So I’m doing what I normally do when I should be working/writing (trying to read the entire internet) and quite by chance I find out they’re making a sequel to 300. Then I threw up in my mouth a little… because nothing makes me gag like the thought of another bit of Hollywood-formulated Occidental fantasy and Orientalist othering with a large dose of historical revisionism by that icon of multiculturalism and gender representation, Frank Miller. Re-posted below, for whoever cares, is a review and critique I wrote on 300 back in 2007. In the name of blogger honesty, I haven’t changed anything from the original post–except for a few broken links. I have a feeling the inevitable sequel won’t require me to do that much revision anyway.
“The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece… the whole universe will get busted.”–Hushpuppy
“It’s imagination. To imagine means to image. And once you make an image, you can make flesh. It’s power upon power. And it’s real. That power, that force–if you let it, it can move mountains.”–Rza, The Wu-Tang Manual
Earlier this week, Rza dropped the first trailer for his directorial debut martial arts flick–The Man with the Iron Fists. Set in a fictional 19th century China, it stars some premium actors, among them Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu and the incomparable Pam Grier. Rza, better known as the mentalist leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, and for digging in the crates to mash-up an orchestration of dissimilar sounds to lay classic Hip Hop tracks and score such films as Ghost Samurai and Kill Bill I & II, co-wrote the film and plays a starring role–as a martial arts blacksmith alongside a razor-fan slicing, gun-toting, golden-skin morphing cast of characters. For anyone even remotely familiar with Wu-Tang, and the mind of Bobby Digital especially, none of this should come as a surprise.
So, apologies for using the word “white” in a second post in a row. But I just saw Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and it seemed apropos. I’m not going to give a long drawn out analysis of the flick (though I will give a smart alec’y recap), just a few observations and thoughts. And just so you been warned, it’s chock-full-o’ SPOILERS.
Okay. A break from speculative fiction, just for a brief minute.
Race movies. I used to love them. Hollywood Shuffle, Do the Right Thing, Higher Learning. Here were films that often gave voice to my inner frustrations of race and identity, and did so with a great deal of satire and entertainment. As Bernard Shaw once wrote, “My way of joking is to tell the truth. It’s the funniest joke in the world.” From Robert Townsend’s Black Acting School to Radio Rahim to the complexities of race, identity and gender on American college campuses, these films dared to tackle often under-discussed issues on the big screen–and gave us something to talk about. Movies like these seem rare in our times. What we get instead are endless “black culture” films (all chasing the genius of Drumline) wherein race is broached in the white girl/guy who “slums” it with black dancers, or worse, feel-good-convoluted-but-doesn’t-really-expose-anything white-privilege dramas like Crash. And of course, the white-savior trope–Hollywood’s favorite forays into race–continue unabated, from The Blind Side to The Help. I won’t even go into the new-age black poverty porn film industry or whatever it was George Lucas was trying to tell us with Red Tails (I liked it better when it was called The Tuskegee Airmen, in 1995, on HBO, with a better script).
Well in the legacy of those pioneering, provocative edu-taining race films of the past, comes a new project called Dear White People. According to its creators, the film “follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over a popular “African American” themed party thrown by white students.” Claiming to have “tongue planted firmly in cheek,” Dear White People aims to “explore racial identity in “post-racial” America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world.” Hoping to get their film off the ground, the producers have put together a funding platform on Indiegogo and a rather polished and darkly humored trailer. As they rightly state, “there hasn’t been a film like Dear White People in a long time.” I agree, let’s make this happen. See the trailer to the film above. Visit the site here to donate to its production.