movies

Lost in Translation

Hindsight is always 20/20 and I’ve come to realize that for the last week, my coworker has been seeing me in quite the wrong light.

Forget Medea and Jason, this was a Greek tragedy!

Forget Medea and Jason, this was a Greek tragedy!

When I told her what I was going to see after work last Thursday, her eyes got gleefully big and told me that I would have a blast!

I appreciated the well wishes, but I was surprised. This is a coworker who every weekend, tells stories of embraces with strangers at trendy bars, henna tattoos and occasionally dred-locking her blonde hair. To see her be impressed with my tickets to Medea was a pleasant surprise.

Monday morning, she made clear to me what she meant.

“Did you love it,” she squealed as she burst into my office. “She’s so funny…”What’cha’ll gone do? what’cha’ll gone do? Y’all best know dat ‘ho.’ I could imitate her all day!”

Apparently, my coworker did not notice the important difference between the names “Medea,” the enchanting daughter of King Aeëtes, granddaughter of sun god Helios and wife to hero Jason, whom she helped through his trials as he fought to claim the golden fleece. And “Madea,” a woman who is really Tyler Perry in drag and who delights in being sassy, protecting her offspring through colorful language and generally making life harder for black people.

I’m not sure what about my Queen Elizabeth mousepad or the framed degree from Bryn Mawr on my wall that led her to believe that I would poison my eyes with such a thing, but I’m worried that my identity is not being made clear. Suffice to say I’m hoping to keep my office door closed, and play my Chopin a little more loudly through it.

PS. In case you’re wondering if the Medea retrospective featuring the various incarnations of her story as told by Francesco Cavalli, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Saverio Mercandante, Darius Milhaud and progressive Dutch rock band Kayak was worth the $100+ ticket. It was indeed.

Self Loathing for Humans and Non Humans Alike

district_nineIf you haven’t seen District 9, please run to the theater and see it immediately! Not only is the acting phenominal, the script amazing, the effects work outstanding, the phone promo done by yours truly (call 1-866-666-6001 to hear OreoWriter keep humans safe!) but the movie presents a wonderful example of why being an Oreo is so important.

You might worry that a movie that is clearly in part a segregation and apartheid allegory would miss its opportunity to show us how important it is to despise that which we cannot help, but the powers that be did not let us down.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE, DO NOT READ ON UNTIL DOING SO.

REALLY, NORMALLY, I’D SAY GO AHEAD AND SPOIL IT, BUT THIS MOVIE IS ALL KINDS OF AMAZING, SO COME BACK WHEN YOU’VE SEEN IT. WE’LL STILL BE HERE.

 

district-9-trailer

 

 

All right, here we go.

So. Do you know who the scariest people in the movie were? Not the aliens, they were clearly misunderstood. Not Multinational United, the cruel company who tortures innocents. Not Tanya’s father, the frighteningly cold businessman. And not the nameless mercinary who shot to kill on sight.

The scariest people were the blacks who lived in the District 9 ghetto with the aliens. These dark skinned folks lived in garbage, weilded machetes–much scarier than cool alien guns and more primitive than sleek human weapons, were dim enough to believe in specific sorts of witchcraft and were morally bankrupt enough to enforce further enslavement on their fellow subjugated.

Now, before you say that OreoWriter is reading too much into this set of facts, consider this:

When all the melanin-heavy were killed at once…the theater exploded into applause and laughter. What a relief!

I can only hope that they were not simply celebrating the fact that an enemy was squashed.That in their response was at least a hint of inherent discomfort with the victims. And I’ve got a good chance of being right, because when bombs went off at MNU, there was no laughter. When the nameless mercinary got ripped limb from limb, there was no applause. But when the black folks were destroyed en masse, there was so much hubbub that the audience almost missed reacting to the leader getting his head exploded.

I’m not saying that I need validation where ever I can get it. I am saying that it feels good to be reminded by a sold out theater that one’s hard work and shared fears are not in vain. For when this momentous scene happened, I cheered myself (Internally, of course. Making audible comments during a movie would ruin years of Oreo work) because there on screen was a perfect physical representation of what I am working so very hard to do. 

So go see the movie. The acting is phenominal, the script is amazing, the effects work is outstanding, the phone promo’s done by yours truly (call 1-866-666-6001 to hear OreoWriter keep humans safe!) and there’s this hilarious and moving scene in Act III. You’re going to love it.

I Have a Dream…That White People Will Tell My Story

Thank you to Dexter King for doing the right thing.

This week, the son of civil rights icon MLKing, sold the rights to his father’s story to director Steven Spielberg. This is the first time that anyone has been allowed to purchase the rights.

dexter-king-e

Dexter King

Good on you, Dex. Way to uphold the Oreo spirit. Who better to tell the story of a black man of  modest means and constant struggle than a white bazillionaire?

The fact that Spielberg, in order to justify his need for the rights, produced neither a script nor an outline for the film should raise zero eyebrows. Though he hasn’t proven to Dex that he has the right story, he has proven to the King heir that he has the right amount of cash to put down for it, and what is more Anglo-tastic than capitalism.

Besides, a movie about a black person that is also written and/or directed by a black person suddenly goes from “Oscar contender” to “niche film.” And that’s just not marketable. Unless it’s done by Tyler Perry who is a marketing machine, but is doing nothing but hurting the cause.

Another debt of gratitude then to directors of color like Spike Lee (who has done quite enough, thank you), John Singleton, F. Gary Gary (The Negotiator, The Italian Job, Be Cool),Carl Franklin (One False Move, Devil In A Blue Dress, Out Of Time), Clark Johnson (SWAT, The Sentinel), Tim Story (Barbershop, Fantastic Four 1 and 2) and Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, King Arthur, Tears of the Sun, Shooter) for not picking up the MLK helm and running with it.

Why settle for the predictable nuance, verisimilitude and personal experience a black director could bring to the MLK story when a sweeping John Williams score and a perfectly timed push-in can tell us exactly how to feel and will guide us out of the guilt and toward a sunny, unchallenging ending.

Stephen Spielberg

Steven Spielberg

Also, Spielberg has proven that we don’t really need black people to tell black people’s stories. After Amistad and The Color Purple, I say let’s turn over all of “our” movies over to him. That way, we can concentrate on how the powers that be see our struggles and learn to more accurately adhere to their vision.

The best part of this puzzle: A rich, powerful white man now owns the rights to a black man’s life. Makes you nostalgic for the old days, doesn’t it.