Does a movie deserve to be banned?

It’s a fairly stupid question to ask, but one that is sadly predictable given the state of modern journalism. We must be objective. We mustn’t take sides or show the slightest hint of bias. When Egypt bans a movie, we cannot be seen criticizing outright such an indefensible act of censorship. No, we must call Paul Krugman’s Very Serious People to the floor, so that they may have a very serious discussion and thereby reach no conclusion whatsoever. Continue reading

Killing our kids for entertainment

I can’t understand why tackle football is a thing high school students are allowed to do. I take no issue with the pros — they are adults raking in huge sums of money to take the risks they do — but there’s nothing in it for college players, and even less for high school students. Shit, if they aren’t considered wise enough to weigh the risks against the benefits of smoking, why are they allowed to brutalize themselves before a captive audience once a week throughout fall and early winter?

Because it’s entertaining! Amirite? Continue reading

Ethnological Exasperation

An exhibit recently installed at London’s Barbican Centre has caused something of an uproar, with allegations of racism being brought against the exhibit’s creator, artist Brett Bailey. The exhibit — called “Exhibit B” — takes its inspiration from the “ethnological expositions” of the 19th and 20th centuries, in which indigenous peoples taken from European colonies where put on display to entertain stuffy white supremacist Victorian types. Typically, these “subjects” were black Africans, and, made to stand for hours behind bars or glass dressed in grass skirts or loin cloths, they were displayed to the public as ugly, unsophisticated savages. That recreating this sort of thing would prove controversial is wholly unsurprising.

The work consists of tableaux not unlike something you would see at the American Museum of Natural History, if people were treated like prehistoric animals. You can see more photos of Exhibits A, B, and C, all variations on the same theme, on the Web site of Bailey’s production company, Third World Bunfight. One actress portrays Saartjie Baartman, a woman who toured Europe as part of a freak show. She was known as “the Hottentot Venus.” Another actor is presented as “Nama man in glass cabinet.” Still another is simply labeled “Nama woman, animal trophies.” She’s accompanied by several stuffed antelope. In another scene, actors appear to be decapitated. The show progresses to scenes of modern asylum-seekers and immigrants who are characterized simply as “Found Objects.”

If the artist is simply repeating historical trauma, and the main objective is to shock, it’s inevitable that work falls into the tradition of “Crash,” “Django,” or even Donnelle Woolford. Black people may be the subject matter, but little consideration is given to them as members of the audience. When people protest those projects, part of what what’s being asked is whether the art, be it film, installation or otherwise is really communicating anything significant about race or falsely trading on the inherent gravitas we tend to give projects that concern themselves with that subject matter.

The thing these projects — “Django,” “Donnelle Woolford,” “Crash,” and “Exhibit B” — all have in common is that they were created by white men seeking to communicate messages about race, all in spaces that are dominated by white men. As such, they’re all funneled through that lens, and the question that pops up repeatedly is whether people of color and their history are being exploited.

This is a fair criticism to make.

Django Unchained featured an escaped slave as its titular character, depicted the sheer physical brutality of the southern plantation system, and showed how the trade of slaves between plantations tore families and loved ones apart. But the movie wasn’t really about slavery, was it? Continue reading

John Harbough Doesn’t Fucking Get It

Tonight, while the Detroit Lions were taking a fifteen-minute break from their otherwise uninterrupted assault upon a thoroughly unprepared New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh strutted out in front of a camera to undertake the unenviable task of announcing the team had fired Ray Rice after reviewing a video in which the star running back can be seen knocking his then-girlfriend completely the fuck out in a Las Vegas elevator. The announcement was sadly — and predictably — tepid:

“After seeing something this morning, seeing the video this morning, we had a chance to get together with Steve, Dick, Ozzie and myself and we had a meeting. It was not a long meeting. We came to the decision we came to to release Ray and that’s what we did,” Harbaugh said. “So you know that. I had a chance to talk with Ray along with Ozzie this afternoon after we did it.”

Asked whether the Ravens saw the video prior to Monday morning, Harbaugh claimed the team saw it for the first time Monday and “it changed things.”

“It’s something we saw for the first time today,” Harbaugh said. “It changed things of course. It made things a little bit different.”

Harbaugh was also asked if his feelings toward Rice — he stood up in front of a podium and defended his (now) former player just months ago — had changed. He said no.

“Everything I said in terms of what I believe I stand by. I believe that still. I’ll always believe those things,” Harbaugh said. “And we’ll always stand in support of them as a couple. That’s not going to change.”

The Ravens coach even went so far as to say he and his wife would offer Rice and his wife support as they move forward, even though Rice is no longer on the team.

“When someone that you care about does wrong and is faced with the consequences it is tough and it is hurtful. My pain is for both of them as a couple,” Harbaugh said. “From everything talking to Ray, up until his suspension, talking with him a lot, was they were working hard and doing well. If I can help them in any way and if my wife and I can help them in any way, we’ll do that.”

Harbaugh also said the video “wasn’t made available” to the Ravens until Monday morning when it went public.

“It wasn’t made available to us. It wasn’t there for us,” Harbaugh said. “As far as I know yeah, it wasn’t something we ever saw or had access to.”

Why not? Harbaugh had “no answer for that” though he does “absolutely” believe the Ravens did their due diligence to find all necessary video available.

Yeah, that’s bullshit. Every stinking fucking line of it. Continue reading

Let’s get ready to bumble

There are some days I wish MTV’s old claymation standby Celebrity Death Match was a real thing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see Hanson and the Jonas Brothers claw each other to bloody ribbons over the ecstatic jeering of a live audience? Sure sounds like entertainment to me.

But George Zimmerman versus DMX?

I’m not sold on this one. The whole point of a brawl is to watch two grown men pound each other into hamburger over the course of an hour or so, and Zimmerman’s Pillsbury Doughboy-like physique simply isn’t built for that kind of endurance. But George has never been one to let his obvious limitations inhibit his undeservedly elevated opinion of himself. Apparently, this boxing thing was his idea.

CNN reports:

Zimmerman said the celebrity boxing match was his idea. Boxing was his hobby, he told Radar Online last month, even prior to the “incident.”

The incident, of course, is the February 2012 encounter in which he shot dead an unarmed Trayvon Martin, 17. He stood trial for murder, but was acquitted.

“Prior to the incident, I was actually going to the gym for weight loss and doing boxing-type training for weight loss,” he told Radar.

“A mutual friend put me in contact with Damon [Damon Feldman of Celebrity Boxing] and provided me with an opportunity and motivation to get back in shape and continue with my weight loss goals and also be able to help a charity out.”

It could also give Zimmerman the opportunity and motivation to shoot another unarmed black man. Given X has already threatened to “beat the fuck out of” Zimmerman, and then whip his “dick out and piss on him… right in his motherfucking face”, I’d say Zimmerman actually stands a pretty good chance of a second acquittal… assuming he’s tried in Florida, of course.

How not to title a news article

The Salt Lake City Tribune posted a nice summary of the Grammys yesterday, hitting all the high notes, from Daft Punk’s toppling of Taylor Swift to Trent Reznor’s ineluctable profanity-laced post-show Twitter tirade.

But something caught my eye: the article’s title.

Daft Punk, Macklemore top left-of-center Grammys

Wait. What? Do mine eyes deceive me, or is the Tribune trying its hand at subtle editorializing?

“Left-of-center”? Because Queen Latifah married a bunch of people, some of whom just happened to be gay? That ultimately, this proved more memorable than whatever shitty song Madonna decided to sing?

If that be the case, it seems prudent to point out 52% of Americans would back a law legalizing gay marriage in all fifty states. Which means the Grammys were not left-of-center, but fucking center.

As in perfectly fucking normal.