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Category Archives: Pop Culture

EVOLVE: A New Sci-Fi Series For Teens & Adults!

Friends,

I’m so very excited about this new sci-fi series on the web (You Tube) called Evolve,which is written, directed & produced by Kia Barbee (Elmhurst Entertainment). It is the story of a teen girl Donia Reyes (portrayed by Jasiah Lovell) who inherits supernatural abilities that she can’t control nor wants, as she approaches her 16th birthday. She struggles to strike a balance between what she craves & what she’s destined to become. This mini-series airs every Tuesday on YouTube  at 7:45pmEDT from June 25th – July 23rd. Please do watch the trailer & Episode I below, subscribe to the channel, become a fan on Facebook, follow on Twitter & share, share, share!

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Entertainment, Film Reviews, Pop Culture, Videos

 

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The “N” Word, The “C” Word: Selective vs Convenient Outrage

Friends,

Consevative Libertarian blogger Talitha McEachin

Consevative Libertarian blogger Talitha McEachin

I don’t use pejoratives of any kind towards any group, but last year when I wrote the series “The Top 10 Things that Black & White People Want to Know about One Another but Won’t Ask” for CainTV , one of the blogs was about the use of the “N word“. I literally talked to thousands of white & black people about how they felt about the pejoratives used towards them (“nigger”/”cracker”) and overwhelmingly, black people were offended by the word “nigger” (some from whites only & some no matter the race – I happen to be in the latter group), while white people were not so offended by “cracker” or “honky”. In fact, less than 10% of the white people I surveyed were offended. Some even laughed at the notion that they should be quite frankly.

Looking back on those threads throughout social media, the emailed responses I received, and recorded responses from people I spoke with, it is amazing how many of the same people who said they weren’t offended a year ago, are suddenly offended & sensitive to it, in the aftermath of Paula Deen drama & in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial. It’s a glaring difference. I’ll never, ever tell anyone what should & should not offend them because that’s for each person to determine for themselves, but the difference of one year is astonishing….and very telling. If black people who are offended by Paula Deen’s use of the N word, yet not offended by intraracial use of it are demonstrating “selective outrage” (as many on the right love to point out & I would agree to an extent), then white people who were not offended by “cracker” a year ago, yet are suddenly offended now, are demonstrating “convenient outrage”. Some want to be offended, so they can feel better about disparaging Rachel Jeantel & her admission that Trayvon Martin used the term “creepy a** cracker” and defend Paula Deen’s use of the word, or give her a pass. What’s the best way to do that that with ease? Suddenly pretend to be offended by a pejorative which some could have cared less about only a year ago. As the 18 year old daughter of a friend so eloquently expressed to me:

“I’m not offended by being called a honky or a cracker because neither of those words have long and bloody histories of disgusting hatred and oppression behind them. Had they been used during some sort of inhumane torture of my people I might get mad. But they weren’t, while most racial slurs against people of color were. A POC using a name against a white person won’t do much to the white person besides hurt their feelings, if that. White people using racial slurs exhibits deep roots of xenophobia and racism, things which will continue to hinder the progression of equality until they are abolished.”

 Pejoratives used by persons outside of the acceptable use community are often frowned upon and punished severely in our society. White people can call one another “honky”or “cracker” but blacks can’t do it without the possibility of being offensive. The same is true for the N word when used by non-black persons, “spic” when used by non-Hispanics, “hymie” when used by non-Jewish persons (although I have never heard a Jewish person call another Jew a “hymie”), heterosexual use of the words “fag/faggot” – even women can call one another bitches, but if a man does it there’s hell to pay.

These are just linguistic, social etiquette nuances which we have created and allowed to flourish for so long. The only exceptions I found in my research, was familiarity with the user & that’s almost always with people under the age of 30. It’s not fair, it’s not right, I don’t like it, but to ignore this about the English language & hurl accusations of hypocrisy or “selective outrage” is simply dishonest. The bastard (spoken) English language is one of the most confusing, inconsistent & manipulated languages spoken. Our dictionaries are not the problem, we are.

Just an observation…

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in In The News, Pop Culture, Society

 

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The Oxymoron of the “Celebrity Pastor”

Consevative Libertarian blogger Talitha McEachin

Consevative Libertarian blogger Talitha McEachin

I think that the term “celebrity pastor” is an indicator of how spiritually lost some of us are. I have received several invitations over the past year to visit someone’s church where they referred to their pastor as a “celebrity pastor”. It really turned me off personally.The church is the one place which should remain uncontaminated by pop culture but sadly, what we have been seeing is not just the influences of celebrity/pop culture on many churches, but the outright surrender to said cultures, on the part of church leadership. The body of Christ should influence and lead pop culture not be lead by it. There is no balance with too many pastors. With all of the caveats in the New Testament regarding the persecution that believers did and will face, quite frankly, popularity, to a large degree is not something that necessarily attracts me to a church. Of course, this depends on what a pastor or his church is popular for (teaching the word of God or how well the choir performs in a competition for example). The Christian church is not a club, restaurant, sports franchise, or clothing line. Spreading the gospel of Christ does not require that we must brand churches in the way the world does any of those things named.

I’m not attracted to the churches of pastors who are not just assigned this title (anyone can call a pastor this large church congregationwithout his knowledge or acceptance of it, he can’t help that) but who embrace them & build brands around themselves rather than Christ. Our Savior, Jesus Christ often stands in the shadow of the celebrity pastor rather than front & center, where He belongs.

Celebrity culture in churches also fosters what I call the “untouchable” & “irreproachable” complex we see so often these days. Meaning, no matter what a pastor does wrong, he cannot be criticized, admonished, held accountable or in some cases, prosecuted. Even in the aftermath of scandal, when there is very clear evidence or admission of guilt & in some case illegal acts, many still worship these pastors as if they are Christ returned in the flesh & refuse to acknowledge that they are no less corporeal than any other person. I’m not suggesting pastors cannot be forgiven for sin because according to Romans 3:23 “We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” So, it’s not a matter of whether or not we should forgive but rather, should we continue to allow them to lead us? Should we obstruct secular punishment when the law is broken? After all, we are also commanded to obey the law, title of pastor notwithstanding. Sometimes a demotion (or punishment) is the best way to obtain the humility required for church leadership. As Christians, we must have something that separates the body of Christ from the secular world & the more pastors allow celebrity/pop culture to infiltrate & influence their churches, the more those lines are blurred. The notion of a celebrity pastor is oxymoronic at best but the only celebrity in Christian churches should be Christ himself. Think about it…

 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Pop Culture, Religion

 

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Yvette Carnell on Jamie Foxx’s “Black People are the Most Talented People In the World”

Great commentary from liberal blogger Yvette Carnell on Jamie Foxx’s recent declaration at the NAACP awards that “Black people are the most talented people in the world”:

“Jamie Foxx is a talented entertainer, and because of that, I’ll eventually get around to watching DJango Unchained. What I won’t do is join in the chorus of black people jamie foxx and daughterAmening Jamie’s“Black people are the most talented people in the world” comment.

“Black people are the most talented people in the world. I, it’s, I can’t explain it,’Foxx said at the NAACP Image Awards.‘You can’t sit in this room and not watch Gladys Knight sing and go like, “Golly, what in the world?”

I get where Foxx was trying to go, I think. Based on the context, it seems to me that Foxx was trying to express how, based on the Black  Experience, black people are more sensitive to certain impulses, and how we tend to mold and refine those increased sensitivities until they become perfect tools for our art. That’s what he meant. That’s true. But what he said was that we’re the most talented people in the world. That’s a lie.

That comment by Foxx, which takes one race, black people,  and sets it high above others,  based solely on sketchy anecdotal evidence and vague preferences, is vexing because it brings to mind other similar pronouncements made by blacks, like  how we all  ”came from kings and queens.” Truth is,  some of us come from kings and queens, while others of us derive our DNA from spear chuckers, slave traders, and common crooks. Some of us are the descendants of philosophers, mathematicians, and activists as well, but the honest truth is none of us are just one thing. We’re all descendants of  different classes  of people, with varied achievements and abilities.

Please click HERE to continue reading Yvette’s erudite commentary.

 
 

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Actor Nick Searcy, A Conservative…in Hollywood!

Friends,

Nick SearcyPlease check out the episodes of “Acting School” a new show by my friend Nick Searcy, a Peabody award winning, international film star below who stars on the hit FX show “Justified” & is also a fellow Conservative! Nick Searcy, a consistent presence in American film and television for almost twenty years, has starred in independent films as well as studio blockbuster hits, including The Ugly Truth, The Last Song, Castaway, The Fugitive, Head of State, Runaway Jury, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, Blood Done Sign My Name, The Dead Girl, An American Crime, and Fried Green Tomatoes among others. On television, Nick was a series regular on five different shows: 7 DAYS, AMERICAN GOTHIC, FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, RODNEY, and EASY MONEY, and has guested on many shows such as THE WEST WING, BOSTON LEGAL, and CSI. He also has shocked horror fans in the features DEADLY END, COLD STORAGE, and TIMBER FALLS. His newest release is a role in the hit MONEYBALL  from Sony Pictures, in theatres now.  He is currently filming Season 3 of the FX Network’s JUSTIFIED, portraying Chief Deputy Art Mullen.

We have to support our conservatives in Hollywood (the few that there are)! Nick was also on the Rush Limbaugh show today so please check that out as well! Here are both links, be sure to “like” the fanpage (1st link):

Nick Searcy, a consistent presence in American film and television for almost twenty years, has starred in independent films as well as studio blockbuster hits, including The Ugly Truth, The Last Song, Castaway, The Fugitive, Head of State, Runaway Jury, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, Blood Done Sign My Name, The Dead Girl, An American Crime, and Fried Green Tomatoes among others. On television, Nick was a series regular on five different shows: 7 DAYS, AMERICAN GOTHIC, FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, RODNEY, and EASY MONEY, and has guested on many shows such as THE WEST WING, BOSTON LEGAL, and CSI. He also has shocked horror fans in the features DEADLY END, COLD STORAGE, and TIMBER FALLS. His newest release is a role in the hit MONEYBALL  from Sony Pictures, in theatres now.  He is currently filming Season 3 of the FX Network’s JUSTIFIED, portraying Chief Deputy Art Mullen.

NICK SEARCY’S ACTING SCHOOL EPISODE I

NICK SEARCY ON RUSH LIMBAUGH

Everyone have a blessed, wonderful productive weekend!

-Talitha, www.theelementsbooks.com

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Politics, Pop Culture, Radio Appearances, Society, Videos

 

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McDonald’s Set to Become the Biggest Children’s Book Distributor in the UK

child readingI don’t eat McDonald’s but this is a nice move. Restaurants in the UK will begin giving out a book (or the child can choose a voucher & get a book from certain booksellers) in their Happy Meals instead of toys, making McDonald’s the largest book distributor in the UK. According to critics: “However, the UK’s Children’s Food Campaign is criticizing the campaign, calling it an “inappropriate marketing strategy at a time when there is an epidemic of childhood obesity.”

Now I’m not sure what obesity has to do with a book & if you want to fight obesity then don’t feed your children McDonald’s in the first place. McDonald’s already offers fruit in the place of french fries & Milk or juice in the place of soda, so as far as I’m concerned they’ve done their part in the fight against obesity. Currently, there are no plans to bring this “Happy Readers” program to the U.S but given the literacy rate here & low test scores when compared to other countries, this wouldn’t be such a bad move for U.S. McDonald’s restaurants.

From Jessica Ferri of Yahoo Shine:

McDonald’s branches in the United Kingdom will include a book with each Happy Meal sold as part of a promotion called “Happy Readers,” starting Wednesday.

With one book per Happy Meal in the U.K., McDonald’s estimates that they will become the largest children’s book distributor in the country, with a total of 15 million books handed out by the end of 2014.

International test shows United States falls behind in education

The initiative was inspired by data complied by Britain’s National Literacy Trust, which recently revealed that out of a group of 21,000 children, only 50 percent of them said they enjoyed reading “very much” or “a lot.”

For the next five weeks, Happy Meals in the UK will feature non-fiction books from DK Books’ Amazing World Series, with categories of Stars and Planets, Big Cats, and Oceans. Children can also redeem a voucher from their Happy Meal if they’d prefer to choose their own book at bookseller WH Smith.

“Our research tells us that there is a very clear link between book ownership and children’s future success in life, so it is very concerning that one in three children in the UK doesn’t own a book, and half of kids don’t really enjoy reading,” Jonathan Douglas, the director of the National Literacy Trust, told Britain’s Telegraph. “Initiatives like McDonald’s Happy Readers campaign play an important role in getting more books into the hands of children, and inspiring families to read together as a fun and interactive pastime.”

Children in the United States would undoubtedly benefit from the encouragement to read as well. Out of 34 countries, the U.S. is ranked 14th in reading tests, with many children reading below their grade level and only one-third of 13 year olds are daily readers. England’s ratings are even worse. They come in at 19th in international literacy tests.

15 million free books might seem like a big number, though it’s paltry compared to mega bookseller Amazon.com, which sells more than3.1 billion books a year worldwide.

To continue reading, please click HERE.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in In The News, Pop Culture, Society

 

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“Kim K & Kanye West: A Liberal Media Celebration of Immorality”

KKSo Kim Kardashian is an unwed, (to Kanye West, the baby’s father that is, she is still married to Chris Humphries), soon to be mother, impregnated by Kanye West & the liberal media is all over it. People have emailed & messaged me asking ME what I think. Really? Does anyone even have to ask? I could care less about “Kim K” or Kanye West to be honest, but what I loathe is the way the media celebrates & glorifies this with non-stop coverage as if it’s the best situation. The only advantage they have is that they are wealthy & can financially care for the child (Note that I said financially. I doubt that either has the emotional & spiritual maturity needed to raise children). I am a Conservative Christian who believes that marriage comes first, so no, I don’t approve of anyone, including a celebrity having premarital sex & not even talking about marriage or that they should have waited. A marriage, is proven to be the best institution to raise a child & sex should be reserved for marriage IMO. Personally, I struggle but I am abstinent until the Lord gives me to another husband with whom I can righteously make love & procreate. This is just more glorification of a sinful lifestyle and a sad sign of the culture. Kim K & Kanye West are poor “role models” – pregnancy not withstanding & I will not celebrate nor glorify this pregnancy…

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Ephesians 5:31

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Entertainment, Pop Culture, Society

 

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Django Unchained…According to Steven Barnes

Well Folks,

Django UnchainedI have finally seen this controversial movie. I say controversial because Spike Lee is boycotting this film & I have heard so many mixed opinions regarding this film AND it has an slave as it’s main character, Tarantino-style. I respect Spike Lee tremendously, but I’m in no way afraid of criticizing his criticism. It is absolutely unfounded and he hasn’t even seen the film! (According to recent news reports that I have seen) . Rather than give you all my probably long-winded diatribe of a review regarding “Django Unchained” I’m going to share with you the wonderful, erudite opinion of Steven Barnes. Steven Barnes (www.dangerwordfilm.com)  is the author of Lions’ Blood & the sequel, Zulu Heart. Ironically, Stevens’ novels’  answer the question, “What if black people enslaved white people?” to put it simply. I have gotten to know Steven Barnes via social media to a large degree & I have grown to, trust his opinions – very much. Here is his review of the film, “D’Jango Unchained”, which I happen to agree with!

From Steven Barnes:

This, the ninth film directed by Quentin Tarantino, and a doozy. In order to discuss this, I have to look at it from two different positions: as a movie separate from cultural context, and then, as a cultural artifact.

In a pure sense, Tarantino is a mash-up artist of humongous scholarship and skill. He doesn’t make movies about reality, he makes movies about the movies we love, making meta-commentary on the myths we devour and the images that shape our perceptions, especially of the shadow worlds of crime and violence. In PULP FICTION he demonstrated an ability to twist time lines to create moments of tension (remember Butch and his girlfriend on the motorcycle? I thought for sure Jules would jump out and “pop” them…but no, he’d already left the business, if you look at the sequence. Wow.) as well as pull all kinds of bizarre subtexts up to the text level, and give us maps of the inner worlds of these low-lifes that we’d never seen before. A stunning movie, that somehow created a context in which things I’d never imagine could be enjoyable became hysterically funny.   (Ving Rhames and the hillbilly. I’m just sayin’…)

While DEATH PROOF was nothing other than a C-movie romp, KILL BILL 1 and 2 had an emotional line and impact that I’d never seen coming, and made me start to think about him differently. But it was still about movies, not human reality. INGLORIOUS BASTERDS was fascinatingly misunderstood by many. It wasn’t a movie about WW2, but rather a movie about movies about WW2. A hybrid of an art-house film about a Jew seeking vengeance, and a bad WW2 “men on a mission” romp with terrible acting as part of the image system. And the two worlds slowly wound together, getting closer and closer until in one memorable scene, you actually watch Christopher Waltz and Brad Pitt engage in a Bad Acting Contest across a table, and I was in geek heaven. But over under and around the fun, there was something else going on, a righteous indignation that   cinematic sins   had never been addressed in the Tarantino fashion–bloody vengeance for payback of extraordinary evil.

I think he basically asked himself “If I were a Jew, what would I want to see in a movie?” And being the kinda guy he is, that meant watching Jews wreaking havoc on the Nazi High Command. And if it didn’t happen in the real world,   by God it was going to happen in his. Whatever one thinks of I.B. as a movie, it was audacious as hell, and not quite like anything else I’d seen.

We’ll get back to that. DJANGO UNCHAINED is a mash-up of several different genres or films, chief among them the Spaghetti “revenge” western, Blaxploitation, and the “slave plantation” film. Basically, Django is a slave   trained as a bounty hunter by a German dentist (you have to see it) who seeks to rescue his wife–who has been sold onto a Mississippi plantation. Pretty straight through-line, in some ways a story we’ve seen a thousand times before. It is played out with verve, beautiful cinematography, some hysterical comedy, and wonderful performances up and down the line (especially when you realize that these people are pieces of movies, not real people.) If I were an alien from another planet, watching film without any human tribal filters, and Django was slotted into the festival I’d consider it fun, bloody, and better by far than most of the movies it copies. I might put it in the top ten Spaghetti westerns I’ve ever seen, just on that count.

But there’s a bigger issue here. And that is that if you compare films about slavery from the slaves’ POV with films about, say, the civil war, or about slavery treating slaves as humans rather than animals, you’ll see the extraordinary level of avoidance of this most deeply poisonous aspect  of American history. Human history, really, but contrasted with our national myth, it is extraordinary. For an institution that lasted 250 years, followed by another 100 years of Jim Crow and segregation (which was still alive and well in my youth) to have been documented in dramatic form so infrequently (compare the 5 years of the Civil War. Compare films made about the Holocaust. Hell, compare films about Jewish oppression in Biblical times) suggests a level of avoidance, aversion, guilt and fear that distort the national discourse to this day. You don’t depict the rape, torture, and murder necessary to keep a people in bondage. You just don’t.

And dear God, you don’t even imply that there is an unpaid debt in blood. At the end of “Roots,” you had the absurd sight of Chicken George refusing to whip the overseer who had tormented his family for decades, a “that would make us no better than him” absurdity on the level of Batman refusing to kill the Joker, even though everyone knows Joker will simply escape Arkham Asylum and kill again. Period. We all know that’s an artifact of the Comics Code, and the need to preserve a neat-o villain, but has nothing to do with the real world.

And we all understood that Chicken George’s action was pure Hollywood Don’t Scare The White Folks stuff. Black people aren’t like us, the image said. They wouldn’t want the kind of revenge we ourselves would seek out.

The problem is that we’re not different. And therein lies a real, real problem. No payback. No vengeance against the perpetrators. Oh, that’s great for the spiritually minded, but a quick glance at world cinema suggests that vengeance is understood just fine by a large enough percentage of the human race to make the omission glaring. That is what happens when one group can control the images used to depict another group. There is no humanity. You don’t get the “full spectrum” of human response. You have very low level thugs and sacrificial “buddies” (any Dirty Harry film), and extraordinarily high level (Morgan Freeman can play God), but not the simple arc of growing up, becoming an adult, finding and satisfying sexual needs with honor, falling in love, raising AND PROTECTING family, growing old. The precise arc of human life which is most common, most often presented in film all over the world…the “what will my life be, Daddy?” question, the “how do I become an adult?” question that all world literature answers for its people…

This simply doesn’t exist in mainstream cinema. I’ve often commented about the lack of simple human sexuality in successful films with black protagonists (zero percent compared to about 22% for white protagonists in films that earn over 100 million domestic–the basic standard of “success”), but there are other gaps, and among them the lack of payback, something so deeply held as a part of American mythology that in such movies as “The Gunfight At O.K. Corral” (which I was just watching last night) it was totally understood that clean-cut Burt Lancaster would throw his lifetime of legal service out the window to avenge a family slight. “He killed my brother.” And that motivation–you mess with my family, I’ll mess with yours–is understood as more than the Code of the West. It is part of every world culture you can find, anywhere.

And blacks in America…well, they kinda got messed with. And I think Tarantino, watching Westerns, realized that black cowboys weren’t represented at 1% of their actual statistical existence. They were barely represented in Civil War movies–except in a film like “Glory” where they got vengeance, but had to die at the end for the “sin” of daring to demand to be treated like men. And the cinema audiences bought it, and the Academy rewarded the performances…it was as close to a moment of pure humanity as we could get, in that sense. Other films about slavery and its after-effects tip-toed around the horror, from “Amistad” (which was about people on their WAY to slavery), “Beloved” (about people already freed from slavery), “Lincoln” (slaves off stage), “Gone With The Wind” (the most powerful image creator in the entire sub-genre, in which slaves apparently just loved being slaves), “Mandingo” (in which slaves were exotic animals) and so forth.

Oddly, one of the very best major films on the subject was the comedy “Skin Game” with James Garner and Lou Gossett (about two con artists, one white and one black)…and it is no mistake that almost half of “Django” deals with a deadly con game. But the basic question at the core of “Django” is a geek cinephiles’s question: what would have happened if John Shaft, or Superfly, or Dolomite, or John Slaughter had been born a slave? And what if he had awakened to his true nature? In other words, what if the Avenging Hero as we understand him: the Rambos, James Bonds, Dirty Harrys, Martin Riggs–the human being who, armed with righteous rage and purpose can (in Shane Black’s phrase) “Touch the myth” and become that irresistible force of nature necessary to bring balance to the universe?

And who would be crazy enough to make such a film? A mash-up of “Skin Game,” “Mandingo,” “Gone With The Wind,” “Shaft,” and the titular “Django.”  Gee, I wonder.

Tarantino has done something here that just makes me shake my head. I can barely believe it exists, and man oh man, is it in your face. Django starts as a slave, and ends as a mythic hero, the kind we’ve seen countless thousands of times on the screen. Except…we haven’t. We’ve barely seen anything like this on screen, ever. At least for a generation. Remember: when “Shaft” was remade, they neutered him. We get angelic too-perfect Denzel and Will and Morgan, but no simple testosterone-driven male “thinking animals.” You can say all you want about whether these images are important, but I can promise you the audience thinks they are. In fact, I don’t think you can point to a single week in the history of cinema where where wasn’t at least one such image playing in theaters. I submit to you that there is a hunger for them that is incalculably large, and consistent throughout all eras and most cultures–in fact ANY culture that has successfully survived contact with other, aggressive cultures. Don’t have that energy? You get wiped the @#$$ out.

“Django” intends to correct that. It is a big, messy, sprawling, indulgent, violent revenge fantasy that DARES you to disapprove of the target of its violence: slavers. Watch the reactions people have, and you’ll very clearly see who empathizes with slaves and abolitionists…and who empathizes with the owners and abusers. Oh my Gawd, the blogosphere has been buzzing with hate, fear, and hysterical joy. This movie plays with cultural images and forbidden archetypes in a way only the most successful filmmakers in the world could manage, or possibly get away with.

It is FAR from perfect. I could make a considerable list of things I wish he’d done differently, or better, and yeah, it could have been trimmed by at least ten minutes. But that it exists at all is astounding. A simple story of a man seeking to rescue his wife from monsters. We’ve seen it countless times. Except this man is black, and the monstrosity underpins the single most persistent and attractive mythology in American history, as measured by GWTW’s adjusted box office.

Viewed through this lens, it is hard to feel anything other than a kind of awe that this thing exists. There are maybe five filmmakers in the world who could have done it, and the other four didn’t want to. A black director would probably have been too close to the subject–he actually would have to have been BETTER than Tarantino to pull this off–all the technical skills, and the writing skills, but sufficiently disconnected to maintain emotional distance…but simultaneously channel a volcano of emotions.

Hard to find.

I don’t know how “good” DJANGO is. I think it is totally of a piece with the rest of Tarantino’s oeuvre, but in an odd way more personal than most of his output. The man obviously grew up around black people, and simultaneously has a slight…remove…from the typical flow of human emotions. Is a bit of an “outsider” enough that he sees the human experience through a lens, and therefore doesn’t fully associate with either side of this madness. That’s apparently what it took to wrap his head around four hundred years of bullshit and come up with something like this.

Flawed? You bet. Unique? You bet. Was I hypnotized? You bet. Will I see it again? Ya think?

One of the best films of 2012, easily. But boy oh boy, is it not for every taste. Violent as hell, but not a fraction as violent as the institution it deconstructs. As a simple revenge fable, a romance, western, a Tarantino mash-up or a revisionist history that will…ummm…appeal to certain quadrants of the population and utterly appall others, DJANGO UNCHAINED is simply smashing entertainment. Excessive, overlong, self-indulgent…and masterful. A B+ at dead minimum. And in the right mood, virtually singular.

Steven Barnes

www.diamondhour.com

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Featured Guest blogs, In The News, Pop Culture, Society

 

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From Thyblackman.com: Rapper Jay-Z Grow Up Please!!

This article is written so well & makes such a valid, cogent arguments that I had to share it with the readers of Conservative Calmversation. This is from thyblackman.com & written by erudite staff writer Morris O’Kelly:

(ThyBlackMan.com) Some would say the recent altercation at the BET Hip-Hop Awards was just the latest embarrassment to befall hip-hop, an oft criticized slice of pop culture…and they would be correct.  It’s the “latest” incident, not an aberration.  It’s more behavior deserving of more criticism, only to fall on deaf ears.  It is criticism earned and deserved every step of the way.  Hip-hop has no intention of changing or improving, and its most respected members have no designs on raising the bar above ignorance.  I’m clear on this reality and you should be too.  Nothing is going to change, not at least until someone of real relevance within the genre begins to care, and not a moment before.

This isn’t the first brawl or violent foolishness connected to a hip-hop awards show, and it’s sad having to acknowledge such truths with each subsequent incident.  There was the gunshot into the ceiling during the 1994 Source Awards and the murder of Notorious B.I.G. in 1997 shortly after the Soul Train Music Awards.  We can’t forget the all-out melee at the 2000 Source Awards and Eminem’s tussle at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards.  Surely you remember when rapper Young Buck allegedly stabbed a “fan” at the 2004 Vibe Music Awards.

(Cue Barbra Streisand) “Memories…like the corners of my mind.”

Those are only the award show-related incidents.  There is not enough space in this column (or my next 5 for that matter) to highlight the inordinate number of arrests for guns, drugs and random acts of misogyny commonly associated with hip-hop in the past five years alone.  For example, I’m not going to spend my time today discussing how rapper Webbie was arrested last month for “allegedly” robbing and kicking a woman down a flight of stairs.  I could…but not this time.  Today, we’ll just stick with the general themes of lawlessness, misogyny and ignorance; not necessarily in that order.

Recently, civil rights leader and entertainer Harry Belafonte accused some artists, including Jay-Z and Beyonce of “turning their backs on social responsibility.“  It’s in moments like these where Belafonte’s

words ring loudly  and undeniably true.

For the all the financial success attained by Rapper Jay-Z, there has been no effort on his part to elevate his music personally or hip-hop more broadly.  Although “Jigga” is firmly ensconced in middle age, he still gleefully and carelessly advances his music career calling women Bs and Hs; and men Ns like his 20-something counterparts.  Not only is Rapper Jay-Z completely indifferent to the idea of acting his age and showing young Black men a better way; he is perfectly content and comfortable promulgating the worst imagery imaginable for the sake of a dollar and continued hip-hop relevancy.

It’s a mid-life crisis with a hip-hop twist.

Instead of being a voice of guidance, a  hip-hop elder statesman to the younger generation; Rapper Jay-Z still opts to spin yarns about N**** in Paris and sell them on iTunes.  You’re 40-WHAT Jay-Z?  No amount of wealth will ever validate or justify such a career trajectory.  No number of “hits” justifies the Peter Pan mentality or the ignorance and indifference which subsequently thrive on it.

But if Gwyneth Paltrow dares tweet the name of the song or makes direct reference to it, all hell breaks loose.  I guess only “we” are allowed to wallow in ignorance and we’re very territorial when it comes to it.  Bully for us.  Rapper Jay-Z can rap it and make money doing it, but the White actress shouldn’t even tweet a reference to the title of the song.  Got it.  That’s ignorance on top of ignorance.  It’s not popular to say, but it’s not untrue either.

But I digress…

To continue reading this fantastic article please click HERE.

 

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J.K. Rowling Enters Adult Fiction: The “Type-Casting” Has Begun

J.K. Rowling Enters Adult Fiction: The “Type-Casting” Has Begun

It’s no secret to those who know me that I am not a huge fan of the Harry Potter novels. I have all of them except the last two on my shelf but couldn’t/didn’t read past Book II. Since so many hailed the novels as children’s books that adults can enjoy too, I decided to give them a read years ago,because I love the fantasy genre so much. Then later after the first couple of movies I decided to watch the first, I fell asleep. That was the end of my effort to try and like Harry Potter. Needless to say, if the novels encourage reading in children, that alone is reason enough to throw some admiration JK Rowling’s way. So yesterday, JK Rowling enters the adult fiction genre with her latest book, The Casual Vacancy. I am going to read it so I can write a review and since I was never a fan of the Harry Potter books, I might actually like this one, we’ll see. After reading all of the “professional critics” reviews I must agree with a person who criticized the critics in the comments section of a blog saying:

“These reviewers have just made themselves look stupid. I imagine a 10-year-old HP fan would would have a similar reaction. “Where is Harry? What about Dumbledore?” They are professional critics who should be reviewing the book for what it is, not what it isn’t.”
Some of the reviews include:
“And forget trying to find a ­character resembling Harry or Hermione.” —Henry Sutton, the Mirror

“It’s that the characters in The Casual Vacancy feel so much less fully imagined than the ones in the Harry Potter epic.” —Michiko Kakutani, the New YorkTimes
 
“Harry Potter fans may long for a few more unicorns, though.” —David Sexton, the Evening Standard
I may not have liked the Harry Potter books that I read (or movies I attempted to watch) but at least I have the sense enough to start reading it knowing full well that it’s not a children’s book & that it is in no any way related to Harry Potter. Surely, the famed, erudite book critics of the New York TimesLA Times or  New York Daily News received the memo that The Casual Vacancy  was not Harry Potter Book VIII, right? What were these reviewers thinking?  Many of the reviews are simply unfair. This book has to be read with a fresh set of unbiased, non- Harry Potter spectacles and evaluated on it’s own merits. If the writing is dull or characters under or over developed fine but references to the Harry Potter world are ludicrous. I can completely understand those who simply don’t like this book, for reasons unrelated to the Harry Potter series, but when I see reviews replete with statements about hogwarts, magic & wizards it’s more than disappointing from a professional reviewer. You just can’t compare The Casual Vacancy to Harry Potter because there is no comparison. Last I checked…that’s called comparing apples & oranges. Now obviously, this is not the case for every review, but many of them have this bias. I’m going to read this new adult novel from J.K. Rowling, but you better believe, that if I don’t like it, it will be simply because it’s not a good book, not because a lingering  nostalgia & appetite left over from Harry Potter needs to be fed. Ijs…
 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Fictional Writing, In The News, Pop Culture

 

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