Friday, March 29, 2019

Ten Reasons Why I Thought The Movie, “US” Was Trash (AKA Terrible)




WARNING: This week’s blog is FULL of spoilers

Let’s get this out of the way, I thought Get Out was a fantastic movie. Furthermore, I thought Jordan Peele was incredibly smart to make his directorial debut a horror film about racism.  Because let’s face it – racism is scary.

So it makes sense that I couldn’t wait to see US, the movie.  I found the trailer to be both thrilling and chilling (by the way, that trailer editor should win the Golden Trailer Award – yeah, that’s a real thing).  I bought my tickets online in January, making sure that my boyfriend, his daughter, my mother and I had our favorite seats at The Arclight Theater in Sherman Oaks. I kept checking the rating on Rotten Tomatoes every few days to make sure it was still 100 percent fresh.

Finally, the day had come.  It was time to see US.

The house was packed and buzzing with nervous/excited chattering.  I held onto my boyfriend’s arm as the lights went down and the opening scene-music began. Ten minutes in, I was utterly engrossed, trying frantically to play chess in my head with Peele, determined to figure out the plot-twist before he revealed it at the end of the film.  My heart raced when the red family suddenly appeared at the end of the driveway. Moments later as the red boy shimmied up a tree like a leopard, I heard myself emit a shriek with the rest of the audience. Out loud, I warned the family away from the windows for fear that they would be easy targets for the red family.  But as soon as the red family got inside and the “tethered” Adelaide started speaking, I felt my antennae go up.  It was the same feeling I had when I first heard the details of Jussie Smollett’s alleged hate-crime attack.

Hold up, something isn’t making sense here…

Okay, here are my top ten gripes about US:

1)    When the “Red” Adelaide enters the house for the first time and tells her long, distractingly tedious, “Once upon a time” story about being a shadow, not ONCE does she mention the fact that she is the original Adelaide, a child who was abducted and placed with clones underground, while her “shadow” assumed her life. Don’t you think that would have come up? I mean, wouldn’t that have been the first thing out of your mouth?

2)    This colony of clones or “tethered people”: 

She says the government made them and put them down there, right?  So was the government keeping them there all those years?  If so, how?  And why didn’t they provide actual food for them? Also, if they’ve only ever eaten raw rabbit meat, how are they so athletically superior to regular humans? 

3)    What’s the deal with Jeremiah 11:11? I looked up the Biblical verse, and it still doesn’t make sense.

4)    If the captured-as-a child-Adelaide could move around freely and organize all those clones into a whole Hands-Across-America thing, why the F*%k didn’t she go back above ground and run her little butt back home to her real family?

5)    And speaking of Hands Across America – what was the point of that?

6)    Were some of them ZOMBIE clones?  If not, then why didn’t the white-guy clone die after Gabe delivered a crowbar into his skull?

7)    Why did Peele decide to over-explain some things and not to explain other things AT ALL?

8)    Why did "Red" keep handcuffing or tying up Adelaide when she caught her? Why didn’t she just kill her like she said she wanted to over and over?  (I know, I know, we need "Adelaide" for the sequel, but then throw me some explanation as to why “Red” wants her alive please.)

9)    What was up with Jason and the magic trick? Wasn’t it just a ring made out of a lighter flint?

10)    My biggest gripe:

I was not scared. 

I’m not saying that I didn’t jump a couple of times at the pop-outs, I’m not made of stone.  But I’m saying that it just wasn’t scary. I’m talking about that kind of bone-chilling scary, scared-to-turn-the-lights-out-when-its-time-for-bed scary, scared-to-look-in-the-bathroom-mirror-for-fear-of-seeing-two-reflections scary. 

It just wasn’t scary.

But I do think some people were scared – the critics.  I feel like critics were too scared to pan Jordan Peele’s much-anticipated sophomore effort because Get Out was so innovative, fresh and intelligent. And yes, also because he is mixed-race-black (yeah, I said it) and they don’t want to be on the wrong side of history here.  It’s kind of like that old children’s fable, The Emperor’s New Clothes.  You know the one where the Emperor is fooled into paying for a whole, new invisible wardrobe and all of his subjects are too afraid to admit that they can’t see his outfit, so they praise it instead?


So, in conclusion, I think that the scariest thing about seeing US, the movie, might be admitting to your friends afterward that you just didn’t understand it.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Here’s Why Black Twitter Has Anointed House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi The Patron Saint of Shade


Shade:  Subtle sneering expression of contempt for or disgust with someone — sometimes verbal and sometimes not. Slang term for insult.

The clap back.

I know that even if you didn’t watch the State of The Union address (all 82 minutes of it) unless you’ve been on a complete social media fast this week, you had to have seen one of the thousands of memes of Nancy Pelosi sitting behind President Trump while he addressed the nation on Tuesday night. Nancy eye-rolling, Nancy busily fact-checking her copy of his speech and of course, Nancy Pelosi clapping.

I kind of held my breath when I turned on the State of The Union Tuesday night.  I feel like we as a nation, are so inundated with sketchy, biased news stories from the “far” sides of both major parties. So sometimes I try to clear my mind of prior prejudices and give this administration a chance to be better than the way they’ve been portrayed in the media.

But this time, like every time, I ended up getting the political equivalent of a gut punch.  It really hurt my feelings when that chamber full of white men in suits stood and cheered when our President described The Caravan as murderous, drug-dealing immigrants or when he used terms such as, “ripped from the womb” or “execute the baby” when describing late-term abortions. Side note: I know it’s controversial, but I still honestly don’t understand why ANY man gets a say on what a woman does with her body.  And why, when a woman makes the oftentimes painful decision to terminate a pregnancy, it’s a matter for the courts and not a medical professional.

So, now I’m feeling like, Oh MAN do I miss HIM (you know who I mean).  It was all so different, so much better when HE was delivering this address.  It was the safest and most taken care of, in a national sense, that I’ve ever felt...

Sorry, I’m back now.  I had to get a tissue.

So, Tuesday night I was sitting at my desk watching the State of The Union and feeling more and more distinctly unsettled.  And I almost turned it off because sometimes watching him speak fills me with so much fear and anger that I can’t shake it off for days at a time.  And I have to be really mindful of things that disturb me, as I’m in recovery and my emotional balance is everything. If I’m thrown into a continual state of disturbance, I could stand to lose the most important thing in my life — my sobriety.

But again, I digress.

Anyway, I’m about to turn it off, because I feel like there’s no respite from the barrage of hurtful things coming out of his mouth. And I think that of course, Nancy is like a hostage behind him, like she has to be the very picture of dignity up there, representing our nation.

I need another side moment here.  Until recently, I wasn’t a big fan of House Speaker Pelosi.  The irony of her being The Speaker was that her actual speaking voice irked me to the point where I would rush to lower the volume whenever she appeared on TV. Plus, I’ve always thought of her as frail, scattered and soft.  In fact, until this business with the shutdown and the wall, I was not-so-secretly disappointed that she hadn’t been voted out as Speaker.

But then I, along with the rest of the nation, watched as she and her BFF, Senator Chuck Schumer, bravely stood their ground during one of the riskiest, scariest games of chicken that America has ever seen.  By refusing to fund “The Wall" they subsequently forced our president to reopen the government without having to compromise a thing. Meanwhile, Nancy had already quietly canceled his January 23rd SOTU ("I'm writing to inform you that the House will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President's State of the Union address until the government has reopened"). And then even after he reopened it, she still made him sweat a little before rescheduling it.  In case you missed this in school (I did), the President cannot just show up to deliver the State of the Union - he or she must first wait for a written invitation from The Speaker of the House.

Okay? Mad respect.

And for the first time, I became aware of the real power she was concealing under that fluttery, fragile demeanor.

So anyway, back to Tuesday night, while it was hard not to be entirely captivated by those stunning female-lawmakers dressed in all white, it was really NP who was the star of the night.  With every set of eyes on her, she was Leonard Bernstein up there, conducting the whole dang event. We all watched her for the signals; when to dismiss, when to rise, when to groan and of course when to clap.

That clap.

I found myself watching to the end, fully engrossed in the “show behind the show.”  I needed an ally to view the event with even a modicum of safety, and that ally turned out to be, none other than, Speaker Pelosi and the funny little way she claps.

Nancy’s daughter, Christina Pelosi had this to say about her mother’s clapping.  A clapping style, which, by the way, has now earned her mother the internet equivalent of a standing ovation:

“Oh yes, that clap took me back to my teen years.  Frankly, it means that she’s disappointed that you thought this (whatever it was) could work — but here’s a clap.”

So, I gotta go with Black Twitter on this one. After this year’s State of The Union, House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi is indeed The Patron Saint of Shade.  And long may she reign.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Not Everybody Loved My Brave Magic Article Last Week – Here’s Why:




Victim

A person harmed, injured, or killed

Synonyms: Casuality, loss, loser, prey

Victimized: Singling out someone (or a group of people) for cruel and or unjust treatment.

Synonyms: To be persecuted, bullied, discriminated against, terrorized.

When we stop feeling sorry for victims it’s called Compassion Fatigue. 

Compassion fatigue is used mostly use to describe the phenomena of walking by homeless people and not breaking one’s stride or interrupting one’s cell phone conversation. It’s a numbing out, it’s also called desensitization. Many of us felt at one time or another, genuine compassion for these folks without homes.  But now because of the sheer number of homeless people, we as a society have wearily decided to turn a collective blind eye.  We no longer feel as though we have the resources or the wherewithal to continue to address the problem on a daily basis. 

Like: I hate to say it, but I’m just tired of dealing with this.

I wrote a story about an experience that I had last month about being the only black person at a 600-person retreat, called Brave Magic.  Five minutes after the story went live, comments started pouring in.  Most of the comments were positive and supportive.  Others were actual rebuttals to my essay and many of these “rebuttals” were aggressively negative.

I wrote:

“And it hadn’t even vaguely occurred to me that out of 600 people, I might be the only black one. I am more than just shocked, I am deeply saddened.”

A commenter wrote back: “This woman is playing her victim card by showing up to this event preoccupied with her race and she's complaining about having a lousy time?”


I wrote: “Really?! How is it that an event this big, in twenty fricken eighteen can be so incredibly homogenous?”

And another comment wrote: “So?  My wife and I were the only white people at an Eritrean wedding and we had a great time!”

I wrote: But in this age of “Hamilton” and inclusion riders, how could the organizers of a 600-person event have not even considered the optics and possibility of an all-white audience?

And this commenter wrote back: I’m sick of this victim mentality.  This writer is desperately seeking some way to blame racism and not just her own awkward feeling of being the only black person.”

Victim mentality?

Victim mentality: The feeling of being unfairly singled out for persecution.

At first these comments stung me.  I felt frustrated that my words and intended message were so misconstrued.  But then I read a little further and realized a deeper truth. These commenters were unable to read the words that I wrote as anything less than an indictment of the current culture of privilege in our society. It wouldn’t have mattered what I wrote in the article, because they had made up their minds that I was suffering from a “victim mentality” the moment they read the title:

I Was The Only Black Person At Elizabeth Gilbert’s And Cheryl Strayed’s Retreat

I think I get it now…

Slavery was hundreds of years ago, right?  The civil rights movement was what?  Decades ago now?  And affirmative action is currently charging colleges, universities and corporations to diversify their populations, right?  And they’re doing it, right?

They’re thinking: We’re ready to move on now, why aren’t they?

I understand that there were thousands who saw my article as a complaint, my observations as indictments.  They think that writing about being the only one who looks like me in a room of 600 people is tantamount to irresponsible whining. 

I write about what I’ve experienced and all they hear is “Oh poor me!” 

They do not know the difference between a victim and “victim mentality.”  They have not bothered to look up the definition of the word victimized.  In other words, they are ignorant (sorry, I know that word is harsh, but it’s actually quite accurate in this case).

A little education on this subject for those who don’t know or may have forgotten:  

Black people in this country have been victimized since Europeans decided that we were literally worth less than them (3/5 of a man?  Wasn’t that the math?)  -- this is a fact. Victimized, as I stated up top, means, discriminated against, bullied or terrorized. So, by this very definition, I and everyone who looks like me here in America is, in fact a victim.

But my Brave Magic piece was not written in “victimese.”

I did not write it as a victim.

I wrote it as a reporter.  I was simply reporting my observations to whoever cared to read about what was like to be me, Laura Cathcart Robbins, a black woman at an all-white event.

But I do think these comments are really just a sampling of the way so many American’s feel about all marginalized people in our country.  This whole “you guys need to just get over it” mentality has permeated our society from top to bottom.  The men and women who negged on my essay were really voicing their frustrations about having to deal with the realities of living in this “melting pot” that we call America.  They want us all to just shut up about the “past” and be grateful for where we are now (which is where exactly, by the way?). 

Well here’s something you may not know: We want to move on too.

With the exception of Kanye and a few others, most of the black people that I know don’t subscribe to the notion that America was ever great – for black people.  And we don’t have any interest at all in going back to any calendar period in American history. 

So why can’t we just forget about the past and move on?

Mainly because there are so many Americans who won’t let us.  We can’t move on because we’re still being disproportionately arrested.  We can’t move on because we’re still getting shot down in the streets and our murderers aren’t getting convicted.  We can’t move on because we are still being pulled over for driving while black, getting the police called on us for shopping, sleeping or babysitting while black. We can’t move on because our votes and voices are still being systematically suppressed.  We can’t move on because we’re still getting stared down when we enter a convenience store or asked to leave when we take too long to purchase something.

We can’t move on because in the eyes of a great many Americans, we are still worth less.

So, it’s not for lack of effort.  It’s not that we don’t want to “just move on” (believe me, we do).  But we can’t, not as long as these daily injustices continue to occur.

Anyway, I’m starting to go down a tangent hole, and I’d really like to (as my friend, Chariesse would say) “keep it classy” – so I’ll end here with this:

Victimized people do need somewhere to share their collective voices – we are all responsible for not only making sure that that space exists, but that it continues to get more expansive and inclusive.

For I believe it is then, and only then that compassion fatigue can slowly be replaced with compassion invigoration.  So, let’s keep this conversation going.  And let’s really make America great “again” – but this time for everyone.


#idontspeakvictimese.