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an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"His wife was [having sex with] her son’s friend. I normally would not talk about this. … But for some reason, [they] put that … on the internet.... She hurt him way more than he hurt me..."

"Everybody called him a b----.... And who’s he hit? Me. [Someone] he knows he can beat.... She starts it … I finish it.... I got parents. And you know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of White people."

The article also quotes this, about January 6th: "When did White men become victims? White men think they’re actually losing the country. Did you see the Capitol riots? What kind of White ‘Planet of the Apes’ s--- was that?"

The commenters at WaPo are mostly picking up on that — restating the point with the humor stripped out. The most-liked comment is: "Yes, this whole 'white men as victims' is the craziest crap I've ever seen, and I'm a 65-year-old white woman. White men were born on third base by the virtue of being white and male, and as soon as society starts gaining a little equality, white men lose their minds. It's disgusting and insane." 

"What is real to me is a painting to you. The artist was depicting history, but it’s not his history to depict."

Said Maia Young, a second-year student, quoted in "In Vermont, a School and Artist Fight Over Murals of Slavery/Created to depict the brutality of enslavement, the works are seen by some as offensive. The school wants them permanently covered. The artist says they are historically important" (NYT).

As for the lawsuit: "The case turns on language in the federal law that says artists can seek to prevent modification of their work if the change would harm their 'honor or reputation.' The law school says that covering the murals, even permanently, is not a modification if it leaves no mark."

The murals are, of course, anti-slavery, but they are intended to make viewers feel bad. Should the students have more control over when they need to think about disturbing things? It's one thing to teach about slavery, another to have a big slavery mural always on view. But it seemed like a good idea to the people in power at the law school in 1993.

A second-year student, Yanni DeCastro said, "If someone is saying to you, 'How you’re depicting me is racist,' for you to live in your own ignorance, and further aggravate the situation — now you’re showing us who you are."

"Live in your own ignorance" — it's what we all do, one way or another. 

"At its worst her Leslie is a one-note cliché and a clunky Frankenstein’s monster of Jane Fonda in The Morning After, Faye Dunaway in Barfly, and Tilda Swinton in Julia, with just a dash of Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas."

"Only in a Hollywood community of short attention spans and even shorter memories could anyone look at that performance and not find it awkwardly derivative. It doesn’t help that the film that’s been built around Riseborough is sentimental and phoney when it should be gritty and unapologetic. It’s... a dopey soft-soaped world where Leslie’s alcoholism is a helpful tool for personal growth and provides her with life lessons, a new job and a tearjerking chance to reconcile with her son. Her alcoholism appears so unlikely, in fact, that it seems to exist only to provide Riseborough with a chance, scene after scene, to 'do acting'..."

Riseborough, a white actress, was touted by white actresses, and got a surprise nomination, and Deadwyler, a black actress, was, surprisingly, not nominated. Even though Oscar nominations are campaigned for, this particular campaign is deemed suspect because it worked so well and because it happened to undercut Hollywood's efforts to seem racially inclusive. 

I haven't been blogging about this controversy. There are many other columns that I've seen and chosen not to blog, but Maher's column crossed my bloggability line because it brings up an old hobbyhorse of mine: the overvaluation of acting performances playing the role of a drunkard. It said the 3 words that trigger me on this subject: "Leaving Las Vegas."

Here I am back in 2008:

Cut me a big slice of that ham acting.

Bigger can be better. (Via Throwing Things.) Think Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" and Klaus Kinski in "Aguirre the Wrath of God" and George C. Scott in "Dr. Strangelove." Those are all named in the linked article, and I love them all. What can I add? Jeff Goldblum in "The Fly"! But I hate a lot of ham acting too. I'm still mad at myself for sitting through Nicolas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas." Just remembering that performance makes me feel a little ill.

"Some fans tried to mount a 'Save Splash Mountain' campaign, even urging opponents of the switch to enlist the help of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)."

"Others acknowledged they would miss a classic but were looking forward to a new chapter for the ride. Still others argued that it was past time for the original to go, given its source material."

Splash Mountain was based on "Song of the South," the "1946 film set in post-Civil War Georgia that has been under fire since its release" and that Disney CEO Bob Iger has said is "just not appropriate in today’s world." Is he right? Who can say? Who has seen this movie? 

I've only ever seen the "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" sequence. 

The singer is James Baskett (Wikipedia), who "appeared with Louis Armstrong on Broadway in the 1929 black musical revue Hot Chocolates and in several all-black New York films, including Harlem is Heaven (1932)."
["Song of the South"] was one of the first Hollywood portrayals of a black actor as a non-comic character in a leading role in a film meant for general audiences.
Baskett was prohibited from attending the film's premiere in Atlanta, Georgia, because Atlanta was racially segregated by law.

Although Baskett was occasionally criticized for accepting such a "demeaning" role (most of his acting credits were that of African-American stereotypes), his acting was almost universally praised, and columnist Hedda Hopper, along with Walt Disney, was one of the many journalists and personalities who declared that he should receive an Academy Award for his work. 
On March 20, 1948, Baskett received an Academy Honorary Award for his performance as Uncle Remus. He was the first African-American male actor to win an Academy Award.

I don't think hiding the film is the best solution. Straightforward confrontation with the bad should go along with honoring the good and understanding the past. Disney protects its own interests and deserves little credit for acting in accordance with the prevailing elite opinion.

What is the good? I don't know! I haven't seen the film. But obviously Baskett himself was good, the song was good, and the animation was good. 

And, my God, Baskett was only 42 years old in that clip. He died 2 years later, less than 4 months after they gave him that Oscar. Why should his work be buried? Maybe there's a great answer, but it's hard to discuss when we can't see the movie. Disney lets us see "Dumbo," despite the crow characters, one of whom, Fats Crow, was voiced by Baskett.

Anyway, Splash Mountain finally embarrassed Disney enough that it's turning the flume ride into "Tiana’s Bayou Adventure," based on "The Princess and the Frog," which had a black princess character.  

Quentin Tarantino's alternative reading of the Body Snatchers movies.

From his new book, "Cinema Speculation" (boldface added):

[T]he Pod People transformation is closer to a rebirth than a murder. You’re reborn as straight intellect, with a complete possession of your past and your abilities, but unburdened by messy human emotions. You also possess a complete fidelity to your fellow beings and a total commitment to the survival of your species. Are they inhuman? Of course, they’re vegetables. But the movies try to present their lack of humanity (they don’t have a sense of humor, they’re unmoved when a dog is hit by a car) as evidence of some deep-seated sinisterness. That’s a rather species-centric point of view. As human beings it may be our emotions that make us human, but it’s a stretch to say it’s what makes us great. Along with those positive emotions—love, joy, happiness, amusement—come negative emotions—hate, selfishness, racism, depression, violence, and rage....

Imagine in the fifties, when the [first "Body Snatchers"] film was made, that instead of some little town in Northern California (Santa Mira) that the aliens took root in, it was a horribly racist, segregated Ku Klux Klan stronghold in the heart of Mississippi.

Within weeks the color lines would disappear. Blacks and whites would be working together (in genuine brotherhood) towards a common goal. And humanity would be represented by one of the racist Kluxers whose investigative gaze notices formerly like-minded white folks seemingly enter into a conspiracy with some members of the county’s black community. Now picture his hysterical reaction to it (“Those people are coming after me! They’re not human! You’re next! You’re next!”).

When Quentin Tarantino was 8 and his mother's black boyfriend took him to see 2 movies about black people in a theater with an all-black audience.

Great storytelling from Tarantino here: 


"The first movie is sort of a message-y movie... and the crowd hated it" — Bill Maher prompts.

Listen to the whole story, and you may be curious about this movie the audience jeered at, "The Bus Is Coming" (1971).

I went looking for something about it and easily stumbled into the entire movie:

I've only watched the first 3 minutes, and I won't presume to know what the crowd back then found worth shouting down for the entire length of the movie. Maybe it's just that it's slow-moving and un-slick, or maybe it's that it was just much more fun to talk back to the movie. Tarantino makes it sound very fun.

I take it the mother's boyfriend — who, we're told, was an L.A. Rams football player — thought the "message-y" movie would be good for the boy, but Tarantino, like the rest of the audience, greatly preferred the second movie, a slickly entertaining film starring Jim Brown. Or maybe the football-player boyfriend wanted the Hollywood movie featuring a man like him to win young Tarantino's admiration. 

The anecdote comes from Tarantino's new book "Cinema Speculation." The link goes to Amazon, and I think I'll buy it. I'd like to hear the rest of the story. I'm guessing the "speculation" is about why the commercial Jim Brown movie is superior to the the earnestly arty "The Bus Is Coming."

"I don’t know what planet we’re on, where you think people don’t need laughter, and that people need to be censored and canceled. If a joke is gonna get me canceled, thank you..."

"... for doing me that favor. It’s sad that society is in this place where we can’t laugh anymore. I ain’t listening to this damn generation. I ain’t listening to these folks. These scared-ass people, these scared executives.... I know my audience. My audience comes to my shows every weekend and they leave feeling great and laughing. One thing about the Wayans, we’ve always told the worst joke the best way.... I think ‘White Chicks 2’ is necessary.... I think we’ve tightened up so much that we need to loosen our ties a bit and laugh a little bit."

Said Marlon Wayans, quoted in "Marlon Wayans slams cancel culture: ‘I don’t know what planet we’re on’" (NY Post).

"Laboe is credited with helping end segregation in Southern California by organizing live DJ shows at drive-in eateries that attracted whites, Blacks and Latinos who danced to rock-n-roll..."

"... and shocked an older generation still listening to Frank Sinatra and Big Band music. Laboe is also credited with coining the 'oldies, but goodies' phrase.... His radio shows gave the families of incarcerated loved ones, in particular, a platform to speak to their relatives by dedicating songs and sending heartfelt messages and updates.... He often told a story about a woman who came by the studio so her toddler could tell her father, who was serving time for a violent crime, 'Daddy, I love you.' 'It was the first time he had heard his baby's voice,' Laboe said. 'And this tough, hard-nosed guy burst into tears.' Anthony Macias, a University of California, Riverside ethnic studies professor, said the music Laboe played went with the dedications enhancing the messages. For example, songs like Little Anthony & the Imperials' 'I'm on the Outside (Looking In)'... spoke of perseverance and desire to be accepted...."

From "Pioneering DJ Art Laboe, who coined 'oldies but goodies,' dies at 97" (NPR).

When Quentin Tarantino was 8 and his mother's black boyfriend took him to see 2 movies about black people in a theater with an all-black audience.

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