Weekend Reading List (The Pocket Files)

Guys! I’ve been horribly slack with the postings this week, but that doesn’t mean I’m not working on stuff. (Actually, I have not been doing anything, really.) I’ve been on a sort of vacay all week, but I’ll be back with more ramblings in June, starting Monday.

Here’s some of the lighter stuff that’s been sitting in my Pocket list for a while. Some of these are not new, but they’re new for me.

I loved this piece from BNP/Facebook writer, Stephanee Killen, about one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek, The Enemy Within. I must have unknowingly taken the episode to heart because I’ve always thought of my less attractive qualities as useful, positive things. Or at the very least tried to turn them into useful things.

Like a lot of people I suffer from anxiety. I don’t take medication for this, but I manage it very well. One of the ways I manage it is by turning it into something useful, like the ability to plan ahead. Making plans within plans is one of the ways I manage anxiety about things other people would probably consider trivial, like driving to new locations. When I have anxiety about something specific, I usually research the hell out of it, and the knowledge helps to alleviate some of the problem. Turning anxiety into knowledge is one of my ways of using a negative quality for good.

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In this particular episode, Kirk gets split into halves, a  passive, lighter side, and a darker, more negative side. The argument, illustrated beautifully in the show, is that Kirk needs his darker half to function competently as a Commander. 

I think the philosophy I most disagree with in Star Wars is the concept that light and dark are two separate things, and that one of them is undesirable. Star Trek’s more nuanced argument is that both these qualities are needed to form a whole, and that taken singularly, they’re both useless.

McCoy tells him, we’re all brutal animals. We all have our dark side. It’s human. The dark side holds strength. The light side holds caring, love, and courage. Spock, who understands duality better than most, indicates that what enables him to survive the differences between his two often-contrary halves is his intellect. Scotty eventually fixes the transporter. Kirk 1 and 2 get put back together, and the question of whether half a man can live is answered: No, he cannot—but thankfully, that’s not required.

http://blacknerdproblems.com/nerd-lessons-star-trek-the-dark-side/

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I am loving this newest season of Into the Badlands, and will have some opinions about that  next week. What I’m finding a hell of a lot of fun is the character of Nathaniel Moon. He’s an important part of the show, with his own story-line, and agenda, and even a love interest. 

I’ve seen this actor there and about, from time to time, but never gave him much attention. I’m gonna fix that right now, cuz Lawd, is he foine!

And do it he has. Since his first film role in the movie Colors (1988), Sherman hasn’t stopped sharpening his craft. With a career spanning over thirty years, he says that the characters, themes, setting and coworkers on Into the Badlands continue to inspire and motivate him.

http://blacknerdproblems.com/sherman-augustus-badlands-talks-film-football-acting-black/

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Here! Have some more Donald Glover think-pieces. It seems that every couple of months there’s some new artistic piece from a Black artist. We just sat through Black Panther, and then came Beychella (which I watched online), and the release of Glover’s video was a nice addition, marking 2018 as one of the “Blackest” years ever.

Jim Crow began as mere pop culture entertainment at the expense of America’s freed slaves and became the means of their oppression. The term “Jim Crow” became so pejorative this country’s apartheid separating Africans and their descendants from white Americans its name. pic.twitter.com/IEwLwfB2i4

http://www.indiewire.com/2018/05/justin-simien-analyzes-donald-glover-this-is-america-1201961450/

http://www.thisisinsider.com/this-is-america-music-video-meaning-references-childish-gambino-donald-glover-2018-5

https://thegrio.com/2018/05/07/this-is-america-5-powerful-messages-that-will-stay-with-you-long-after-your-donald-glover-hangover/

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

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/05/this-is-america-childish-gambino-donald-glover-kinesthetic-empathy-dance/559928/

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Here’s an incredible review of Kaufmann’s 1978 remake of  Albert Finney’s Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. This is one of my all time favorite alien invasion movies, and although I did a film comparison of all the Invasion movies, I have yet to do a complete analysis/review of this one. I got some thoughts, ya’know! 

Like the remake of The Thing, it is a near perfect example of Science Fiction Horror. There’s not one wrong note of dialogue in it, the acting is superb, and the setting is perfect for its message. 

In a more thrilling flourish, Kaufman channels Alfred Hitchcock by cutting back-and-forth between pod people following Matthew and Elizabeth on a city street; as the two speed up, their clacking exaggerated for effect, we see the feet of their pursuers speeding up in unison, until both reach a sprint. 

https://deepfocusreview.com/definitives/invasion-of-the-body-snatchers/

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This has been sitting in my Pocket page just waiting to be deployed. The whole thing just tickled the hell out of me.

Animals That Look Like They’re About To Drop The Hottest Albums Ever

Obviously this is Country music (The chicken, tho’!)

The Up-And-Coming Music Legends

 

He ’bout to drop that hot new Mixtape

 

 

I swear to gob, these two look like Hall &Oates

 

That hot new Norwegian Emo Band, or The Verve. Pick One!

 

This is that new Rock band with the twin guitarists

The Band With The Twin Guitarists

 

 

There’s a whole bunch of these gothic looking pet pictures all over the internet. I’m still finding these deeply hilarious…

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 I actually love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite all my bitching. It is an unquestionably visually stunning place to visit, and even the worse movies in the MCU look gorgeous. They also look all of a piece, as if they really all belonged in the same world.

I grew up reading Marvel Comics. In fact, those were the first comic books I read (starting with Conan and Red Sonja.) I wasn’t thrilled when Marvel started pumping out these movies, but only because I hadn’t read any of the individual character’s books, and wasn’t particularly interested in their standalone movies. I was not a Captain America, Iron man, Ant Man, or Black Widow fan. I knew all these characters because they were in The Avengers, and I read all of those books. I dutifully watched the first few movies, not especially enthused, but cautiously interested. I didn’t get excited until the first Captain America movie, which turned out to be surprisingly good, and The Avengers movie clinched it. 

I still haven’t watched all the movies. I skipped the first two Thor movies, and the first Iron Man. I never cared about Ant Man, and never will, I’m betting, although I am a big fan of  The Wasp (from the comic books), so I might see that movie.

Here are some of the better MCU music videos on Youtube. This was one of the first ones I saw. Not all of them are this good, but the editing on this one, was astounding.

 

I liked this one because it includes everything in the MCU, including all of The Defenders, all except Blade (which really should have been included, along with the X-Men and Wolverine films, even though they’re not part of the MCU. Yet!)

 

 

I skipped the first two Thor movies. I watched maybe the first thirty minutes of the second one before I fell asleep. I did enjoy this last one because I knew the director, Taika Waititi, from What We Do in the Shadows, and I trusted his film making skills.

 

 

This video was pretty good too. The editor of this one was nice enough to include  action parallels from the different films, something which helps to reinforce the idea that these movies all take place in the same cinematic world. I do object to the music of this one. I just dislike the song, and  would’ve chosen something more energetic.

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Weekend Holiday Reading

Just in case you find yourself with nothing in particular to do this Memorial Day, here are some articles I found interesting this week. They don’t actually have anything to do with Memorial Day but I liked them, anyway. This also doesn’t mean they were published this week, just that they were new for me. (For those of you who are not US citizens, Memorial Day is one of those martial holidays that America celebrates by taking off from work, to burn various meats, over open flames, in our backyards.)

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*This is a song I’m going to keep singing until people memorize the lyrics. I’ve noticed this is a trend throughout a lot of science fiction, where White people, for those are the ones primarily writing these futures, are oppressed or terrorized in the same manner that they have historically oppressed others.

I read somewhere that the reason why the opioid crisis happened the way it did in the US, is because White people cannot envision any future in which they do not maintain primacy. They can only imagine the future as a dystopia for themselves, whereas marginalized people are hopeful about the future because we’ve already experienced the worst.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/04/why-sci-fi-keeps-imagining-the-enslavement-of-white-people/361173/

In Terminator, as well, the fact that the robots are treating us as inhumanly as we treated them doesn’t exactly create any sympathy. Instead, the paranoid fear of servants overthrowing masters just becomes a spur to uberviolence (as shown in Linda Hamilton’s transformation from naïve good girl to paramilitary extremist). The one heroic reprogrammed Terminator, who must do everything John Connor tells him even unto hopping on one leg, doesn’t inspire a broader sympathy for SkyNet. Instead, Schwarzenegger is good because he identifies with the humans totally, sacrificing himself to destroy his own people. Terminator II is, in a lot of ways, a retelling of Gunga Din.

 

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*I really enjoyed this post discussing why the lack of racial diversity in the Bladerunner movies, is so troubling. The only show I can think of that comes close to getting it right is the BBC series titled Humans. It has a diverse cast of robots, and deals with the same things, but as is usual, for shows written from a White person’s point of view, it falls short of discussing the racial implications. (Of course Britain has a different relationship with racial slavery, having abolished it much earlier than America did.)

https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/10/06/25457531/race-and-blade-runner-2049

BLADE RUNNER 2049: White Appropriation of Black Oppression

White audiences watching a white character being subjugated to sci-fi racism can invest safely. We’re obviously now in the land of make believe if anyone is randomly pulling over Ryan Reynolds. Moviegoers can pick and choose what parts of the African-American experience they want. They cheer the underdog, they hiss at the police force, but once the movie’s over, they will go home, and post #blacklivesmatter from a distance.

 

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*I wanted to write this long piece about how the lyrics of Donald Glover’s This is America cannot be divorced from the visuals, without losing their meaning. For example, most of the lyrics are about the usual gangsta rap subject matter, with the same lyrics being repeated over and over. Get your money! Get your money! Get your money! But these typical admonishments from rap music take on new meaning when being joyously sung by the church choir in the video. Just as there is the veneration of guns in the video, that scene represents  the veneration of money and capitalism as well. The Church of the Holy Dollar! This makes the video  not just an indictment of America’s gun culture, but a critique  of the capitalist system which fuels it. This article is about how Black Americans sell their pain to get money. Black pain, and trauma, is the only currency we have, and it’s what sells.

https://www.rollingstone.com/donald-glover-childish-gambino-this-is-america-video-visual-w519895

A child is the one to handle Glover’s weapon after each shooting, and it’s children who sit in the rafters above, recording the bedlam with their phones. Our normalization of racist violence has come at the cost of not only black lives, but black innocence.

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*Genius breaks it down a little bit more, although it still doesn’t touch on the  the very first lyrics, “We just wanna party, just for you”. I think this is really telling, because these are your usual “let’s party” rap lyrics, which are then contrasted with the violence. We want to party FOR you, not with you, is important in this context. Even Black violence is entertainment for a White audience. 

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*This article is about how creators of fantasy and scifi seem to   have no problem approaching the topic of sexism, but cannot seem to approach the topic of race, with any depth. 

White people like to reimagine history as a peaceful time in which they never had to think about race, hence the nostalgia for times past. But really what they like about the past was the  unobstructed dominance of White supremacy. Nostalgia for the past and fear of the future seems to make up the bulk of  White people’s imaginings in speculative fiction. 

http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/why-dont-dystopias-know-how-to-talk-about-race.html

 

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*This article touches on all the points I made in my review of this film, and I’m glad I found it. I was irked because critics were so focused on the romantic relationship, that they were neglecting to see the wider social messages of the film. It’s nice to know that someone else got it, while tying these themes to the movie’s broader critique of capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism, which I didn’t see.

http://msenscene.com/2018/04/04/the-shape-of-waters-strickland-as-the-ur-american/

The reproduction of consumer capitalist values is taught to all Americans; you simply can’t not participate in capitalism (unless you want to starve, of course). But the film goes further than just a surface-level critique. We get to see how marginalized people assimilate to cultivate respectability at the expense of their peers. 

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*I realized this while I was watching the movie. Ronan’s motivational speeches about what a genius he is, and how he is unappreciated, basically boils down to, “The world didn’t kiss my ass like I wanted, so now everyone must die.”  Its one of the reasons online fanboys hated this movie, because Ronan  is a direct indictment of them.

https://www.bustle.com/articles/172212-the-ghostbusters-villain-is-basically-an-internet-troll-its-a-brilliant-way-to-silence-the

Most of Rowan’s dialogue reflects a feeling of entitlement and that of someone seeking out revenge for some past hardship. But much like the supposed oppression that trolls and MRAs feel, Rowan’s hardship doesn’t actually exist, at least to the extreme he makes it seem like it does. Rowan may have been bullied, of course, but that, nor being a janitor or not having a girlfriend isn’t warranted cause to unleash havoc on the public or cause harm in order to get “revenge.”

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*I was a huge fan of the HBO show Oz. Its been off the air for some time now, but during its time, it was groundbreaking, for its depiction of a homosexual relationship between two men, Tobias Beecher, and Chris Keller. What I found most fascinating about the relationship is Beecher’s psychology in falling for Keller. Here was a man who probably had always thought of himself as being straight, and was, due to circumstances, in a relationship with a known killer.

View at Medium.com

http://www.newnownext.com/oz-ten-years-later/07/2007/

Being set in prison, however, the show also dealt frankly with the sexuality of prisoners who did not consider themselves gay, yet were driven into same-sex relations either through loneliness or through rape. One of the primary ways these themes were explored was through the character of Tobias Beecher. Beecher was a wealthy, middle-class lawyer, husband and father, who found himself in Oz (the nickname for the Oswald State Correctional Facility) after accidentally killing a girl while driving drunk.

LinkSpam For This Is America: Childish Gambino

This is Childish Gambino’s (Donald Glover from the show, Atlanta) music video for the song This is America. There are a lot of thinkpieces being written, analyzing, and in some cases, over-analyzing, the meaning of this video. For me, its just an emotional very effective statement about how Black people have always lived in this country.

Its interesting to note, in the past few years, (at least since the inception of BLM,) how many popular Black entertainers have decided to put socially relevant commentary in their music, from Beyonce, to Solange, to Gambino., although music has always been at the forefront of social progress.

<Warning for gun violence.>

Outside of the violence being shockingly unexpected, I thought the video was sad, and  interesting. I liked the dancing, and yes, I do realize that it was just a distraction from everything  going on in the background. The background imagery is being interpreted in a lot of different ways, along with the types of dances being performed. I’d also like to point out that our nine days wonder about this video is also a distraction from the daily horrors of American life.

My mom has this old phrase she used to say, “laughing to keep from crying”. This is what black people in America have always done, and I thought the video was a neat summation of our lives in this country, dancing and singing, to counteract the horror of daily life. The running was a fitting ending to the video, especially if you contrast that with the joyousness of the dancing at the beginning. Black people have been running in terror since we got here. There’s also a deeper message in this for White people, (embodied in his Jim Crow dance move) who have been highly entertained, and distracted, by our reactions to the misery they helped to inflict.

But here are some more takes on this video:

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https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/childish-gambino-this-is-america_us_5af05c12e4b041fd2d28d8e9

From Jim Crow to Gwara Gwara, there are a lot of references you might’ve missed.

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https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-carnage-and-chaos-of-childish-gambinos-this-is-america

Among black people, he became the subject of skepticism: Can you trust the black artist who is so fluent in the tastes of a white society that seems genuinely to love him? Is his suaveness some cover for self-loathing?

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https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/05/donald-glover-this-is-america-childish-gambino/559805/

America is a place where black people are chased and gunned down, and it is a place where black people dance and sing to distract—themselves, maybe, but also the country at large—from that carnage. America is a room in which violence and celebration happen together, and the question of which one draws the eye is one of framing, and of what the viewer wants to see.

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This post is about the meaning of the dancing in the video, especially when contrasted against the violence. A lot of people got bogged down in the surface meaning of the erasure of Whiteness from the violence in the video, but sometimes you have to go deeper than that. Note the scene where Glover points his “empty” hands like a gun and everybody runs. He’s unarmed, but they’re afraid, anyway. oh, and the links in the article, feel free to read those, as some of the commentary is gorgeous.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/05/this-is-america-childish-gambino-donald-glover-kinesthetic-empathy-dance/559928/

If you watch “This Is America” on YouTube, you might stumble on videos of people who recorded their own reactions to it. Many of these viewers sway along with Glover at first, rolling their own shoulders, nodding to the afro folk–inspired melody as the musician twists his bare torso, revealing his own musculature and contorting his body in ways both alluring and disturbing. But the benign nature of that contagion is shattered when the first gunshot rings out 53 seconds in, and with the jarring transition of the melody to dark, pulsing trap. In the reaction videos, mouths fall open, and people are stunned into paralysis. The shooting itself is shocking, but so is that fact that Glover carries on dancing as if nothing happened.

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https://www.rollingstone.com/donald-glover-childish-gambino-this-is-america-video-visual-w519895

Like several other notable works of black American art in recent years, “This Is America” is about absorption. Onscreen and in real life, the black body gets exposed to so much terror and injustice and keeps going. How does the black body endure, and in what ways or spaces is it allowed to live out its emotions?

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https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-childish-gambinos-this-is-america-indicts-and-challenges-its-audience

The controversial new music video by Donald Glover and Hiro Murai has amassed millions of YouTube views while exposing viewers to the horrors of the black experience in America.

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https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-glover-this-is-america-jim-crow-history_us_5af31588e4b00a3224efcc40

“Every now and again, a racial incident or an expression of art makes us pause and reflect, but we soon return to dancing.”

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http://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.”

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You would think this video is no laughing matter, but this post would not be complete without the addition of Black silliness. What I’ve discovered over the years is that Black people can find humor in even the darkest subject matter. Unlike White fratboys,  who just want to shock their audience,  it doesn’t come from trying to be edgy, but from trying to control and make sense of narratives we have no control over. 

https://www.theroot.com/donald-glovers-this-is-america-explained-by-2-people-wh-1825858343

I think the true distraction is Gambino’s dancing. He dances like someone who thinks he can dance because he only dances when he’s around white people. Gambino is showing all his white friends that if he’s invited to their wedding, he will lead them in all the line dances they don’t understand.

Note: At the time of this post, someone has made gifs of the gun violence  depicted in the video. I have not the capacity ot be disappointed or shocked by that.