I made a rare appearance at the theater last night, and rarer still, I purchased my favorite salty-sweet combination — popcorn and Sprite — my craving setting me back nearly fifteen bucks. (Such a purchase generally requires something along the lines of a leap of faith, i.e., that I step up to the concession and order without first checking to see what it will cost.) It was all to see Black Panther, in Columbus, Ohio, with my sister and brother-in-law. I was truly spellbound by the film, riveted by the cool inversion of the generally accepted norm that white Western capitalist culture is the superior standard and the rightful model for modernity and beyond. There’s something innovative and new here, with this film, something that is refreshing. As director Ryan Cooglar put it, “The concept of an African story, with actors of African descent at the forefront, combined with the scale of modern franchise filmmaking, is something that hasn’t really been seen before. You feel like you’re getting the opportunity of seeing something fresh, being …
Great little article in the Guardian: Donald Trump came to power on the heels of a rightwing movement rooted in the Tea Party protests. The Women’s March could pull off a similar feat. Here are three reasons why The Women’s Marches could mobilize voters and result in progressive political reform. From the article:
A quick list of my highlights from last night’s State of the Union speech: Female Democrats wore black in solidarity with the #MeToo movement as they listened to a commander-in-chief who has been accused of sexual misconduct by 19 women. And to add irony to insult, there was “The New American Moment” moment: “This is our new American moment,” Trump said. “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.” The irony? Hillary Clinton used the phrase “new American moment” in a speech as secretary of state in 2010. Lastly, there was a You-Know-You’re-A-Mainstream-Liberal moment, brought to you by Democrat Senator Tim Kaine…….Trump offered this empty-headed platitude: “If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything,” which aroused the passions of Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, and Kaine rose from his seat to cheer President Trump. Senator Elizabeth Warren offered light applause and Senator Bernie Sanders remained still….We need leaders who don’t …
This last weekend I started reading Mychal Denzel Smith, Invisible Man, Got The Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education (2016). I’ve just started, but I appreciate how Smith immediately gets to the essential and defining issue for activists in the 21st century: connecting the dots between all of the forms of privilege and prejudice. One of the first things Smith talks about is how his dissatisfaction with the status quo led him to read radical thinkers, which tended to be male-dominated. The strength and bravado of the great black figures like Malcolm X helped Smith in his journy to discover himself as a radical and to more intimately understand himself as a person, but it had its limits.
The thing about marches and rallies and activism are that they are good for the soul. It’s a form of fellowship, not unlike the feeling I had back in my church-going days. It’s nice to know you’re not alone, in the resistance, and for me nothing replaces the solidarity of in-person activism. And in Santa Cruz on Saturday, it was packed — nearly 20,000 marched, in the main drag, downtown.
Having read the book, I watched the film — the most recent version of True Grit, done by the Coen brothers. I’d seen it before, but my memory was a bit skewed. In my mind the film was focused on the male cowboys, played by Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. I said as much in my review of the book. I may have been confusing the recent film with the original John Wayne movie, or my recollection may have simply been skewed by my own male-centric perspective. In any event, I’m happy to report that the 2010 version of True Grit is just about as true to the book as possible.
I just finished reading the short novel, True Grit, and I think it’s most definitely an under-appreciated American classic. Yes, a classic: a novel that is both artistically compelling as well as fascinating for its exploration of post-Civil War America and the mythology of the frontier. Many are familiar with True Grit via the films, starring John Wayne (1969) and Jeff Bridges (2010), but the novel does something that the films have not yet quite been able to capture, focused as they are on the rough-and-tumble male stars. Portis’ novel explores the life and world of Mattie, the tough, precocious young girl who is intent on avenging her father’s death — and is intent on taking charge of the task, personally, to make certain it gets done.