So here’s the $64,000 question: Isn’t performance, rather than race, the true representation? When a talented actor delivers a masterful performance and creates an indelible character, does it matter if the role was “negative” or saccharine sweet? Should Washington and other actors of color be forced to play some variation of George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life throughout their careers? Do they not “represent” by showing that we can be good, bad and everything in between while neither confirming hard stereotypes or slipping into caricature (see The Wire)? Does bad always mean bad, and does it reflect on our race as much as some believe?
I’ve grown as weary as I think most black people have of the burden of representation. I’m not interested in holding actors to a standard of bettering the race or not embarrassing black people in front of white audiences. Continue reading →
I know I’m supposed to be excited about the revenge fantasy aspect of Django Unchained…
…but I’m not.
I get that the anachronistic characterization of Django and use of music is supposed to be “cool.” Just like The Bride killing Bill is supposed to be “cool.” Just like Sam Jackson quoting the Bible is supposed to be “cool.”
Because cool is all about being reduced to the “fuck whitey/fuck men” aspect of being black or a woman. Because that flattening is supposed to be empowering.
Except that it’s not. In fact, it it all feels incredibly juvenile to me. Tarantino is essentially a 13-year old white boy who creates films for other white men who wanna relive their own adolescence for 2 or 3 hours in the movie theatre. There are no human beings in his films, just one-dimensional fantasy characters who say “fuck you” to everything and strut around. I find it insulting and tedious beyond measure.
I don’t think it’s impossible to make a revenge fantasy film about slavery, but I do think that characterization that is about something more – something deeper and more human – than “cool” is the only way that works.
But will Joe Jonas be believable as a real rock star? Can the fans ever forget that they loved him in fourth grade?
“I look at Joe’s scenario as kind of like when Justin Timberlake broke out of ‘N Sync,” says Rob Knox, a producer working on Joe’s solo project who previously teamed up with Rihanna and Jamie Foxx. “Justin was 21 when he came out as a solo artist. Joe is coming to producers who know how to create that edgier pop feeling. We’re not doing any boy-band songs.”
What they are doing, Joe says, is an eclectic mixture of “electro indie pop rock.” “It’s Joe’s album, it’s not just something put together for him,” says Danja, another veteran producer on the project, whose past work includes Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds. “He’s collaborating with the writing. He’s very different from what you’d expect. All I can say is he’s an adult man. He has a rock-star edge about him.”
The entire Details piece reads exactly the way all the articles about Justin Timberlake before he released Justified read – Joe really likes girls! Joe drinks! Joe is kinda sorta embarrassed by the Jonas Brothers! Joe is a rock star trapped in teen idol purgatory!
"But I do wonder about what happens to our popular culture in a world where everyone contracts artistic schizophrenia. There's a virtue to concentrating on what you're best at, refining your skills and deepening your vision. If everyone has to go out and prove they can do anything, what works of art aren't going to get made?"
I thought about this quote when my ipod got around to playing Jamie Foxx' new album and I sat through Foxx's best Drake emo singer impression on "Fall For Your Type:"
And my thought is: What happens to our art when a multitalented artist treats one of his gifts with contempt?