The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, July 23, 2006

My Super ex-Girlfriend (2006) and other topics...

Saw this sporadically funny movie last night…and felt that there was a much, much funnier movie lurking in there.  Uma Thurman plays “G-Girl”, a superheroine who falls in love with a normal guy (Luke Wilson).  The relationship falls apart, and that is, as they say, when the fun begins.  Don’t get me wrong…there is much genuine hilarity to be had here.  But Uma’s twitchy characterization, of a woman who is plagued by the need to continuously save the world, while her personal life falls to pieces, suggests another, deeper, funnier, more honest film lurking in there.  It needed to be crazier, more creative visually.  The relationship between “G-Girl” and the villain “Professor Bedlam” needed to be tarted up.  We NEVER get to see exactly what villainy Bedlam has been up to, and that creates some problems understanding the characters’ reactions to each other.  Is he a Lex Luthor type?  Does he kill?  Or just steal?  We need to know that in order to know what to feel about the rest of the film.  And we never do.  I’m going to give it a “C+” for a few hysterical scenes, and an all-out performance by Thurman.  Director Ivan Reitman (“Ghostbusters”) just didn’t have his comic rhythm fully in hand.

Just got back from the Hurston-Wright writing workshop.  It was intense, and I wanted to do a core dump of things I saw there, and thoughts I’ve had in the last week.

1)     There are a lot of good writers out there.  I was blessed to have several of them in my class.  In fact, there wasn’t a loser in the bunch, thank God.  And one of them…well, one of them might just be a genius.  I’m not sure.  Hope so…

2)     Women outnumbered men by a wide margin. We had high school students from across the country, and all but two of them were girls.  They complained that the boys were so quiet…the girls were brash, funny, confident, and kicked butt.  This grew into general discussions of black men and women in America…and some of the discussions weren’t fun.  You all know that I straddle a fence that can make me unpopular with people who are strongly to the left or right: One, that we as individuals, especially Black American individuals, must take responsibility for our individual fates—there is no one else to do it.  Two, that historically, we were indeed screwed over major league big time.  I don’t suggest to “just get over it.”  I say that if you want to bring your dreams into existence, you must find a way to move forward despite your wounds and pain.  Black women have taken point right now—and the reasons are the same reason you see black and Asian women having sex with white men in movies, but you don’t see non-white men having sex with ANYBODY.  If you want to know the core difference, look at the Oscars two years ago.  Halle Berry got her Oscar for whoring herself to Billy Bob Thornton.  Denzel got his  for dying in the street like a mad dog.  And that, right there, in the secret greasy heart of men, is the secret: we’d like access to all the females of all groups, and we’d like the men of other groups to…well, to crawl away and die.  As men and women, we aren’t terribly attractive.  As black or white, we’re less attractive still.  As human beings, on the other hand, there is hope.  As spirits, there is light itself.

3)     Was listening to Michael Savage on the radio yesterday.  My sister likes him quite a bit.  I don’t.  But I wanted to give him a chance.  He was saying something positive about an Muslim who wrote a book about the silent Muslim majority, and I kinda liked that.  Then he got off on Global Warming.  He accused Al Gore of lying without being specific about the lies, which bothered me.  He then took note of the current heat wave, and said the “left wing media” was scientifically ignorant, and rattled off the dates for all-time hottest days in various states, many of which were before the invention of the internal combustion engine.  I had the terrible feeling that his audience was nodding their heads “yup!  Lyin’ Liberals!” like little bobble-head dolls.  The problem is that all the facts about cyclic weather and solar fluctuations, which anti-Global Warming folks often quote, are covered quite nicely in the works of various climatologists I’ve seen addressing these issues.  Those attacking them seem to be speaking to an audience who thinks this is new data.  My other problem is that these guys are starting to sound to me like the Tobacco companies, who set an impossibly high standard for “proof” that tobacco (and now second-hand smoke) causes cancer, and then sat back to see who they had conned into accepting an impossible challenge. 

4)     He also said that the Liberal Media was attacking Israel horribly.  I’ve seen a lot fo news shows on Israel’s attacks on Lebanon.  It may be ignorance on my part, but it seems to me that they are just as likely to show Islamic extremist attacks on Israel.  Does anyone out there have an opinion on this?

5)     While I was in Washington D.C. I went on an Afro-Centric tour of the city.  I vastly enjoyed most of it, especially talk of Benjamin Banneker, an African-American who was integral to the design of Washington D.C.  I was grieved, once again, that I had never even heard of him until after I graduated college.  On numerous occasions, I’ve had white Conservatives ask me: “why does there need to be Black History? Why isn’t American History enough?”  Because any given group will tend to over-state their own contributions, and minimalize the contributions of others.  The ONLY way blacks have gotten into the history books is by voting and thinking as a bloc, and forcing the majority group to change.  This has been an horrifically slow and painful process, fighting all the way.  Whether that :outsider” group is women, gays, blacks, the disabled, the non-Christian, or whatever—don’t stop fighting, and don’t assume you are morally superior to the oppressing group.  Blacks, women, gays, and non-Christians, when holding the reins of power, display the same grasping pathologies.  The key to freedom is balance and love.

6)     While on the tour, I was disturbed when the tour guide brought up that old wive’s tale about Napoleon shooting off the nose of the Sphinx, supposedly offended at the “Negro-ness” of the features.  Sigh. Would anyone with knowledge of the slightest actual original documentation on this please stand up?   A diary entry?  A letter by a soldier at the time?  I understand the need to establish a history that includes black people, but when you get your facts wrong, it gives bigots a chance to reject everything else you are saying.

7)     I had only Scott Sonnon’s FlowFit 2 to exercise with while I was there.  When I first arrived, my body looked pretty carved—I’d been doing Kettlebells, yoga, and FlowFit for my fitness.  After a week of just doing 20 minutes of Flowfit, most of my muscle mass was intact, and I was more flexible.  My wind had decreased a bit—I’m not advanced at FF2 yet, still working on the coordination and recovery aspect.  But I’ll tell you this…Scott has created a graduated path from couch potato to world-class athlete.  NO ONE who can do FF2 for twenty minutes, at one rep per minute, would be anything other than a paragon.  I kid you not.  And because of his brilliant instinctive training methods, it is really more a mental than a physical system.  I am seriously impressed, and can only HOPE that one day I’ll do just that.  Twenty minutes.  Sixty seconds per rep (right now, it takes me about 2 1/2 minutes per rep.)  Mother of God.
The first Two-Day Path workshop is at the end of September.  I’m going to be talking about every aspect of it, working out how we’re going to handle it.  This is the One.  This is what I’ve been waiting for for three years.  It’s going to be fabulous!

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