Welcome to a collective of my thoughts, ramblings, writings, musings, and whatever-the-hell else I feel like broadcasting into the vastness of the world wide web.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Carter V. Carter

Today I had came across a blog my sister had, past tense as it hasn’t been updated since 2008. The last entry posted was entitled ‘Blaxploitation: A Black and White Issue?’, which immediately piqued my interest. Primarily as a film geek, and having been a clerk at an independent video store, films like “Foxy Brown”, “Shaft”, “Superfly”, and “Cleopatra Jones” were staples in my movie diet. So as I read down and see that my sister has been assigned to write a paper on “the media’s portrayal of individuals of a specific identity”, and has chosen “Friday” as her example I was needless to say very excited.

My sister is most often an intelligent and thoughtful writer, but oh dear Lord did she miss the mark on this one (just from my point of view, but when am I wrong, winning, duh). Badly enough that I felt compelled, nay, obligated to offer up a response. I will quote her liberally, but if you would like to read her piece now, you may find it HERE.

First off, I absolutely believe that "Friday" is a pinnacle of stoner films, the urban ghetto comedy that every film remotely like it after would have to measure itself by. Not only was "Friday" a funny fuckin movie that's endlessly quotable ("I'm gonna get you hiiiiiiiiigh today, cause it's Friday, you ain't got no job, and you ain't got shit to do!"), it was also an arguably intelligent movie. I know, that wasn't the first thing I got out of it either, but it's there. Friday was written by two people who literally grew up in the ghetto, and directed by a man who three years after "Friday" became the first black director to helm a film with a budget of $50 million dollars (so says wikipedia). The story and characters presented in "Friday" are both slapstick caricatures and true to life representations by people who have been there and lived it and now choose to laugh about it.

Now on to a back and forth from Erin's theories and my responses. She states that the producers (among them Ice Cube) "played into some of America's skewed misconceptions about the central and peripheral elements of black life." Ok, no, and what? You mean that by viewing this movie I'm going to, as a dumb average 'merican, think that all black people do is sit on their porches, smoke joints, and ride around on bikes in slippers stealing people's stuff? To open, aside from the crime, all that sounds AWESOME. But really, if you've ever had that thought then either you've seen "Friday", or you've seen ANY black comedian or comedy from the last 30 years. Racial stereotypes are everywhere, and that doesn't mean they should be ignored. They should be laughed at, turned on their head, made into something that is entertainment, not racism. If it is then Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Richord Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and ten billion other black comedians are racist and guilty of perpetuating stereotypes. Acknowledging a stereotype, making it into something funny if you can, that isn't same as perpetuation.

"If an understanding of black culture was derived from 'Friday', dysfunction would serve as its singular definition." I BEG TO DIFFER M'LADY. Friday treats it's main characters with a degree of respect and dignity even while making them the objects of jokes or humorous situations. There are two parents living in the house, both employed and seemingly happily married after an assumed 20+ years. There is stress placed on the main character to go out and find work by his father, seeming that the value of independence and self-sustaining are held high in the family. In Erin's article, the issue of unemployment being a prevalent issue seems erroneous to me, being as it's actually portrayed in an arguably realistic manner. The main character lost his job because someone was stealing from the company and on the security cameras it 'looked like him from behind', both a way to get the story of two slackers with nothing to do today going and possibly also a comment on 'all black people look alike'? Kudos Mr. Cube, well tread material but funny nonetheless ("How you get fired on your day OFF?!"). Nearly every adult in the film goes to or comes from work at some point, and the secondary main character does have a job, it's just that he's a pot dealer. Trust me though, that's a JOB, and it does involve work.

In this film, "poverty becomes a laughable condition, marijuana an instrument of relational bonding, and crime an effort to pass a lazy afternoon", according to Erin. Well, the poverty in such areas is portrayed accurately, and of course it becomes laughable you are watching a comedy, you want serious Ice Cube go watch "Boyz In The Hood". Marijuana an instrument of relational bonding? NO! That can't be! Wait no, I was thinking of something else that isn't awesome and doesn't make you want to eat sandwiches and kool-aid with your friends. Marijuana, just like alcohol or any other inhibition killer, is absolutely and nearly by definition a bonding instrument. As far as crime being an effort to pass time, that's not true. It's Deebo who is running around committing crimes, and its Deebo who forces Smokey to burglarize Stanley's house by threat of shiv. Everywhere you go there is going to be some kind of criminal element present, so including this in the film is obvious and unthreatening in any way. Deebo, this film's antagonist, is eventually knocked out cold by Craig, who decides to defend himself and his neighborhood with his fists despite having a gun in hand and facing a much larger opponent.

Erin finishes out by saying "Despite any redeeming qualities, 'Friday' undermines the efforts of thousands throughout history who have worked hard to build understanding and erase structural inequalities...Funny, yes. Inappropriate? Absolutely." First off, undermining thousands throughout history? Really? That statement is so overly dramatic and reaching I threw up in my mouth a little bit. "Friday" has enriched the millions who've seen it and enjoyed it, found it funny, still rewatch it and quote it to their friends on the regular. It's nothing deep, it's not trying to be, it isn't interested in addressing these social issues and stereotypes, just acknowledging their presence and hopefully get a few well earned laughs out of them. This isn't rocket science, but neither is it stupid, lazy, or race regressing comedy. So Erin. Funny, yes. Inappropriate? Yes. Everything it's supposed to be and even a little bit more? ABSOLUTELY.

Erin, you've been served. I also do take into account that it's been three years since you wrote that, and perhaps your feelings have changed. In any case, I've got two copies of "Friday" and you're welcome to borrow either if you want to reassess. Love ya kid.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex

SEXUALITY. It's something oft discussed by me, specifically when I get drunk, or when people start talking about orientations both homo and hetero. You see my friends, I don't believe in 'straight' and neither do I believe in 'gay'. Not in the way you don't believe in say, unicorns or the Bible or whatever, but in the way the words are defined. It's always seemed to me that sexuality is a sliding scale from individual to individual, and the reason this isn't widely accepted or talked about comes from people not wanting to admit that they are anything but one hundred percent straight or gay (usually the straight ones). It's easiest to explain if you drag out the ol' 1-10 scale.

We'll go ahead and make 1 the baseline for heterosexuality. You are a 1 if you have never had even the slightest childhood inclination towards a member of the same sex. You are emotionally and sexually turned off by the sight or thought of any sort of intimate interaction with the same sex. You are a shining pinnacle of heterosexuality, always have been, and always will be. Most males you explain this to will inevitably try and immediately establish their position as a 1, and most of them would probably be at least a number or two low. Now we have 10. At a 10 you were gay at birth, born in a shower of glitter and sparkles, coming into this world at the same time you came out, proud as hell. Pretty much take the stipulations laid out for being a 1, reverse them completely, apply, and you have your 10's.

Where most people go wrong is not admitting to the existence of the other 8 numbers, ironic because whether you admit it or not, it's probably where you belong. We are human beings, we are extremely sexual in nature, and for most people that sexuality does not apply solely to one single sex, all the time, every second of every day. Be it a fantasy, a dream, your daily life, or a drunken moment, nearly everyone has had some sort of same sex experience (or opposite sex for those on the other side of the fence). The shitty thing is the stigma that still hangs over such things. I'm not going to use this (right now) as a platform for homosexual rights and acceptance, but I think it's time we all quit being embarrassed about who we are, what we think, and what we do in our own homes and most importantly in our own heads. We need to start by breaking down this wall of it being socially acceptable and even encouraged (usually by men) for women to experiment with each other while no one questions that ultimately they are 'straight'. It's a dirty double standard that we continue to perpetuate. Men constantly talk up and encourage this behavior among women, but would be ever so quick to pull out 'fag' or 'queer' or at the least get visibly uncomfortable if the same situation arose with two men instead. Even women who are professed bisexuals, that is still unfortunately often easier to deal with then being an experimental or bisexual man, because of the still ongoing prejudices, irrational fears, and mixed feelings about gay men. I also don't mean to belittle or disparage any and all homophobic vitriol that gets aimed at lesbians and female bisexuals at all, I mean only that it's often less widely acceptable and understood from a man to man point of view, be that right or wrong. I think that's stupid and ignorant. I'll be the first to admit that I've had a physical encounter with a member of the same sex. I'd also be the first to point out that I'm not gay, I'm not even bisexual. I love women, top to bottom, every inch of them. I don't feel that way about men, but I'm not necessarily turned off by them either. I'm able to appreciate a good looking guy just like I'd appreciate a good looking girl, I'm just 99% of the time not at all attracted to the guy in the same way I would be the girl. That puts me somewhere around a 3 probably, a place where I can appreciate the aesthetic appeal of somebody of the same sex, where if the inhibitions were low, the alcohol was flowing, the situation was perfect and everybody was on the same page, it could go further. It probably won't, but who am I to rule out that possibility. That would just be robbing myself of a potentially good time.

So I guess the general point I'm trying to make here is that people need to be more open and honest about themselves and their sexuality. I'm not saying you have to open yourself up to the same sex/opposite sex depending on your orientation, but only that we start to acknowledge that sexuality, like much else in life, is rarely a black or white issue. There is plenty of room for grey, and whether or not you can admit it to yourself, grey is probably the world you wake up in every day. Everyday I wake up hoping for a world where sexual orientation is not how you are defined, where there isn't anything that you should feel embarrassed or ashamed of. Where we just enjoy being people and humans and sexual beings in any way shape or form we feel is right for us. Obvious exceptions being made for child molestation, bestiality, necrophilia, ect ect. The kind of shit that not just the straights or the gays but evvvvvverybody knows is fucked up. In the meantime, lets just try and be who we are, lets come to terms with the fact that we probably aren't 1's and 10's, but somewhere in between, and that's ok. You don't have to talk about it, or announce it, or write long blog entries about it, but admit at least to yourself that it probably isn't a cut and dried matter, that you are or have the potential to be a much more sexually open being then you know or admit. I promise you it's freeing and liberating to be able to say to people that you have no sexual prejudices or hang-ups, that you are just you, unique and comfortable in your own skin. Straight people, embrace that 2-4 spread, it's ok, you can still be a heterosexual in life and in your actions, gay people I don't have to say this to as much, but some of you are as set in your ways and scared of compromise as much as us. For those of you that aren't already, jump into those 7-9 spots, you can still rock a rainbow tee and raise that fist in pride, but come on, throw back a few drinks and you aren't hitting on your straight friends girl? Just a little bit in good fun? I've seeeeeeeeen it. Being in the grey doesn't mean you can't be a hetero or a homo. You can, it's absolutely true that most people have a distinct predilection towards one sex above the other, but I think you sell yourself short when you completely shut down and ignore a part of you no matter how small, that's just a little bit different.

I have the balls to post this here in an open forum for anybody and everybody to read. All you need to do is find your own number, admit it to yourself, and be okay with it. Good luck.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tupperware Bank Accounts

Been a while since I posted, my apologies for the slacking. Technically I wasn't, as I've been busy preparing for and subsequently making the move from Colorado back to Oregon and the West Coast. Took us four days to get here, made it a pretty leisurely voyage. Stopped in Arches National Park, which after very little consideration it was decided should be named Giant Rocks That Look Like Dicks National park. I mean once you see one, they just all become dicks. Seriously, go there, google some photos, whatever, it's insane. Some of those motherfuckers look they were carved by Druids or aliens or some shit to look like massive phalluses (phalli?), no stretch of the imagination required. What are you going to do. In our case it was take a bunch of forced perspective pictures of us doing obscene things to some strangely and hilariously shaped rock formations as tourists walked by and looked on. This of course just made us laugh even harder, literally doubling over laughing with these world class sights and miracles of nature all around us.

Sometimes we may be a bunch of guys in our mid twenties acting like we're twelve, but goddamn if my friends and I don't enjoy the hell out of life whenever and however we can. I hope I never lose that, I hope we never lose it, and most of all, I hope I never lose them. Some friends you have and they come and go, just passing through your life for a while, making it better, changing it or shaping it in even the smallest way. Some friends stick around, are forever, are family and not just in a jokey metaphor but real family, the kind of people you know will be there your whole life. I feel like at this stage in my existence I have a few of those people, guys and girls who have run the gauntlet, been there for years, seen me through a lot of hard times, never turned away. We've spent years at a time apart some of us, but when we get back together it just flows, we've all got love for one another and it shows through the bullshit and the drama that comes with simply coexisting alongside your fellow man.

To close it out this post has served mostly as a quick vent, a release, an update cum love letter to my friends. I'd like to put up some more detailed pieces on Colorado and the winter we had once I've had a little more time to reflect upon it. It requires more thought then just banging out something in ten minutes because I haven't posted in a while and I don't want to lose whatever 12 people are actually reading this. I just wanted to get something up so this blog, this thing, can keep going, moving forward, hopefully at some point growing and evolving into something of substance and consistency. We'll see.

It's good to be back in Bend, it's strange and a little surreal, work is hard to find but I'm staying optimistic, looking forward to whatever this summer and the future have to bring. I'm ready!