Life, love, hip hop, humor AND instructions on how to cook a bangin'-ass meal... all in one place. I put the words here, make what you want of them.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I am convinced that while Spike Lee Flicks, adapted for the current market, would be a critical success, in that most movie reviewers are – pretend to be – at least DECENTLY objective when looking into these things.
If Spike Lee’s name would be good enough to get the movie onto enough screens nation/worldwide, he would make enough money to cover production and make profit enough to continue doing him, but they would SURELY not be landslide success-level blockbusters.
“why,” you ask?
Black audiences these days tend to run away from being told about themselves. It seems that they would more often rather be told how to feel, be it feeling sorry for themselves, to hate their own or just when and how to cry.
White audiences often don’t understand “black” issues, even if they feed you the ‘I have tons of black friends’ line ad-infinitum.
The days of PAYING to be taught some shit died in college to a great many people of all races. You wanna teach me some shit, you need to pay me, on the clock, like my employer does when I am to be trained.
Polarizing figures of this type are not so much heralded in 2010 as they were in the late 80s. Tell black people they’re fuckin’ up and they’ll call you a ‘hater’ and ignore the lesson. Tell anyone else THEY’RE fuckin’ up and you’ll be dubbed an ‘angry black man,’ or ‘intolerant’ or one of those other fun words they usually sit on until they're in need of code language for why you should hate the president.
All told, there is a reason that Spike Lee movies are not so much a draw as they once were, and indifference in the community is the tip of the iceberg. That said, no matter HOW interesting or modern this could be made, I am not sure that these movies would have aged or gone over terribly well in today's climate.
Sure, there would be those to go and see them for nostalgia and a great many of them would like them, but those "for" are most often less vocally so than those who are "against," and the 'this ain't NOTHIN like the original' crowd would be the taste-makers.
[Phlip note - we must stop Michael Bay before he finishes killing Transformers for me]
To draw on my favorite parallel, it is the same thing that people can and do say “man, I listen to hip hop, but all I listen to is the beat, I don’t be listening to the words like that.”
No longer is it even COOL to expect someone to dissect and understand a message. Tell them how to feel, tell them when to cry and use overtly stupid-ass physical humor to dictate when they should laugh. They aren’t out to see movies for what the movie is about or what is conveyed so much as they are for who is in the movies. In the world we live in now, critical acclaim is no longer enough, you gotta do some numbers to get by. The movies could review wonderfully, but the fact that people have readily accepted being made dumb would make a HARD sell of a Spike Lee movie in the current climate.
… in my opinion, of course.
What do y'all think?
Saturday, December 18, 2010
picking up where we left off, now we will discuss the next of the mentioned Spike Lee Flicks...
Do the Right Thing (1989)
This movie deals directly with the multiple plights of the residents of a Brooklyn neighborhood on what happens to be the hottest day of the year.
The major theme dealt with in the movie happens to be race relations, centering around a pizza parlor and the treatment of black patrons, real or perceived... Irony comes from the titling of this movie, as it seems that NOBODY is doing the right thing in the entire movie.
[Phlip note - except Radio Raheem, he could DO no wrong]
We have EVERYTHING one could desire in a movie; Public Enemy music serving as damn near the ENTIRE score, Rosie Perez, Rosie Perez' titties, racism, class-based discrimination, hatred of immigrants, disregard for the elderly/mentally challenged, and (best of all) Samuel Leroy 'motherfuckin' Jackson.
Besides, who CAN'T love a movie that includes lines like...
Again, this movie serves as a "show you what to do by showing you what NOT to do" up close and personally, up to and including the lesson learned of the riot that resulted in at least one death. The movie was both critically and commercially successful, I even watched it on DVD recently myself.
But what if they did it now?
No longer would it take place in a record-high NY summer day, but a record LOW southeast winter day...
I say that from a personal level, since I live in NC, where single-digit windchill this early in December are not quite the norm, but have been very much the reality this week...
The slowing of – or at least the changing face of it – will serve it that the pizza parlor is now owned by a Muslim family at on a strip mall very near to both black AND white neighborhoods. There will also be some Chinese takeout and your run-of-the-mill generic “Asian-Owned” nail and beauty supplies, as well as African hair braiding.
[Phlip note - holy shit, I just described my own neighborhood!]
The things would play out largely the same. Being that the pizza place is on the block with black people and only a half mile from white people, his foot traffic is largely of both races, exacerbated by his prime real estate; DIRECTLY next to the grocery store.
White people resent him because their own neighborhood is the old money that moved elsewhere in the city when the black folks moved in, which was bad enough before they started letting “them goddamned terrorist motherfuckers” open up shop everywhere in the city.
Black folks resent him because the first round of gentrification and business-opening in the neighborhood was all black-owned. This includes two video stores that are no longer open, one salon that is no longer open, a barber shop that barely is and 3 Laundromats, one of which has closed and reopened twice, one that moved and one that is only open to serve as a front for illegal operations otherwise.
His presence in the neighborhood comes to show their loss on the toehold of what they had “taken” from the white folks 20 years prior. It represented something they did NOT take action on when the Koreans opened the cleaners, then the beauty supply, then nail shop and takeout spot before.
This is where the similarities to the original movie really begins...
One of the chu’uch folks tries to set up a boycott of non-black-owned businesses on the block – which would mean no one does ANYTHING in the neighborhood except getting their hair done or washing their clothes at the Laundromat without free drying – until they’ve gone, at which point they reinvest in the community. The response from the younger generations came across more or less as a “fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck that, them terrorist-ass calzones is too good to be quittin’ on!”
The white people, though? For the most part, very few of them were willing to patronize the restaurant out of 9/11-driven fear of the unknown. That said, damned if they would EVER invite “those people” to their house for delivery either. No need to go too much further into why THEY would refrain from patronage.
Anywho, one night right at closing time, someone is leaving with their food that they’d ordered ahead of time, when a young black man enters the shop and wants to place an order…
3 minutes prior to closing…
When the shop owner advises that he has shut down the oven for the night, and the only thing he would be willing to make at the 11th hour would be a cold sandwich, a scene occurs. The would-be patron attempts to argue with him, but is repeatedly asked to leave the premises. This MIGHT have continued, had not the passing police officer who cases this lot every night at this time happened to roll through. The angered (and now still-hungry) 19 year-old leaves.
11:30 the following morning, he is standing on the sidewalk telling EVERYONE to enter the parlor that they shouldn't, prompting the owners' son to step out and confront him. Meanwhile, one of his knucklehead friends is harassing the Korean lady trying to open her nail salon across the parking lot. The harassment at the pizza shop goes on ALL day until the owner shows for his own shift. Ironically, the kid's friends are no longer bothering the other shop owners, but the pizza parlor owner instead.
I don't know how many people constitutes a riot, but the 5 kids who STARTED this shit, the one store owner who was just minding his own business and now the dozens of onlookers-cum-participants makes one in my mind. The cops come in time to grab the first black teenager who appears to be a troublemaker and employs that chokehold that they aren't supposed to use anymore. Trash cans are thrown and fires started, I hope these cops expected overtime tonight...
All the OTHER business owners have closed up shop, drawn security coverings over glass and beat it.
Unlike the original, there will be no dialog between the shop owner and anyone else who was at the riot.
The movie, as the original was, would be critically-acclaimed.
Unfortunately, no one would go to see it, seeing as how people will not much go to movies with a message these days, even if the message is RIGHT OUT IN FRONT OF THEM. Asking someone to work to get the message beneath a metaphor is just too damned much it seems these days.
‘da fuck? Nigga, you tryna get smart?’ would be the response from the "peer" audience.
[Phlip note - "peer audience" = those who share skin color with the moviemaker]
It would go on to the Parthenon of cinematic GREATNESS that wad damned by not enough people willing to put their cash up to view, usually for reasons not reflecting the maker of the film. The Great Debaters comes to mind when I type that.
Closure to come tomorrow.
to be continued…
Friday, December 17, 2010
Never mind that though. The burst of thought led to a tweet/FaceBook status update.
“What if Spike Lee remade his movies for 2010? What if he made school daze and do the right thing now but not then?”
No need to address the couple of responses I got, since this was not a question of the day, except for the one from the homie Simon, who retweeted it as well, which included “You need to blog this.”
Never one to turn down the requests of my two loyal readers (or any of the others I might have scared off by means of not coddling their fragile little egos), here we are…
I will direct my focus in these posts on the two of Shelton Jackson Lee's movies specifically named, Do the Right Thing and School Daze, and I will take them on one at a time, doing so in the order of their release…
School Daze (1988)
This movie dealt with the homecoming weekend at a fictional (for the sake of the movie, as I am sure one by this name exists SOMEWHERE) HBCU named Mission College. In it, we would see addressed things that actually went on in black colleges at one point in history.
In it, we would see the politically active groups vying for validity in a world that might not give a damn about them. Their corollary would be the
gang members Greeks, who would play the role of "jocks" to their--... whatever, I'm confused now.
Issues addressed range from “internal” racism – that between darker and lighter-skinned black folks that has always existed – to a system of cliques that often form on black college campuses. I might think that something similar does on white college campuses as well, but I never been to one of those, so I do not know.
It is all done in a sometimes humorous but always musical means. Most things presented were largely symbolic and metaphorical in their message, even the ones that were not so out front. What it all amounted to (in my mind) was the painting of the black college model as a largely dysfunctional model, which remains accurate in application and as-depicted even now, three months shy of 23 years later.
In total, the movie did decently well critically and commercially, with the loudest jeers coming from those who felt they were wrongly called on their ways.
Guilty dog barks loudest, I guess.
Well, what if they did it now?
The easy answer to this question would be “well shit, he would never get green-lit or funding from the studio,” and this post would end right here…
I don’t give in that easy.
So what do I think would have changed about the movie if it had been made in 2010/’11?
First of all, the amount of on-campus activities that took place would not have taken place. It seems that the focus on HBCU homecomings these days is less on the school celebrating what in the hell ever homecomings are to celebrate. I won’t even lie and say I know what they’re actually for.
No sense in focusing on the on-campus quarrels and such. Not when we can focus on the buildup to the concerts to be held 10 miles from campus. Not when you can focus on all the out-of-towners of the opposite sex headed in to converge on the city from Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning.
The movie – if released now without the context of the original – would likely play out more like a documentary than a drama to be totally honest. With Spike Lee being Spike Lee, it would be a forum to pan people for how their behaviors have devolved, if only as a “look at what you’re doing to yourselves” and would pull no punches in doing so.
But white people would call him an ‘angry black man’ while black people would call him a ‘hater’ and the movie would be a critical and commercial flop, barely breaking even on production costs.
Now, if remade for 2010, it would AT LEAST bear the sentimental value to those of us old enough to remember the original. Themes would be similar, but adapted for the current climate, but the focus on “school” things would be similarly shifted to extracurricular activities and the disdain would still be apparent. Again, the 30+ would come and at least SEE the movie, but younger generations would completely miss the point, likely calling Spike Lee a ‘hater’ just the same.
On to the next movie tomorrow, to be continued...
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Perhaps better employed would be ‘I don’t care as much as you do,’ but fact remains that even THAT would have one coming off as a bit of a dick as well, what with the suggestion that ‘what you care about is beneath me’ and all.
As ever, argument of sorts will ensue and then people get feelings hurt. And to think how less-than-necessary this would be if people could refer back to the art of shutting up.
[Phlip note – as a blogger, I am SUPPOSED to be a Keyboard Cowboy of sorts, and accept whatever backlash may come as a result of my opinions, if only I could turn a profit for doing so...]
F’rexample… Some nice people are discussing something – ANYTHING – and this conversation could be in any avenue, be it FaceBook/Twitter, coffee shop, breakroom, mall food court, synagogue, abortion clinic or under Clarence Thomas’ desk. Venue really matters not, just so long as you have one person (a) with an opinion, at least one person (b) who is listening to that individual’s opinion and at least one person (c) to witness the conversation who harbors an opinion on the topic at hand. Whether or not that individual will cop to actually having one is where this gets fun.
Now, (a) is sitting in discussion with (b) over their lunch, in a common area, and (a) has developed a strong opinion on a current news story, which they happen to be quite knowledgeable about following a lifetime of active interest. (b) listens to the conversation – almost (read: pretty damned much) a rant from (a), but the topic interests them both, so it continues…
At this point, (c) enters the room and naturally overhears the conversation at hand. The topic is one that vaguely interests them, clearly not as much or as passionately as the individuals currently in discussion. Smart money dictates that this might be the one to just lay up and leave alone. Yeah, that would make sense, right?
[Phlip note – this would have made it this far if the person had done the right thing, no?]
Now that (c) has stepped into the arena, it is only naturally inferred that they have an opinion on the topic at hand, and hopefully a little knowledge on the item in which they’ve now become involved.
that is a DICK move.
(a), now fully okay with having another participant in the discussion, addresses the newcomer and their response with a fitting rebuttal which steers the conversation back to what was ACTUALLY being discussed.
It is now apparent that our newcomer has no real interest in the topic at hand as it was initially being discussed (or apparently any respect for the intelligence of those in other than themselves), made evident by the constant reminder that ‘well I really don’t care.’ This will naturally devolves into ‘I don’t know why y’all care so much’ and will come to include all the requisite patronizing language on the in-between. Any attempts at the hands of the initial participants of the discussion to steer it back to – or keep it on – original topic are met with apples-to-oranges comparisons seemingly designed to not only drag the discussion further down a road it never needed to go, but also denigrate those involved.
Nits are picked, nerves are grated and non-issues dragged into it. Non-points are made by the uninvited participant, which are met with valid counterpoints at the hands of others. Every valid counterpoint is responded to with “whatever” or “I don’t see why you even care,” and without fail, they slip and present the wrong argument. At this point, their entire agenda is picked apart piece-by-piece, point-by-point to the point where the thing that most people would do is just shut up and leave the discussion in defeat.
This person doesn’t care and never cared in the first place, never mind that they have now committed a large chunk of time that they are not getting back, thus making not caring the stupidest thing they will have done today. At this point, with no one intimidated into cowering before their apparently immense intellectual accomplishments.
No new fans made in this venue, they will leave the conversation completely incapable of admission that they’d just stepped into an arena where they were clearly overmatched, so the answer as presented will remain an emphatic “what-ever!”
Back to the task at hand… (a) and (b) will attempt to trudge on, though thoroughly derailed in doing so. A general “what in the fuck just happened here?” will be the chosen response, with a “damn, you handled that one better than I might have” and the situation as it were is left no longer addressed.
Why in the hell DO people do that?
Are we all living in some kind of alternate universe, wherein it is somehow socially acceptable to drop in on people who DO care about something enough to converse about it, but only long enough to remind them that you do not care? Once engaged, when did it become acceptable to continue the discussion that you apparently only care enough about to pat yourself on the back, thereby basically insulting all participants involved?
There are three arenas where this seems to happen most often…
and most frequent/fervently…
As ever, the prudent move – even if you DO care – if your aim is to avoid an argument or being pwned in an attempt to one-up someone in their own comfort zone, is simply to shut it and keep moving… The day that people START doing that, though, will be the day that posts like this will stop popping up.
And now, speaking of how not to care, I plan to sit back and watch as everyone proves it, with no one commenting this post, lol.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
A part of me dies on the inside whenever I hear this shit, I SERIOUSLY find myself thinking “damn, are you serious?” when hearing this nonsense. There was a time where I knew that there were people who were making better music than this shit, but nowadays I am convinced that they just don’t damned exist.
No, not when an otherwise talented
So here I find myself, all the while, PRAYING that one day the music stops abruptly and someone yells “you’ve been punked!” and this nightmare comes to an end.
I’m not holding my breath.
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