Humanity is a goal: On Science fiction, so-called Zombies, the Space Race and dreaming futures to make them

I don’t think Humanity is a birthright, I think it is a goal. And I think most people in this world, most Americans especially, fall short of that goal.

We have this ludicrous idea, particularly in this country which produces only one thing in quantity, mass murderers and television, that adult hood is something we reach in years. That we hit 18 or 21 and suddenly we are adults.

No. To repeat a trite phrase, but hopefully not tritely used here, ‘age is just a number’. Maturity is something else. And I think with just a quick scan of what passes for dialog in this connected age, what passes for conversation, you can see very few people… grow. While they may grow physically, mentally they stop maturing, in ways deep and dangerous they are immature children, with adult responsibilities.

Mayors, Governors, Police Chiefs, Generals, a whole world full of children in the roles of men, but lacking the conscience of men, the humanity of men.

I don’t think Humanity is a birthright, I think it is a goal. And I think most people in this world, most Americans especially, fall short of that goal.

There was a time when people went to the movies to cheer for the hero, to be inspired by heroism. Today people watch movies, or tv, or play video games to watch the other suffer. To play out vicarious games of aggression and an end to responsibility. It’s part of the reason so-called zombie movies are so popular, because subconsciously you have empty, aimless, driftless, purposeless population, that wants and needs and is angry, but is unsure of what they want, and what they need, and what they are angry about.

It’s just an irrational need, irrational hunger you may say, byproduct of an irrational leadership, an irrational age. Caused by at every path, the higher callings of their nature being sabotaged, by a leadership that relies on ruling ignorant, stupid, misinformed, desperate people.

So a rudderless people see in the myth of the ghoul (the proper name for what western cinema incorrectly misnames zombie), this engine of only hunger and no responsibility, something to identify with. To lose the burden and responsibility of higher humanity, of callings of honor and friend and family and duty, and sublimate it all to the joys of abandon and bestiality.

A consumer nation, a capitalist/tyrannical world, taken to its rudderless extreme.

It’s the reason I have no use for Ghoul ‘Zombie’ films, or torture porn flicks, or slasher flicks. Everything in moderation, but I see in this deluge of barbarity, that in our fictions, do we shape our facts.

The 50s and 60s, decades of science fiction fanaticsm, of the dreaming of stars, this obsession passed like cholera to every man, woman, and child of the age, and the dreaming culminating in man walking on the moon.

Shared idea space, as progenitor to our physical space. Our facts but late fortifications of our fictions. Heady concepts, but well trod ones.

So what becomes of a culture whose obsessions are death, war, serial killers, cannibalism and the crazed dead? God, whatever God you believe in, being always kind, he gives you what you dream of.

He gives you horror, if that is what you are intent on having.

So many have died aspiring to nobler ends for those who follow them, do not sacrifice all the virtues and the hopes they have bequeathed to you… in pursuit of petty dreams of barbarism. Dream larger. Save yourself, and save us all and… dream Nobler.

Dream of a world where wars may be ended, governments held accountable, forests replenished, aboriginal people saved, and lives bettered. Dream of a better world, and who knows, you may become a better man (or woman)… to build it.

The Best Films You Haven’t Seen! or Medicine for Melancholy

MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY- Acclaimed debut by Barry Jenkins. Only screened at film festivals, and still waiting on anything beyond a token DVD release.

BLACK DYNAMITE- Easily one of the best movies of 2010, and screened Nationwide in less than 10 theaters. With a proper theatrical release this satire could have been one of the hugest most influential comedies in decades, instead of being added to the growing list of… invisible movies. There is something horribly wrong in a nation that can find screens for abysmal garbage like THE WEATHERMAN or tripe like THE OTHER GUYS but no room for a film such as BLACK DYNAMITE.

SAMPSON AND DELILAH- I’m hearing fantastic things about this Aboriginal directed and starred movie, by Warwick Thornton, and currently breaking my neck trying to get a copy. Sounds a bit like the films of the late great Djibril Diop Mambety (his HYENAS is a masterpiece, and his short films are essential viewing to all fans of film)

HARIMAYA BRIDGE- Another film I haven’t seen (due to it not coming to a theater anywhere near me, and not getting DVD distribution) is Aaron Woolfolk’s HARIMAYA BRIDGE with Danny Glover. But it is getting nothing but acclaim, yet still such an acclaimed film with a Black Director, and Black Protagonist, that actually has something to say beyond stereotypes, that might actually say something to Black audiences that is not about denigration and debasement, cannot find broad theatrical release, or even to this date a DVD release.

It is utterly sickening.

Even more sickening are the distribution channels that do buy up the rights to a filmmakers films, just to bury them. Here it is three years after Ousmane Sembene’s passing and his most legendary, challenging, and proactive films (EMITAI, CEDDO, CAMP THIAROYE, and GUELWAAR his colonialism quadrilogy), are still not available on DVD.

The company that holds the rights to Sembene’s films, (and we all know who you are) should be fucking ashamed of themselves. First to let a filmmaker die without his most powerful work seeing any type of release, to languish in decades rotting away in vaults, and second because of the filmmakers that could-have-been, had they allowed Sembene to flourish and influence.

I mean they, finally, gave his BLACK GIRL, and MANDABI, and MOOLADE, minimal DVD releases, but for the most part while fine films (haven’t seen MOOLADE) , these are films (with the exception of BLACK GIRL) that steer away directly from the controversy of colonialism. The distributor give his, if not quite nuetered, less critical films releases, while burying for decades his (by all assements) best films.

It’s a crime.

And one they are continuing to committ with a new generation of filmmakers, both domestic and international.

Well at least we can do what we can do. We can spread the word that the movies exists, and do our best to view them at film festivals, and give the film and the filmmakers the audience and the attention they deserve.

Start local movie clubs, start local film festivals, start local indie theaters, spread the word. Cinema is more than just entertainment, It can be infinitely more.

The studios know this.

They know cinema can alter world views, on the micro and macro level. They can be didactic, and in the best of all possible worlds they should be. By Didactic I don’t mean preaching, I mean informing and formative.

I don’t believe in Escapist cinema, I think all cinema no matter how comedic or fantastic, can and should say something relevant and I think expansive to our view of the world. Whether that’s the notion of hubris and friendship in THE THIRD MAN or the notion of loyalty and individualism inherent in PAT GARRET AND BILLY THE KID or the notion of courage and sacrifice in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK or the understanding of the needs of the people and the land as in I AM CUBA, all cinema if its any good, is to some measure didactic.

Cinema that isn’t informative, is deadening. Is a drug to lull you into apathy, and I don’t want that kind of cinema.

Cinema should strive to move more than our eyes, to reach, in the hopes of finding, our mind and our soul.

In the words of Boorman’s King Arthur… “It’s a dream I have.”