Monday, November 04, 2013

First Ta-Nehisi Coates and now Tressie McMillan Cottom: "Why Do Poor People 'Waste' Money On Luxury Goods?" (I'd seen multiple links to the original post on Facebook and Twitter.)  Mostly it's not about the arguments as such, though it is that too, but the relation of the speakers to the (white) audience they play to. The audience varies. The most self-consciously enlightened segment of it is the worst. But the the relation and the style of performance is still there.

On another level entirely -closer to American race (black-white) relations in the past- I've watched Trita Parsi, also on Facebook and Twitter, and cringed. Not quite as bad as Hussein Ibish. As Billie Holiday said about Louis Armstrong: "He Toms from the heart."  The quote reminds me I'd forgotten about Andrew Young.


Do the Right Thing is the newest entry in the expanding catalog of films inspired by Italian-American family virtues. If it is less engaging than Moonstruck, it can be commended for the earnestness of its effort to convey the suffering and final defeat of a rational man by an irrational world.

The protagonist of these struggles is Sal, proprietor of a pizzeria on a block identified as part of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a section of Brooklyn reserved for persons of color through generations lost in time. Sal is assisted by his two sons, Pino and Vito, and by his Afro-American deliveryman, Mookie, who lives down the block and is paid $250 a week. Sal incarnates the sentimentality that popular drama has accustomed us to associate with the Neapolitan peasantry. He is proud of an establishment whose every light socket he remembers wiring with his own hands, and his heart is balmed in its troubles whenever he reflects that these people “grew up on my food.”

That consolation is a special necessity whenever he feels called upon to reproach the bigoted ravenings of his elder son, who snarls at a point when the fit is especially upon him that these niggers are not to be trusted and that, when the chance comes, Mookie will be the first to throw the spear.

Their debate is resolved by a climax when the neighborhood rises up to sack, pillage, and loot Sal’s Pizzeria, and Mookie opens the assault by throwing a garbage can through its window.

And so it turns out that Sal has been the dreamer and that Pino has been the realist, however repellent his impulses and style of argument. American artists from Mark Twain to Spike Lee have confronted the conflict between white and black for more than a century, and it would not be easy to recall many scenarios that have so heavily and pitilessly loaded the dice against the better side.

Art cannot be art unless its hero has an antagonist worthy of him. Mookie is unfit for the challenge, simply because, if Sal is not without his flaws, Mookie is without anything else. He is not just an inferior specimen of a great race but beneath the decent minimum for humankind itself. He neglects his job, his child, and its mother, and, except for mistaking Sal’s clumsy kindnesses to his own hard-working sister for signs of lust, he shows no trace of feeling for any interest except his own.


Well here's a formal introduction
Something to make you ponder
The situation's ugly, like In Living Color's Wanda (word up!)
Well everybody play dumb, but there's some that succumb
And fall victim, I will overcome any hurdle or obstacle that's in my path
Fast cash should be the last resort so make it last for the risk you took
Trick, you shook your ass for some hundred dollar heels and a designer bag
Now that's ass backwards
All you got in the refrigerator is bratwurst
Your stomach is balled in a knot, you got that phat purse
Pocketbook, stop and look, pockets look void
Destroyed by the need to indulge and enjoy the finer things in life right?

repeats: voting for the nigger.  Class, race, gender. Liberalism and the importance of being earnest.
Farrakhan, Kahane, radical nationalism, radicalism and self-hatred. Politics is a bitch. Dying is easy; comedy is hard.

No comments: