Watching (The Culture) While Black… REDUX!
You know, the hits just keep on coming.
What do Nate Parker, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and Walter Mosley all have in common?
What do the Venice Film Festival, the LA Lakers’ front office and the writers’ room at CBS All-Access have in common?
Those are both trick questions.
The answer is “nothing.”
But, that might have been the place to start with logic 40 years ago, but we all live in Overreaction, Crazy Town now, so they all have to have “something” in common.
Jabbar, the former center for the LA Lakers has, in the last few years, really begun to live out the life he always imagined living while he was coaching players, winning championships, and engaging in extracurricular activities that athletes at his level always engage in.
Yes, Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., who took the Muslim name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at age 24 in 1971 after winning his first championship with the Milwaukee Bucks, has morphed into a social critic and social justice advocate.
And, as such, he has decided that he must weigh in on the contretemps involving Walter Mosley, the writers’ room at CBS All-Access, and the H.R. response which we covered here, being on the cutting edge of societal evolution as we are here at FilmGoblin.
He, of course, took the position you would imagine a social justice critic and a previous staff writer on Veronica Mars (yes, read that again) would:
“The most important context in this situation was that a major literary talent who has written dozens of critically acclaimed bestselling novels was in a writers room telling a story to other writers that reflected social conflict, cultural insensitivity, injustice and an unreliable narrator (the cop) unaware of how his prejudice contributed to the problem.”
“Employees should feel free to express concerns, but the expression of those concerns does not automatically make them policy. Feeling “uncomfortable” is not the same as being threatened by the language. When HR neglects to take on the responsibility of making that distinction, they aren’t encouraging the writers’ “best work,”especially since artists are supposed to use the audience’s discomfort to create effective art.”
May I pause to laugh at these people before moving on?
Kareem-Abdul Jabbar Thinks He’s Got an H.R. Problem
As we stated previously, the problem isn’t solely an H.R. one, but Abdul-Jabbar, as a trenchant social critic who criticizes American culture through the prism of past sins, current foibles, and failures to live up to the American Creed (i.e. the Declaration of Independence) can only see CBS’s role in all of this.
He misses, of course, the larger social issues which lie, not only with H.R. but also with the culture of the writers in the room. But, of course, that culture can’t be criticized because that culture is “diverse” and “open-minded” and it’s only H.R. that’s trying to, as he put it “lazily cover their asses.”
Abdul-Jabbar, Mosley, and all these other activists who see the world through the dynamism of power, but refuse to acknowledge their contribution to the problem by creating the mindset of those employees through entertainment and social culture in the first place, are angry. But it’s disconnected anger, and dare I say, manipulated anger.
Into this mix, we can now add the actor, model, and darling of the independent film circuit, Nate Parker, and his new film, American Skin.
Nate Parker Wants Your Dollars, Whitey!
Nate Parker, who has been dogged by a rape charge since 1999, has directed his second film, to glorious applause and accolades at the Venice Film Festival.
Of course, this is where you go and premier a movie if you’re a director who’s an accused sexual predator, after all, Woody Allen and Roman Polanski have both done well there, so why the hell not?
Parker’s first film, The Birth of a Nation, was about Nat Turner and the slave rebellion he led back in the pre-Civil War era of this country. Parker’s second film, American Skin, is…well, let’s let him say it:
Parker, whose debut feature “The Birth of a Nation” told the story of Nat Turner’s life and the slave rebellion he led in 1831, said he was compelled to make another film dealing with racism, partly because he grew up in Virginia.
“Virginia was one of the most destructive slave states….A lot of that trauma is passed down. We try to pretend that racism is something that can only be achieved by the Ku Klux Klan or Nazis, but that’s not true – racism is everywhere,” said Parker.
He said that we “have a long way to go with racism, and a long way to go with sexism and gender inequality and xenophobia, and we realize this everyday when we look up at the news.” Parker added: “I don’t have all the answers. I’m an imperfect man. I’m just trying to use my art as a platform to add a little to the conversation.”
Whenever anybody tells you they want to use their talent to “add to the conversation” you can be sure it’s going to be a conversation that will be in one — if not all three — areas:
- A “conversation” you’ve already had, for many, many, years.
- A “conversation” about something they’ve already made their mind up about what your conclusions should be about the topic.
- A “conversation” that isn’t going to change anybody’s mind in the conversation about the topic at hand.
No Adults Means Romper Room All the Time
Adults realize that “conversations” don’t need to be had. They need to be addressed when they pop up, in fair, respectable, and reasonable ways, not with anger (Abdul-Jabbar), petulance (Mosley), or activism (Parker).
Adults realize that the sad tragedy of reality is that some people aren’t going to change and that the responsibility of adults in the room is to deal with that reality by either leaving those people alone or letting them evolve on their own time.
Adults realize that rational reality is a precious thing, and that recognizing the tragic circumstances of human beings with compassion and hope for the future, used to be a commodity, but now, apparently, it’s actually a rarity.
When there are no adults in the room at the Venice Film Festival, at the LA Lakers front office (or the Milwaukee Bucks, take your pick), or in the writers’ room at CBS All-Access, its romper room all the time, and people who behave, think, and feel in childish (not childlike) ways rule the roost.
Adults have to take back the rooms of life, work, and culture, from the children.