Friday, April 30, 2010

Cecil Brown, white writers writing black material

Okay, since I was talking about Todd Bridges and John Hughes' inability to write blacks characters, here is a recent article by Cecil Brown on the Counterpunch website, Goodbye, White Friends!
"White People Aren't Into Black People Anymore"

Article mentions Clint Eastwood, Francis Ford Coppola, Morgan Freeman, Robert Altman, Richard Pryor, Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Louis Malle, Sean Connery, Johnny Depp, Heiner Muller, Volker Schlöndorff, Wim Wenders, Peter Aalbæk Jensen, Lars Von Tier and the Dogme bunch, Michael Moore, Bill Cosby, and finally, Melvin Van Peebles.

The article begins with a discussion of blacks with famous white friends who have stopped returning their calls.

Doesn’t it seem strange, even stupid, to expect Clint Eastwood to call you back? I personally would not have him in my address book. Not being that into his films to begin with — not since the movie about Charlie Parker’s life — I could not understand his disappointment. Why would he want to be friends with Clint Eastwood anyway? Clint, he insisted could really play the piano.

I yawned. Give me a break. I interviewed Clint on the set of "Bird," but to get the interview I had to wear a hassid wig and get in line with the extras.

But my friend is different. It just reminded me of the painful reality — many black people have famous white friends who don’t call them back any more.

And discussion on whites writing black characters:

The new black writers are not black, but white women. The novel that’s selling like hot cakes is a book by a white woman called “Helpers.”

When I sent my agent my book on my friend Richard Pryor, she wrote back that nobody’s interested in “Mr. Prior.”(Her spelling and her ignorance.) When she meant that if there is a book by a white guy who never met Richard that would be a book she’s interested in.


I still get return messages from some white friends, though it really doesn’t bother me. I know what the literary agencies are up to, and I know that white authors and playwrights and script writers write all black material. The public is not very discerning these days. Real Black people are not in—white guys writing about blacks are really in.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Who was South Park trying to offend and why?

The thing about "transgressive art"---does it really count as offensive when you're trying to offend people other than those who watch your show? How many devout Muslims watch South Park? I guess some rather fanatical Muslims found out somehow that the South Park fellows portrayed the prophet Mohammad on their show. Hard to imagine they were regular viewers, though.

It seems that a website for a group of al Qaeda sympathizers ran a photo of murdered film director Theo van Gogh (great-great grandnephew of Vincent van Gogh) killed after making an anti-Muslim documentary. The website said that the South Park fellows had acted stupidly and that they might face a similar fate.

South Park's attack on Scientology was intelligent and rather brave. The "Church" of Scientology likes to intimidate critics with lawsuits. Their "religion" is copyrighted and they'll sue you for copyright infringement if you try to discuss their beliefs. It's a "religion" that you have to join, be a member of for years and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to before you're allowed to know its basic tenets.

But the attack on Islam revealed nothing new, it didn't directly attack those who would murder them for making the episode. In fact, unless they are targeted for death, it undermines the episode's message that no one can attack Muhammad for fear of being killed. Other than the website telling them that they were doing something stupid, I'm not sure anyone has been especially upset over the episode even though it's been seen by far more people than the cartoons in Denmark.

Islam is like any other religion.

The Catholics in Northern Ireland are a brutally oppressed people, denied the right to vote, forced to live in ghettos, segregated from the rest of society, denied jobs and government services, brutalized and even routinely tortured by police. They launched a non-violent civil rights movement modeled on the one led by Martin Luther King, Jr, and they were gunned down in the streets, bombed, and put into prison camps. It was then that they turned to armed resistance.

The Catholics in the Republic of Ireland, on the other other hand, are brutal oppressors. You want to know how brutal, look at the scandal now over Catholic clergy's treatment of Irish children in their care. There was a case of a 12-year-old girl, pregnant after being raped at knife-point, who was barred from leaving the country because they were afraid she would get an abortion. (Their supreme court finally let her leave.)

So are you with the Irish Catholics or against them?

Muslims in Palestine are facing extremely violent, brutal oppression. The Zionists target Muslim children. They use starvation, not to mention white phosphorus, as a weapon against the people of Gaza.

On the other hand, governments run by Moslems elsewhere can be rather oppressive themselves.

A critique of South Park I read somewhere

They pointed out that South Park had fallen into a trap. They can whip out an episode very quickly thanks to computer animation. It just takes a few days. They can comment of current events as they happen. And they've been taking more advantage of this lately, but not all the episodes have been especially funny.

Isn't there a book out claiming South Park as a pro-Republican show? It didn't surprise me. The show does that have that slant. They had the gay boy scout episode which ended with the gay scoutmaster quitting so as not to offend the gay hating Boy Scouts. The anti-Mormon episode ended with a pro-Mormon message.

They're awfully mealy-mouthed for "transgressive artists".

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How Mike Wallace did it

Okay, here's how 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace got away with his aggressive interviews.

It turns out that what he would do is politely ask all his questions. The interviewee would answer. When they were done, the person would leave. And Mike Wallace and the camera crew would film him asking the same questions again, but this time very aggressively. They would re-shoot those reaction shots of his.

In case you were wondering why so many people put up with his crap all these years.

Now his repellent son is on Fox News.

Wallace's racism

Mike Wallace himself was exposed as a disgusting racist years ago. He was doing a story on crooked banks giving loans to low-income people with the conditions of the loan in tiny print that was impossible to read.

When Wallace thought the mics were off, he said of the Blacks and Hispanics being ripped off, They're hard to read if you're reading it over watermellon or a taco.

In 2004, he was arrested for physically attacking two New York City Taxi and Limousine inspectors because he discovered them talking to his limo driver who was double parked.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Two competing camps?

Joel, Dr Forester and that guy who preceded TV's Frank

Well, okay, I knew that Mike and two fellows who sound like Crow and Tom Servo have been hard at work. First they were doing commentary on DVDs that would otherwise have no commentary track. They were doing the MST3K thing on various bad movies.

They noted the cruel irony---that in order to play characters forced to watch bad movies, they were actually forced to watch bad movies over and over and over to come up with their wisecracks.

So they started watching better movies. Sort of. Independence Day, the Star Wars movies. They couldn't release DVDs with their commentary on the movies, of course, but they could (and did) record their commentary separately to be played with the movie.

Well, now the other guys are doing the MST3K thing live on stage. Joel, Dr Forester and that guy who used to be on there who I think also did the voice of a robot are appearing live.

Are they in competition? Did Joel and his crowd feel they were being overshadowed by the continuing work of Mike and his bunch?

Well, there's plenty of room for both if you ask me. But I don't know...

I did see a You Tube video sometime ago. A lot of people are doing their own MST3K stuff, doing amusing commentary on bad movies. And I thought some of them were pretty good. They gone uniformly nasty comments from viewers, but that always happens.

The public will only accept people from the original TV series doing that stuff.

It's sort of like a certain works of conceptual art. Like the artist whose "sculpture" consisted of a couple of basketballs in an aquarium. He charged a fortune for it. It's a artwork anybody could create, but it's only authentic when that guy does it and only because he got the idea first.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Todd Bridges, Breakfast Club

John Hughes, a damn racist?

Well, it turns out that John Hughes offered Todd Bridges a role in The Breakfast Club. So what happened? One of Hughes writing partners looked at Bridges and said, "We can't write for blacks," and that was that.

Can't write for blacks, eh. How does one "write for blacks"? The movie was set in a petit bourgeois high school. Do they think white bourgeois youth are wildly different from black bourgeois youth?

Well, Hughes was the one who offered Bridges the role. The other guy overruled him even though Hughes was in charge and would have been the one to make the decision.

Maybe Bridges wouldn't have been any good in it anyway.

Scott Baio was the first choice to star in Top Gun. Sadly, the role went to that idiot, Tom Cruise. His first big role. It should have been Scott Baio! HE should be the big star!

On the other hand, you had Gene Hackman who really dodged a bullet. Sherwood Schwartz wanted him to play Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch. Fortunately for him, the studio insisted on Robert Reed since he was already under contract. Around that time, Hackman starred in The French Connection in the role Peter Boyle turned down because his agent convinced him he was in danger of being type cast.

And, for some reason, John Denver was the first pick for An Officer and a Gentleman. But that's just weird.

Carrol O'Connor auditioned for the role of The Skipper on Gilligan's Island.

They wanted Tom Selleck to play Indiana Jones, but he was already set to play Magnum, P.I. Remington Steele had to pass on playing James Bond. Adam West was offered the role, by the way, but he turned it down because, after the George Lazenby fiasco, he thought only someone who was actually British should play Bond.

Danny Thomas was making his move to buy the rights to The Godfather. Planned to play the title role himself. Would that have been so bad?

Was John Hughes a jerk?

Many years ago, Spy magazine ran a hatchet job on Hughes. They attacked him in a lengthy article.

Let me see. He yelled STOP! over and over as they drove around in a mini-van scouting locations, and this annoyed the other people. He was late to a screening of one of his movies. After making the people wait for him, the projectionist started the movie before Hughes arrived, and Hughes may have fired him. Hughes interviewed people for jobs by asking them questions about irrelevant things and making them reenact football plays. He made wealthy studio executives stand waiting for him in an alleyway where they were filming.

He also did sort of an ad spoof in National Lampoon inviting women to send "pictures of your husband's butt".

Now that I think about it, they didn't accuse him of anything terrible.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Johnny Cash movie

I don't really trust musicians in movies. A number of reasons. One is that judging an actor's work is subjective, and I don't entirely trust my subjective judgment. If it's a singer, I think, well, I know he's not a real actor.

There are all these singers who were probably perfectly fine actors----Elvis, Johnny Cash, Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra. But I just can't trust my judgment.

Plus actors who are already singing sensations, even if they are new as actors, can't be pressured into doing anything degrading or humiliating like other new stars are. Even Chuck Norris had to do horrible, horrible things on screen in his early days. You see a big music star in a movie, you know full well they won't have a nude scene----although----didn't Rick Springfield (was that his name) appear nude in something?

Okay, so I watched a movie last night. Five Minutes to Live. AKA Door to Door Maniac. I was working as I watched it and didn't pay close attention. But it was made around 1961, starring Johnny Cash as a vicious criminal. And there's something about him that was kind of frightening. He was extremely religious and probably a perfectly nice fellow, but when he's waving a gun around----

Cash takes a woman hostage in her house. His partner, Vic Tayback, goes to the bank where her husband works and forces him to hand over the money.

It was a nice, low budget movie. With adorable little Ronnie Howard at age 6 or 7 in a pivotal role.

Oh, I guess I'm not giving too much away----the woman's husband is about to leave her for another woman and isn't that upset at the thought of her being killed. Kind of a non-comedic version of Ruthless People.