Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday Musings

Okay, There Will Be Blood didn't win Best Picture (see 2/22 post), but if you're gonna lose, lose to fellow Princeton Tigers the Coen Brothers! Now, as for the all these foreigners who won the statues, lawd have mercy....sadly we've seen the end of real American acting in Hollywood. Interesting social/political commentary there when you examine the type of roles for which these folks won (I don't count the French girl who won). Anyone care to venture how?
Stay tuned for my interview with Mat Johnson over his contribution to The Darker Mask and of course his groundbreaking graphic novel Incognegro (see previous posts). And check out my partner Gary Phillips' new work, High Rollers, published by Mark Waid and the folks at Boom! Studios (Mark's the award winning writer of iconic Fantastic Four, Justice League and many, many stories in the comic realm).
Tina Fey returned to Saturday Night Live and endorsed Hillary Clinton. OK. About as much there dap as Fred Armisen playing Barack. Then again, Fred did do a great Prince. I was truly impressed, however, with Mike Huckabee on the "Weekend Update" segment. He might not be as "fundamentalist" as folks think. Be real--he 's as much a populist as Obama. Even more so, as he can hide behind the anti-gay, anti-abortion stuff. My view: the right wingers and GOP need another terrorist attack and a couple of more New York Times articles on McCain to gel the troops--otherwise game fricking over come November. Even if Hillary's the nominee.
Ralph Nader's lost his damn mind. Even his diehard pals have learned their lesson from 2000. I am saddened to see a man who's dedicated his life, literally, to the public interest and has made us safer, made government and big business more accountable to human descend into self-absorption and lunacy. But yes, paradigms are shifting. You saw it in the initial "McCain madness." You saw it with Tavis Smiley, or Jesse's need to be relevant. Scary when your voice suddenly isn't the only one intelligent people want to hear, and even the ignorant are abandoning you.
Finally, several apologists for current insipid nonsense in African American "literature" have challenged me that we are not being dumbed-down. I beg them to consider Susan Jacoby's piece in the Washington Post last Sunday...oh and re-check Cora Daniels' still bestselling Ghetto Nation (Cora's interviewed on this blog) and Bill Cosby's Come On People, and get back to me on that view that things are just great, cool? Look, just because brain candy sells and pays your bills, doesn't mean you must be part of the machine condemning us all to get fat, toothless and diabetic. "Choice" is illusory in this anti-intellectual, marketing and hedge fund world of ours.


Anonymous said...

You are running on all cylinders this morning, ain'tchew? You think the GOP sent "Anton Chigruh" to threaten Nader into running? hehehe

I liked Daniel Day-Lewis but I liked the overall movie No Country better. Sorry Juno didn't win something.

Where has all the good Oscar music gone?

Ruby Dee was robbed.

You are decrying gangsta/ho novels yet you and your boys are out here penning gangsta/ho comic books. You are a hypocrite, but you do it with style and bravery, mah fren'!!!

Lisa said...

I saw your comments on that right wing site about the "anti American"-American villians represented by the Europeans who won Oscars, and this included a sidebar on "Juno." Very astute. What is that guy's problem anyway, the blog author? I got the impression that YOU went to college with him? Thank the Lord for HBCUs.

BTW I am a BIG fan of Gary Phillips Martha Chainey books. OK, bigger fan of Angela Bivens! It's sad we can't have more heroines like that.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Juno won best orginal screenplay.

I am going to check out your comments on tigerhawk. It is interesting no American actors won at the Oscars this year.

The pool here for actors (not celebs) is very shallow, esp. if you need a man and not a "kidult". De Niro, Newman, Denzel, Brando all good actors and good looking but came from the stage. Actors first, celebs second. Now we cast former models (Aston Kutcher) and talentless pretty people like Jessica Alba. It is only going to get worse.

Anonymous said...

We have a thing for comedy here. We want escape. That's why Will Ferrell or Tyler Perry is always going to be more popular. However there are still people like Clooney who is, let's face it, a great actor. Forrest Whittaker, Leo Di Caprio, Mat Damon, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. You have young guys like Emile Hirsch and even Ryan Phillippi. The real dearth is on the female side. More evidence of outsourcing because we're bloated and stupid over here.

By the way, Nat Turner, what has Ralph Nader ever really done except be a jerk? He wrote a bokk about unsafe cars back in the 60s and has been living off this ever since.

Unknown said...

Ralph Nader is doing what I would do if I were him. He's saying, "I've been in all these other races, I might as well be in the one that is going to make World history." His name will be imortalized in history if Clinton or Obama wins. He wants to be the other Man or White person that gets beat by either Clinton or Obama, respectively.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I am with you 100% on Nader. I couldn't have expressed it better.

LeLe Hill said...

Marion Cotillard deserved to win that Oscar. Her performance was amazing. It wasn't just the emotional depth of the performance but also the physicality the role demanded. I don't think there are many actress who could have tackled that role.

As for Nader. I think he's entering the race, because there isn't a truly progressive voice being heard now.

All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

Am i really that lame for not having the desire or interest to watch the AAs

Anonymous said...

"National Treasure" and "Meet the Browns" are what Hollywood's become. Why can't you elitists just get with that? It's time to move on to other media if you have half a frigging brain,and leave movies, network TV and most books to idiots.

Lola Gets said...

I dont watch them either - I just catch the commentary and the pics afterwards! lol

Im sorry, but I dont think Ruby Dee was robbed. I saw "American Gangster" and I dont remember anything special coming from her character.


LeLe Hill said...

I have to buy Susan Jacoby's book. In the her conversation with Bill Moyer's, she made a number of interesting points. The main one being that the "dumbing" down of America isn't limited to black people without money or high falutin' degrees. It extends across the board. From the fake informality and Texan accent of GW to the lack of basic geographical and historical knowledge of current college students. We are all stupid.

How else would you explain the the popularity of reality tv in general and gameshows like "Deal or No Deal" in particular.

I personally don't think the blame completely lies with educators, rappers and TV executives. I think to a degree, corporate America is to blame.

IMO, corporate America does not want well educated employees who have depth of knowledge outside their specialties. They want employees who are trainable. They need employees who are able to be efficient and highly productive. Someone who can follow orders and not question authority. You don't have to be intellectually curious to do that. As a result, most students who decide not to attend liberal arts colleges rarely study subjects outside their majors. With more people obtaining degrees, those degrees are becoming more specialized and the scope of knowledge is narrowing. What's the point of studying topics outside your field?

This doesn't begin in colleges. In high school, students are not learning for the sake of learning, they are taught to pass tests.

I bet if major corporations said they wanted employees who were able to think creatively and critically, and who were educated not trained, the educational paradigm would shift.

(Sorry for the rant, this is a touchy topic for me)

Christopher Chambers said...

Touchy for me, too Lele. It's enough to make you scream.

Anonymous said...

lele, that is so dead on. I'm a college fresh man right now and just got out of high school, and I feel the same way. My teachers never taught me, they told me how to memorize a test. If anyone tried to think oustside the box(I used to act up alot and talk back) the teacher would give that "my way or the highway" attitude and send us to the principal's office. It's like my sociology teacher, who was one of the REAL TEACHERS at my school said "90% of the shit you learn in school is useless".

Anonymous said...

and captain howdy, it's with attitudes like that that is why the US can kiss its superpower status good bye in a few decades,fuck u.

Anonymous said...

SoCal 82TigerSays:

My goodness I have not checked your blog in a while... You have been busy man on a tear of rants... As some one who is not "a liberal" I find myself nodding in agreement to many of your points. To recap of my thoughts:
1) Hollywood award giving is going to foreigners in part because deep down most people on the Left Coast wish they/we were more like Europe. In addition I think we both agree that Technology, sound, stunts, and CGI special effects now rule the day in the vast number of films made today. Hell except for Juno none of the Best Picture nominations was a big money maker... Movies that try to tell a good story are DOA for the average movie goer. It also bolsters your points on people being dumbed down. They are so dumbed down they can't sit through well written and well acted "stories". To think that movies and TV were thought to be the end of intellect ual culture.... Now we are complaining that movies and TV that once dumbed down culture are now themselves being dumbed down. Oh the humanity of it all....

BTW -I am amazed that no one sited the movie Atonement for showing Americans that no word is too taboo to speak publically. Specifically I applaud the power of turning the C-word (oh hell why should I shy from saying/writing it - CUNT) into a powerfully erotic and sexually positive word.... Forgive me if I step out of the line of political correctness here, but I have been angry for the last few years over people's hyper-political angst over using "bad" words. This idea that there are words so bad we should never say them is pure BS.
Bruce and Carlin had it so right 50 years ago - There is NO such thing as "bad" words only bad intentions. Can we comprehe nd what it means when movies such as Blazing Saddles, or Lenny might NEVER get a green light in today's world???

We are truly a nation of mindless unthinking droids who are conditioned to weakly think only on impressions, impulses, and sound bites. We now reduce a person's complete moral goodness or badness subjectively based on a choice of words. Sad to say that in my life many of the most ignorant, cruel, and racist people I have met would never utter a "bad" word; and yet some of the biggest foul mouthed A-hole jerks (myself included?) can be giving, caring and accepting of people - I know that might sound a little self serving but I am really pissed off at what kind of people we have become.

2) I imagine your rants against the dumbing down of ;black culture get you in hot water with your "peeps" but you, like Ms Daniels & Mr. Cosby, need to keep presenting an alternate voice other then that of mass media. Hell for what it's worth I recently heard one of Dr. Kings daughters coming out loudly to say that "leaders" such as Jesse & Al have done more disservice and damage then good over the last 40 years.

I think the scary news my Tiger "Brotha" is that Ms. Jacoby correctly points out that the dumbing down of people that you speak of is now pernicious throughout ALL America... If I can be so bold as to apply a turn of phrase from Chris Rock - We are becoming a nation of People and ...."Wiggers": & to finish that observation with Mr. Rock's line thinking - The wiggers have got to go....
Sadly I can see the problem we face but I think of many of us as salmon falling s hort in our upstream swim promote reclaiming America's intellectual and cultural capabilities.

3) On a different note I read and article in TIME Mag. last week that seemed to offer a revisionist view of "black" music (specifically Delta Blues). Much of the article seemed to say that Delta Blues is not "true" black music per say... If I read the article correctly the writers thesis is that the Blues was not an organically developed form of black music and culture. The Blues was just another form of a "Rural Southern Black Minstrel Show" that was developed to play to white peoples prejudices and stereotypes of black music and culture. Core to this argument is the explanation and observation that Blues music has greater following and support among whites in the US, England, and Europe.

I found this r evisionist pabulum troubling in 2 ways: 1) If taken at face value it means without the white man's "love" this rural black musical form would never have developed, florished, and survived till today.
2) If that premise holds true for the Blues, then would it not also mean that Jazz, Doo Wop, Rock n Roll, R & B, and Rap are also not organic musical forms that emerged from black culture. They were merely white marketing creations created solely as another form of a musical mistral show for white people's amusement.

Forgive me as I for one do not dismiss the creative efforts of talented efforts... I may accept an argument that a capitalist market culture perverted some of these musical forms.... (ex: Rock and Rap music)
In that sense the famed rock critic Lester Bangs was right when he observed that when the corporate suits take o ver they killed everything that we love and that was great about the music.