The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Beowulf (2007)

As to blacks thinking there is more than one “race” of blacks in America…well, duh. All depends on how you define the term, doesn’t it, since, strictly speaking, there’s really no such thing. But if one creates that artificial (but useful) category, if there are multiple “blacks” then of course there are multiple “whites” and “Asians.” There are those who consider Jews a separate “race” which is all right with me as long as “blacks” are broken into even more sub-groups—since there is more genetic diversity in Sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else. It’s up to you. My only rule is to play by the same rules consistently.
So the former White House press secretary comes out saying that Bush, Cheney etc. were lying about the Valarie Plame affair. The sad thing is that the usual crowd will surface defending this bunch of losers. And in so defending, they are making the Right look like a bunch of myopic lock-step idiots. PLEASE stop trying to cover for them. You are damaging your own cause, and we need a healthy Conservative wing. You backed the wrong horses this time. Get over it and move on. The longer it takes you to state the obvious, the more anyone in the Middle will justifiably consider you tainted beyond redemption.
And no, I don’t think Iraq was “a good idea done poorly.” It was a bad idea from the get-go. If someone says: “wouldn’t it be a good idea to buy a Mercedes?” You have to ask: at what cost? If you don’t ask that question, your intent simply doesn’t matter. Children don’t reckon the cost of things. They just look at the shiny toy and say wouldn’t it be great. If we could have removed Saddam by pushing a button, and could have been sure who would replace him and that it would all go well, great. But that’s a fantasy game, akin to the “if you knew a terrorist had planted a nuclear weapon and had only an hour to get the information, wouldn’t you torture him?” question, which contains about four or five critical preassumptions in less than twenty-five words. And I heard that bandied about on talk radio and in supposedly intelligent conversations at least a hundred times. It would make me weep if I didn’t have such a sick sense of humor.
Regarding the “Gays in the locker room getting erections” comment, I still don’t think that that was homophobic. Juvenile, perhaps, on the order of thinking that “wow! If I was in a roomful of gorgeous women, I’d sport wood instantly!” variety. Comparing this to the reality of what going to a “Clothing optional” resort is missing the point. Unless the person who said it has BEEN to a “Clothing Optional” resort, or had access to that data and ignored it, I don’t see that it was bigoted. Ignorant, maybe. Men see something they are attracted to, they are visually driven creatures, they respond. True enough that in sweat lodges and nudist events, they don’t TEND to respond (although there are plenty of instances in which they do.) I think the joke was thoughtless, perhaps, but not indicative of any derogatory intent unless their attitude was the following: “gay men would have more tendency to sport wood around naked men than straight men would be to sport wood around naked women.” Remember: the literal fact that gay men would have more experience being around naked men is inarguable. It also isn’t necessarily a fact that would automatically come to mind.
I am very certain that many blacks make life worse for gays and have substantial prejudice. And that many gays make life worse for blacks and have substantial prejudice. I might take the position that more gays are in positions to hurt blacks than vice versa, but that attitude is doubtless clouded with self-interest.
I would suggest that it is impossible to quantify to any absolute degree who is in a worse position: gays or, for instance, blacks. Depends on the criteria you use. However, the best answer I would suggest is based on a simple test: ask at least ten black gay men or women which causes them the most problem. Do the math. Simple.
Saw “The Unit” last night, and enjoyed it. But it also bugs me. Dennis Haysbert, as the clear lead, was chubby at first, and his wife down right portly—when every other lead was sexy and svelt. Look at the opening titles, where you have sexy kiss (white), sexy kiss (white), and comfortable hug (black). This season, Haysbert lost weight. Great. Then, almost as if they HAD to balance that energy out, they gave the other black guy a sex interest. With a white woman. Ooops. The fairly consistent social rule is: if there is interracial sex, you must anchor pain and/or death to it as an object lesson: “DON’T DO THIS” on a Pavlovian level. So…wow! Surprise! Black guy dies shot through the neck in the next episode. Oh, and Jonas (Haysbert) had a sex scene last year. First thing they did this year? Kill the woman he had it with.

No, don’t tell me it’s “Hollywood.” That’s trying to create a cyst around the poison. It’s America. It’s humanity. Its in Us, not in Them. And that’s what’s so damned hard to deal with.
Saw “Beowulf” yesterday. Wonderful. Don’t look at it as a live-action film with slightly wooden performances. Look at it as an animated film with the best performances EVER. Crispin Glover’s Grendel is a marvel, and makes you forgive his tweaking-out on acid on David Letterman (iTube THAT one if you want a real hoot. It really happened.) I would say that “Beowulf”, which is about the “real” man behind the legend, is the first step into a new era of film. The ability to capture real actors in real performances and then change the physical appearance and melt it seamlessly with special effects of any intensity…wow. Works perfectly for the Mythic, and in a few years, it will be possible to use it for more mundane films as well. I see this as something to celebrate, and nothing
at all to fear. An "A"

No comments: