This is an idea that the filmspotting podcast covered in their latest episode, and while they had intriguing choices it spurred me to a slightly different list and slightly different choices.
If you can only, for whatever reason, have the films of five directors to watch, on a desert island, for an uncertain amount of time, or for all time… what five directors do you choose? Fritz Lang? F.W. Murnau? Louis Feuillade? Alfred Hitchcock? David Lean? Orson Welles? Ousmane Sembene? Mary Harron?
They list very interesting choices, not as good as the names I list above (I’m joking), many of which I myself am a cheerleader for (Kurosawa, Howard Hawks), but it occurred to me that diversity, particularly when it came to Hollywood films, was a rare exception rather than a rule. And that concerned me because, if I am trapped on a deserted island with the filmography of only 5 directors, that I wanted the filmography of at least a couple of those directors to represent the ethnic width and breadth of the human condition. The beauty of a range of colors and women and cultures.
I being someone who even today gets bored with the lack of diversity of films, the idea of being stuck with films not representative of the larger world, and the rich tapestry of people in it, gave me pause. For all our berating of terms like political correctness (which when really defined is respect, so when people rail against political correctness what they are really arguing against is giving people respect) we have become a more intolerant and stratified society. And part of that I think has to do with our mass media. Our obsession with vilifying the other.
The (seemingly increasing) lack of diversity in recent films and television, being I think a dangerous sign of a tail wagging the dog society. Of a vocal minority calling for a return to ‘the good old days’ which, when finally viewed, never really were that good.
Hollywood has from its inception been a propaganda machine, where a few people’s fiction altered often negatively many people’s facts. And before discussing Desert Island directors, another discussion has to be had first… about the values of film. Not the value of film, but the values portrayed or reiterated or held dear, in perhaps too many films. We have to talk about exclusion and stereotyping in films beginnings, and in film’s present.
While willing to give a slight pass to pre-1960 films given their historic placement, I have less interest or sympathy for segregated and nearly Apartheid rich, post-1960 into 21st century, Hollywood films. Or worse the 21st century version of Step and Fetchit, black actors used to deliver White Messages. Be it MONSTERS BALL or TRAINING DAY it’s the eye-bulging, debasing, cartoonish extremes, that Black actors are saddled to wear, that hearkens to what is worst in cinema.
If the choice is between only debased caricatures… of people of color, ala Frank Darabont or David Ayer or practically no characters of color ala Woody Allen, I’ll take the latter evil. But ideally the filmmakers I want to support and revisit, are those who can represent characters of color with the same broad diversity we grant to the human race, the Michael Manns, the Carl Franklins, the Tony Scotts, the Gordon Parks.
This idea of us as hero and villain, Sexual and chaste, brilliant and imbecilic, honorable and flawed, important and funny, savior and victim. In the 21st century that diversity of roles is generally relegated to White actors. In the 21st century the number of Hollywood movies that portray characters of color with any of those positive aspects listed… are few and far between.
Even supposed mass market films like XMEN FIRST CLASS and SIN CITY reek of this ingrained stereotyping and caricature as truth, when it comes to the non-pale characters. And I could deal if this mentality and programming and white wish fulfillment was the occasional film, however in the last two decades it has become practically every film and tv show. The White hero has a woman of color pining for him, his backup girl typically. And the male actor of color, seldom a protagonist, and even less seldom does he get the girl, he is now relegated to comedy relief or side-kick; Rochester for the 21st century. Far have we drifted from the sexually virile Black stars of the 70s.
This creates a cinema of exclusion and to some extent, social engineering. Our facts are shaped by our fictions, arguably more than anything else, and a cinema of marginalization, legitimization and feminism of the male of color, bodes not well.
We are not DW Griffith we are not Cecil B. DeMills making entertainment for a virulently segregated, Jim Crow America. We have made some progress since then, and for filmmakers not to acknowledge that progress or that shifting audience, is to take a stance against that progress, and against that diverse viewing base.
We are not in the early days of the 20th century, we are in the early days of the 21st and while it is a filmmakers choice whether to be exclusionary or boring or homogeneous to a fault, you do so at the risk of failing to become a better filmmaker. You do so at the risk of making scared, redundant, and repetitive early 20th century films, here in the 21st century.
Well I’ve gone on about the pitfalls of cinema, here 15 years into the 21st century, now let’s discuss the strengths of film. The people I think are portraying an America and a world far more intune to the one I walk through, where heroes can be both Black and White.
In the Hollywood system the names are few, but welcome, and waiting… waiting for viewers, reviewers, actors, writer, producers, studios, and directors to recognize there is an inequity, a growing one, at the heart of our fictions, that much be addressed to make our cinema and ourselves… better.
Those filmmakers are (among others):
The late great Gordon Parks
The late great Tony Scott
The very much with us and Great Michael Mann
The very much with us and Great and underutilized Carl Franklin
Very, very different directors, but what they were all able to do, sometimes for a single movie, sometimes for multiple movies, is something so rarely done in Hollywood today that it’s like there is an unofficial Hayes code prohibiting it…
…prohibiting having a movie with a character of color or Black character as both heroic protagonist and a male with a functioning libido, who doesn’t have to die or be sacrificed for the majority. :)
Outside of the great explosion of films in the 70s extending a bit into the 80s, and the subsequent eradication of locally controlled/independent theaters, The Heroic, virile Black hero has become a scare commodity on Theatrical screens.
Which is why when it gets done well… these days, such as in Peter Berg’s poorly named and badly marketed HANCOCK… the film becomes a wild success. Because there is a large population starved for empowering images of themselves. 2013 with its BUTLER and FRUITYVALE STATION and 12 YEARS A SLAVE, showcases Hollywood’s debasement attitude when it comes to theatrical releases. “Multiple characters of color? You better be a comedy, or telling us about getting your ass whupped.” :) .
Hence 2013s abundance of films of victimization, while they should be valid stories that have their place, if you counter them with just as many films of triumph, or winning, or adventure, or thrilling action and heroism. However the Heroic Tale is a rare one, and that is the failing of the system we have to change. Without the heroic myth to contrast it, tales of victimization are just an assault, a tool, a club… to beat a population into shape.
— to be continued —
I think the above link does a good summary of the case and its outcome.
Florida is a state known for its howling miscarriages of justice when it comes to cases involving color.
I’m reminded of the case of Lionel Tate, the 12 year old, mentally disabled child, who killed another child, Tiffany Eunick. The mentally disabled child, a black child was charged as an adult and sent to prison. A savage rending of any concept of justice.
We have another such rending of justice here in the Martin Zimmerman case. In this case you have a self appointed vigilante, using the cover of neighborhood watch (I’m typically in favor of neighborhood watch, but not the gun packing variety) to instigate an incident that ended with the death of an unarmed 17 year old.
When we put it upon ourselves to police others we must first be able to police ourselves, and in the case of Martin and Zimmerman, you have a population and a state engulfed by 50s ideas of segregation, and fear, and a lynch-mob mentality that today sanctioned the murder of a black child for what amounts to nothing more than walking in a ‘white’ neighborhood. Similar to those cases of 12 year old boys lynched for looking at white women.
So what is to be done?
Well I’m in favor of boycotting not just the municipality of Sanford but Florida itself. Economic reprisals baby! Don’t spend a single dime or dollar [particularly if you are a person of color] with Sanford based businesses. Or for that matter Florida businesses.
Let’s see how well they like it if this Colored population, that does the bulk of the buying and living and dying in any municipality, stopped condoning the evils of that municipality with their money.
It is a resolution… to be tried. Boycott Sanford. Boycott Florida. Boycott Disney World.
Okay that could be a bit harsh to toss a whole state under the bus, but if that’s what it takes to get examined Florida’s judicial landscape of ‘not quite seperate but still unequal’, then that is what must be done.
David W of BadAzz Mofo, the publisher of the FANTASTIC BadAzz Mofo Magazine of the same name, also runs a way cool blog, that I need to visit more often.
The Invisible War
From Oscar(R)- and Emmy(R)-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick (This Film Is Not Yet Rated; Twist of Faith) comes The Invisible War, a groundbreaking investigative documentary about one of America’s most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. The film paints a startling picture of the extent of the problem–today, a female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The Department of Defense estimates there were a staggering 19,000 violent sex crimes in the military in 2010. Twenty percent of all active-duty female soldiers are sexually assaulted. The Invisible War exposes the epidemic, breaking open one of the most under-reported stories of our generation, to the nation and the world.–from the filmmakers
Well that… troubles me, to put it lightly.
It does not however surprise me.
Unfortunately given the rash of atrocities associated with our military, particularly in the last dozen years, the tale THE INVISIBLE WAR has to tell while infuriating, is not surprising.
I have to think it has a lot to do with that rash of news stories about the military being in dire need of soldiers, and filling their ranks by any and all methods; some extremely suspect.
Here’s the thing, for every person who is in the military for the right reason and to do the right thing, you have three people who… in no manner, no way, and for no reason, should have passed the screening process and been given a gun, and put in a position to control others, much less in a position to end lives.
At the best of times, and to the best of people, such responsibility… is to be watched.
But seemingly, no one is watching anymore. So we end up with a rash of incidents about people who cannot even control themselves, being given a gun and sent all over the globe to control people and cultures that were old when America was but a dream. And doing it badly.
Again not all our soldiers, hopefully not the majority, but enough. Enough bad apples to spoil the pie.
And this isn’t just about our military over there. This is about our police force, and our prison guards here. This is about a culture of oppression and the cost we all pay for turning a blind eye to a police/slave state… it is about rule by terror. And the thing about terror, it doesn’t respect boundaries real well.
There’s no way to sow terror and horror, without reaping it. Without breathing it in. And when the mandate from the top, to this immature and often volatile young world police force is to, still, spread shock and awe… the results as we have seen, are not pretty.
When in our name, soldiers are given authority to terrorize and devalue the other with impunity, you get American torture prisons, you get American concentration camps, and eventually you get that behavior coming home to roost. You get the abhorrent methods used to pacify the resistance of those we disagree with abroad, brought home… to be used against those we disagree with here.
It becomes our method for relating to everything, and everyone. Even our own. Barbarism as national policy.
And maybe it’s even simpler than that. Maybe it’s an American male population that instead of being raised on movies about saving damsels in distress and opening doors for ladies, finds entertainment in movies and video games about women getting raped and tortured and killed. The truth is… we do not rise above our fictions, we become them. The fifties dreamt of space and the sixties saw us achieve it. In the last two decades the mass media of America has been about fear and terror and torture and mistrust, and we are living up… to those dreams.
Maybe in the mad rush to devalue the other, all we have done is learned to laughingly… devalue ourselves.
I don’t have the answers. But we better damn sure start looking for them. And it begins with asking the hard questions. Is our military doing right? If so, how? And if not, how? And what can we do, to make our soldiers not victims nor puppets nor fall-guys for an administration of madmen?
These are questions, especially as yet another election devoid of any real choice (you can pick corporate meat puppet 1 or corporate meat puppet 2) approaches, that we have to ask and answer.
Because the security and rights of anyone in this country, any soldier, any woman, any person, is tied directly to the amount of security we give even the least of us.
Our liberties as citizens are only as secure as the liberties of those we disagree with. is tied to how we treat enemy combatants, prisoners, foes (which as history teaches us, will be our governments friends tomorrow. Never hate for your government, because to your government it is all just a game of dollars and cents). Because the lines we cross cannot be easily uncrossed, and the human rights we ultimately eradicate when we violate the other… are our own.
Go see the trailer here, and see what questions and what answers you come up with.
Provocative title huh?
Well, it’s not quite as provocative as it seems. The premise of this article isn’t that shows such as MADMEN, PAN-AM, and REVENGE are in and of themselves bad or bigoted shows.
They may in and of themselves be good shows. But shows, dramas or scifi or action, that are predominantly White, when not off-set by any shows that are predominantly Black or colored, true to the definition of predominant… create an environment, a medium, that is about the ascendancy, importance, influence, authority of force of one group.
In such an environment it is impossible for me to buy into, relate, follow, view, or otherwise enjoy such shows. Now in an environment where a show such as PAN-AM is counter-pointed with a show on The forming of AIR JAMAICA or the Black Stuntmen’s Union or the Black Coyboys’ Union or any adventure or thrilling show with a predominant cast of color; then PAN-AM rather than being indicative of a color and ethnic bias in every show in tv, can be seen as one voice in a chorus, rather than the same voice, everywhere.
So that’s the problem I have with shows such as MADMEN and REVENGE they paint everything with the same trite and pale brush (take the series REVENGE, based on a book by the son of one of the most famous Black men, and the cast is all white. Explain that to me? Along with that it always rings false that we have yet to see a THREE MUSKETEERS that represents the ethnicity of the author Alexandre Dumas, or the ethnicity of the inspiration for all Dumas’ heroes, namely his father, France’s most famous and most feared soldier, the elder Alexandre Dumas, (inexplicably called Thomas-Alexandre in recent writings), the Black giant, the warrior Moor, Napolean’s most feared and brilliant General. The COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO is directly inspired by how his father was betrayed by Napolean, imprisoned, and killed. And rather than anyone ever tell that story, it becomes in REVENGE about a blond woman, mad about something. Forgive me if I have no interest in that retelling.)
So, What’s the solution?
We’ll get to it. First indulge me, with a brief trip to yesteryear.
In the late 50s, into the 60s and 70s television and cinema in the US, and indeed throughout the Western World, made great strides in becoming more representative of the class struggle going on throughout the world.
That’s a fact, it just is. So let’s begin there.
As countries from Congo to Cuba to Korea to the West Indies to Brazil all were dealing, at various stages, with the shattering of traditional Colonial ties. With populations of repressed people, embracing the concept, both with artistry and arms, of “not eating at another man’s table” but creating their own table.
It was a staggering period not just of revolution, but potentially evolution… for the world and the west.
Rather than mass media that explored and showcased only the fantasies and the fears of the white and the male you began getting shows that took place in a world reflective of the movements changing the landscape of our cultures and our time. Civil disobedience, and sit-ins, and Black power, and Native American rights, transcendentalism and free love, sexual and religious experimentation, and of course war and the search for peace and self identification.
And all these growing pains, all of this stew of change, could be seen in the entertainment of the age.
DANGER MAN, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, PROFESSIONALS, GOOD TIMES, SANFORD AND SON, the rise of Soul Cinema, and the rise of Hong Kong Cinema, and Neo-Realism in Italy, and the New Wave in France, and the didactic films out of Russia, and Brazil, and Cuba, and Senegal, all of this making its way to newly born film studies programs in the states that gave birth to a whole generation of entertainment makers excited and influenced and inspired by this time of change and challenge.
So suddenly you had Patrick McGoohan in the DANGER MAN TV show 50 years ago globe-trotting and going to different countries and different people, and exploring issues of colonialism, and civil war, and terrorism, and governmental oppression, and doing this with a changing ethnically diverse cast. Dealing with issues of Middle East tensions and modern slavery. And this kind of informed and humanistic film-making came from the creators down. And all the shows of that period, while not DANGER MAN ground breaking, to greater or lesser degrees were that informed and representative of a culturally diverse and changing world.
Move the clock forward 50 years, and suddenly you have no community owned or locally owned cinema, much less production companies. That’s not an accident, that’s a very pointed, and very considered monopolization and marginalization.
You have the end of virtually any locally or regionally owned newspaper, radio, or television station. So you get the end of people and community created movements, and art and music, and you get instead corporate construction of reality and ‘art’ in things like AMERICAN IDOL and its ilk.
You have cinema and television that is in retreat from ideas… like diversity and the rights of man, and instead seeks a return to the exclusionary, blinders on, cinema of the 50s. Not just in terms of content and cast in front of the camera, but talent and crew behind the camera.
As, in reality, the mad military war machine of billionaires undoes the local determinism of countries like Haiti and Liberia and Libya, so too is our entertainment,no less the tool of billionaires, undoing the strides made toward multiculturalism. A return to “Whites only” television from MADMEN to PAN-AM to REVENGE.
And those shows while they hold no interest for me, would be fine if they were counterpointed by an equal number of US made shows with a majority of Black or Brown or Asian or a combination thereof, of actors in front the camera, and talent behind the camera.
And the talent is there, as screenwriters such as John Ridley discuss in numerous interviews. Even more talent than was available in the 60s and 70s is available now, the difference is, the cinemas are bought up, the advertising is cost prohibitive, and quite frankly the doors are closed.
In the 60s and 70s, Hollywood saw the need for an influx of diversity to save them from the rise of Independent Cinema (an outgrowth of viable and healthy local cinemas, local determinism), and there were a good number of people in the studios who were happy and excited for that diversity. They were part of the changing times, and part of changing it.
Today Independent Cinema has no way into the theaters, because the locally owned theater circuit, and indeed the community controlled mass-media circuit that served America, particularly Black America from the 20s to the 70s, has been bought out, legalized away, and generally dismantled.
For what was gained, more was lost in the compromise of integration.
The problem with the doctrine of separate and equal, was the fact that is was NEVER separate and equal, it was always separate and UNEQUAL. The Black Power movement and Black Panther movement was about making it SEPARATE AND EQUAL. Was to make the lie into the truth. And that is the reason we have integration today. Because the idea of separate and equal, scared the powers to be to their very soul.
They saw in the more moderate integration model of Martin Luther and his ilk, a compromise that could become a massive victory. They retreated from Separate and (Un)equal and embraced Integration of a sort, “you can now use our Bathrooms, you can now to an extent come into our house, but… you have to lose your house. You have to lose your radio stations, your movie theaters, your stores, your farms, your wallstreets, your sports teams, your attempt at self determination”.
Of course it wasn’t presented like that, but a few decades later that’s absolutely what has happened. The thriving economic base of Black America that thrived even under the odiousness of Separate but unequal, wherein they could still provide for themselves and be self sufficient, has been completely gutted under the together but even more UNEQUAL system of integration. And that robbing of local determinism has extended to all America. Has shown itself to be the most significant volley in a class-war that has America trillions of dollars in debt, and slaved, to corporations gross and immoral.
And television and cinema is the clearest example of this wholesale pillaging of a peoples economic potential.
So that’s what I see when I see shows like MADMAN or PANAM or REVENGE or SMALLVILLE (past season 4) I see prejudice and bigotry and class warfare… codified.
So you have a television and a cinema environment that has turned back the clock, and is again solely about showcasing the fantasies and the fears of the white and the rich, to the exclusion of all else.
It bores me to go backwards. To learn from the past is a great thing, to repeat the past is not. And we have a whole generation of studio execs and heads, who think they are doing something new by embracing the old, and all they are doing… is wasting time.
In a multi-cultural society, an increasingly multi-cultural society, these dreams of exclusion cannot stand, they will become unsatisfying, they always do. And in the end we will have to waste years just getting back to the same point of diversity as the 1970s. Getting back to the starting point from which we should be… evolving.
So let’s cut out some of the time wasting. Contact these studios signing off on this exclusionary television, the creators and producers, twitter them, facebook em, call’em, even write em, let them know the show doesn’t represent you, and to create a show that does. And let the advertisers know, say “this show boycotts me and mine. Since you are asking me to support your product, I want you to produce a show that supports me.”
It’s economics people. For all their crushing of competition, ultimately the decision makers and gate-keepers still need to create a product you want to buy. Let them know they are failing at that mandate.
Let them know you want to see more shows, that are both smart and diverse.
Let them know you want to see more DAY BREAK with Taye Diggs and Moon Bloodgood, more 55 DEGREES NORTH with Don Gilet, more KINGS with Eamonn Walker more BLOOD AND BONE with Michael Jai White, more James Purefoy and Jesse L. Martin in THE PHILANTHROPIST (the spiritual descendant of McGoohan’s DANGER MAN); more shows that look forward to solutions, rather than backward to evasions.
Challenge the creators, challenge the studios, challenge the advertisers, challenge the performers, and challenge yourself to go not marching backward, but to go forward… into the mystery. And ultimately we will as cities and a nation, have to eschew outside control, and embrace again local production of items and local determinism.
And it starts as simply as recognizing and calling out the prejudiced the exclusionary and the destructive when we see it.
Here endeth the lesson.
This is me, ranting. Bat crazy ranting. Those who want to avoid Bat Crazy ranting, avoid this one, come back tomorrow and hear about super-heroes punching each other in their under-wear. :)
I don’t really do… the news thing.
I mean the major stuff I keep abreast of, if the president and congress are trying to sell first borns to big business, etc. But the 24 hour, FOX/CNN/SS constant “thought police, be afraid, believe, color coded terror, be afraid”… not really my bag.
You tell me something one time a day, that’s news. You tell me something 72 times a day, the same thing, 3 times an hour, that is not about news, that is about programming. That is about conditioning. That is about terror.
That is about you, the media, in ways deep and dreadful and not at all healthy, trying to touch me.
I watch people, sit in front their tv god… constantly just soaking up and regurgitating another man’s hate.
Older women in my family, god love women, but they are like sponges for the dreams of madmen, raised on serialized entertainment, on soap operas, so news and talk shows are just more soap operas to them. Idiocy is just more entertainment to them. And they will open up their mouths and parrot out of their mouths whatever is on television… without questioning.
“Oh isn’t it good we’re invading Libya” one recently said to me, when this nation (under God?) was committing yet another coup in a sovereign nation.
“Why?” I asked her.
“Cause of all the bad things the leader has done to his people.”
“Do you mean Gaddafi, who was supporting the civil rights movement in this country, and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, when the American government wouldn’t let great quantities of the population drink out of faucets or use a bathroom, and was siccing dogs on marchers, and bombing churches and lynching Black children? That Gaddafi?”
Needless to say I’m really popular at family reunions.
It’s just amazing to me, how few people in America, think. Not Black people, or White people, or Brown people, or Yellow people, but any people… think, beyond what the idiot box tells them.
Oh it is to be wept at, how all you victims of Rome, so gleefully are turned into victimizers.
Here’s the thing with me. You have to earn the moral high ground.
YOU HAVE TO EARN the moral high ground.
Be you a man, or a nation, you have to earn the moral high ground.
America is forever taking the moral high ground. And no country, in the history of this world, is less suited to walk that walk. America began as a terrorist nation, and America grew fat through fostering a level of inhumanity and terror, that no Iraq or Iran or Cuba or Korea or Russia or Libya, has ever come close to.
And the thing about America, is her present shows no sign of having repented of her past.
America has never stopped being a terrorist nation. It’s her one, last great product.
So yeah when the military industrial complex, pulls the strings for the 24hour propaganda show we call CNN or Fox, etc… I’m not really big, on goose stepping along.
I guess because I have a long memory, and I potentially can forgive, but I will never forget and I will never cheer you into a position to do it again. To anyone.
Now you, the tides of war, can come through me, or you can try to walk over me, but you’ll never reach your goal with me.
It’s the same reason I’ll never be a Christian as practiced in America. I have no particular issue with Christianity, I think the ideology is grand, however in practice especially in America it has been an abomination in the eyes of God.
That’s not a dig, and it’s not an insult, it is however a fact.
From the Witch trials on. The odious form of Slavery that took place in this nation, the most depraved the world has ever seen, happened not despite Christianity. It reached it’s peak of evil BECAUSE of how Christianity was practiced in this country.
Slavery, in the vile form practiced in the US flourished… because of Christianity.
That’s a hell of a thing for anyone to say, I know it… and I take no pleasure in the saying.
More hell still, because it’s the truest thing you’ll ever hear anybody tell you.
I have seen the torture devices. I have seen your abominations. I have seen ships with names like HOPE, and CHARITY, and GRACE (all we need is one named OPERATION FREEDOM), loaded down with tortured men, women, and children. I have seen the machinations of righteous men and women. Shielding their abominations under the name of Christ and god.
And I have seen one more thing, that we are our fathers even onto the 7th generation, and crimes not grappled with, not resolved… are repeated: there or there or there.
Christianity as practiced in this country, has more of Rome in it, than of Christ, and this country has the crucifixions to prove it. The cross itself, having nothing to do with a Christ, being a Roman symbol long before any such messianic birth or death, a roman symbol of power, and dominance, and torture. The devil going up and down, and to and fro.
How does a person wear a cross and not know that? Not think one minute, of one hour, of one day, of the millions upon millions who died screaming their guts out on that most sacred torture device of Rome… on the cross.
Think about it, logically for a second. Who would carry around an idol, a symbol of a lynched man except the lyncher. Much the way lynchers in America would cut trophies from the bodies of their victims to wear around their neck.
Such… Christian people. Such, righteous people. God forbid you accuse anyone else in this world of terror.
So to, who would wear a symbol of a crucifixion around their neck, except the crucifier? For one second, think, actually think, about the dogma, the ritual that Christians do, that has nothing of Christianity in it… but everything of Rome, even onto the forsaking of the Sabbath.
I honestly don’t care what people believe.
But I do care that your choice of good or evil be informed. Whatever you choose to believe, make it an informed choice.
It’s not evil men that worry me.
It’s the masses that cheer them as they go marching by, too busy to make a choice not handed to them. The careless masses are the engine without which, the dreams of evil men… could not fly.
Try an examined choice.
I’ve done that, and I’ve found I can’t wear lynched or crucified men or the symbols of their suffering around my neck, I can’t bend my knee to bloody priests, and I can’t follow a nation of terror.
But I’m wacky that way, your examined choice may be different.
That’s been my news for today.
Cheery son of a gun, aren’t I?
But it’s past now, my mad fit of absinthe and peyote, it comes only rarely, when the spirit moves.
Perhaps even when the spirit needs,
For a man, supposedly shorn of faith, I do believe in fate.
I needed to speak.
Perhaps becomes someone needed to listen.
Wild is the world, and occasionally wonderful.
But the mad compulsion has left me, until the next blue moon.
Which is fitting, because I find the truth you don’t have to repeat as often as lies. If a lie, it will touch you not, without a constant barrage, and you will be unmoved by my mad ramblings.
But if the truth, it lived in you long before you read these words, and my words simply, like a stone waiting for a sculptor… revealed it.
If the truth you will know it. And if a lie you will know it.
And how you make of that news, something new…. well, who knows, the world is wild and wonderful… his miracles to perform. :)
One of my more popular posts is my article covering the racism of HP Lovecraft. And by popular demand of someone who describes themselves as a self-professed Romney and Gay marriage supporter out of Olympia, Washington (hey I’m just reading what’s on the card :)) … he urges me (maybe she) to repost the article.
This Ricky makes an interesting point about HP Lovecraft’s popularity perhaps being buoyed by the rising tide of an America under attack by selfish liberal interests, bolstered by an ignorant populace that keeps resisting paying welfare to big business.
He/she further goes on to say that “the middle and lower classes are just not understanding that big business is right to bankrupt the country, and enslave many to debt for the needs of the coming over-lords and all this was foretold in the fiction of the messiah… LOVECRAFT!!!! You Liberal scum!! Don’t you see?!! Lovecraft loves you!!!!! HE DIED FOR YOUR SINS!!!!”
Again, I’m just reading what’s on the card people. :)
He/She goes on to say “CTHULHU! CTHULHU! CTHULHU!” To which I say Gezuntheit!
Ahh you’ve got to love the intelligence and stability and eloquence of Lovecraft supporters. :)
And I think that deserves our renewed attention to the article that started it all! For those who missed it the first time, read it at the link below, with love from he/she/it in Olympia, Washington! :)
I recently purchased THE SAVAGE TALES OF SOLOMON KANE from Del Rey Books and with spot illustrations by Gary Gianni.
So I’m going through the book, and I’m moving pretty capably along.
There are the random slurs and stereotypes, but pretty much they are few and far between and they don’t get in the way of the story…
Until I hit THE MOON OF SKULLS.
Game over man. Game effing over.
To call it insulting is perhaps an understatement. I had to check to make sure I wasn’t reading something by Lovecraft. :)
Oh stop crying! You know I’m right!
Have you read Howard’s THE MOON OF SKULLS?! A xenophobic, denigrating, and intolerant bit of writing, that goes on forever. I think the actual term that popped into my head before pulling the plug on the story was “racist piece of crap”.
Now I do make allowances for the time these books were written, and the fact that the Texan Howard when compared to his contemporaries of the time such as H.P. Lovecraft (a staggering racist) was quite moderate by the definitions of the age.
Part of this is the difference in the type of men they were.
Howard was a rough and tumble, ‘man-of-action’ sort, who understood the world beyond his head, and by that definition understood people outside of his head.
Lovecraft was a secluded New England ‘Intellectual’ who sought a mythology, a hierarchy of master and slave, with the almost ingrained need of the region to preserve an upper class (that in all truth, Lovecraft was very far from, due to the family’s loss of fortune early in his life) by the belief and need for a lower class.
I think racism, gave a lacking man like Lovecraft something. Something to drag himself up on, to restore him to that glory he never had, but thought he deserved… by tearing others down.
Whereas Howard was a self sufficient man (which makes his end all the more bewildering), he went along with the expected prejudice and tropes of the day, but you get the sense in some of his writing, he was content to see men as men. That Howard was a man who stumbled into the tropes of racism, rather than active in the creation and embracing of racism… ala Lovecraft.
I can deal with Lovecraft’s writing in small doses, but I find this recent deification of Lovecraft, of a writer who was barely a footnote in his own time… as odd, though not inexplicable; especially in a country that so desperately, like Lovecraft, wants to turn back the clock to a glorious age of Master and Slave, that never was glorious, and never will be.
But I do think people are over-stating both Lovecraft’s influence and importance, as his work followed in the footsteps of writers like Lord Dunsany, and took inspiration from contemporaries such as Clark Ashton Smith. Much of what people are quick to define as Lovecraftian isn’t, it belongs to a writing movement of the time, dark fantastic offshoots of the age of spiritualism, Houdini, and Arthur Machen.
“In 1914, when the kindly hand of amateurdom was first extended to me, I was as close to the state of vegetation as any animal well can be…With the advent of the United I obtained a renewal to live; a renewed sense of existence as other than a superfluous weight; and found a sphere in which I could feel that my efforts were not wholly futile. For the first time I could imagine that my clumsy gropings after art were a little more than faint cries lost in the unlistening world.” —H.P. Lovecraft
So I do take the biases of Lovecraft into account when reading Robert E. Howard. And rank him as better than the contemporaries of his age.
And I realize I just have to avoid Howard stories that are written toward a certain audience, and toward a prevalent prejudice of the day. Generally this means avoiding most of his Conan stories, as I would end up ripping them in half.
I can stomach his writing in small doses, and that’s generally when he isn’t on bigoted diatribes disguised as a story. In short bursts, and when not using an entire Continent of Africa to advance 1920s fantasies of race and heroism, I can appreciate his writing. His SKULLS IN THE STARS is probably his best short story, it is a well done story and mainly because it is free of Howard’s capitulations to the prejudices and tropes of the day.
So the winner of my Writer’s Face-Off? Well let’s put it this way. I own a Robert E. Howard book, I don’t own any HP Lovecraft books.
I guess that says it all.