Monday, January 30, 2012

Red, White, and Blue Tails

“Buffalo Soldiers”: Oppressed people given guns and sent out to kill other oppressed people.

If Star Wars Creator George Lucas plan was to create a new generation of Buffalo Soldiers with his latest film, Red Tails, then he did a good job trying.

He put together a team of Black talented professionals to make the film; including Director Anthony Hemingway, (previously known for his directing in shows like The Wire); Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder who was one of the writers; and high-profile actors like Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard.

With this team Lucas was able to help Red Tails reach the 2nd spot of the Top 10 on its opening weekend. It was a film filled with plenty of action, lots of dog-fight battle scenes. And it was hard not to cheer on the protagonists as they fought Nazis in the air. (How could anyone be against the guys fighting the Nazis???)

But, it cannot be denied that the main thing this film does, is encourage Black people, (and other people of color), to fight for this country--a country that cares nothing about them. The U.S. Air Force loved the patriotic message so much that they even had ads running before the movie and promoted the film on their website.

A lot of commotion was raised by progressive people after Lucas went on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote Red Tails. During the interview he revealed to Stewart that he had to finance the $58-million himself because none of the major Hollywood studios would finance an expensive film with an all-black cast. "It's an all-black movie. There's no major white roles in it at all. It's one of the first, all-black action pictures ever made," he told Stewart.

And, while it is true that there is much racism in Hollywood, this film sets a bad precedent at a time when the U.S. is carrying out two unjust occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, using drones to drop bombs on countries like Pakistan, and is gearing up for a possible war with Iran.

A couple years back, Carl Dix, spokesperson for the Revolutionary Communist Party, wrote an article called, Don't Be a Buffalo Soldier! In it he says the following:

"Some people think the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers is something to be proud of. Colin Powell kept a Buffalo Soldier statue on his desk when he was a top official during both of the Bush presidencies. Colin Powell, who tried to cover up the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, who was a major architect of the 1st Gulf war and who went to the UN and lied thru his teeth to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003, finds the Buffalo Soldiers inspiring. He called them "the wind beneath my wings" and especially cited their "loyalty." Later they were sent by the U.S. to fight Mexican Revolutionaries like Pancho Villa. This is a shameful legacy, and it’s no wonder that a war criminal like Colin Powell is inspired by it.

If you follow in the footsteps of the Buffalo Soldiers, you will be called on to do just like they did: commit horrible acts against people who have done nothing to you, and you will do it in the service of a system that has carried out terrible crimes, including against the masses of African-American people, and you may end up giving up the only life you have in the service of that foul system."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Recommended: 'A Better Life'

I recently saw this movie, (which actually premiered sometime last year), and really liked it--especially because it strays away from the usual "Hollywood Happy Ending." This movie is filled with a lot of emotion and a lot of truth and explores the lives of so-called illegal immigrants and their families.
Below is part of an article published last year by Revolution Newspaper regarding this film:

At first it seems father [played by Demian Bichir] and son have little to say to each other. Their relationship is tense and their worlds far apart. But when Carlos's new truck, his ticket to steady and better work, is stolen, Luis hits the streets with him, determined to track it down and to get it back.

Chris Weitz, the director of A Better Life, directed American Pie, New Moon (the second film of the Twilight series), as well as The Golden Compass. Despite having made films with much larger budgets, Weitz told the San Francisco Chronicle that, "I have to say for me, emotionally, this felt like the biggest film that I've made."

Weitz chose current and former gang members to play almost all the gang roles, and these performances are strong. They show specific human beings, not stereotypes. The film also gives glimpses into the Mexican subculture of L.A. and a feel for the life of immigrants like Carlos.

A Better Life lays bare the situation for the worker at the bottom rungs under capitalism, who is worth nothing unless he can labor. Like the 1980s movie El Norte, A Better Life shows the struggle, and the precarious and dangerous lives, of undocumented immigrant workers.

Speaking of the role of Carlos, Weitz told the Los Angeles Times, "All he does is work. He is invisible—and he prefers to remain invisible. Because to raise his head is to risk getting in trouble."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Graffiti in Palestine

There was a post yesterday on Electronic Intifada about some Palestinian artists who "penetrated the heavily fortified heart of West Jerusalem overnight and painted graffiti bearing political messages on walls, doors, construction sites and other surfaces."

Those stencils made me think of the great pieces that Banksy put up when he visited the West Bank a couple years ago. (Example pic on right; click HERE for more pics).

And this, in turn, also made me think of a group that--a few years back--was raising money online by writing graffiti messages on a wall in Palestine for others. People from around the world were able to have donate money and someone would write whatever message they wanted on a wall with a spray-can and then a photo would be sent to them by e-mail.

They stopped taking messages a long time ago because they reached their goal and raised enough to pay for the renovation of the PFF open Youth Center in Bir Zeit. All in all, the sprayed almost 1,500 messages from around the world.

The beauty and power of graffiti art. Worldwide.