Sunday, January 12, 2014

Obvious Oscar option?...

An aside: who was Jim Crow?
More of the best films of 2013? Maybe. 'One of the best films ever made'? Maybe not. '12 Years a Slave'; maybe it's racist to disagree but a white said "Some will no doubt take comfort from McQueen’s inherently warped, dishonest, insensitive fiction"; "This is less a drama than an inhumane analysis"; "[it] belongs to the torture porn genre"; "Because 12 Years of Slave is such a repugnant experience, a sensible viewer might be reasonably suspicious about many of the atrocities shown–or at least scoff at the one-sided masochism"...a white concludes "Steve McQueen’s post-racial art games and taste for cruelty play into cultural chaos. The story in 12 Years a Slave didn't need to be filmed this way and I wish I never saw it." A white saying all that would probably be called racist by some lefty retards but A. White said it and it's a scathing review; others were more technically critical, like Jeannine Marie DeLombard on History News Network, herself an author on slavery who wonders why Frederick Douglass wasn't the first choice the Hollywood treatment (or for counter-acting Hollywood's dearth? In that link McQueen also contradicts White about the 'torture porn genre' by claiming that 'There were things in the book that we really couldn't translate on to screen', that I doubt). DeLombard highlights that the secret of 'the white man's power to enslave the black man' was the rigid control of black literacy,
"But what, in Douglass, is a canny rhetorical appeal to well-meaning Protestant reformers will almost certainly be taken by today’s movie audiences as ironclad historical truth. (If you doubt this, just try telling those who’ve seen Django Unchained that 'Mandingo fighting' was not a popular antebellum entertainment but is simply a product of Quentin Tarantino’s notorious imagination.)"
This was all after it's release in the USA last autumn. No doubt it will win Oscars but the hype seems senseless, tokenism (did I just say that?!) when it is IMHO - to quote another critic back in the autumn - a 'New Movie, Same Old Skin Game'.

Rambling on: "A racial twist given to what is basically an economic phenomenon. Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery." (Eric Eustace Williams). Somewhat true although obviously racism has always existed; it is not a black and white, really, not literally or figuratively. Also, [edit] we must try to avoid thinking 'slavery' was just slavery in the USA or just the Atlantic slave trade; it has involved all colours and creeds, has existed since humans walked the Earth and certainly hasn't gone away.

Update: as matters of interest: 50% or more of the white immigrants to the American colonies in the century and a half before the American Revolution had gone under debt-bondage (indentured servitude) and although there were both black and white indentured servants sentenced to lifetime servitude the first person of African descent to be classed as a slave in what became the USA was owned by...a black man. Additionally indentured servants were often treated more harshly and forced to work more excessively so as to spare the slaves; the latter being 'perpetual property' the former temporary bonded labour.


Paul said...

Good post. The two biggest films at the moment are both about blacks rebelling against Mr Whitey.

As you say neither slavery or racism are as clear cut as people would prefer you believe today and indentured servitude is something you almost never hear of outside of family history magazines or books.

Camilla Long gave 12 Years a slave a hard time in the Times, mind you The Railway Man isn't much better when it comes to torture. The 12 Years A Slave book is however excellent so I am reliably informed.

Span Ows said...

Thanks Paul, another little snippet is that the whole of the US slavery accounted for barely 5% of the total Atlantic trade, most was to Brazil (Portuguese responsible for nearly 40% of total, I guess football has a lot to thank them for!)

I've yet to see the Railway Man but it looks good, had an uncle live through something similar, could never eat rice (well, in my experience he was never offered it but I was told why)