The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Four days off I.F.

I had four days of lazy eating habits right around Father’s Day (Nicki was going out of town, so we kind of celebrated early on Thursday. Then “cheat day” Friday, and Saturday was fun…oh well.

Felt bloated by Sunday, and had gained about 5 pounds (!) REALLY happy to be back on I.F. yesterday. I’m pretty sure that that shocking weight gain is the waste material passing through my intestines.
I would expect a whole bunch of different factors influence longevity and Infant Mortality Rate. I suppose it’s possible that there is simply no way to assess whether one system is better than another…especially if we project out into the future based on medical discoveries of the next three decades. But when people mention “obesity” as a factor (which of course it is) that’s something that can be overcome (in many cases) with education, counseling and focused support—something that would certainly be a part of any decent health care plan.

Does anyone have data on the relative progress of health care systems under UHC and non-UHC conditions? Everything else would have to remain relatively constant, of course, so we couldn’t compare America with Sweden, but we might be able to compare Sweden pre and post-UHC. It is valid to ask “How LONG would the average person receive better health care.” If the question is impossible to answer, though, I would suspect that it becomes more of a political Rorschach than anything else.
Saw “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.” Being an old Marvel fan, I anticipated this one pretty hard. Surfer looked cool, and they DID get him right. And the silly banter in the Baxter Building? Cool, as well. Special effects: decent, sometimes a little cheesy. It irritates me that Alicia Masters is black. Considering how “Blade” was deliberately and maliciously de-sexed by David Goyer, it seems that everyone in the Marvel Universe likes girls, even the monsters…unless they’re black. And black women, once again, are sexually available to white guys. Even the monsters. Over on the DC side, even “Hellboy” got a kiss. It disgusts me.

Now, the director, Tim Story, is black, so trust me, this rot runs deeper than hell, all the way to the Top of the studio and out to the grass roots of the ticket buyers.
We were watching “Set It Off” the other day. A terrific crime movie with great performances all around. A terrific love scene between Jada Pinkett and Blair Underwood. Directed by F. Gary Gray…also black. Now, what happened to his career? Simple: he got kicked upstairs. He directed “The Negotiator” with Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson (everyone’s favorite Badass Eunuch), which of course had no sex in it.

Went from there to “A Man Apart,” Vin Diesel’s change-of-pace film, where there was romance, but no sex (and little melanin) and then hit the jackpot with “The Italian Job.” I noticed something kind of funny in “The Italian Job.” It felt structured for a love scene, but didn’t have one. I kind of wondered if F. Gary Gray had talked the studio out of doing it—didn’t want to do one with a white guy? Could be. Then he did “Be Cool” the sequel to “Get Shorty,” which had a black singer vamping up to ArrowSmith’s Steven Tyler to get a break (perilously close to real life there, aren’t we?) and “The Brazilian Job” is coming up for 2009. Now, a director gets an average of 5% of the production costs of a film.

Hard to fault Gray for going where the money is, but it really points out a problem. Most of us can be bought…or rented anyway, if the money gets big enough. I’m quite sure that Denzel weighs the difference between 20 million dollars for a sexless studio film, and 3 million for a little film with Spike. Or Will Smith. Anyone think that his “I Am Legend” will feature a sexual romp like Charlton Heston’s “Omega Man” did? And oh, Heston’s was with a black woman (Rosalind Cash).

And I’m starting to see more interracial commercials on television. That is, clearly domestic partnerships with husband and wife of different races. As I predicted, the first I’m seeing are white men and Asian women.

It’s pretty clear who’s controlling the fantasy machinery. You see, this is why diversity at the decision making level is important, and the changing percentage of racial representation in the population is, in my mind, a good thing.

Like I’ve said before, if you have an all-male judging committee at a text book company judging, say, 20th Century Literature, you’ll get fewer women represented. All female? Fewer men. All white? Fewer non-white. All American? Fewer non-American.

Not because of anything wrong with males, females, whites, or Americans. Just because that’s the way human beings are.

Everybody thinks they’re better. Sort of like the average driver thinks he’s above-average. Absent Enlightenment, the only answer I see is diversity. And it is amusing to see whatever group is losing the advantage squeal about it...

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