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BN-W eNewsletter #52

Posted in: eNews 2005
By BN-W
Dec 1, 2005 - 1:58:53 PM

FILM(S) MONITORED
RENT
IN THE MIX
SYRIANA


The film monitors of “Rent,” “In the Mix,” and “Syriana” are below.   But before getting to those we recently went on one of our book buying binges and have some book recommendations to share.   We also saw Broadway’s The Color Purple ( http://www.colorpurple.com/sightssounds.php) and can tell you it was wonderful.   Definitely not made of the usual Broadway musical stuff (and fluff) – you can feel it in your soul.   The stage setting is colorful and vibrant.   You know the actors are enjoying it and you can feel the singing in your heart and soul.   Other than Broadway’s highly successful and magnificent The Lion King, unfortunately most Broadway musicals have singers who sound as if they just rolled out of some singing class.   Very often they just sound plastic and “typical.”   Check out the movie version of “Rent” and, not only will you save about $50, but you’ll get a taste of the singing that’s typical of many Broadway musicals.   The acting may be good (or even outstanding at times) but the singing usually doesn’t grab your heart.   But The Color Purple is definitely different.   It has an addendum to the movie’s closing and it also does not male bash the way some felt the movie did.   Anyone and everyone should enjoy many things about this play.   The performance of “Any Little Thing” by the Harpo and Sofia characters is one of the really fun standouts.   We’ll be seeing this musical a second time for sure.   It may still be possible to get reduced tickets, so c heck out these links for general and discount information:

www.playbill.com
www.broadwaybox.com
www.theatermania.com

We don’t normally recommend plays we haven’t seen, but we’ll take a chance on this one because a reliable source said it was excellent.   Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre is presenting a production on the life of Paul Robeson.   It’s playing through December 11th at the Henry Street Settlement, which is located at 466 Grand Street (NYC-Lower East Side – 212-353-1176).   And the tickets are only $15.

The 13th New York African Diaspora Film Festival (ADFF) is also going on.   There are usually some excellent films showing and this year is no different.   It’s going on through December 11th.   ADFF’s Web site info is:

www.nyadff.org

www.africandiasporavideo.com

OK, now the books!   We’ve listed six.

POST TRAUMATIC SLAVE SYNDROME by Joy DeGruy Leary ( www.posttraumaticslavesyndrome.com ).   Dr. Leary has FINALLY published this book, which she self-published because she “couldn’t let anyone profit – again – from our injury.”   As is the case whenever she speaks, she is consistent, clear, and concise with her thoughts and convictions on this issue.   She is sincere, she is dedicated, she “gets it,” and she explains it very well for the rest of us to “get it.”  And for the naysayers who think slavery is behind us, that we should just forget about it, and that we ought to just move on, Dr. Leary is waiting and ready for you (and knows that “contemporary overseers will be found to refute everything I’m saying”), so with that in mind she reasonably states:   “Before we talk about forgetting it let’s talk about what it was….Rarely are people willing to listen to what ‘bad’ really was.”   And as Adelaide L. Sanford writes on the book’s back cover:   “We ignore our history at our own peril.”   Along with the book, there’s also a DVD that can be purchased of a lecture Dr. Leary gave in Mt. Vernon, New York, last year.   Both are excellent sources to begin to understand and let the healing begin!   [ NOTE:   In reference to this whole topic, please see the quotes farther down from Jamie Foxx.   He’s a brother who “gets” that there’s something amiss and he is on that path of trying to connect the dots.]

MIRROR TO AMERICA:   THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN by John Hope Franklin ( http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/franklin/ ; http://www.jhfc.duke.edu/about/mission.php ; and two audios http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4982081 and http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=3824 ).   This is the autobiography of well-known scholar and historian Dr. Franklin, who is now 90 years old.   His popular and groundbreaking book, From Slavery to Freedom, now in its eighth edition, continues to be one of the primary and highly recommended sources of information on African American history.   In Mirror to America, Dr. Franklin is very detailed, precise, and thorough in his writing style and his ability to tell his story as if it is current and happening now.   The way this book is written, he must have kept fierce notes over the years, which no doubt resulted from the self-discipline he obtained during his extensive studies.   In the photo cover of the book, he appears so pleasant, peaceful, kind, and gracious – and that shines through in the book, but he also makes it unmistakably lucid about the blatant racism that existed then and continues to exist now.   At age 90 and well learned and well traveled, he has seen it all – from the beauty to the warts.   This man is so clear on his thoughts, it’s just amazing.   Wouldn’t we all be so lucky to have just one percent of what he has in mind, body, spirit, and smarts.

CREATING BLACK AMERICANS by Nell Irvin Painter ( http://www.nellpainter.com/) is quite simply a must have.   What’s significant about this book is not only the historical writings, but the viewpoint of the author on the pictorial selections, which are virtually all by African Americans.   In the Preface, she describes the reasons for choosing this angle for the imagery:   “By conscious decision, negative stereotypes do not appear, unless in the work of Black artists who are reworking them into emblems of empowerment.   Although negative imagery still appears in American culture, I do not reinforce humiliating, insulting depictions of African Americans; better that my readers discover a rich new body of images produced by Black people themselves.”   Entertainment critic and reviewer Kam Williams describes the book as “enriching on several levels…a masterpiece because it offers a deeper understanding of all the painful suffering and adversity endured by a proud and determined people while simultaneously bearing witness to a cultural legacy equally rich with strength, hope and faith.”

BURY THAT SUCKA!   A SCANDALOUS LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE N-WORD by H. Lewis Smith (http://www.hlewissmith.com/wst_page4.html and http://www.burythatsucka.com/) is a passionate, very much from the heart book by an individual who’s just relentlessly against the use of the N-word and the powerfully negative impact it’s ultimately having on the Black community.   While this is a serious book and the writer talks about historical facts and links, he also uses humor appropriately throughout.   The cover even has a “R.I.P” tombstone for burying the N-word and the author writes:   “It’ll probably be kicking, screaming and hollering as that last pile of dirt is being tossed on its casket, but don’t you break down and cry, feeling sorry for it…release it and let it go.”

BREAKING RANK by Norm Stamper ( http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/print/2388/), who is the former chief of the Seattle Police Department.   It was a little challenging getting this book because many bookstores didn’t have it and even said they’d never heard of it.   We haven’t finished it yet but it’s very interesting and there’s a lot of division about it and hatred toward the author because it’s kind of a tell-all about the police force nationwide – and not just about racism issues but topics across the board.   Among some of what we’ve read so far, the following quotes definitely stand out for BN-W’s purposes:   “Diallo was killed because of his dark skin.   A White man reaching for his wallet, under identical circumstances, including a language barrier, would have been given the benefit of the doubt.   Simply put, White cops are afraid of Black men.   We don’t talk about it, we pretend it doesn’t exist, we claim ‘color blindness,’ we say White officers treat Black men the same way they treat White men.   But that’s a lie.   In fact, the bigger, the darker the Black man the greater the fear.   The African-American community knows this.   Hell most Whites know it….So, why am I so certain that White cops are afraid of Black men?   Because I was a White cop.   In a world of White cops.   For thirty-four years.”  

HUNG:   A MEDITATION ON THE MEASURE OF BLACK MEN IN AMERICA by Scott Poulson-Bryant ( http://www.thebacklist.net/issue13/article6.html and http://spbq.blogspot.com/).   As stated in the Backlist interview, this book is “raw, straightforward, and a lot to swallow.   It’s also smart, funny, and dare I say, real.”   We totally concur with this statement.   And we add that it also makes some historical references and comparisons that let you know the writer is not just somebody who threw something together.   There’s a historical knowledge that underlies the overall context of this book.   There’s this quote from the writer James Baldwin:   “What did you want to do with my dick when you cut it off after lynching me?   Did you want to dye it darker and somehow attach it to yourself?”   Then there’s this by Eldridge Cleaver (yes, he’s got a shaky history but the quote is still interesting):   “…(notice the puny image the White man has of his own penis.   He calls it a ‘prick,’ a ‘peter,’ a ‘pecker’).”   All we can say is that based on America’s unhealthy preoccupation with the three big ones – MONEY, POWER, SEX – that this book is a quick read that everyone can honestly relate to in one way or another – we guarantee it!

As mentioned above in the note on the Dr. Leary book synopsis, below are some quotes taken from the Jamie Foxx interview (which was quite good) done with Oprah Winfrey in this month’s O Magazine (The Oprah Magazine).   We don’t subscribe to this magazine, so we purchased it on the strength of the Foxx interview and pleasantly surprised we were.   Following are some quotes from the Foxx man that we thought were absolutely worth sharing, especially from a brother who’s in the spotlight and not only smart enough to know – but also confident enough to publicly talk about – that something just isn’t right, thus on his journey of trying to understand and figure things out:

On Black/White men:   “Most men want the admiration of women – their smiles, their attention, their interest.   That’s why we beat our chests; that’s why we play basketball and football.   We want to know how you feel about us.   Black men seem to do all the things that women are enamored of effortlessly.   So in order for White men to maintain the upper hand, they feel they have to clip our wings.   Here’s what scares some White people:   We are survivors.   Blacks just never go away.”

On blatant racism:   “It allowed me to understand the years and years of slave residue that is still with us.   In this country, Blacks have been treated like second-class citizens.   So when New Orleans fell apart after Katrina, it didn’t surprise me.”

On being angry about racism:   “More puzzled than angry.   I look at the ocean and how big the world is, and I still can’t understand why being Black makes some people hate me.”

On all people being created equal:   “No.   If that were true, there’d be no poverty, no shortcomings….We’re all energy.   Some people are stronger forces than others.”

On the current world situation:   “The world is fragile right now.   When I was a child, you needed education to have power.   Now anything goes.”

Speak, brother, speak!

With our new monitoring format, we will no longer put the range for the number of times the N-word is used in a film because once is too much, especially if it’s unnecessary and/or excessive usage.   Also, based on the history of White Supremacy in this country and the fact that there’s a connection between Blacks/Jews/White Supremacy that’s worth exploring in general, but specifically as it connects within the entertainment industry, we will include a column (for the monitored films only) that will note if any derogatory Jewish slang terms (kike, hymie, hooknose, etc.) are used.   [ NOTE:   If necessary, see BN-W #34 for a more detailed explanation of the unfortunate need to monitor this.]

If you missed any other BN-W monitors, just send an e-mail to bannword2@yahoo.com and request that it be sent to you.   It’s very hard not to give any content critique on the films we monitor, so we will no longer even attempt to abide by that statement.   But we definitely do continue to highly encourage you to see these films for yourself and, if applicable, make your own judgment call on the N-word usage – appropriate/inappropriate? necessary/unnecessary? sensible/nonsensical? does it add to or take away from the film’s concept? does the N-word have to be used at all? is there a valid reason for doing so? is it mandatory for the scene(s) to be effective? what are the circumstances/situation that necessitate any use of the word? is it just thrown in for humor, fear, crime, insult? are other culturally insulting slang terms used as much as the N-word in the film?   Lots of questions and a whole lot of reasons to wonder what’s the real purpose and thought process behind why these actors, writers, directors, producers, executive producers, distributors, and studios/studio heads and executives give the “greenlight” for these crews to liberally use (or allow to be used) the N-word.

FEATURE FILM(S) :

R E N T

[Release Date:   11/23/05]

Starring Taye Diggs, Rosario Dawson, Jesse L. Martin ; screenplay written by Stephen Chbosky; directed by Chris Columbus; produced by Jane Rosenthal, Robert DeNiro, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe, Michael Barnathan; executive produced by Jeffrey Seller, Kevin McCollum, Allan S. Gordon, Lata Ryan; studio – Revolution Studios/Sony
 

NONE [0]

LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]

DEROGATORY JEWISH TERMS

XXXXX

 

NO

NOTE :   We’ve seen the stage production of this movie and the movie does stick to it for the most part.   As mentioned above, overall the singing is lousy in both the play and the movie – that corny, rockish sound is just not happening.   So if you can get past that major aspect and tune in to the story line, it’s not a bad story.   One positive for the Broadway play, however, is that Frenchie Davis (kicked off of American Idol) is in it and does a solo and when she sings, which isn’t often enough, she had what the show needed – a soulfulness that makes the difference.   There was one other character that had outstanding solos as well and that was Destan Owens who plays the Tom Collins character.

I N   T H E   M I X

[Release Date:   11/23/05]

Starring Usher, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Chazz Palminteri ; screenplay written by Jacqueline Zambrano; directed by Ron Underwood; produced by John Dellaverson, Bill Borden; executive produced by Usher Raymond, Holly Davis-Carter, John Sacchi, Michael Paseornek; studio – Lions Gate Films
 

NONE [0]

LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]

DEROGATORY JEWISH TERMS

XXXXX

 

NO

NOTE :   After reading books like Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, Mirror to America, and Hung, along with many other books and being critical thinkers, you take movies like these for what they are:  simple, light stuff feeding into stereotypes and not making a bit of difference about anything.   Everything in this movie is discussed in one form or another in these books.   Based on the poor box office showing, most people smartly avoided this movie.   Usher’s character being more than slapstick happy to take two bullets for the mob is enough for us.

S Y R I A N A

[Limited Release Date:   11/23/05.   National release scheduled for 12/9/05.]

Starring George Clooney, Jeffrey Wright, Matt Damon ; screenplay written by Stephen Gaghan; directed by Stephen Gaghan; produced by Jennifer Fox, Michael Nozik, Georgia Kacandes; executive produced by George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh, Ben Cosgrove, Jeff Skoll; studio – Warner Bros. Pictures
 

NONE [0]

LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]

DEROGATORY JEWISH TERMS

XXXXX

 

NO

NOTE :   Interesting movie especially in light of what’s going on today and if you follow the news, especially as it relates to foreign countries, oil, and the corrupt Bush administration.   An unnecessary maze that concludes with a decent ending, which makes it worth the trouble of trying to figure it all out.   Plus, Jeffrey Wright’s in it, so that’s enough reason right there.   This may not be his best role, but he’s always worth the price of a ticket.

BN-W Monitor Coming Soon:  “Freedomland” [Samuel L. Jackson, Julianne Moore]; “Idlewild” [Andre Benjamin, Antwan Patton]; “Glory Road” [Derek Luke, Josh Lucas]; “Last Holiday” [Queen Latifah, James Todd Smith]; “Annapolis” [Tyrese Gibson]; “Big Momma’s House 2” [Martin Lawrence]; “Pink Panther” [Steve Martin, Beyonce Knowles]

Also Coming :   Fall 2005 Music Monitor; Winter 2006 Music Monitor; Spring 2006 Music Monitor; Summer 2006 Music Monitor

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