Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Mighty Missayip

I guess it's predictable, given how much time I've spent in the delta lately, that I'd find myself pondering the state in which I'm still surprised to find myself living. Over the last few weeks I've done quite a bit of driving through rural Mississippi looking for interesting images, and over the course of my travels I've formed some new impressions and ideas about the place.

The one thing that I can't help noticing is that Mississippi is filled -- absolutely chock-a-fucking-block -- with ruins. Not, obviously, the beautiful ancient ruins you find in Europe; these are some very forlorn ruins indeed. I literally can't even count how many collapsed houses, abandoned churches, rusted-out factories, and disused farm buildings I've seen this month. They are endless.

In Jackson last weekend, I spent some time driving around an urban neighborhood not half a mile from our grandiose state capitol building. And I'm tempted to say that there were as many buildings sitting boarded up as there were still inhabited. There was even one house that had collapsed completely -- the roof was on the ground, black and rotten and sagging over the remains to the walls and foundation -- while on either side sat houses (themselves dilapidated and certainly eligible for condemnation) that were still serving as people's homes. That broken house between them hadn't fallen down any time recently; the smell of mold and rotten wood suggested that it had been that way for a long time. But nobody had made any attempt to remove the debris -- it just sat in a pile behind its concrete stoop.

I've seen it over and over and over again. Every town has its alotment of dead buildings -- the homes and businesses and churches of people who died or who left a long time ago. I've heard of a place deep in the delta -- one of the places I know I have to go find before I leave this state -- where the foundation and corinthian columns of an antebellum plantation house still stand in a perfect row in the middle of the woods like mouldering ghosts. It's as if Mississippi has chosen to remain in denial about how time has left it behind -- everything falls apart, and we just look away and pretend that nothing much has changed. The past is still here with us, but only because we refuse to bury it.

The thing you have to understand about this place -- and I'm referring specifically to the delta, which is a very different cultural entity to the rest of the state -- is how far it has fallen. Only a century and a half ago, the states along the Mississippi River were the west coast of the United States, and while it's difficult to imagine it now, they were accordingly cosmopolitan. The traffic of the entire continent flowed past Vicksburg and Greenville and the other centers of delta habitation, and people in the delta came into regular contact with immigrants, northerners, travelers, settlers, explorers, prospectors, and the full length and breadth of humanity. It wasn't the isolated backwater that it is now. Towns like Yazoo City and Belzoni and Grenada had commerce and culture and a thriving local society. As we all well know, it was built on the backs of black slaves and sharecroppers, but still, it possessed a certain amount of dignity, and even glory.

Even up until the 50s and 60s the delta produced and exported culture along with cotton and catfish -- we had William Faulkner and Eudora Welty and Willie Morris and Walker Percy and Richard Wright. When you talk about the blues, you're ultimately talking about the Mississippi delta. For god's sake, Honeyboy Edwards, who was with Robert Johnson the night he died, is still living in Chicago. It wasn't that long ago that Mississippi was making a contribution, however tortured, to American culture.

But that's all gone now, even if its physical remains still surround us. If you drive through these places today, all you'll see is desperate poverty, and the wreckage of the old south left to rot on the ground where it fell. And how can you make room for new birth and new growth if you never bury your dead?
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Monday, February 26, 2007
How Could I Forget?



We still miss you, Bill.
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Sunday, February 25, 2007
Satisfaction Is...

... Jackson, Mississippi in your rear-view mirror.

I have returned from the documentary wars with seven hours of footage as my trophy. Everything went fine -- there's always more you could shoot, but I think I got everything on my shot list. I hope so, anyway.

Jackson, I'm afraid to say, is a monumentally crappy town. It's run-down, it lacks any discernible cultural scene, and in spite of how black it is, it has this over-arching air of white mediocrity. That said, if you're interested in poverty, it has a lot to offer. From a cultural-studies perspective, you could probably find a rich vein of field evidence to mine in Jackson.

Still, I'm glad I don't have to live there. It makes Memphis look like St. Louis. At least.

I still have one teacher to cover, this one in Indianola. I'm actually really looking forward to that shoot, which will happen in a few weeks. I much prefer shooting in these little delta towns. A city like Jackson has very little visible identity -- it's too small to be recognizable as anything but a generic post-industrial urban zone, but too big to have any focus. In a town like Indianola, on the other hand, the town is so small that everything in it is verging on iconic for the locals. It has more of an awareness of itself, more of an identity, than its supposedly-more-cosmopolitan urban sister.

Anyway, I'm tired now, but I'm home. Tonight I can sleep in my own bed.

PS: Oh... is it Oscar night? Really?

What does it mean when you're so busy making a film that you completely forget about the biggest (read: most familiar) film award of the year?

(Probably that you're doing at least one thing right.)

I haven't even seen many of the nominated docs this year, so I have no opinion. That makes me sad.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Weekend Away

Spring has come to Memphis, and the robins in the park are acting weird.

Usually they act like any bird... they flap around and peck in the dirt near the trail until you come near, and then they hop away five or six feet until you've gone safely past. Today, though, they were standing rigid, with their wingtips extended down to the ground, staying still as stone even when you came close. You could see their beady little eyes watching you, but unless you made a move at them, they didn't budge.

Bird sex can take some strange forms. Not much stranger than ours, though, I guess.

Anyway, I'm spending this weekend in Jackson, Mississippi, shooting for the MTC documentary. I have to be honest: at the moment, I'm not looking forward to it. Not because of the teachers or anything; but just because this kind of stuff is so far out of my comfort zone, especially taken four days at a time. I'm a classic introvert -- I find dealing with strangers to be exhausting, and this weekend will be basically nothing but strangers, 24 hours a day. Combined with the pressures of trying to shepherd two teachers and several teenagers through the shooting process, while also maintaining my shooting schedule and running camera and sound and conducting interviews simultaneously -- I mean, it's pretty demanding work, and I admit to feeling daunted. I'm up to it -- I can do whatever needs to be done -- but I'm really, really ready for this part to be over. And it's only just begun.

The most important thing is to try to enter into the shoot with as positive an attitude as possible -- I won't get anywhere if I'm feeling discouraged even before I really get started. So pardon me if I vent a little. I'm trying to get the resistance and negativity out of my system.

It would be so much easier if I just had one familiar person along to help. Oh well.
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Sunday, February 18, 2007
Excited




Jello was one of my teenage heroes. I'm giddy with delight that he's going to come speak at our stupid little Co-op. I already have my ticket.

PS: I hear second-hand that he's a "whiny little baby" about facilities, so that should be interesting: our facilities are crappy at best. I don't really care, though -- it's like finding out that Frank Black is a complete asshole with his fans. I love them both so much, I'm not even bothered by it.
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Friday, February 16, 2007
Aquarians

I only know two people with birthdays in February -- coincidentally, their birthdays are both on the 17th. They're very different people in some ways. Doug's entire outward demeanor is very considered and intentional; Stefan was always kind of frenetic and silly. What they have in common, though, is that underneath their respective deadpan and absurdist exteriors, they both possess quick, brilliant minds that seem to churn out an endless supply of great ideas. It's a shame they live so far away from each other, because they'd probably get on like the proverbial house on fire.

Happy birthday Doug and Stefan. I hope you get something freaking awesome.


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Valentine's Scrooge

Let's face it: I'm not terribly romantic. I don't deal in grand gestures, I don't write turgid odes to my loves, and I don't have a lot of patience for most of the standard tokens of affection that accompany romance. I don't have anything against any of that -- roses and chocolate are wonderful things, for what they are -- but in as much as they too often merely signify the idea of love without reflecting what love really is, I tend not to put much stock in them. Which isn't to say that I'm entirely immune to them, but neither do I spend much time lamenting their absence. They offer a kind of validation that I hope I don't ever really need.

Love songs especially have been a source of annoyance for me since I was a teenager. Not that there aren't plenty of genuinely good love songs, but so much of what gets pawned off on us, particularly when we're young, is so bad as to be essentially poisonous. The mainstream love song, like the Disney-fied image of Prince Charming, is of the most heinous of lies. Not only does it promise something that doesn't exist, it can inspire one to reject or resent anything that doesn't measure up -- which includes things that, given a chance to simply be what they are, might add some genuine happiness to one's life.

As far as I'm concerned, these are the most vile, noxious, pustulent love songs ever. (The list won't include the song that kills love, because I've already written about that one, and anyway, it was never about the song itself in that case. In fact, since I can't bear to listen to it all the way through, I'm not even 100% sure what that song is about, so it doesn't really even bear mentioning.)

5. "How Do I Live," by Trisha Yearwood -- sweet jesus did I hate this song when it was in heavy rotation on every fucking station. It neatly sums up everything that's wrong and destructive in our culture's attitudes towards love and romance and all that crap:
Without you
There'd be no sun in my sky
There would be no love in my life
There would be no world left for me
And I
Baby I don't know what I would do
I would be lost if I lost you
If you ever leave
Baby you would take away everything real in my life

Madam, here's a loaded pistol. Go behind the shed and do the honorable thing -- you're weakening the herd. If anyone over the age of 16, male or female, has ever listened to this song and though, "yeah, I feel just like that," I think we may have located the source of your troubles. Maybe your One True Love was feeling so crushed under the overwhelming weight of your neediness that a night with a hooker in Baltimore was the much-needed relief he needed from the endless obligation of supporting your fragile identity. My advice: find a fucking hobby before your psyche collapses in on itself.

4. "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston
And I will always love you.
I will always love you.
I will always love you.
I will always love you.
I will always love you.
I, I will always love you.

You, darling, I love you.
Ooh, I'll always, I'll always love you.

In retrospect, we always should've know George Michael was gay. In retrospect, we always should've known that Whitney Houston was a crackhead.

3. "More Than Words" by Extreme
Now I've tried to talk to you and make you understand
All you have to do is close your eyes
And just reach out your hands and touch me
Hold me close don't ever let me go
More than words is all I ever needed you to show
Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me
'Cos I'd already know

Translation: Hold still -- I'm going to come on your face.

2. "Save the Best for Last" by Vanessa Williams

A song written for weepy, over-hopeful suburban housewives whose husbands are porking 25-year-old office interns, as evidenced by the valium and xanax-induced psychosis:
Sometimes the snow comes down in June
Sometimes the sun goes 'round the moon
Just when I thought our chance had passed
You go and save the best for last

The snow might come down in June if you're an Argentine. But if in fact the sun ever does go 'round the moon, thoughts of your wayward spouse will evaporate along with your flesh and bones as the atmosphere of the planet burns off, exposing you to the full intensity of the sun's radiation. Better to just face facts: that shit ain't ever happening, and your husband is never coming back. Have you considered getting back at him by inviting your son's hockey team over for a gangbang? It'll put the pink right back into your complexion.

1. And my absolute most-loathed love song: "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge. My complaint against this one isn't actually the themes of the song itself, but the way it's usually regarded. It's as if nobody has ever stopped to listen to the lyrics. It's always held up as a romantic ideal -- the very epitome of romantic ecstacy -- when in fact it's just insulting to everyone involved:
When a man loves a woman
Spend his very last dime
Tryin' to hold on to what he needs
He'd give up all his comfort
Sleep out in the rain
If she said that's the way it ought to be

Translation: women are domineering gold-diggers, and men are stupid and desperate enough to go along with it. Let's play it at our wedding!

As I get older, I find that I'm becoming more pragmatic about love -- not in the sense of "settling" (I'd sooner spend the rest of my years alone than accept a relationship just for the sake of having one), but in that I prefer to avoid idealizing it. And it's not because I don't feel it as deeply as anyone else; if anything, it's an attempt to focus and channel that energy so that I don't become overwhelmed. I've long since accepted that love and partnership and everything that goes along with them will always be something of a catch-22 for me, and that whatever love might develop will then necessarily be somewhat unconventional and well outside the standard love-song paradigm.The love songs I listen to, then, are most often preoccupied with ambivalence, reluctance, even defeat. Never in my life have I had a love -- whether fully realized or unrequited -- about whom I did not at some point quietly think to myself, "I wish I'd never met you." Not because I literally didn't want to know them, but because the meeting always brings madness where once I had sanity and contentment. Bad love songs pretend that falling in love is the greatest and ultimately only good thing in life; good love songs admit that even the most rapturous romances bring loss with them. That's what makes it a powerful experience worth writing songs and poems about.
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Saturday, February 10, 2007
The Dreaded Lurgy

The good news is, my pain is gone. The bad news is, now I'm sick.

Goddamn it all to hell.
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Friday, February 09, 2007
The Longest Link Drop Ever

If you're interested, I just found an decent film blog. It's not one of those amateur-critic blogs that always end up annoying me; this one's written by Bordwell and Thompson themselves, so it would probably serve as a decent, ongoing, free film theory education for those so inclined.

Me, I've always been kind of ambivalent about Bordwell and Thompson. They're absolutely solid where film theory is concerned, albeit in a slightly prosaic, safe kind of way. By which I mean, it's an excellent resource for thinking about existing films, and it's a good explanation of ideas about form and style for (shall we say) laymen, but I think it doesn't actually have much to offer to the would-be filmmaker. It's a good tool for watching films, but in and of itself not it's much help when it comes to making them. Once you've started making films, though, Film Art becomes almost superfluous -- my biggest surprise going back to school was picking up the book thinking, "well, I guess I better finally read this damn thing," and realizing after a couple of chapters that I already basically knew everything in it.

And it goes without saying that Bordwell and Thompson don't offer much at all on the subject of documentary, which is probably the other big reason why I haven't spent much time with their books. If you'll allow me a dodgy analogy, if dramatic film is the Newtownian physics of cinema, then documentary film is like quantum physics: the equations that work so well for one simply break down when applied to the other. Bordwell and Thompson, then, are something like your high school physics teacher -- they may well mention the existence of other ways of thinking about the subject, and might briefly describe the mysteries of documentary, but ultimately they're going to leave it to someone else to explain. And yes, there's doubtless a cinematic Theory Of Everything capable of uniting the two, and yes, I'm almost frantically interested in that, but I think I've stretched the analogy far enough without going into that.

(As a side note, if you really do want to read more about documentary film, I'd suggest Rabiger's Directing the Documentary to start with. People seem to like this one too, but I haven't read it, so I don't know. It seems to lean a bit heavily on the makers of fluffy docs, though, with less emphasis on foundational films, so I can't deny being a little reluctant. Anything that lists Ken Burns first and Barbara Kopple not at all is immediately a little suspect in my eyes.)

And while we're on the subject of documentary film...

Last week, after years of meaning to but never quite getting around to it, I sat down and watched Grey Gardens. Yes, I'm a little ashamed that I've gotten this far without seeing it; I can only say in my defense that I've watched Salesman like a hundred fucking times. Anyway, it's a blisteringly amazing film in a way that only a certain kind of person will ever appreciate -- it's straight-up humanity presented free of gloss or judgment, and it's beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I love Wiseman and Morris, but I think for pure documentary, nobody's ever accomplished more than the Maysles brothers. They weren't the most aesthetically accomplished docs, nor did they ever do much to change the world; they only tried to be still and to observe and understand, which in the end, in my opinion, is documentary's highest calling. And when you understand that -- when you really get what they were doing -- you won't need books to tell you about documentary film art anymore; you'll have it in your soul.

So yeah... after that, all the talk about theory and style and mise en scene feels a little empty to me. Which is probably why, though I'm often tempted by the vast possibilities of dramatic film, I keep coming back to doc work. Attaining aesthetic perfection, to me, could never approach the value of genuinely seeing just one brave, fragile, imperfect human being.

Still, it's not a bad blog if you like that sort of thing.
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Thursday, February 08, 2007
In Which Sister Novena Reluctantly Wades Back Into Politics

I'm coming down off a rough week -- one of those weeks where nothing in particular went wrong, really, but I had a lot of low-level vexations with which to contend. Most of it was just garden-variety frustration over stuff that I can't do anything about; then that was compounded by some middling-to-borderline-agonizing pain that I also can't do much about. None of it approached anything like crisis, but five or six days in that state can make getting through the week a trying process. The pain part is starting to get better now, at least, and the rest I've decided I'm just not going to worry about anymore until I get back to a point where I can have some effect on various situations. Sometimes the only thing you can do is let time pass and wait to see how that changes things. The willingness to do that, I think, might be one of the most subtle but far-reaching differences between me Now and me Then.

Anyway, I'm feeling a little worn-down and washed-out today, but it looks like this weekend I'll get to take my camera out and go play -- and will feel like it, as well -- so that'll be good.

I've noticed lately that there's been a big upswing in political talk among my associates, which is natural considering our recent hopeful progress. And everybody else I know has laid out an initial position on whom they favor for a presidential run in 2008. And being the woolly little sheep that I am (yes, it's true, baa), that means I have to, too.

Basically, I'm now motivated politically by one strong desire: to get past our recent history. That encompasses a great many things -- Iraq definitely, 9/11, our shitty economy, the religious right, voting irregularities, and the endless divisive bullshit. That takes in all of the Bush II administration at least, and extends back to Clinton, Bush I, and Reagan. I think King George deserves to be roundly impeached -- hell, I think he deserves prison time -- but fuck, I'd let it go just to be done with it. I think the pro-war right owes us on the cowardly, terrorist-hugging, Osama-sympathizing left some big, grovelly apologies, but I'd forgive and forget if we could just get someone in office who can see past oil revenues and "resolute" legacies to the bigger picture: money alone can't fix some of the dangers now bearing down on us.

So there's no fucking way I'd support Hillary Clinton at this point. It's nothing against her personally, but I'm very much on board the "no more hereditary kings" wagon, and the last thing I want to see is a continuation of the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton? cycle. And frankly, Hillary just doesn't seem up to the job. Not because she's a woman -- rather, it's because she's a pro-war conservative who's neck-deep in the same established interests that are already fucking over the country. Now, if it came to it, I'd vote for anyone with a (D) after their name over, say, that craven fucksock John McCain, and that includes Hillary. But I don't buy the "inevitable" line. I don't know a single enthusiastic Hillary supporter on a first-hand basis, and I think that says a lot, given how well we know this woman. If she can't convince a greater number of supporters after 16 years in the public eye, I don't think any amount of money will buy them for her within the next 16 months.

And I'm ambivalent about John Edwards. I'd take him over Hillary, but he still has a little too much of the stink of cowardice on him. Working with conservatives, and buckling to the pressure they exert are two different things, and Edwards seems much too inclined toward the latter to ever get around to doing the former. Like Clinton, he's a decent Senator... and I think he should remain one.

So I suppose that means I'm down with Obama for the time being. There 's a lot about him I'm still waiting to find out, and any of that could change my opinion. And yes, he's young politically, although he's got easily as much experience -- in both politics and life -- as George W. had when he first showed up (and he's got that whole stringing-coherent-sentences-together thing licked to boot.) But what I've seen so far I've liked, or at least have found reasonable. And damn but he's a charismatic fucker. Even my mother -- my two-time Bush voting, torture-rationalizing, war-supporting mother -- admitted that she like Obama. Whether that means she would ever consider voting for him is another question, of course -- but just the fact that she seems to respect him leads me to think that other conservatives just might. And his newness means that he's mostly clean of all the shit that's been thrown in recent decades, which means more to me than I'd ever have imagined it would. Most of all, it seems to me that electing Obama to the White House would be a clear affirmation to ourselves and the rest of the world that we've regained our sanity at long last.

Whoever turns out to be president next is all but fucked from the moment they enter office, of course. Whatever potential for greatness lies in the next administration will come not from what they might accomplish, but from their ability to avoid outright catastrophe. Even if we can force George W. to clean up his own mess in Iraq before he leaves office, we're going to be left with some odious economic, environmental, and geopolitical chores to finish. And I'm not optimistic enough to hope for an FDR-scale hero -- my assumption is that every politician will let you down in the end. But I think it's reasonable to ask for a clean break, and to demand someone to undertake the job who won't be trailing the muck in behind them. Even if we can't undo the damage, we can at least try to put a substantive end to it. So however I vote next time, I'll be doing my best to vote for a departure from all this. That's really my only goal now.

PS: The first person to tell a sick Anna Nicole Smith joke in the comments wins a prize.
3:42 PM ::
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Monday, February 05, 2007
Humanity, Real And Imagined

In recent months I've developed a serious walking habit -- four or five days a week I go out and cover a few miles. I finally "got" walking for pleasure while living in London, where I would ride the Tube to an unfamiliar part of town on empty afternoons, then head up to street level and wander aimlessly for hours through centuries-old lanes and alleyways, looking at the range and depth of humanity, and the amazingly detailed landscape of an ancient city. No museum was ever as compelling as Brick Lane on market day.

But Memphis isn't a pedestrian-friendly town, so in order to walk you have to go to designated walking areas, which are too controlled and truncated to really scratch the walking itch. Usually I go to a nice squirrel-filled park, or sometimes I go walk by the river. But sooner or later walking in even the prettiest circles gets incredibly fucking boring.

So yesterday I departed from the official river walk, and headed into downtown. It's all but deserted on Sunday afternoons, and in February even the tourists stay away. I went up the bluff, through the bizarre, Thomas Kinkade-esque planned community that makes no sense, and out into the warehouse district along South Main. I walked up and down Beale for the hell of it, then back to Main, following the trolley line to the Pyramid. In the long ago, my first boyfriend and I used to walk the same route together late at night; that was before the area was "revitalized" and the trolley line restored, and the place was populated almost solely by vagrants back then. Over the intervening years, that strip briefly became one of the most rapidly re-developed parts of town and for a while was bursting with trendy businesses. Now it's starting to look more like it did ten or fifteen years ago. They're still desperately restoring everything in sight, but the shop fronts are emptying out again, and while lots of upwardly-mobile types now inhabit the tall buildings, the only people out on the street are the crazies and vagrants -- how I love them. Especially the old black guy carrying the box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies and singing scat at the top of his lungs, scaring the tourists. Same as it ever was.

Anyway, it felt incredibly good to do some city-walking again, to be operating on a human scale, to be down on street level. I always know, but still manage to forget, how much of your environment you miss when you stay in your car. From a moving car, a city might as well be a movie backdrop; on foot, you can perceive the tiny signs of human habitation that gives the world a sense of depth and substance; in a car you can get the general idea, but you miss the detail and nuance that give a place its soul. In fact, I enjoyed my walk so much, I think I might try to make it a regular thing. Memphis doesn't offer me many options, but there are still plenty of alleyways that I haven't walked through yet -- I can probably squeeze a few months of Sunday afternoon walks out of the place before I exhaust its possibilities.

(Don't... just don't. I know you're tempted. Don't.)

So, I guess it's time I got around to mentioning something that I've been thinking about for several years, but have generally avoided for various reasons. And I can foresee getting some guff from several corners over what I'm about to say. But I just can't keep my yap shut any longer:

Seriously, Craig Brewer... what the fuck?

Now, in my limited, personal experience, Craig is a thoroughly decent guy. These days he's a little stand-offish and aloof (which is only what you'd expect from a guy who's recently made huge wads of cash in a competitive and highly-desirable business while living in a broken city), but he still looks after his Memphis friends and so far as I can tell he has yet to turn into the epic asshole that most recent Sundance darlings quickly become. So big respect to him for staying reasonably down-to-earth in the wake of his success.

But I've been seeing billboards around town for his most recent film, Black Snake Moan, and I can only say that I'm somewhat bemused. And I say that very reluctantly, because I don't want to be; I want to welcome a Memphis director's success with open arms. Furthermore, since I haven't had the opportunity to actually see the film yet, I reserve the right to amend or contradict anything I say here -- this is more about Mr. Brewer's self-presentation than any specific film. But, but... well, I mean, look:

- in the film, Christina Ricci plays a blonde nymphomaniac
- and Samuel L. Jackson plays a blues musician
- who chains Ricci up in his house to "cure" her
- and this is the poster
- and it's called "Black Snake Moan" for fuck's sake.

The blanket response to which, apparently, is "it's not what you think!" And yeah, maybe it's not. I understand that the film is supposed to be about subverting our assumptions about race and sex, but still... dude, what the fuck? Why do women always have to be strippers, whores and nymphomaniacs in your films? If this were a film about, say, a white woman keeping a black thug chained up in her house to "cure" him of his evil ways, would "it's not what you think!" really suffice?

And my discomfort with Brewer's work goes further than his female characters. The man makes "black" films, but is not black himself. Which is fine -- he can tell any story he wants. But it bothers me a bit that in a city that's roughly 65% African-American, and supposedly one of the most prosperous cities in the country for blacks, we have yet to produce a black director who's able to tell black stories from a black perspective. Which isn't Craig Brewer's fault, but I hope he at least spends some time thinking about it.

And my final thought on the matter: it may indeed be hard out here for a pimp. But at least he doesn't have to come home every night with his breath smelling like strangers' penises. I'm just sayin'.
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Thursday, February 01, 2007
An Erratic Outburst of Self-Indulgent Nostalgia

Last night, as sometimes happens, I was reading in bed when my mind latched onto an odd train of thought:

Nickelodeon was so cool when I was a kid; why can't it be like that now?

When I was a girl, Nickelodeon was the ne plus ultra of desirable home amenities for kids. (This is in the days before Nintendo, though that was coming quickly.) If you didn't have cable, you wanted to sleep over at the houses of kids who did, just so you could watch Nickelodeon. And if you did have it, you knew you were one of the lucky ones.

And back then it was unbelievably awesome. The network was barely scraping by, so its schedule was filled with kid-oriented shows picked up from foreign English-speaking countries, mostly British and Canadian imports. Do you remember The Tomorrow People and The Third Eye (especially the series about the labyrinth?) Did you sit through Today's Special and Pinwheel in the mornings even though they pretty much sucked? (Today's Special was particularly noxious titty-baby stuff, but when you're nine years old and the only other option is Donahue, you make do with what you've got.) And I don't think I even have to mention the coolest kids' show ever produced -- we can all just nod our heads in quiet agreement.

Now it's just endless boring cartoons. Yawn.

I'm not that big a TV watcher these days -- I do my Daily Show and some Adult Swim now and then, but not that much otherwise -- but I kinda wish Nickelodeon would start up a new channel mirroring their early days. Call it Nick Classic (or maybe Nick Pretentious Gen-X Hipster), showing nothing but Tomorrow People, Turkey TV and YCDTOTV reruns. Now there's a channel I would watch.
3:31 PM ::
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