The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Friday the 13th and Roger Rabbit

Friday The 13th (2009)

No, I couldn't help myself. I had to go and see whether they were going to do anything as riveting as the Kevin Bacon magic trick from the original. There was the one scene at the dock...I won't say, just in case you're as twisted as I am and have to go. But what I can say is that it's fairly effective, but utterly the mixture as before. There is no need to detail characters or plot: you know the drill. Horny, dope-smoking teens fornicate, get high, and die at Camp Crystal Lake, victims of the unkillable mindless murder machine Jason. One or two may live to the closing credits. Oops, that's the whole plot, right there. For fans of slasher films, it probably earns a strong "B" or so. For lovers of good cinema...what in the HELL are you doing even thinking about this mess?


WARNING: SAMBO ALERT. Hell, maybe a SLANT-EYE alert as well.

Yes, boys and girls, there is a black character and an Asian character along for the slaughter. They are only interested in dope, while all the white guys have their way with the various women. Oh, there is one white guy who is there to rescue his sister. But one of the women is clearly interested in him, lucky guy.

The non-whites are mostly interested in pot. But wait, it's worse. The black guy sits back and urges the Asian to go after the white girl ("he can't fight! He can't drive! He's not interested in sex!" Ah..."In Living Color", I miss you.) The girl does flirt with him, a bit. The black guy ends up alone in the living room while the white guy who came to Crystal Lake with ONE girl is humping another one in the back bedroom. He decides to masturbate, and looks for a stroke book. Can't find one, and ends up starting to whack off to an image of a fully-clothed white woman.

Wow. Let me guess: the entire creative team for this film is white guys, perhaps? I had to shake my head, as it reminded me, quite clearly, why I so dearly loved watching white people get butchered in slasher movies in the 80s. It really was worth every dollar I ever paid. Not so much these days. With Obama in the White House, it almost seems...petty.


Arrgh. Realized this morning that I was going backwards/upside down in my meditations. I was trying to get enough light to push back the darkness in my head. Just exactly wrong. What I have to do is find whatever light is in my mind, then squeeze my ego down to fit within it. The more I compress it, the brighter the light seems. If I can strip away enough "me" and the light is darkness. In other words, the act of looking for the darkness, or resisting it, creates it. Amazing how often I forget this.


Sitting with Jason this morning, watching "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" while I write my morning stuff. Brilliant movie, with some occassionally insensitiv racial subtext (the whole Tunetown thing does the Tune/Human dichotomy exactly as uncounted detective/police films have depicted the 1940's black/white power relationships, complete with a "Cotton Club" sequence. That, of course, puts a different spin on the moment when Eddie Valient calls the club bouncer a "Gorilla"and goes "Ugga-buggah." Considering Disney Animation's rather regrettable racial record, I could do without this.

On the other hand, it's interesting to note that Disney live-action seems to be quite aware of their 20th Century record. Their recent film "The Express" touched on the sports-race connection as quite a few other Disney movies seem to have done. Like one hand is a little ashamed of what the other hand did. They can't change their past, but they can reflect the awareness of the present, and for that I give them full credit.

And no, I'm not imagining things about Disney Animation. And no, it isn't a statistical blip. I worked for seven months at Don Bluth Productions when they were doing "The Secret of NIMH," and heard stories about the classic animation department, who they would and wouldn't hire, and the images they wouldn't use, or insisted on using. No accident at all. No accident either, that within a couple years of the last of the "Nine Old Men" retiring, the policy suddenly changed.

I know of similar crap at other animation studios. There was an animation character over at Hannah-Barbara called "BlackStar" who was originally envisioned as a black character, the first they'd ever had...but turned white when the sponsors got nervous. Let alone the fact that, say, the Flintstone's Bedrock was totally white. Well, that's actually kind of believable, a passing nod to actual anthropology. But what of the Jetson's future? There were, over the course of the television series, the several TV movies, and the theatrical film THOUSANDS of character designs, those with voices, those passing in cars or walking past on streets, or on space stations.

Every single one of them white. Half of them were women, by the way, and about a third of the animation execs I met in the 80's were as well. Race closes ranks in ways gender never has.

I remember Tananarive sitting on a plane next to a nice little old white lady, who after listening to T describe her work, said something I've heard innumerable times from white folks: "it sounds so interesting. But why do they have to be black? Why does race have to be described at all?" That all sounds so reasonable until you grasp how poisonous that is. Race doesn't long as everyone is white. Then you can pretend it's all an accident, or that black people are being racist to point it out (that's my favorite insanity). It matters because unless you actually stop and quantify for a minute, those with an actual negative agenda are concealed among those merely content to let the natural human tendency to surround yourself with "your own", and the status quo continues on for another generation.

Well, we have a game-changer. The wave begun in the 60's has actually ripened, as as long as you don't let the "Obama's in the white house, Racism is over" blind folks convince you it's racist to notice that only 1% of the Senate is black, we're all right. But the line of the status quo is quite elastic, all that force has stretched it, but man oh man, it wants to snap back to its original position. Listen carefully, and you'll hear the old racial attitudes straining not to call Obama a nigger. You'll watch Fox News accidentally letting out "Obama's Baby Mama" jokes, joking about him being assassinated, the Post joking about the author of the simulus being a chimp shot dead by white cops.

Humor is a release of tension. We'll see more of this stuff, and every time they'll claim they meant nothing, that Obama is too sensitive, that it is NOTICING this stuff that is "racist" and so forth. No. Fantastic, almost unbelievable progress has been made. But when rape jokes about women are "just humor" I'll believe that anything vaguely resembling the Amadou Diallo shooting is "just humor."

Sell that crap to someone else. At the least, it was blindness and insensitivity on a grotesque level. I have no memory of a major American news outlet saying ANYTHING that implied violence to Bush. Obama's been in the White House about a month, and there've been about a half-dozen. This is loathesome, and I won't pretend I don't see it.


Pagan Topologist said...

The "Regime Change Begins at Home" slogan, could have been interpreted as suggesting violence against the former president. With the out, of course, that "We were advocating impeachment."

Christian M. Howell said...

I still think you should be happy that we can be actors and not pieces of meat for the consumption of the masses. ESPECIALLY OUR WOMEN. I DON'T WANT THEM DOING IT AT ALL.

My feelings on the subject of sex in cinema are articulately rendered on my blog.

Christian M. Howell said...

Also, I don't think it's fair to say SAMBO unless blacks were the producers. If not it should be REDNECK alert, meaning that the rednecks are misusing the Negroes in film again.

WonderBread said...

The cartoon was in terrible taste. The really offensive issue was the way they insulted our collective intelligence. I'm 23, white, and a guy. I'm fairly unlikely to have a knee jerk reaction to issues of racism/discrimination (aside from maybe its being blown out of proportion; i.e. the "controversy" of the giselle/lebron cover from last year) But noone can tell me a police shooting, a dead monkey, and the caption of a new writer for Obama's stimulus didn't have racial tones, without being terribly disingenuous, or living in a vaccum of ignorance. I'll freely admit, that when I read a commentary by Roland Martin my thoughts were immediately, I bet he's looking for a problem with it. Then I looked at the damn thing, and did a 180. Screw the cartoonist, and anyone attempting to downplay this. You want to be controversial, fine! I'm for free expression in the arts more than most would be comfortable with, but dammit take your backlash and critcism like a man if you set out to ruffle feathers.

Dan Moran said...



Marty S said...

Attorney General Holder this week called us a nation of cowards on the race issue. He may to some degree be right. But if so it is with a lot of justification. The bashing of the post cartoonist as a racist because of his chimp shooting cartoon is great example of why this is so. He is being condemned as a racist and liberal organizations are going after his job, when in truth there is no substantive reason to believe the cartoon reflects a racist comment on Obama. I have gone through the cartoonist’s other cartoons for January and February of this year. They show a clear pattern of using current headline events to make his political views known. There are several cartoons around the plane landing in the Hudson. The January 20 cartoon shows Bush rowing away from a sinking airplane with the word “economy” written on the side and Obama standing on the plane. Bush is saying “goodbye and good luck” another has Cuomo as a goose flying into Caroline Kennedy’s airplane engine. He has another cartoon which uses the steroid flap to attack the stimulus bill. I find most of his comics not at all witty, and I think the chimp shooting cartoon was really stupid, but it fits in the same pattern as the other cartoons which are clearly not racist and so I believe it was an ill considered rather than racist cartoon. If the attitude toward me for giving this man the benefit of the doubt is screw you, you must also be a racist, then it is no wonder if we tend to be cowards around the issue.

Vincent S. Moore said...

Blackstar was produced by Filmation, not Hanna-Barbera. And, according to the show's producers, the main character is Native American. Nothing on the recent DVD release of the show confirms or fully denies the rumor about the hero being envisioned as black and changed because of the network.

I do agree with you about how it seems the almost universal attitude of many white Americans regarding the election of President Obama is that racism is over. Just watching the outrage of Pat Buchanan this week on Hardball after Holder's statement is a wonder to behold. Nothing is completely settled about race yet.

But as long as you and Tananarive and other black authors are out there, pushing and dragging America forward, we will settle the issue in time.

Steve Perry said...

Were you really expecting any kind of relevance about anything from Friday the 13th? Sexual? Racial? Good writing? Acting? Um ...

Dude, you have to smoke or drop something before you go to the theater if you are looking for that kind of thing from this kind of movie.

Josh Jasper said...

The fact that anyone considers Pat Buchannan to have a valid viewpoint on race is a sign that we're not capable of having an honest conversation about the topic. It's sort of like asking Bill Clinton to lecture on the virtues of fidelity in marriage.

Christian M. Howell said...


Black women. That is the advantage of seeming uneven representation. I hate the thought of somebody's sister doing sex scenes in front of millions of people - whether it's live or not. You white guys seem to like it - as evidenced by Mr. Skin etc.
Though you may not like it either, the point is that it's rather prevalent and causes problems.

suzanne said...

I have problems
with this:


it isn't up to you, "I"

Women are NOT
a possession
not anyone's

Steve Perry said...

Some of us white guys like watermelon and fried chicken to go with our nekkid women, too.

Even if we can't dance or jump.

One of us white guys -- it's usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln -- had a saying, too:

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

Christian M. Howell said...

@Mr. Perry.
Perhaps you should take his advice. Do you think I don't know what deflecting is?

It's not my fault that YOUR women are raised as Cosmo to A2M girls with very little chance of navigating the complex world of the corporate glass ceiling.

Just let me know which movie your daughter's "doing it" in. I'd like to laugh about it.

I see none of you has taken me up on my offer to debate sex in cinema on my cinema blog.

Steve Perry said...

Well, not to put too fine a point on it, I don't think you can find your ass with both hands, and your comments in this column have been both sexist and racist, so the idea of going to your blog for more of the same holds no appeal whatsoever.

Now I remember why I stopped responding to your comments before. AMF.

Christian M. Howell said...

Well, not to put too fine a point on it, I don't think you can find your ass with both hands, and your comments in this column have been both sexist and racist, so the idea of going to your blog for more of the same holds no appeal whatsoever.

Now I remember why I stopped responding to your comments before. AMF.

Since this is am "adult" site I can I bet someone can find yours with no hands.

Just kidding. But you still are unwilling to have a frank discussion about a theorem. I obviously am or I wouldn't be on "this" site.

Worg said...


One idea might be for you to move to Pakistan. I hear Karachi is nice this time of year.

Don't you have some hypergraphia to engage in? These little snippets here are far too short for anyone to fully appreciate your brilliance.

Worg said...

"Dude, you have to smoke or drop something before you go to the theater if you are looking for that kind of thing from this kind of movie."

Dude, it's 2 am on a Monday night and I'm watching Trancers.

Yo ho, it's the writer's life for me...

Marty S said...

I’m beginning to like Obama less and less. He keeps making these prime time presidential addresses and knocking my favorite shows off the air.

On a more relevant topic, people with different points of view in this country need to grant that the other group has valid points and be willing to listen and discuss them, not dismiss them out of hand. I am a retired statistician. The world of statisticians has two groups, Bayesians and Classicalists, who disagree with each other like Liberals and Conservatives. I am a strong Bayesian. The classicalist will point out that 100 Bayesian statisticians estimating a value from a single data set can come out with 100 different results, while the classical approach will give a single answer all the time. He would have a valid point. But I would counter with, if the problem being solved is appropriate for the use of Bayesian statistics all 100 different answers would be closer to the correct answer then the single classical answer. The real issue in my mind is which approach is best when, and how do we set up guidelines for the less knowledgeable. Both sides working together would best do this, but in general those belonging to one group give no credence to the other side so this will never happen

suzanne said...

anone care to comment on
Mr. Perpetual-Candidat-Never-Elected, Alan Keyes'
latest insanity


if I had a daughter
as an adult,
she could make her own decisions

and are you saying all black women (your "our women") are your daughters

you don't get it, do you??

Josh Jasper said...

Alan Keyes has always been disgusting. Remember - Keyes defended Regan's tolerance for Apartheid in South Africa.

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