artists on How Racism Corrodes the Theater World

Playwrights are calling out racism in American theater - Los ...

A playwright, a director, an artistic director and an actor share their experiences — and prescriptions for change.

What has been the impact of race, and racism, on African-Americans working in the theater world? How should that world change? Those questions have taken on renewed, impassioned life since the killing of George Floyd, the shooting deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and the nationwide protests over racial injustice that have followed.

 

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STEM

Thousands of Scientists Go on Strike to Protest Systemic Racism in STEM

ShutDownSTEM Initiative Sees Scientists Work on Racism, Not Research

https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/national-international/thousands-of-scientists-go-on-strike-to-protest-systemic-racism-in-stem/2285866/

More than 5,000 scientists and two prominent scientific journals shut down operations and pledged to use the day to address racial inequalities in science

 

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Music

Rewriting Country Music’s Racist History

Accidentally Racist? The Confederate Flag in Country Music

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-country/country-music-racist-history-1010052/?src=longreads

This is kind of impressive. In 2020, audiences are so used to genres blending into one another, used to having no borders in music. But the image of what country music is persists. It does not matter how many variations of country abound — it’s somehow easier to reduce country to a single dimension. And with that comes along an image of who listens to the music. And more important, who makes it.

 

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Social Class

How White Women Use Themselves as Instruments of Terror

There are too many noosed necks, charred bodies and drowned souls for them to deny knowing precisely what they are doing.

 

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Writing

Romance Writers of America aims for happy end to racism row with new prize

If the Romance Writers of America can implode over racism, no ...

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/may/22/romance-writers-of-america-racism-row-new-prize-ritas-vivian

The RWA has been at the centre of an acrimonious debate about diversity, criticised for the paucity of writers of colour shortlisted for its major awards, the Ritas, as well as its treatment of Courtney Milan after she called a fellow author’s book a “racist mess” because of its depictions of Chinese women.

 

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Fiber Arts

Racism In the Knitting Community

Kristy Glass is a knitting YouTuber that I follow and she posts videos every single day. Her newest video popped into my feed. She was seated with three African American ladies and a man. They were all talking about how someone in the knitting community had posted a racist image on Instagram and what they felt about it.

[Stitch Talks Ish] Episode 6: When Black Lives Matter, But Black Opinions Don’t — Stitch’s Media Mix

https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/episode/5CBPIUHdMn24myb30Cvp2k

They’ve bought the books. they own White Fragility. They share their few friends of colors’ GoFundMe ease and cashapps. They really do care about racism in the abstract. And of course, they definitely don’t want Black people being killed because we’re Black, but they also don’t really care about us as people.

via [Stitch Talks Ish] Episode 6: When Black Lives Matter, But Black Opinions Don’t — Stitch’s Media Mix

 

Here, Stitic h talks about what its like to be subjected to anit-Black racism from people hashtagging Black Lives Matter.

I know I’ll be very glad when this “trend” of saying Black Lives Matter is over, so I won’t have to be subjected  to any more “white noise” from people who only want brownie points for recognizing they’re sitting in the middle of a trend.

There are far too many people out there hashtagging  BLM, while they commit the same anti-Black behavior that helped cause the trend! How the f*ck does someone sit with themselves like that? Or not recognize the sheer batshittery of trolling and harassing Black creators, with racial slurs, while hashtagging BLM?

Ahhhhh!!! Tumblr!

Here are some interesting tidbits from Tumblr. I hope these are  informative.

Writing with Color is a great resource for writers who want to create characters of color with depth, and avoid stereotyping.
writingwithcolor
just-an-observer-ignore-me asked:

I was wondering what kind of female black characters do people want to see more of? Like, them being soft or selfish?

writingwithcolor answered:

Black Girls & Women: Representation We Want

As a Black woman reader, I definitely want to see more soft Black girls and women in literature. Girls with their own self-interests (caring about oneself isn’t necessarily selfish) and not always someone else’s caregiver is great too.

Here’s my list!

More Black girls…

  • In love
  • With close family bonds and healthy relationships and support systems (that don’t require enduring abuse, fixing their partner, or overall emotional labor to earn domestic happiness)
  • Being protected
  • As main characters, heroines and anti-heroes
  • On adventures
  • In fantasy and magical settings
  • In historical settings as peasants, upper-class society, and royalty
  • Descriptions of Black Afro hair, skin, features as a normal thing in books (see this compilation) and not in an Othering way
  • On the other hand, vibrant, sometimes hyped up descriptions that allude to their beauty (see this ask. Or this one). Not Othering, just appreciating!
  • Put us in fancy dresses and give us a sword and let us dance at the balls and have admirers!
  • Experiencing complex emotions not necessarily in reaction to racism or racist violence
  • On the book cover! And with an accurate, not light or white-washed model

~Mod Colette

Responses:

@madamef-er

  • Soft black girls and nerd girls who like cute things.
  • Shy black girls not just in situations with boys.
  • More lgbtqia+ black girls. Studs! Femmes!
  • Gender fluid and non conforming constantly changing their style because they like it!
  • Spies and not just as the ‘sexy bait’ or ‘weapons master’ let us sit behind the computer for once and be hackers and stuff

@tanlefan

  • Black girls who are just…people.
  • I want a fantasy escapism adventure that isn’t a thinly veiled discussion on slavery or racism or any other aspect of The Struggle. I am tired.
  • Can I just have a happy Black girl who believes in fairies or something?

@esmeraldanacho-1776 More autistic Black women/girls! I don’t care what genre really; just have them in there!

@briarsthicket And enby black people!

  • Def soft black girls.
  • Energetic and playful.
  • Or shy and quiet.
  • I want to see more black girls who are nerds and not just mommy mommying or nanny nannying everyone.
  • I want black girls who want to be a ballerina, or a talk show host, or a game designer etc.
  • I want a black girl who gets to be happy.
  • Who doesn’t have to act older than she is and be the shoulder for everyone, always.

@xiiishadesofgrey

  • I want more black lady nerds, if we’re talking modern settings!
  • More black ladies who have a sporty/playful nature!
  • Who aren’t afraid to get dirty and make chaos, without being dirty or frowned upon!
  • Strange as it sounds coming from me, more black princesses! Brandy as Cinderella in the 90s was my first Cinderella, and I LOVE that.
  • Please, god, more black wlws.

@daintythoughtswritersblock

  • I want to see tropes exercised
  • Black women of all shades and tones

@hazelnut4370

  • Tbh just fellow black people being happy, like I rarely see that,
  • Or enjoying hobbies

rivergoddessdream

  • Happily childless black women
  • Black women traveling the world
  • Fat black women in happy, healthy, poly relationships
  • Black cis and trans women having a true sisterhood
  • Autistic black women
  • Black women in period pieces that aren’t about slavery and don’t take place in the US
  • Black women thespians
  • Black women painters
  • Black women revolutionaries
  • Black women front and center in the narrative
  • Black women healers and storytellers
  • Non christian Black women stories
  • Black women rockers

#complicated black women characters #tell those stories

More Black Girls…

  • With diverse cultural and social backgrounds!
  • That are nerdy, girly, intelligent, ditzy, all the personality types that white girls in literature get!
  • That are fragile, shy or anxious. Almost every single black woman I’ve seen in media or otherwise are wise and adult. Let us be an absolute wreck, or an anxious mess!
  • In science! Characters like Shuri, Moon Girl and Iron Heart in Marvel revitalized me, cuz young black girls only get two types. Both these girls are in intellectual and in science, but have bery different personalities.
  • In interracial relationships, and not because they hate black men or something along those lines. They just happen to be dating outside their race, black women get hate for that in real life and it’s unfair. Let us have relationships outside our race! That said…
  • In platonic relationships with black men! I think that’s important, cuz I don’t often seen black solidarity unless it’s for the purpose of showing how diverse the writing is. Let them share interests, daily frustrations that they would only understand, but don’t force a romance.
  • In solid friendships with other black girls! For some reason, we’re pitted against in each other inside and outside of writing! Write some sweet wholesome friendship!
  • With different sexualities! Let there be some that are ace, others are gay, bi or pan! Just be sure you don’t sexualize them, or turn em into a robot.
  • •Who are dark-skinned! This can be seen a lot in tv or movies, but when you want a black girl in your stuff don’t just hire a light-skinned black girl or a biracial black girl. It’s not the same.
  • Who get to act their age! Black women have a long standing history of being adultified, starting from a very young age, and it’s extremely harmful. Little black girls can wear what they please, the problem is people sexualizing them. Let the teen black girl be a teenager, she can look out for her siblings but she isn’t the keepern the house or their lives. Young adult black girls are not ideal housewives or capable working machines, they mess up and mess around just as much as any young adult.
  • With mental/physical disabilities or illnesses.Alongside with being forced to be more mature than they are, disabilities/illnesses are never taken seriously and we’re forced to just deal with it. Having black girls who happen to have these issues, but also have a healthy support group is always good!
  • Seen as beautiful and desirable and NOT in a hypersexualized way
  • Interracial relationships are wonderful because black girls are beautiful and lbr everybody sees it
  • Sensitive and allowed to feel something other than righteous anger
  • Some black girls are skinny! Some are big! Some are slim and some are curvy! There’s no mold!
  • Dark skinned!
  • A YA protagonist out to save the world from something other than racism
  • Superpowers or magic that doesn’t come from generational trauma or slavery
  • Black characters who support other black characters. None of this token crabs in a barrel business.
  • Black girl nerds and punks and goths exist. I promise.
  • And this may be a personal preference but I’m not against the idea of a damsel in distress. We are always being strong. Let her be soft and delicate and cared for. Let her be princess carried and rescued from the tower and the dragon.

[Note from Mod: It’s not just you! I love a Black damsel being saved and protected. What is progressive for one woman varies due to historical and present depictions and is why intersectionality in feminism is so important! -Colette]

As a writer, I write a lot of my black female characters like this because I rarely ever see black women being represented in these ways! ESPECIALLY on the covers of books, unless the author themselves is a black woman and even then its rare.

Too often black women are stereotyped as strong protector types that are always rough, tough, and don’t need anybody in books (and real life), when that’s honestly just dumb and inaccurate–black women are as vulnerable as anyone else (in some cases, even more vulnerable, but that’s another topic).

So yeah, this list is 100% accurate and I encourage those who are interested in writing black female characters (whether you’re a black woman or not) to consider writing them like this, because the stereotype needs to die lol.

 

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A lot of people are talking about Racism these days. Here are some pointed and relevant rebuttals, facts, and figures, for people who want to argue with you about the subject.

Visit: alwaysanoriginal at the link, to continue reading the rest.

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We’re all having “hard conversations” about racism, police brutality, and #BlackLivesMatter I hope.

You’ve probably noticed that detractors often use the same “racist talking points” in response. Here’s a researched and sourced guide to help you answer, for the times you may get stuck.

Feel free to save these images and share them!

 

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A litany of the dead:
writingaboutmyrapists

#Say Her Name

Korryn Gaines

Renisha McBride

Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones

Miriam Carey

Messy Mya

Sandra Bland

Shelly Frey

Shelley Amos

Cheryl Blount-Burton

Dawn Cameron

Sandra Bee Wilson

Juliette Alexander

Alberta Spruill

Latanya Haggerty

Annette Green

Lenties White

Tameka Evette Anthony

Octavia Suydan

Andrena Kitt

Marcella Byrd

Emma Mae Horton

Angel Chiwengo

Guanda Denise Turner

Andrea Nicole Reedy

U’Kendra Johnson

Annie Holiday

Shonda Mikelson

LaVeta Jackson

Mary Williams

Tesha Reena Collins

Darneisha Harris

Nuwnah Laroche

Clanesha Rayuna Shaqwanda Hickmon

Ciara Lee

Dijon Senay Jackson

Denise Michelle Washinton

Keara Crowder

Tyra Hunter

Clara Fay Morris

Stacey Blount

Tanisha Anderson

Gabriella Monique Nevarez

Keisha Redding

Kendra Diggs

Laquisha Turner

Keoshia L. Hill

Kindra Chapman

Audwyn Fitzgerald Ball

Rosette Samuel

Makiah Jackson

Demetria Dorsey

Jameela Yasmeen Arshad

Joyce Quaweay

Mariah Woods

Jameela Cecila Barnette

Raynetta Turner

Bianca Davis

Patricia Hartley

Martha Regina Donald

Eulia Love

Sophia King

Joyce Curnell

Redel Jones

Tessa “Teesee” Hardeman

Tamara Seidle

Alicia Griffin

Shulena Weldon

Gina Rosario

Remedy Smith

Emily Marie Delafield

Jacqueline Culp

Delois Epps

Jacqueline Nichols

Queniya Tykia Shelton

Latoya Smith

Jacqueline Reynolds

Makayla Ross

LaTricka Sloan

Ralkina Jones

Elaine Coleman

Iretha Lilly

Gynnya McMillen

Malissa Williams

Janisha Fonville

Mya Hall

Patricia Thompson

Michelle Cusseaux

Janet Wilson

Latandra Ellington

Aubrey Zoe Brown

Terry Pittman

Carulus Hines

Lana Morris

Dominique Hurtt

Michelle “Vash” Payne

Tiffini Kuuipo Tobe

Yvette Henderson

Tameka Huston

Leronda Sweatt

Kisha Michael

Portia Southern

Kisha Arrone

Jessica Williams

Jessica Nelson-Williams

Vernicia Woodward

Alexia Christian

Tyisha Miller

Kourtney Hahn

Lamia Beard

Tarkia Wilson

Deshanda “Ta-Ta” Sanchez

Sharon Rebecca McDowell

Ricky Shawatza Hall

Glenda Moore

Danette Daniels

Shontel Edwards

Sharmel Edwards

Lashonda Ruth Belk

Zoraida Reyes

Natasha Renee Osby

Kathryn Johnson

Rekha Kalawattie Budhai

Natasha McKenna

Shontel Davis

Nizah Morris

Duanna Johnson

Asia Roundtree

Darnisha Harris

Shereese Francis

Alesia Thomas

Tracy A. Wade

Yvette Smith

Lnaaar Edwards

Gabrielle Lane

Varez Michelle Cusseaux

Taneisha Anderson

Aura Rosser

Raynette Turner

Tarika Wilson

Eleanor Bumpurs

Kendra James

Ahjah Dixon

Shantel Davis

Alberta Pruill

Marjorie Domingue

Bessie Louise Stovall

Margaret Mitchell

Darnesha Harris

Frankie Perkins

Monique Deckard

Kayla Moore

Queonna Zophia Edmonds

Sheneque Proctor

Kyam Livingston

Wanda Jean Allen

Kimberly McCarthy

Meagan Hockaday

Litvishma Millerr

Summer Marie Lane

Antoinette Griffin

Desseria Whitmore

Adebusola Tairu

Erica Stevenson

Halley Simone Lee

Erika Tyrone or Erica Rhena Tyrone

Lanaka Lucas

Breeonna Mobley

Antonia Martines Lagares

Delicia C. Myers

Tameika Carter

Dana Larkin

Kassandra Perkins

Rekia Boyd

Stacey Wright

Dorothy Smith Wright

BreeAnne Green

Adaisha Miller

Bettie Jones

Catrell Ford

India Kager

Deresha Armstrong

Chanda White (Pickney)

Sahlah Ridgeway

Marlene Rivera

Lashondria Rice

Brandy Martell

Marquesha McMillan

India Beaty

Chandra Weaver

Teikeia Dorsey

Deanna Cook Patrick

Ashley Sinclair

Zella Ziona

Tiara Thomas

Papi Edwards

India Clarke

Constance Graham

Shade Schurer

Erica Collins

Rosann Miller

Lonfon Chanel

Sonji Taylor

Malaika Brooks

Ashton O’Hara

Vida DeShondrell Byrd

Maria Tripp

Eveline Barros-Cepeda

Rosa Flores Lopez

Sarah Ann Riggins

Ty Underwood

Yazmin Vash Payne

Kandis Capri

Elisha Walker

Keonna Redmond

Rikessa La’Shae Lee

Charquissa Johnson

Fatou-Mata Ntiamoah

MOVE bombing victims

Kristina Grant Infiniti

Ariel Levy

Yolanda Thomas

Marquita Bosley

Barbara Lassere

Taja Gabrielle DeJesus

Tamara Dominguez

Vionique Valnord

Linda Yancey

Amber Monroe

Brianna Elaine Carmina Ford

Kendrinka T. Williams

Arabella Bradford

Loretta Gerard

Hanna Abukar

Talana Salissa Cain

Diane Kemp

Amber Nashay Carter

Pearlie Golden

Brenda Williams

Catawaba Tequila Howard

Beverly Kirk

Tamu Malika Bouldin

Denise Gay

Anita Gay

Laura Felder

Alice Faye DeFlanders Clausell

Uteva Monique Woods Wilson

Marnell Robertson Villarreal

K.C. Haggard

Derrinesha Clay

Milinda Clark

Angela Beatrice Randolph

Denise Nicole Glasco

Mercedes Williamson

Dominique Battle

Demetra Boyd

Francine Sonnier

Angelique Styles

Linda Joyce Friday

Shari Bethel Cartmell

Ashaunti Butler

Laniya Miller

Breonna Taylor

 

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What its like for Black women fans who look at fandom through a race critical lens:
eshusplayground

Fandom is toxic to fans of color, especially Black women

TRIGGER WARNING: Mass shootings.

On another post I’m not going to link to, someone commented that people hate Kylo Ren because he’s a white dude and asked if that would still be the case if he were a woman of color.

This person seemed genuinely curious, so I did my best to briefly put that reaction to his character into a broader social and political context. Namely, that whether deliberately or not, Kylo Ren, as a character, exhibits traits analogous to mass shooters, and people may be responding to that because of the scars that mass shootings have left on the collective American psyche.

I also mentioned how we unfortunately live in a world where white male mass shooters are treated better than Black people murdered by cops and white men with guns, and people who would be targeted by the “typical” mass shooter (entitled, pissed off white males with alt-right/neo-fascist/white nationalist leanings) may find Kylo Ren particularly repulsive.

What the hell did I say that for?

You’d have thought that I said, “If you like Kylo Ren, you’re a horrible piece of shit, and you need to be locked up or executed.”

Which I didn’t, BTW. I have better things to do than shit on people for enjoying a fictional character. Like picking my nose.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve seen it all before.

This sort of thing inevitably crops up whenever fans of color attempt to address the larger social and political context of media and fandom. Almost without fail, someone will respond as if we said, “You’re a terrible person if you like this character, ship, or work of art.”

Unless you’re talking about outright bigoted propaganda like Birth of A Nation or Triumph of the Will, I rarely see fans of color say that. I have seen fans of color be sharply critical of behaviors some fans engage in. I have seen fans of color urge fans to be mindful of how they consume media and how they participate in fandom. I have seen fans of color attempt to add depth and nuance to the way fandom addresses race. I have seen fans of color apply the framework of intersectionality to better understand media and fandom. I have seen fans of color warn each other about fandom environments toxic to people of color.

But straight-up hating on fans who like something they don’t? Not really. I’ve seen fans of color, especially Black women, get labeled as haters and antis because they do the things I mentioned up there. I’ve seen fans of color, especially Black women, get accused of hating fans who like a certain character, ship or piece of media because they examine characters, ships and media from a social and political context different from the fandom norm. I’ve seen fans of color, especially Black women, get labeled as hostile, angry or mean because they didn’t code-switch thoroughly enough.

Most of the time when we catch this kind of flack from fandom, nobody sticks up for us. Nobody assures us that we’re valid. Nobody comforts us. At best, there might be a handful of women of color in the same fandom who see what’s going on and speak up. But the vast majority of the time, we’re on our own.

It’s painful and exhausting.

So where does this leave fans of color, especially Black women? It seems there are only a few choices if we don’t want to constantly deal with all that:

  1. Remain silent or stick to “safe” topics
  2. Keep to a small circle of other fans of color
  3. Leave the fandom

Many fans of color, especially Black women, just fucking leave. If somebody’s always going to get bent out of shape when a fan of color brings a teensy bit of BIPOC realness to the fandom experience, that’s not a place that’s healthy for fans of color to be.

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A list of articles and books discussing racial topics:
urcadelimabean

As white people, we can’t begin to eradicate our internalized biases without knowing how to identify them. Let’s educate ourselves. And don’t forget that these are biases you need to call out when you see them in others as well.

Understanding Implicit Bias (article)

Stereotypes of African Americans (wikipedia): do the work to understand the links between old incredibly harmful stereotypes and modern white expectation that Black people be caretakers, for example.

Black people are not here to teach you: What so many white Americans just can’t grasp (article)

The White Internet’s Love Affair with Digital Blackface (video)

Dismantling Whiteness as the Beauty Standard (article)

I don’t care if you’re ‘fascinated’ by my afro, stop touching it (article)

Racial empathy gap: people don’t perceive pain in other races. (article)

Read about how scientific racism was used to institutionalize racism and justify slavery and white supremacy in the United States by claiming that enslaved people could withstand more pain.

Connect this to Black people today being denied the same medical treatment as whites: Some medical students still think black patients feel less pain than whites (article)

Let’s End The ‘Strong Black Woman’ Stereotype. Can’t We Be Vulnerable And Emotional Too? (article)

On calling Black people articulate/well-spoken/educated: The Racial Politics of Speaking Well (article)

The Dangerous Delusion of the Big, Scary, Black Man (article)

Consider why perceptions of Black people as dangerous/aggressive make white folks so reactive to Black anger: to perceive civility as incivility and to perceive anger as a violent threat.

Perceptions and stereotypes of Black men being bigger, stronger and scarier can also be fetishizing. Fetishizing people of color isn’t a compliment, so don’t act like it is (article)

Hyper-Sexualization of Black Women in the Media (pdf)

Is This How Discrimination Ends? (article)

I encourage anyone to add, with links or by writing out your own thoughts.

As white people, what should be guiding us is compassion: breaking down the way white supremacy has reduced our compassion for Black lives.

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tolkienillustrations

Anger Benefits Some Americans Much More Than Others, by Davin Phoenix, author of “The Anger Gap: How Race Shapes Emotion in Politics.” (article)

 

Racial Profiling and the Loss of Black Boyhood, by Hussain Abdulhaqq (article)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Playlist: Talkin ‘bout a Revolution

I was initially going to call this “The New Shit”, but changed my mind, after I encountered a lot of new music that was protest related.

What’s happening today, is indeed a revolution, and every revolution has a soundtrack. In the sixties, the songs revolved around the war in Vietnam, and racial civil unrest. In hindsight, I should have expected this, as there can be no revolution, without Art!

There’s a lot of songs out there, that were written by white folksingers, during the Vietnam War, but plenty of Black musicians wrote stuff, too. I tried not to choose songs that readily come to mind when considering protest songs. I tried to choose the  kind of songs that people might know, but probably don’t think of as revolutionary. 

Here’s a list of revolution songs by Black artists, both past, and present, and maybe even the future. Some of y’all might not have come across these yet, as most of these will not see radio play, and and some of them won’t be offered on conventional streaming apps, either. On the other hand, many of them are available on YouTube, but you can’t research what you don’t now, right?

 

(Say it Loud) I’m Black and I’m Proud – James Brown

This song was groundbreaking for its time. I’ve found that there’s two different types of revolution songs, songs of grief, and songs of defiance. This is definitely the template for the latter type of song. It is defiantly and unabashedly Black.

Songs like these are important, because they are declarations of worth. They remind people of why they’re fighting, and what they’re fighting for, and  if its one thing a bully hates, it’s when their victim gets back on their feet, and declares their worth!

I’m Black and I’m proud is not any different from saying Black Power, or Black Lives Matter.

 

 

F*ck the Police – NWA

This song was incredibly shocking for its time. Not only did it get banned, but it sparked a wave of censorship against Rap music, which did nothing to actually stop Rappers from speaking truth to power, but it did spur music companies to begin focusing solely on Rap music that had no consciousness to it, and only talked about Black crime and partying.

If you’re wondering why conscious Rap music fell out of favor, then the censorship wars of the mid-eighties certainly played a role. White suburban parents did not want their children listening to songs about questioning and disrespecting authority, and so they did what White parents have always done,when it came to art they didn’t want their children exposed to, like Jazz, and  Rock.

Declare it immoral, and use that as an excuse to ban it!

 

 

Redemption Song- Stevie Wonder 

Here, Stevie does a cover of the song originally written by Bob Marley. Its not that I don’t like the Marley version, but I’m a huge Stevie Wonder fan, this version has always been my favorite, and I’ve always loved when Stevie got political.

Or you could try:

You Haven’t Done Nothing

Its Wrong

Misrepresented People

Blowin’ in the Wind

Heaven Help Us All

Village Ghettoland

 

Fight The Power – Public Enemy

I thought about featuring the official song video for this selection, but decided to go with the opening credits for Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, which is what launched this song into everyone’s consciousness. This was a lot of mainstream white people’s first introduction to political rap, like Public Enemy.

I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to Rap music when I was growing up. I didn’t have favorites, or closely follow certain groups, although I certainly knew who PE was. I knew about who and what was hot, because it was the music that everyone around me listened to, so it was always in the background, while I explored other musical tastes.

I’m not going to say this type of music didn’t influence my thinking, because it most certainly did, but I didn’t realize how much so until I was older.

 

 

 

Talking About a Revolution- Tracy Chapman

I talked in my last post about my regard for tracy Chapman’s music. This is another of her many political songs, which still gives me chills many years after I first heard it. This song, along with the last song I listed, is from her first, self titled, album, which was released in 1988.

You can try:

Across the Line

If Not Now, When

Freedom Now

Subcity

 

Hell You Talm ‘Bout – Janelle Monae

This song was released a few years ago, to minor acclaim. Not many people paid a whole lot of attention to it, outside of the Black community, but this song gives me chills every single time I hear it. It is, in the end, a raucous litany of the dead.

 

 

 

This Is America – Childish Gambino

This song became a nine days wonder when it was released a few summers ago, and has not lost its effectiveness. People are still puzzling about the video’s many images and their meanings.

 

https://time.com/5267890/childish-gambino-this-is-america-meaning/

“The central message is about guns and violence in America and the fact that we deal with them and consume them as part of entertainment on one hand, and on the other hand, is a part of our national conversation,” Ramsey tells TIME. “You’re not supposed to feel as if this is the standard fare opulence of the music industry. It’s about a counter-narrative and it really leaves you with chills.”

 

 

Black Excellence – Buddy

I have no idea who Buddy is, but this is one of my new favorite videos, for its celebration of Black history, and I just love to watch good dancing!

 

 

Glory – Common/John Legend

This is one of my Mom’s favorites, but mostly because she’s a big John Legend fan. This song is from the movie, Selma, by the Black female director, Ava Duvernay. I have not been able to bring myself to watch the film. I probably never will. I’ve had my complete fill of movies of Black people overcoming trauma, whose stories I already know, anyway.

The other day, my mom said something very intersting to me. She said, about the current protesters,  “At least they’re not singing We Shall Overcome. I’m sick of that song.” Remember, my mother grew up doing the civil unrest of the  fifties and sixties, and was a member of the local chapter of the Black Panthers, just before I was born. 

I get the distinct impression that  the white people who are talking about today’s issues the loudest, are 1). the kind of people who have never protested for anytihng in their lives, and have 2). not lived with this nearly their entire life. 

My mother is seventy years old. She’s been actively fighting to uplift Black people since she was a teenager! She is not unhappy to see young people picking up where she left off, after her unofficial retirement.

The other day we were talking about her mom, and how she passed just before Obama became the first Black president, and how she would have loved to have seen that. My mom said she was glad to have lived long enough to see that, and to see what’s happening today. 

So yeah, all those white people bitching and whining about the current uprising, can sit down and shut the whole hell up. They’re nattering ignorantly at a people for whom fighting for their rights is a generational lifetime profession!

 

I Just Wanna Live – Keedron Bryant

This is one of my favorite current protest songs. Its also one of the saddest because Keedron is only twelve years old.

There is almost no discussion about the levels of trauma our children are  going through, and not just police brutality, but the presidents behavior, and their constant exposure to the ignorance of online agitators, who are always quick to insist how little their lives matter.

Our kids need to see this. They need to know this. Sadly, they’re the warriors of our future. They’re  going to need to know how to fight this battle, and unfortunately, teach their kids because the battle to be treated as human beings is never going to be over.

 

 

Black Parade – Beyonce 

I want to end on a high note though. On Juneteenth of this year, Beyonce dropped one of the Blackest songs of the year. This is a song of joy, and celebration, and well, there’s definitely some bragging involved.

And then, at the end of this song, she also dropped a list of Black owned businesses. 

I love this song! I’m not the fighter/confrontational type. That doesn’t mean I won’t beat your ass, though. It just means I won’t enjoy doing it, and will be embarrassed at my loss of composure, afterwards! I don’t do things the way my mother did them, but I contribute in the way that I can, in a way that works for me,which seems to be Beyonce’s manner of approach too,  and that’s by celebrating, and uplifting, every opportunity Black people get to shine.

I’m no badass. But I can happily cheer on a badass.

The How and Why: Kimberly Jones

Kimberly Jones lays it out of my thoughts on these issues! Tying together economics, Black history, protests, riots, looters, and racism, in just six minutes.

 

What she’s talking about:

Black Codes

 

Black Wall Street

The opening scene of the first episode of HBO’s Watchmen is taken from this history.

 

Rosewood

(This is also a 1997 movie starring Ving Rhames, and directed by the  Black director, John Singelton)

 

 

The Red Summer of 1919

 

Note: As a librarian, I understand the need for research, but I also understand that some information won’t be found, unless you know certain key words. In other words, you have to know what you’re looking for, to be able to find it. This playlist is a 101 of early Black History, just after the Civil War, and following this information will take you into some interesting territories.

A lot of Black History in America is well documented, but not taught in schools. In order to find it, you need to either  stumble across it by accident, or someone who already knows, needs to tell you, otherwise how would you know what to look for. So its not so much that things are undocumented, but that things are hidden.

So I encourage you to use the key words in the headers for these videos to find out more.