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Category Archives: Black Lives Matter
Posted: September 21, 2023 at 10:16 am
While the idea of a public figure putting their money where their mouth is isnt a new concept, seeing someone stand by their hard held beliefs is not something we should ignore. Whether its activism surrounding the environment or human rights, its very important for public figures to be vocal about whats going on because thats how these causes become more mainstream and get more support behind them.
So, it was a nice surprise to learn that one of the comic book industrys most prolific writers, Allan Moore, used his money to support a worthy cause like Black Lives Matter.
During a recent interview with The Telegraph, Moore explained why he wants the royalties owed to him from film studios adapting his work to be donated to another cause. He says that he used to have the money go to the creatives behind the projects instead, but that he doesnt really feel, with the recent films, that they have stood by what I assumed were their original principles. So I asked for DC Comics to send all of the money from any future TV series or films to Black Lives Matter.
Moore technically has no control over whether his comics are adapted for film or television, but has a longstanding tradition of not having his name attached to any adaptation. Its ironic that Moore has such liberal values and always depicts some of that in his work, as Nazis have woefully missed the point and become big fans. According to The Telegraph, thefascist hymn Moore wrote for V for Vendetta is now widely used by the neo-Nazi internet forum Stormfront.
Moore explained how this came to b,e stating, The person who posted it said: after reading his beautiful words, I cant help but think he must secretly be one of us inside. So yes, apparently Im very big with the Nazis.
Though the worst people see what they want in Moores work, its nice to know that some of the big-name creatives are still on the right side.
(featured image: Warner Bros. Pictures)
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Posted: at 10:16 am
To make the books political stakes even plainer, Merchant renders the early 19th century in current-day language. Factory owners are entrepreneurs, the one percent, even tech titans who are disrupting the textile industry moving fast and breaking things, to borrow Facebooks old slogan. Factory technologies spread virally and represent a form of automation (a term, as Merchant notes, that was not coined until the 1940s). The Luddites themselves are likened to decentralized movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. In the books final section, Merchant shifts back into a journalistic register, interviewing labor lawyers, analysts and workers struggling against the worst abuses of the gig economy. Chris Smalls, the magnetic warehouse employee who led the first successful unionization drive at Amazon last year, emerges as our eras nearest analogue to Mellor.
Luddite histories are not just political, but almost always corrective. Today the term Luddite is divorced from the context of labor struggle, and instead signifies an irrational technophobia or a stubborn adherence to older ways. You might be a Luddite if you prefer to pay in cash, or if you think smartphones have ushered in the downfall of society. As Merchant argues, this is a holdover from how the elites of the day depicted the weavers struggles, as tantrums against technology. In fact, machine breaking was not a raison dtre for the Luddites, but a last resort when appeals to law, custom and morality fell on the deaf ears of authorities. If smashing a stocking frame became the signature Luddite action, it was because it got the goods, so to speak: Many millowners submitted to Luddite demands on pay and working conditions rather than risk their machines or their lives.
Merchant is keen to reframe the Luddites as proto-unionist reformers rather than violent revolutionaries. Mellors story ends with a letter from his prison cell, where he awaits his execution, requesting that his name be added to a petition calling for restrictions on machines. In Merchants account, gig economy workers and their advocates focus on regulation and fair treatment, never sabotage. It is not an unfair conclusion to draw: No American worker movements approach the militancy of the Luddites during their raids, and President Bidens ear bends more readily than that of the Prince Regent. But if we truly want to break from the future that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have planned for us, with our blood in their machines, it could take more than legislation to do so. It might require a few hammers.
Gavin Mueller is an assistant professor of new media and digital culture at the University of Amsterdam, and the author of Breaking Things at Work.
BLOOD IN THE MACHINE: The Origins of the Rebellion Against Big Tech | By Brian Merchant | Illustrated | 465 pp. | Little, Brown & Company | $30
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Posted: at 10:16 am
At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, Customs and Border Protection encouraged officers to consider more lethal force when making arrests to protect themselves against the highly contagious virus, according to newly uncovered agency documents.
Frequently, the necessity to use force, especially less-lethal force, requires an officer or agent to be in direct proximity and in personal contact with individual(s), reads an April 2020 CBP memo. If an officer or agent reasonably believes a subject may be infected with COVID-19, the threat of transmitting the virus to resist or evade arrest should be considered when establishing the immanency of a threat and the resulting determination of objectively reasonable force.
The memo listed electronic control weapons (stun guns like Tasers) and compressed air and munition launchers (guns with rubber bullets) as tools that CBP officers could use from a safe distance.
In the coming months, CBP officers would join the sprawling law enforcement response to the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 even policing George Floyds funeral. The agency made headlines that summer for deploying a surveillance drone in Minneapolis and when unidentifiable Border Patrol officers whisked away a protester in Portland, Oregon. But new documents, obtained by legal advocates through Freedom of Information Act litigation, reveal the extent of CBPs involvement, conducting arrests and barraging protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets sometimes without the knowledge of other agencies, city or state leaders, or even CBP officials themselves.
The records obtained by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the American Immigration Council, and the University of California Irvine School of Laws Immigrant Rights Council reveal that CBP deployed officers to at least 18 cities and towns across the country. That list includes Chicago; Minneapolis; Buffalo, New York; Dayton, Ohio; Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Louisville, Kentucky; and Whitefish, Montana. Dozens more law enforcement agencies requested assistance or equipment from CBP, the heavily redacted records show, though the agency did not appear to fulfill every request.
The agencys redactions of the document set, which consists of thousands of pages, conceal the number of officers deployed throughout the summer and other details about the operation.
CBP did not respond to The Intercepts questions.
Emily Creighton, the legal director for transparency at the American Immigration Council, said that CBPs involvement in policing protests even when it was not asked to raises concerns about mission creep.
The agency redacted the documents under an exception to protect law enforcement techniques, a justification Creighton said does not make sense given that the CBP operation concluded years ago. If anything, the agencys painstaking efforts to redact information contained in the records demonstrates a careful effort to conceal the extent of the agencys involvement, said Creighton, whether the CBP was doing so to avoid embarrassment or in a blind adherence to redaction versus disclosure a longstanding pattern with CBP and antithetical to the purpose of FOIA a law intended to reveal to the public what its government is up to.
CBP started policing protests within a week of Floyds death on May 25, the documents show. On June 1, the Department of Justice requested CBP agencies including Border Patrol, the Office of Field Operations, and Air and Marine Operations to assist Federal partners with general law enforcement activities.
The agency is generally authorized to operate within 100 miles of land and coastal borders, though that remit can be extended. On June 26, 2020, then-President Donald Trump issued an executive order directing numerous agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, CBPs parent agency to provide assistance for the protection of Federal monuments, memorials, statues, or property amid the mass protests.
The documents reveal that CBP officers provided situational awareness for police departments, conducted general law enforcement activities and crowd control, monitored encrypted online chat rooms, and even arrested protesters.
The documents also include a breakdown of the agencys aerial surveillance operations from Uvalde, Texas, and Miami to Dayton and New York City.
Jeramie Scott, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Centers Project on Surveillance Oversight, said that such surveillance has a chilling effect on protesters First Amendment rights. Agencies like CBP have no business conducting domestic surveillance and law enforcement operations that have nothing to do with the agencys mission, he said. Surveillance tech will not solve structural racism in this country but has and will continue to exacerbate it without meaningful change.
In some cases, it was local police departments that called on CBP for assistance. On June 4, 2020, the police chief in Pearland, Texas, solicited the help of the Border Patrol in preparation for Floyds funeral. The chief listed CBP capabilities including tactical support with armored vehicles, less lethal force options (rubber bullets), and drone surveillance as reasons for why they were reaching out for help. The CBP obliged and deployed officers to the community for nearly a week.
Tsion Gurmu, legal director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, viewed the CBP deployment to Floyds funeral as emblematic of a colossal operation with little answerability.It is disturbing to know that enormous resources were spent to send federal law enforcement to team up with local law enforcement across the country to quash Black organizing, not to mention the militaristic language used to describe their role (e.g., developing a battle rhythm) and surveillance reaching as far as George Floyds funeral, Gurmu said. Its clear that we still dont have a full picture or understanding of the role of federal law enforcement and immigration agencies, and what role they might play in future policing efforts. We expect CBP to be primarily at our borders, but it seems that their authority far surpasses that.
Armed members of the U.S. Border Patrol gather as peaceful protests continue citywide against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 3, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
The documents indicate that, at times, senior CBP officials were caught off guard by news reports of their own agencys involvement in the protests.
After Vice reported that the CBP flew a Predator drone over Minneapolis during the outset of the protests in May, for instance, Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan sent an email to colleagues seeking more information. Is this correct? Who asked [for] the support? What support are we providing? Morgan wrote. What authority are we using to provide the support?
In mid-July, a video depicting a Portland protester being whisked away into an unmarked vehicle by unidentified officers went viral. The Nation soon reported that the officers were from CBP, but the documents show that in the immediate aftermath, even higher-level CBP officials were not quite sure.
I see CBP is on the chain and may have additional info, because it is my understanding that it is very likely that the officers in the Twitter video were from CBP and using a rental minivan to conduct the apprehension on the video, one official wrote, in an email chain discussing a press response to the video. CBP was looking into this last night to obtain more facts.
The Portland incident took place just after Morgan had recommended that CBP officers take a more enhanced proactive posture in response to the citys protesters. In a July 15 email, Morgan also wrote of his desire to ask for enhanced FBI engagement from an investigative standpoint to identify the organizers and modes of communication to proactively disrupt the actions of these criminals, adding that we must move more aggressively beyond reactive enforcement.
I know weve had a call and there is a set of actions in place, but Im recommending ramping-up our presence there and being even more proactive in making arrests, Morgan wrote. If the local police will not take meaningful actions nor will the Governor call in the National Guard, then its up to us.
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As federal agencies, including CBP, prepared to deploy agents to Chicago to quell protests, a Department of Homeland Security director acknowledged that their presence was not invited. There has been no request from the State or City for federal assistance, the official wrote. Other cities are being discussed for possible additional surge ops. Two cities mentioned were Kansas City and Albuquerque.
The records show that CBP lacked real understanding about its own role at the protests, said Creighton, of American Immigration Council. The agencys own numerous reports describing protester activity reveal that most protests were peaceful, that the show of force from CBP was not necessary, and when CBPs presence was revealed, it was shocking and unwelcome to protesters and the general public.
Some CBP officers may not have been equipped to do the kind of work they were doing at all, and the records show officers in some jurisdictions received rushed additional training just days before their deployments. All efforts must be taken to ensure the safety of CBP personnel and they should not be placed in roles that put them in direct contact with the public since they do not possess the appropriate crowd control training and equipment, one CBP field liaison director wrote ahead of a deployment in Los Angeles.
The emails also show that CBP officials felt they were not getting due credit for their policing of protests. As you can see, OFO deployed significant resources and provided a substantive response to the civil unrest around the nation, an official from the CBPs Office of Field Operations wrote in a June 2020 email. The official expressed concern that the majority of the agencys activity was not represented in a report forthe DHS Office of Operations Coordination, or OPS. Can you ensure that our activity is included in the final report and not substantially chopped as it has been in the last couple days. OPS does perform an initial chop.
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Posted: at 10:16 am
When Margot Wallstrom, then Swedens foreign minister, announced back in 2014 that her country would pursue a feminist foreign policy, the idea was greeted with skepticism. Ms. Wallstrom was criticized by the foreign policy establishment globally for both her openly activist approach and the perception that she was nave to the realities of realpolitik. As a 2015 New Yorker article put it, Within the diplomatic community, where words are carefully chosen so as not to offend, feminism is usually avoided.
Ms. Wallstroms vision turned out to be at the forefront of something bigger than Sweden. Less than a decade later, 16 governments have formally adopted feminist foreign policies. The idea started as a niche, Nordic approach to put womens rights and representation on the world stage, and it has become an increasingly global tool for governments to articulate their commitment to prioritizing people and the planet over battles for economic and military dominance, to focus on collaboration over competition and on power together rather than power over.
It took five years for the first four governments Sweden, Luxembourg, France and Canada to adopt feminist foreign policies. Since 2020, as progressive governments have come into power, a dozen have followed, across a more diverse geographic area, including in Latin America, Africa and Asia. As the movement has grown, its focus has expanded from challenging entrenched gender dynamics to disrupting the colonial dynamics that continue to define international relations.
What feminist foreign policy looks like in practice varies from country to country. Germany, the largest country in the group in terms of foreign aid, has pledged to almost double its donations geared toward gender equality. Canada and Slovenia have met or exceeded gender parity in their diplomatic or ambassador corps, while France, Spain and Colombia have set up boards of feminist activists to advise their governments. Argentina has put trans feminism at the center of both its foreign and its domestic policies, creating the position of special representative for sexual orientation and gender identity. And the Netherlands, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, has commissioned a review on racism in the foreign ministry.
This isnt just talk. Prioritizing women has a measurable impact to help nations to achieve their foreign policy goals. A global study of United Nations Security Council resolutions found that womens participation in the peace-building process increased the likelihood that a peace agreement would last at least two years by 20 percent, and increased the probability it would last 15 years by 35 percent. Gender equality is also correlated with broader peace and stability: Countries with higher gender equality are more likely to comply with international laws and treaties and less likely to use violence as a first response in a conflict setting. Economically speaking, a 2015 report from McKinsey found that true gender equality everywhere would raise global gross domestic product by up to $28 trillion.
To be sure, there are headwinds, from the so-called pro-family forces in Russia, Poland and Hungary that are working to roll back womens rights, to the crackdowns on womens liberty in Iran and Afghanistan and reproductive and trans rights in the United States. While feminist foreign policy has seen exponential growth in the last few years, further progress is not assured. If a series of progressive election victories is what brought us this movement, a wave of conservative victories can take it away just as quickly.
Take Sweden, where it all began. In 2022, after a change of government, Sweden announced that while it remained committed to gender equality, it was no longer pursuing an explicitly feminist foreign policy and would decrease its peace-building budget and tighten immigration restrictions.
Over the next 12 months, at least three more feminist foreign policy nations face critical elections: Argentina in October, the Netherlands in November and Mexico in June. In these and other countries, right-wing forces are threatening the feminist agenda, with Donald Trump-styled candidates and increasingly racist, misogynist and populist rhetoric promising to rescind womens rights, opportunities for asylum seekers or commitments to climate justice.
On Wednesday, during U.N. General Assembly week, the foreign ministers of a dozen nations representing the United Nations Feminist Foreign Policy Plus group met and announced the first global declaration on feminist foreign policy. They committed to work together to defend women and girls in all their diversity, to shape feminist foreign policies and to exchange best practices and lessons learned regarding the different feminist approaches.
It will take more than 16 governments to change the world. And my own country the United States is conspicuously absent from a club that some might suggest it started, when it appointed the worlds first ambassador at large for global womens issues more than a decade ago.
From Washington to Buenos Aires, the risk looms large that these hard-fought, forward-looking policies can easily be abandoned and with them, hopes for better protection of people, peace and planet. But this week at least, a new coalition has emerged that is doing what it can, where it can, while it can. And thats good news indeed.
Lyric Thompson is the founder and chief executive of the Feminist Foreign Policy Collaborative, an adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, and an appointee of the secretary of states International Security Advisory Board.
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Posted: at 12:32 pm
The first season of Swagger, a sports drama set in the high-stakes world of high school basketball in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Seat Pleasant, Md., was released in fall 2021 to moderate critical acclaim. The creator, Reggie Rock Bythewood, and his cast and crew were proud of what they had accomplished.
But for the shows second season, which premiered on Apple TV+ last week, Bythewoods ambitions were much bigger. He wanted the narrative to be more complex. He wanted the basketball to be more exciting. And he wanted to use the story of a prep school sports team to make a statement about the country.
There is that athlete mentality of wanting to be challenged, Bythewood said in a recent video interview. He put the challenge like this: How do you take Season 2 of Swagger and hold up a mirror to America?
The series is about Jace Carson (Isaiah Hill), an elite high school athlete who is ranked among the top basketball players in his region and is expected to land a college basketball scholarship and, eventually, a spot in the N.B.A. Over the course of the first season, Jace both clashed and bonded with the people around him, including his single mother, Jenna (Shinelle Azoroh); his lifelong best friend, Crystal (Quvenzhan Wallis); and his demanding but supportive coach, Ike (OShea Jackson Jr.). The second season jumps ahead to Jaces senior year as the demands of budding fame and the pressure of mounting expectations reach a fever pitch.
Carson is based loosely on Kevin Durant, the Phoenix Suns power forward and multi-time N.B.A. champion, All-Star and M.V.P. who has been one of the leagues best players throughout his 16-year career. While Swagger is set during the present day Durant attended high school in the early 2000s much of Carsons biography is inspired by Durants own, including his having been raised by a single mother and having been a top prospect coming out of Seat Pleasant.
The concept of a show based on Durants life originated with the man himself, along with Rich Kleiman, his manager and business partner. Rich Kleiman and I had had the idea for a while to do something that was based on my earlier years and centered around the world of AAU basketball, Durant wrote in an email. We got connected with [the producer] Brian Grazer a few years back.
When Grazers Imagine Entertainment first approached Bythewood with the pitch, It didnt really sound like something I wanted to do, Bythewood admitted. But at that time Durant was still playing for the Golden State Warriors, based in the Bay Area, and Bythewood, in Los Angeles, figured it couldnt hurt to hop on a plane and take a meeting.
I met with the guy and talked to him about his life, and I found my own emotional connections to his story, he said.
Bythewood first developed an interest in acting as a high school student in the Bronx in his senior year, he landed a part in the NBC soap opera Another World. His soap stardom offered a window into some of the pressures a top athlete thrust into the spotlight from the middle of Seat Pleasant might face.
It was this idea of being an environment where suddenly all eyes are on you, he said. I really related to the plight, the joy, the challenges, all of it. Bythewood added his own perspective to Durants story, and from there Swagger was born.
The shows contemporary setting has allowed it to address modern political issues. In the first season, the characters dealt with Covid protocols and participated in Black Lives Matter protests; this season, Bythewood wanted to touch on the shift in the country away from the reckoning with racism and people wanting to re-examine themselves that came out of the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, he said, critical race theory is seen as one of the biggest enemies of the country.
He used the seasons predominately white upper-class prep school setting as a microcosm of the nation, depicting imbalances of power and the unique hardships faced by the Black students.
Bythewoods north star in Swagger has always been authenticity, he said. Given the serious nature of the subject matter off the court which also touches on a broad range of social issues including sexual assault, violence and homophobia he wanted to make sure that the sports action was as compelling as the drama.
When you do something that heavy, the basketballs got to be dope, he said. You cant tell the truth about society and then lie about the basketball.
From the beginning, Bythewood has refused to cheat or make compromises when shooting the game sequences in Swagger. When somebody dunks, theyre really dunking on a regulation hoop; they dont lower the rim or let the actor jump on a trampoline. Season 2 includes even more high-level, athletic court action. You will never see somebody on our show shoot the ball and then we cut to the ball going through the rim, Bythewood said.
That commitment to realism was demanding on the cast, which mixes veteran actors with amateurs from a basketball background. The actors had to learn to play convincing ball, and the ballers had to give convincing performances.
Wallis, the youngest best-actress Oscar nominee in history (for Beasts of the Southern Wild, in 2012), said in a recent interview that she didnt really play basketball before working on this show and couldnt do much more than dribble the ball. Her role as a top female basketball player with hopes of becoming a McDonalds All American required Wallis to do months of intense training, always in the gym, training with the boys, training by myself, doing free play, playing for realsies, she said.
Jackson said that while he had grown up playing basketball and remained a dedicated N.B.A. fan, he still underwent considerable training to sharpen my tools a little bit and get my handles right. As a coach, his character isnt asked to play as much full-on basketball as some of the younger players. But his skills were still regularly put to the test, as in a striking long take in the Season 2 premiere shot without the aid of invisible edits or C.G.I. in which Ike and Jace have a heart-to-heart while shooting free throws and making every one.
Reggie was like, Please let it work, Jackson said. Im like, Reggie, we got you man.
For Hill, who came from a basketball background and had never acted before being cast as the star of Swagger, the test was reversed: Dunking came more naturally to him than dramatic monologues. He said in a recent interview that seeing the other cast members work super hard giving it all on the basketball court was what had kept him motivated to work hard on his acting.
Some of them didnt know how to dribble three weeks before shooting, and in Season 2 theyre doing reverse layups and Euro steps, he said. Seeing them raise the stakes on the court every day made me want to raise the stakes on the acting side.
Bythewood noticed the effort. Isaiah did a great job in Season 1, he said. But at the end of Season 2, hes no longer a basketball player who can act: Hes an actor who happens to play basketball. The level of growth hes shown has been exciting.
Durant, too, has been impressed by the progress of the series.
Its cool to see how the relationships between the characters have evolved so much through Seasons 1 and 2, he said. The story has taken on a life of its own. I can definitely still see a bit of myself in Jace, but his character is absolutely his own person going through his own challenges in todays world.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 12:32 pm
Updated : 2023-06-28T15:39:58
Thanks to newly circulated images of a potential Dukes of Hazzard cast, fans have wondered if a reboot is in the works at Netflix.
According to some people, it looks like those damn Duke boys might be at it again as fans are now speculating that Netflix could be cooking a new Dukes of Hazzard reboot.
The Dukes of Hazzard was a TV show that started in 1979 and ran for seven seasons. The show followed the lives of cousins Bo and Luke Duke who live on a family farm in fictional Hazzard County, Georgia. They were known as troublemakers as they raced around in their customized 1969Dodge Chargerstock car, which was nicknamedThe General Lee.
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The show was later turned into a film in 2005 and starred Johnny Knoxvilleand Seann William Scottas the Duke cousins along with Jessica Simpson as their cousin Daisy.
No other addition has been added to the Dukes of Hazzard brand since the film debuted, but now, thanks to some images circulating online, fans are wondering if a Netflix reboot is around the corner.
At this time, no plan for a Netflix reboot of the Dukes of Hazzard has been announced.
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But, fans thought a reboot could be in the works thanks to some A.I. generated images that have been making the rounds online depicting an all Black cast including the Duke cousins, Daisy, and their nemesis Boss Hogg.
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Some people were excited about the fake images as an all Black version of the Dukes of Hazzard would be seen as the ultimate middle finger to the brand thats all about the Confederate flag and all the worst parts about living in the South.
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However, and unsurprisingly, some people didnt react kindly to the mere thought Black people being in the Dukes of Hazzard as they claimed the hood of the car would feature a Black Lives Matter flag or the episodes would be a minute long as the Black Duke cousins would immediately be arrested by the police.
It should go without saying, but the color of a characters skin doesnt matter unless its directly tied into the story. And as the Duke cousins are just Southern boys who drive a particular car, having them be Black wouldnt be such a big deal.
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The idea of a Netflix reboot of the Dukes of Hazzard may be fact, but peoples bigotry definitely is alive and well.
You can check out some of our other Netflix hubs below:
The Night Agent Season 2|The Gentlemen|Sex Education Season 4|Beef Season 2|Monster Season 2|Will there be Ginny and Georgia Season 3?|All the Light We Cannot See|Stranger Things Season 5|The Witcher Season 3|Chicken Run 2|Heartstopper Season 2|Florida Man Season 2|Obsession Season 2|The Sandman Season 2
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Posted: at 12:32 pm
Legendary filmmaker Spike Lee shook the world with the summer release of his 1989 drama Do the Right Thing. For those unfamiliar with the picture, Do the Right Thing follows Mookie Blackmon, an employee of Sals Famous Pizzeria, as he spends one hot summer day delivering pizzas throughout New York Citys Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn neighborhood. While making his deliveries, Mookie encounters and interacts with the neighborhoods colorful characters in a thoughtful examination of race and class. However, despite Do the Right Thing being considered one of the greatest films of the 1980s (specifically the best film of 1989 by acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert), the Academy Awards opted to award the Bruce Beresford-directed period dramedy Driving Miss Daisy, a less controversial film, with the Best Picture honor at the 1990 Academy Awards.
Among the films brilliant acting performances is Lee as Mookie, the late Danny Aiello as Sal, frequent collaborator Giancarlo Esposito as Buggin Out, John Turturro (another of Lees frequent collaborators) as Pino, Rosie Perez in her feature-film debut as Tina, and the late Bill Nunn as the unforgettable Radio Raheem. As is often the case when artists tackle sensitive subjects like race and violence, Do the Right Thing received high praise and severe criticism from critics for its portrayals of people of color, race relations, and a memorable ending that forces audiences to consider whether Mookie did, in fact, do the right thing.
With Do the Right Things thirty-fourth anniversary occurring on the thirtieth of this month, well examine why Lees Do the Right Thing is a significant film and why its themes and messages are still relevant thirty-four years later.
A prominent theme in Do the Right Thing is the relationship between law enforcement and people of color specifically African American males, and even with both sides feeling threatened by the others mere presence, their relationship is contentious at best. However, as the day marches on and the already hottest day in New York heats up even more, the police and civilians of Bed-Stuy become increasingly more agitated with each other. This agitation and stress eventually and unfortunately culminate in a riot between Sals Pizzeria and the primarily Black inhabitants of the neighborhood and before anyone has the time to process whats happening, Radio Raheems murder by members of the NYPD.
Related: The Best Spike Lee Movie of Every Decade
On July 17, 2014, life would imitate art when footage of members of the NYPD murdering Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man, via chokehold in broad daylight surfaced. The situation and its eerily similar circumstances were not lost on Lee as the filmmaker would splice footage of Raheems death with footage of Garners, along with scathing remarks against the officers involved. Despite the many claims of police brutality against African Americans being a thing of the past, weve all bore witness to many instances of such still occurring throughout the nation.
Most recently, the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020 reignited the Black Lives Matter movement and the I cant breathe rallying cry started by Garners murder. Despite the tragic and racist circumstances that have led to these notable references to Do the Right Thing, they have exposed newer generations to the film and its anti-racist themes and, thus, will hopefully contribute to our society doing better.
Do the Right Thing is regularly screened and studied in college and university courses thirty-four years after its initial release, thus solidifying its status as a significant piece of art. Moreover, this film and the rest of Lees career have inspired many generations of filmmakers notably acclaimed writer-directors M. Night Shyamalan and Barry Jenkins. AFI included Do the Right Thing in its 10th Anniversary AFIs 100 Years 100 Movies list at number ninety-six, and New York Times film critic Wesley Morris has cited Do the Right Thing as his favorite film.
Related: John Turturro's Best Performances, Ranked
The respected film preservation company, The Criterion Collection, has restored and re-released the film twice once on DVD in 2001 and again on Blu-Ray in 2019 to coincide with the films thirtieth anniversary. Additionally, Quincy Street and Lexington Avenue, the neighborhood where the film is set, was renamed Do The Right Thing Way in 2015 after Robert Cornegy Jr. pushed for the New York City city council to honor the film and its legacy with the initiative.
Do the Right Thing is objectively one of the most influential films ever made, and its status as such is primarily due to Lees thought-provoking script, masterful directing, and notable usage of Public Enemys Fight the Power. The film offered insights on controversial topics from a rarely heard or seen perspective and concluded on a somewhat ambiguous note, leaving fans and critics still pondering its ending. Whereas a film like Miss Daisy played things safe, Do the Right Thing was provocative and insightful, challenging its audience to consider their biases, politics, and environments.
While Lee has gone on to have an exceptional career with follow-up classics like Malcolm X, Clockers, Bamboozled, 25th Hour, Inside Man, and BlacKkKlansman, Do the Right Thing will likely go down in history as the auteurs finest work chiefly because of its themes, cinematography, and social relevance across multiple generations.
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The more often the word woke is invoked, the more elusive it seems to become. Since the right began to use it as a war cry, many progressives have argued that the word is empty, merely a way to attack people of color, feminists, and members of LGBTQ communities without being directly offensive. Yet the fact that woke has become a slur in the hands of people like Ron DeSantis, Marjorie Taylor Green, and right-wing politicians across Europe should not prevent the rest of us from examining it. Even when they decline to say it publicly, for fear of giving aid and comfort to the radical right, most progressives I know are deeply uneasy about the turn taken in Western cultural politics of the last few years.
Whether you think woke is a curse or a blessing, youre likely to share one assumption: woke is left, or far-left, or hard-left. What makes woke positions hard to define is that theyre fueled by all the emotions traditional to most progressive views: sympathy for the marginalised, indignation at the plight of the oppressed, determination that historical wrongs must be righted. Those emotions, however, are derailed by a host of assumptions that ultimately undermine them. We rarely notice the assumptions now embedded in popular culture, for they are usually expressed as self-evident truths.
Even those who never read a word of Michel Foucault or Carl Schmitt, godfathers of many woke intellectuals, have imbibed conclusions from their views: justice is a concept invented to disguise claims to power; there is no common humanity; tribal connections and genetic interests determine our actions; most attempts at progress turn out to be subtler forms of domination, like the use of reason itself.
Its the mismatch between progressive emotions and reactionary assumptions that makes woke so hard to define. The idea of intersectionality might have emphasized the ways in which all of us have more than one identity. Instead of examining the wealth of identities all of us have, the intersectionality discussions often reduce all our identities to two. Race and gender are not only the most marginalized identities, but they are also those over which we have the least agency.
Woke emphasizes the ways in which particular groups have been denied justice, and seeks to repair the damage. In the focus on inequalities of power, the concept of justice is often left by the wayside. For ideas of justice, as Foucault and his heirs argued, are often used as smokescreens to disguise demands for power. Why not be honest, cut out the middleman and simply demand power for your tribe? Woke demands that nations and peoples face up to their criminal histories. In the process it often concludes that all history is criminal. Yet if we cannot acknowledge that progress has been made in history, we are unlikely to believe it can be made in the future.
Read More: Why Woke Is a Convenient Republican Dog Whistle
Defining woke, then, requires us to acknowledge the split between progressive emotions and reactionary theories. Its not surprising that woke intentions are at odds with their assumptions when many of the latter come from thinkers who were outright Nazis. You need not have read a word of Carl Schmitt or Martin Heidegger to have imbibed their views: liberal ideas of justice and democracy are empty, outdated husks of the Enlightenment, itself a scam by European powers bent on imposing their values and regimes on others.
In fact the best tendencies of the woke, like the suggestion that one view the world from more than one geographical standpoint, come from the intellectual movement they most despise: the Enlightenment, which invented the critique of Eurocentrism and was the first to attack colonialism on the basis of universalist ideas. When contemporary postcolonial theorists rightly insist that we learn to view the world from the perspective of non-Europeans, theyre echoing a tradition that goes back to Enlightenment thinkers, who risked their livelihoods, and sometimes their lives, to defend those ideas.
This is not merely a historical argument, for in misunderstanding progressive history, many contemporary voices have abandoned the philosophical ideas that are central to any liberal or left-wing standpoint: a commitment to universalism over tribalism, a firm distinction between justice and power, and a belief in the possibility of progress. All these ideas are connected.
What distinguishes the left from the liberal is the view that, along with political rights that guarantee freedoms to speak, worship, travel and vote as we choose, we also have claims to social rights which undergird the real exercise of political rights. Liberal writers call them benefits, entitlements, or safety nets. All these terms make things like fair labor practices, education, healthcare and housing appear as matters of charity rather than justice. But social rights are codified in the United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While most member states ratified it, no state has yet created a society which assures those rights. To stand on the left is to insist that those aspirations are not utopian.
You need not study philosophical debates about the relations between theory and practice to know at least this: what you think is possible determines the framework in which you act. If you think its impossible to distinguish truth from narrative, you wont bother to try. If you think its impossible to act on anything other than self-interest, you will have no qualms about doing the same. The right may be more dangerous, but todays left has deprived itself of ideas we need if we hope to resist turn towards the right.
The international right is extremely well organized. What unites far-right nationalists across the globe is not the idea that Anglo-Saxons or Hindus or Jews or Hungarians are the best of all possible tribes, but the principle of tribalism itself: you will only truly connect with those who belong to your tribe, and you need have no deep commitments to anyone else. Its a bitter piece of irony that todays tribalists today find it easier to make common cause than those whose commitments stem from universalism, whether they recognize it or not.
The concept of universalism once defined the left; international solidarity was its watchword. What united striking miners and civil rights workers and freedom fighters was not blood but conviction first and foremost the conviction that behind all the differences of time and space which separate us, human beings are deeply connected in a wealth of ways. To say that histories and geographies affect us is trivial. To say that they determine us is false.
Hannah Arendt thought that Adolf Eichmann should have been not have been tried for crimes against the Jewish people but for crimes against humanity. Her distinction is even more important today. I support Black Lives Matter because the killing of unarmed people is a crime against humanity. At the same time, I reject the white countermovement whose members shout All lives matter, because it uses a banal general truth to distract attention from an important empirical truth, namely, that African Americans are more likely to be subject to police violence than other Americans. Its an empirical fact, but you need a concept of truth to see it.
Despite the universalist character of the 2020 movement in the first months after George Floyds murder, a racist right was quick to dismiss it as a case of identity politics, though a majority of American demonstrators in June 2020 were white. It wasnt only the right that moved towards tribal rhetoric. By the fall of that year few voices defending Black Lives Matter were universalist, though some allowed that white allies could play a role.
But I am not an ally. Convictions play a minor role in alliances, which is why they are often short. Alliances have little to do with principles: if my self-interest happens to align with yours, for a moment, we could form an alliance. The United States and the Soviet Union were allies until the Nazi regime was defeated. When the U.S. decided its interests lay in recruiting former Nazis to defeat communism, the Soviet Union turned from ally to enemy. To divide members of a movement into allies and others undermines the bases of deep solidarity and destroys what standing left means.
Its often recalled that the Nazis came to power through democratic elections, but they never won a majority until they were already in power. Had progressive parties been willing to form a popular front, as thinkers from Einstein to Trotsky urged, the world could have been spared its worst war. The differences dividing the parties were real; even blood had been spilled. But though the Stalinist Communist party couldnt see it, those differences paled next to the difference between universal progressive movements and the tribal vision of fascism.
We cannot afford a similar mistake today.
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