In this post, most of the quotes are by Karem Abdul-Jabbar. We are looking at Cultural Warfare. Cinema Art is brought into this warfare that is just being defined, and made visible with the clash of two movies. I suspect most white writers are nervous about saying what they really want to say, thus, we are getting very strange one-sided observations. Because so many of the Arts are involved in the making of a movie, I will be blunt. Les McCann is a vital study because he built bridges over the gaps in the LA music scene. He played both sides of the street. More about him later,
This was written February 15, 2017. This paragraph can be seen as a motive for the award screw-up. That is, the envelopes were used as a means humiliate white LaLa Land, then, award the black LGBT community. Consider the white LGBT community being rewarded with ‘Brokeback Mountain’. Consider ‘Birth of a Nation’. And, since when do black writers defend the “ditzy blonde”. Do any gay or black folks, care? I can’t recall any movie that zeroed in on the “gay predator”, unless Hannibal Lector screwed his victims before he ate them. Would anyone mix-up those envelopes – to get even? Or, is this a rare case of “life imitating art with award show imitating life”? Shit happens? But, when you take in the cunning and sneaky way of white guys, then…………the outcome is predictable!
Not so fast! Here is the RIGHT envelope. Here is…….JUSTICE!
I think the world is ready for this best seller….The Cunning White Liars: A Encyclopedia. This black author accuses Hollywood writers of putting forth mindless clichés, but uses invented clichés that are not applicable. Many of these writers were Jews who escaped Nazi Germany and were put to work by Joe Pasternak – who made movies that starred “ditzy blondes” and, the ditzy King of Rock and Roll.
Dashiell Hammit was brought before the McCarthy hearings, as was Lillian Hellman. A movie was made about Ray Charles, and other popular black musicians, such as Ike and Tina Turner, which did not resemble your typical happy-go-lucky white couple, flick, full of zany white privilege. No heroin use – please!
Most white folk are uneasy watching a large black actor overcome another male, and rape him. Can’t, and dare not speak for black folks! However, I will speak up when I see a black author going for the Moral High Ground, employing all of Islam, all blacks, and all Gay folks. Indeed, one wonders if the day is coming white people are banned from going to see a movie in any theater, because, they ooooooooooooooooooooze Political Incorrectness! There is something innately wrong with them. And never is this more apparent, then in the movie they wanted to see get the Academy Award for Best Picture!
All those white folks who flocked to the movies in the 20s 30s and 40s – are dead! For a black man to suggest they passed something vile to their offspring via their genes, is racist! To suggest we white people can only be redeemed when we gleefully buy tickets to see movies – that are not about us, is Nazi, Racist, Bullshit………And friggen insane! Hollywood is not the Supreme Court. White People are not on trial, because they committed no crimes. I’m not buying any of it!
There are no white people in Moonlight, and thus black filmmakers have got even for Pasternak not making surfer movies with beefy black dudes checking out blond booty in bikinis. Joe liked to make money. He liked to sell tickets. He knew unbridled heterosexual movies, sold tickets. This is the bottom line. If you make a superior product, folks will buy it. If you have a inferior product, people won’t buy it. To install a Special Peter-Meter has been tried before. There appear several ‘White Saviors’ in ‘Refer Madness’. Humping Hollywood is a political trick employed by the Conservatives.
“Do it to Hollywood – and the movie goers!”
“And he’s right. In a choice we rarely see in film, there are no white characters in Moonlight. No white savior. No white perspective at all. There couldn’t be. In a story meant to explore what it means to be vulnerable, black, male, and gay-there’s no room for a white voice to be included. And in that, I felt relief. For 110 minutes, I was able to transport to a place that felt pure. Innocent. Untainted by outsiders who needed ‘a way in.’ So many stories that deal with vulnerability in the black and brown community are told through the eyes of a young white savior (foster mother, teacher, coach, lover etc). In consuming these stories, we buy into the false idea that only white people can see us-truly see us-as we are. In reality, as more and more videos of black people being executed by public servants are released, we know that sentiment is flawed.
PLAY BOTH VIDEOS AT SAME TIME
The Ballad of Reading Gaol” is a poem by Oscar Wilde, written in exile either in Berneval-le-Grand or in Dieppe, France, after his release from Reading Gaol (pronounced “redding jail”) on 19 May 1897. Wilde had been incarcerated in Reading after being convicted of homosexual offences in 1895 and sentenced to two years’ hard labour in prison.
During his imprisonment, on Tuesday, 7 July 1896, a hanging took place. Charles Thomas Wooldridge had been a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards. He was convicted of cutting the throat of his wife, Laura Ellen, earlier that year at Clewer, near Windsor. He was aged 30 when executed.
“In fact, it was not long after the ACLU’s founding in 1920 that a case involving lesbian and gay rights came to the organization’s attention. In 1936, Lillian Hellman’s stage play The Children’s Hour, a critical and financial success on Broadway, was headed to Boston but was banned by the city’s public censor because of ‘lesbian content.’ ”
“The white guy wants to preserve the black roots of jazz while the black guy is the sellout? This could be a deliberate ironic twist, but if it is, it’s a distasteful one for African-Americans. One legitimate complaint that marginalized people (women, people of color, Muslims, the LGBT community, etc.) have had about Hollywood in the past is that when they were portrayed, it was done in a negative way. The ditzy blonde, the Muslim terrorist, the gay predator are all familiar stereotypes from years of TV and movies. So much has been done in recent years to overcome those debasing images, but we still have to be careful. It’s not that a black man can’t be the sellout or the drug dealer, it’s just that they shouldn’t be if they’re the only prominent black character in the story. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, that sends a bigoted message rippling through our society.”
Charlie Parker got naked and rode horses at the Zorthian Ranch, where KNOWN HORNY HETEROSEXUALS romped and played – sex games – like most cunning liars are apt to do. I partied there, and lived with Zorthian’s daughters in a SF commune. Would anyone dare make a movie about Adam and Eve – unless they are identified as being black LGBT – who are cast out of Paradise – for playing the first Jazz!
“And God said; “I know nothing about this music you confound me with!”
In the mid 1950s, Pasternak and Sam Katz set up the independent production company Euterpe, which, until Pasternak’s retirement in 1968, produced 16 films distributed by MGM; among them musicals with Elvis Presley, Doris Day and Connie Francis.
His career as a film producer spanned 40 years and earned him two Oscar nominations and three Golden Globe Award nominations. He retired in 1968, having produced more than ninety feature-length films as well as three Academy Award shows.
Pasternak is the father of Michael Joseph Pasternak, the radio disk jockey known as Emperor Rosko; Jeff Pasternak, a playwright and songwriter; and Peter Pasternak, a music industry professional.
Bar code: 8436006496226
Recorded live at Jirayr Zorthian’s Ranch, Altadena, California, Monday, July 14, 1952.
This super-rare recording was made at extentic millionaire Jirayr Zorthian’s home in California as features a 74 minutes performance by Bird that has never been heard before now. This historic session was recorded during one of larger than life painter and sculptor Zorthian’s infamous sex, drugs and booze parties – attended by a wealth of intellectuals, artists and hangers-on. These parties became knwon throughout Southern California as they would last for several days at a time.
Bird attended one of these parties, on July 14, 1952, and had the bright idea of bringing along a tape recorder to capture the event. This was clearly a wild night as a massive striptease was arranged before and during Bird’s rendition of “Embraceable You”. This performance is also the only recorded encounter of Bird playing with Frank Morgan and Don Wilkerson.
All tracks previously unissued on any format.
01. A night in Tunisia
03. Embraceable you
04. Hot house
05. Scrapple from the apple
06. Cool blues
07. Dixie/Yankee Doodle march into I Got Rhythm
08. Scrapple from the apple nº2
09. Au Private into Dance of the Infidels
Total time: 74:00 min.
The musical is “daring and deserving,” writes the NBA legend and culture critic, but the “bigoted message” of a black man selling out and the “childish notion” of ambition before love disappoints.
A recent Saturday Night Live skit depicts two street-tough cops yelling at a handcuffed man they just arrested because he didn’t think La La Land was great. “It dragged in the middle,” he complains. “You sick son of a bitch!” one cop barks. “You disgust me!” This pretty much distills the rift in American pop culture that is nearly as contentious as the rift in American politics. As someone who finds La La Land bold, daring and deserving of all its critical and financial success, I can also admit that there are a few elements that warrant closer examination, particularly regarding its portrayal of jazz, romance and people of color. In fact, the better a work of art is, the more we must dissect it, because now we’re not just measuring Rotten Tomatoes popularity or boffo box office, we’re assessing its proper place in our cultural canon.
No, I don’t think the film needs more black people. Writer-director Damien Chazelle should tell the story as he sees fits with whatever ethnic arrangement he desires. However, it is fair to question his color wheel when it involves certain historical elements — such as jazz. As an aficionado with over 5,000 jazz albums and having had my own jazz label, Cranberry Records, I’m happy whenever jazz takes center stage in a story, as it did in Miles Ahead, Bird, Round Midnight and Mo’ Better Blues. Jazz is a uniquely African-American music form born in New Orleans and raised in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. Sure, I would have loved to see a film like La La Land years ago starring singer-dancer Gregory Hines, the master of improvisational tap dance whose tapping could sound like a jazz drummer. Having said that, I’m still delighted to see Ryan Gosling play a man (Sebastian) devoted to the artistry of traditional jazz. But I’m also disturbed to see the one major black character, Keith (John Legend), portrayed as the musical sellout who, as Sebastian sees it, has corrupted jazz into a diluted pop pablum.
Wait just a minute!
The white guy wants to preserve the black roots of jazz while the black guy is the sellout? This could be a deliberate ironic twist, but if it is, it’s a distasteful one for African-Americans. One legitimate complaint that marginalized people (women, people of color, Muslims, the LGBT community, etc.) have had about Hollywood in the past is that when they were portrayed, it was done in a negative way. The ditzy blonde, the Muslim terrorist, the gay predator are all familiar stereotypes from years of TV and movies. So much has been done in recent years to overcome those debasing images, but we still have to be careful. It’s not that a black man can’t be the sellout or the drug dealer, it’s just that they shouldn’t be if they’re the only prominent black character in the story. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, that sends a bigoted message rippling through our society.
I’m equally interested in how the film portrays romance, because pop culture (movies, TV, books, music) is the major source of information about romantic relationships for our youth. That’s where they learn about what to look for in a mate, what a relationship should look like, how to treat each other. So when we throw a beloved film like La La Land on the self-help shelf of love, we need to understand just what the film is saying and whether that’s accurate or even healthy. At first, the story follows the traditional heterosexual romantic-comedy formula of boy-meets-girl, and they fall in love. This is followed by boy-loses-girl, due to either ego (self-absorption) or a corrupt relative or official (meddling parent, jealous friend, hostile boss). The third part is that the lovers prove they are worthy of love by overcoming their ego and relative issues to come together in the end. But La La Land ends with the self-absorbed egos having irrevocably wedged the lovers apart, and neither is mature enough to overcome it. That’s pretty realistic, since so many relationships crash and burn there.
The problem comes when we romanticize the crash and burn. Then the drama of the breakup seems more fulfilling than the prospect of actual romance, which can then seem mundane in the long run. Now a continual series of melodramatic breakups makes a person seem more tragically edgy and becomes justification for why they can’t find real love.
Why do Sebastian and Mia break up? Because they are both obsessed with their careers and prefer pursuing those to pursuing each other. This is a similar theme to that in Chazelle’s brilliant previous film, Whiplash, in which Andrew (Miles Teller) dumps his supportive girlfriend in order to fully immerse himself in his jazz drumming. Clearly, the only love interest he has is his abusive but equally obsessive teacher (J.K. Simmons). By the end, we realize Andrew is on the path to being a great drummer, but a life that is just as alienated — and alienating — as his teacher’s. Onscreen, their final scene in which they perform to the upper heights of their art seems heroically cool, but after the show, all they have is a hot plate and cable TV.
Both films might be cautionary tales to warn against the single-minded pursuit of self-aggrandizing dreams. After all, Mia gets her movie star career, but seems locked in a perfectly pleasant but passionless marriage. Sebastian gets his jazz club, but is alone and regretful about what might have been with Mia. At the end, they smile wistfully at each other and the lives they might have had. Is the film encouraging us to weigh the value of our dreams against the reality of love? Is it saying that, although the sacrifice of a relationship or two is sad, it’s a small price to pay to follow our dreams? Seems to be. In the song “The Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” Mia sings of her artist aunt who inspires her: “A bit of madness is key / To give us to color to see / Who knows where it will lead us? / And that’s why they need us.” The problem with that is it implies we can’t have both: We can’t follow our dreams and have a decent relationship. The fire of one consumes the other.
As Sportin’ Life from Porgy and Bess would say, “It ain’t necessarily so.”
That’s where the romanticizing comes in. The whole childish doomed-romance genre celebrates personal achievement with only an obligatory sad nod toward the consequences. Mia also sings this about her aunt: “She lives in her liquor / And died with a flicker / I’ll always remember the flame.” Sure, you’ll remember the flame because you’re too blinded by your own ambition to see the real moral: She died with a flicker because she was an alcoholic burnout! Even Sebastian wonders about how accurately he sees things in “City of Stars”: “City of stars / There’s so much that I can’t see.” Starlight romanticizes whatever it illuminates.
A few weeks ago at the SAG Awards while receiving the Life Achievement Award, Lily Tomlin shared a regret, saying that when she was younger she had been “ambitious about the wrong things.” In other words, just because you have a dream, it doesn’t make that a sacred calling. The artist as Christ-like figure sacrificing herself to give her art to the people is a childish notion that is just bedazzling one’s self-promotion. As Mr. Antolini says in The Catcher in the Rye: “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” Had Mia and Sebastian chosen to live humbly, they might have had their success — or not — and been happy together.
I’m glad we have a shining star like La La Land to add to our movie firmament. The characters are delightful and charming, the musical numbers are imaginative, the soundtrack is addicting. I know I’ll be watching it again and again over the years, just as I’ll be listening to the wonderful soundtrack. But every time I do, along with the immense joy, I’ll have a tiny nagging feeling of, “What if?”