Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A nice snapshot of culture

Interesting snapshot of our early 21st century millieu in this story. From celebrity worship to terrorism to rank capitalism & the media and marketing to race. Compliments of SaveDarfur.org media coordinator Allyn Brooks-Lasure comes this excerpt from Mariane Peal's interview in Newsweek recently--of course released to help pub Brangelina's latest self-righteous, self-indulgent swoon, A Mighty Wind...oops...A Mighty Heart. Am I staining Daniel Pearl's memory? NO. He was not the martyr the mawkish machine (and his wife--more on that below) demands in today's politico-marketing culture. But he died digging into an important story with implications about Pakistan, al Qaeda, the supposedly-defeated Taliban and the seduction of Islamic extreme fundamentalism that folks on BOTH the left and right are going to have stop ignoring or twisting. However, my focus here's on Mariane:

NEWSWEEK: Do you feel you and Angelina have shaped each other's worldviews?
PEARL: We have very passionate conversations. I always learn from her, and I never walk out of a conversation with Angie without learning something. She doesn't acknowledge borders so much, and neither do I. It's a voluntary view of the world. She's capable of respecting other cultures while remaining herself.

NEWSWEEK: What was your reaction when she said she wanted to play you?
PEARL: She didn't ask me. I asked her.
NEWSWEEK: Really?*
PEARL: We had talked a lot and shared a lot of things. We had known each other for about a year, and I just felt that she understood my heart. That is what I wanted. I thought, "If somebody is going to play me, I don't care that she looks like me." It's about something much more important. I asked her because I trusted her.
NEWSWEEK: Angelina said she had a tough time perfecting your accent.
PEARL: She said, "I love you, but your accent drives me crazy!" I'm not even aware of all the difficulties she went through, and that's not having to do with skin color or accent. To be friends with someone and then have to embody the most difficult thing in her life, that's not easy.

NEWSWEEK: Speaking of skin color, there was a lot of uproar about Angelina playing you because she's white. Some people think a woman of color should have played you.
PEARL: I am Cuban, but I'm also Dutch. Should a Dutch person play me? It's not about skin color, it's about how a person behaves that matters. Aren't we past this?
Hmmm...well, remember when right wing harpy-in-chief Ann Coulter accused 9/11 widows who attacked Dubya of sufferig from Munchausen's Syndrome (basically sympathy and attention sponges)? That trick was dead wrong, as usually. Here, I dunno...a suriving spouse--especially a woman--can take on heroine/"strong woman"/role model status simply by a spouse getting iced in the horrific way, during and incident of extreme public concern. Mariane Pearl did of course ask Angelina to play her, and of course Angelina slyly positioned herself to do so--imagine if a big star suddenly wanted to have play dates between her kid and yours? I don't relish being either a cynic or skeptic, but the facts behind all this are manifest if you look into the right sources, such less star struck (and color struck--as we'll see) members of Mariane's family, entetainment beat reporters (not National Enquirer tabloids, but rather Vanity Fair and GQ).
Look, Dan and she were blithe yuppies super-blithely shedding all that nasty baggage of global politics, race, religion (but hey, not Judaism). Well, the world and reality said, "hey you lovers, not so fast. I'm still ugly." There could be no fairy tale life that Mariane saw in Brangelina and their UN of kids.
Her color "Aren't we over this?" comment plays so well to her seduction by Angie on the one hand, to her savvy marketing (to a white female audience) on the other. This is something that isn't about "getting over." You either feel it is important or you punt it because the majority doesn't want to face it and you want to fit it. Mariane doesn't want to embrace the 500 yeas of racial turmoil and oppression in Cuba that reflects in her face and flows in her veins (ironically, it's only been due to Castro and the commies that this thing has ceased; many millions of black Cuban don't want to live under that dilapidated regime, but they also fear a return of the bad old days of rich white Cubans with feet up the black Cubans' asses--and that's what they see in Miami...). Apparently Marianne's immediate family had a Clarence Thomasian view of this stuff. It is about point of view and orientation. Remember Chris Rock jibing at Rae Down Chong and Tiger Woods years ago when they were exaulting their exotic backgrounds, blah blah.
"Dawn, you're black, okay? Just marry a Kennedy and you'll see how black you really are."
Face it. Any intelligent person of color knows that unless you want to rap, survive in prison (or write truly base fiction hahahaha), there's no utility in being black in America or Europe. Notice I said "intelligent" people, for such persons know damn well these anti-affirmative action/we're too PC/we indulge Al Sharpton too much stuff is all a sham, and a scam. Being black is a burden, a stamp that you are automatically ambivalent about many many things. And what about these rappers peddling car candy and seemingly live the charmed life? Even Jay-Z has to answer to shadowy white guys who run the banks that extend credit and the private equity/hedge funds that own the frigging stock. But here's the flip side: it is a burden you bear with fierce pride--in our historical survival, in our hope for the future, whether you are from San Francisco or Sao Paulo, Harlem or Brixton, Trinidad or Toronto. And given the virtual "blackout" in Hollywood, Mariane's statement stings doubly. Brangelina's Namibian daughter is "darker looking than Mariane and Daniel's son. But lots of people are darker than me and my wife. And if you look at our baby pictures, and the kid we mix up, well, let's say the toddler pearl could be our kid. We are proud to say African American. We are proud to add Caribbean. Yet we always rap it up and say in a nutshell: "We're black." That's not something to "get over," Mrs. Pearl. Even Colin Powell says that. And if Angie wasn't even more self-righteous, perhaps she should have cast Thandie Newton (who's a better actress) or any number of black actresses who ca't get jobs because they don't want to play hip hop hoes. Then again, who'd buy movie tickets? And if Dan's wife is "black" and not "exotic" and Dan's little son is just a high yella little fellah--who'd really be inspired by this story? Who'd uy the book or do the interviews?
Hmmm, again. A lot fewer people--that's the answer. And that's what sould be gotten over, Mariane.
Look these are just musings of someone who refuses to give in to marketing on he was saying have always contended that this lady i


Lisa said...

Again, thank you for saying what a lot of us are thinking!

My interest in the story is only what Daniel Pearl uncovered, and while the backstory is moving, how did it migrate to the frontstory?

Anonymous said...

My co-worker who is a Karl Rove clone went to see it with his wife and said it was "wimpy, whiny, weepy." The segments on Pearl, Pakistanis and al Qaida pissed him off, as did the stuff about Gitmo. He also agrees that a light skinned black woman should have played M. Pearl. He said anyone could have played it better. Of course he said something typically white boy clueless: "How about Beyounce?" His wife said she could identify with the sense of loss and frustration over the means and controversy of Pearl's death (which is shown in gruesome detail). That's where her positive comments ceased.

I guess there was something for everybody to hate about this flick.

Pebbles Flintstone said...

Mmmm-mawkish! I have not seen this film, nor do I have a desire to see this film, but from I have heard, it sounds overdone and sappy. The funny thing is -- I can be very sappy. But even I have my limits.

I am a little sick of Angelina too. Maybe if she wasn't in the spotlight adopting 10 babies at a time, I might be more inclined to check out her work.

The fact that she is in the spotlight all the time really leaves me wary.

Marianne Pearl sold out to this. Sure, she experienced some horrible things, but this story could have been told differently and with a little more class.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting post and thank you for analysing what she wrote about "Arent we passed this". I respect her yet I do think that was an insensitive thing for her to say because as a woman of colour, I do think she should have championed a black actress or mixed race one to play her part since she is mixed race. I find it almost quite arrogant for her to say are we passed this as if she is sweeping the race issue under the carpet.

Anonymous said...

"I respect her yet I do think that was an insensitive thing for her to say because as a woman of colour, I do think she should have championed a black actress or mixed race one to play her part since she is mixed race."

So it's not enough that this woman's husband's throat was slit because he was a Jew, she's a dissappointment to you because she doesn't take on Hollywood? If she was manipulated by Jolie and Pitt because he wanted to produce/buy her book, well they got there first, not Halle Berry. I didn't read about any actress of color bidding for the role. Pitt was interested in the story. He has money and clout, and it got made.

How many causes should Marianne Pearl take on, just because of the color of her skin? Apparently she is not allowed to choose her causes, or allow white people to become her "friends" because they have nefarious motives.

Also, where do you get off calling Ms. Jolie is "self-righteous"? Was Josephine Baker "self-righteous" with her rainbow tribe? Just another person in the public's eye, who lives an extreme life, plunges into all her interests feet first.

Anonymous said...

Chris--your right wing "Anonymous" fan club has spoken. Keep pissing them off dude.

Anonymous (or "Lacking Testicular Fortitude"): you just don't get it do you?

Lola Gets said...

Thanks for your opiion and the interview excerpt, too. I feel that Pearls choice of Jolie to play her is an act of self hatred. If "we," the world, were "past this," then there wouldnt have been any problem with choosing an actress of color to portray her.