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Sunday, June 28, 2015

If Only Mulder & Scully Had Smartphones Then


by

Bobbie L. Washington


I readily admit that I am a fan of The X-Files and am one of the many who are waiting with anticipation for the return of Scully and Mulder in January 2016. It’s been a log time since I had seen some major episodes from the show and so I went online to look up a few thanks to Hulu starting with the Season 1 and episode 1. As I watched the various episodes, I also took a second look at the technology Scully and Mulder used during that time. A lot of the things we have no taken for granted and is commonplace wasn’t available at that time.
The computers they used were archaic 80386's, monitors were bloated cathode ray tube green screen monsters and the cellphones were just glorified walkie talkies. They used their cellphones a lot for communicating but I wondered how would the X-Files would have been if they had smartphones instead.
Well, for one, Mulder could have snapped a picture or shot plenty of video of the spaceships he’s encountered over the course of the series. Scully could have tracked where Mulder was by the GPS tracking device on his smartphone and that way she would know if he was on the spaceship or with Diana Fowley. Mulder could have used a genealogy app to tell who the father of the baby belong to from the three brothers in Home after one or maybe two of them had sex with their mother. Scully could have used her Facebook app to see if Jade Blue Afterglow from First Person Shooter had any likes. The Lone Gunmen, Frohicke, Byers and Langley, could have used the Tinder app to meet real women. The Cigarette Smoking Man could have used the MyQuitBuddy app to help him stop smoking. Mulder could have used the Goggle map feature so he could navigate out of the cornfields in Fight The Future. Skinner could have used the T-Shirt app so that he can find the right one to wear under those starched white shirts, no wife beaters please.
Eugene Tooms could have used the Vegan App to find other alternative meat substitute dishes that don’t use liver but is just as nutritious and would have been on Snapchat. Duane Barry could have used the Paranoia App since he is so worried that somebody is always watching him. Clyde Bruckman could have used the Tarot Oracle Card app so that he could give David Blaine a run for his money. Krychek could have used the One Arm Slot Machine app to give him a better edge in Las Vegas and would have Kim K. following him on his Twitter account..
And as we countdown the final moments for the return of the X-Files, people will be interested in the relationship with Mulder and Scully. That’s a valid concern. Mine, however, will be about the aspect on this generation of technology. TV screens and bigger and flat and they can spy on you if you let them. Smartphones can do a lot more than just call a person. Big government is not just watching you, they are subcontracting private companies to mine data for them. Edward Snowden is the number one enemy to the NSA. Julian Assange is number two. And while the Lone Gunmen may have been right with their predicting the 9/11 disaster, we can rest assured that the alien conspiracy has been effectively put down…or so we think.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Feminist Icons in Today's Pop Culture
By
Bobbie L. Washington


So I will pose this question, what makes a feminist in this generation of selfie loving social media instagram, Facebook, twitter culture? To understand feminism, you first have to look up what it means and even though this generation may be savvy with posting pics, memes and the what not, information gathering tends to come up short. Feminism, by definition, is the advocating on behalf of women when it comes to the issue of reproductive rights, equal pay, domestic violence, maternity leave, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and genital mutilation at it's most core principles. Feminism started in France during the French Revolution when the French writer, Olympe de Gouge, wrote about The Declaration of the Right of Woman and Citizen during the French Revolution. She was advocating that “woman is born free and remains equal to man in her rights” and that women should have equality in all areas of life such as education, government, employment and the judicial systems. So now that we have established a point of reference, does the value of feminism still holds up with this crop of celebrity personalities?



Taylor Swift, truly a remarkably talented woman, has been bestowed the title of feminist by some publication. But what is she really doing for feminism? She makes plenty of hit records about her dating life, she decides on how her music will be distributed and by whom, she makes plenty of money and she has donated to numerous charities but I don't hear her voice in advocating a particular cause. Taylor Swift said in part that she has become a feminist thanks to her friendship with Lena Dunham recently so what does that mean in the grand scheme of things? Taylor Swift has a hardcore fan base that have be vicious if they find their star come under attack. One person, Clara Beyer, a then Brown University student, created a Twitter account called FeministTaylorSwift, that provoked the ire of that fan base who thought Beyer was hater of Taylor Swift. But by her own summation, Beyer's feel that she started Taylor Swift into the world of feminism. Taylor Swift created a video called Bad Blood, where a lot of her female friends appeared in varied roles as above average women with kick ass abilities. 

 Taylor Swift had mention the fact that she had used the women for these roles for what they supposedly would represent. But you were just playing dress up. That had nothing to do with furthering the cause of feminism. Just because you have a video out pretending to kick fake ass doesn't mean you are empowering women especially when at the end of the video you wound up having a bitch slap fight with Selena Gomez. You sort of defeated your purpose with that message of empowerment. But Taylor Swift has power, as stated by Forbes magazine. She is ranked as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women of 2015 at number 64. But power is relative and fleeting. Power is relative to what the people is willing to let you have. Let me repeat that, power – is only relative – to what the people – is willing to let you have. Power is popularity. Paul Simon once sang that every generation finds a hero on the pop charts. And that is true.

Does anyone remember the utter fascination with Lady Gaga? She was everywhere. She had a few hit records. She had her fans listening to everything coming out of her mouth. But then the hit records stopped coming. Her fans became fickle. She still is showing up from time to time but it's for other peoples work and she shows up just to stay relevant while she still wears the attention grabbing outfits. Here was a woman who also is considered a feminist.
But what is she doing, showing up at an event wearing only a bra and panties. That story didn't make it over the fold with any relevancy what so ever. As Bootsy Collins once sang, “whatcha gonna do when the novelty wears off of your style?”

Ariana Grande recently made headlines because she tweeted about she's her own woman and doesn't belong to anyone. Some took that as her feminist calling because she quoted from Gloria Steinem and then came the “you go girl” attitude as if she had done something significant. Is that really feminism or just a response to so many tweets about your ex-boyfriend that you had to give a response just to get them on another subject? It seems as if the bar has been lowered a bit when it comes to what constitute as a feminist calling. Journalists need to be more objective when it comes to reporting on these celebrities because they have an agenda and a public relations machine they need to keep oiled and running. And sometimes it seems like many of these journalists are fans of these stars as well and that tends to lead to some bias reporting when it comes to their favorite celebrity. Other than her own self interest and a sophomoric twitter rant, what else is Ariana doing for feminism?

Bree Olsen, once a part of Charlie Sheen's harem of women and former anal porn star had tweeted a letter that she had penned about girls thinking about entering the porn industry. She advocates for them to reconsider and outline the pitfalls of traveling down that path and yet she wasn't labeled a feminist by any blogger, journalist or group. In her letter, Bree talks about slut shaming, how there is a double standard with women and with men and the world after the porn lights have dimmed especially if you happen to have children. So why weren't her words elevated to a level of importance in the same manner as Ariana Grande? Why was there silence. Did it not have value? Did it not have weight? Why didn't she get praise for speaking out to thousands of impressionable girls who are considering doing porn for the allure of fame and money from the feminist community? Maybe it is because of what she wrote and that is that men are given a pat on the back when they leave porn and women are slut shamed for doing the same and that applies to speaking out as well. Maybe it was because she has done porn and the respect for women who work in the sex industry are not to be taken seriously. If anyone would have seen Rashida Jones
documentary about young girls entering the porn industry entitle, Hot Girls Wanted, maybe Bree's word would have contained more value and power.


Patricia Arquette gave a wonderful but all to brief acceptance speech at the Oscars when she voiced her position of equal pay for women in her industry. Though to be fair, her industry is based on what an actor can bring in at the box office and usually that means the lead actor is a male who has the box office draw eight times out of ten, especially when it comes to the big box office budgeted films like The Avengers and Jurassic World. The Hollywood game isn't quite the same as your typical nine to five but the meaning and platform for Patrica Arquette to find those words to be the most valuable for her in the three minute window that was allocated to her. How it translated the next day with everyday people and the corporate boardrooms would be the test.


And Emma Watson has jumped head first into the role of an actual feminist with her work by accepting the United nation's Women Goodwill Ambassador role and speaking out on behalf of gender equality. In her speech, she invited men to join her in this fight as she recognize that the label of being a feminist had negatives attached to it with regards to it being too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-male and unattractive. She is hoping to change that because she has experienced that when, as she put it, the press started sexualizing her at the age of 14 and at 15, her girlfriends dropped out of sports because they didn't want to appear to muscle bound. Of all the women celebrities in her age group, she by far has the better understanding of what the feminist cause is or at least is trying to understand instead of it just being a Twitter rant.



Beyonce Knowles, Beyonce, Queen Bey, calls herself a feminist. She has every right to do so, but why? She sings and performs about empowering girls but does that translate into action? Who run the word, girls is one of her musical anthems but let's look at that carefully. In third world countries, women are subjected to some of the most cruel acts that humans inflict on one another. Genital mutilation in parts of Africa, honor killings in the Middle East, human trafficking in this part of the globe and the reality sinks in. Singing a pop song in 3:45 doesn't embolden anyone for the better. Charlize Theron spoke before a committee on the human rights commission in regards to the LGBT community. 

 Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry sat in front of a state commission advocating for children privacy when it comes to the celebrity paparazzi with the latter benefiting Beyonce is she chose to exercise it. These women are doing something with their feminism. Beyonce readily has admitted that she is not a smart as she likes during the inauguration of Barack Obama. She does not have the skill set to have conversations about other worldly topics because its beyond her save world of music. She has been soundly criticized for attending the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight because of Floyd Mayweather domestic abuse charges. From what I understand, she looked great at the fight. Like Taylor Swift, Beyonce has earned her respect in the music business. She knows how that work. Her father has taught her well about it and she has amassed a fortune doing it.

But where do these artist, these icons to female pop culture, do with feminism? You can't just sing about ruling the world or kicking somebody's ass. You will have to take a long hard look at who you are, what exactly are you doing with your fame and assessing the finer point of can you do something more with it? Fame is fleeting. Former president, Jimmy Carter, was a one-term president but since he has left office, he has done more for human rights than any president since and I don't think he's a feminist unlike his wife, Rosalynn,
who was a string feminist with many causes that she was an advocate behind. And maybe that's what these icon need is a strong role model because even pop icons need role models too. These are young women who need to look back in history and see what women like Rosalynn Carter has done for feminism and emulate it.


Saturday, June 13, 2015




In The Case of Rachel Dolezal in The Age of Meism

By

Bobbie L. Washington

So, where do we go from here? It's a legitimate question in this age of it's all about me. Surely you are a party to this aren't you? How many selfies have you taken? How much of your social media accounts is filled with images of you in various poses, goofy faces, nude shots, duck lips, etc. And if that is who you are, then why the supposed outrage over Rachel Dolezal?


Rachel Dolezal is the 37 year old woman who runs the Spokane, Washington branch of the NAACP. She also happens to be white but for ten years she has to the position of being black. This revelation has led to a debate, mostly about race and also what constitute free expression in the face of the Bruce Jenner morphing into “woman”. There are those who are outraged at Rachel Dolezal because they feel that she a appropriated this notion of the black culture. The appropriation of the black culture came about when some blacks felt that whites were stealing the culture as when Bo Derek wore cornrows in her hair in the movie, 10, or when Macklemore won the Grammy over Kendrick Lamar for best rap album. Rachel Dolezal held herself out as a black woman and all that came with it. In that ten years, I do not know if she has faced any discrimination but as the person who is in charge of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, she probably had her challenges in light of the multiple shootings of young black men by white police officers. She currently chairs the Spokane Police oversight commission.

Rachel Dolezal claims that she is black, white and Native American. She did this on an application with the City of Spokane and if you're familiar with government documents, they frown on inaccurate information. So here comes the matter of perspectives. Rachel Dolezal claims that she is part black but in truth, her DNA would say otherwise as her parents can attest to her being of German, Czech and Swedish ancestry. Bruce Jenner has claimed that he is know a woman but DNA says that he still has a Y-chromosome and because he has declared himself as a woman then everybody must adhere to that edict and go along with the change. So, what is the difference?

Well, in the case of Rachel Dolezal, one can claim that she lied about being black, that she took advantage of certain positions in life based on a lie which is irony in itself when being black has certain advantages in this society. She wore makeup to conceal her identity, what some are calling “black face”. She married a black man and has a child by him. Did she take advantage of him? And how much did he know about this? Bruce Jenner on the other hand has been married twice and apparently had hid his feelings about being a woman for years. Is that deceitful? His marriage with Kris Jenner being the most recent must have been a house of lies if one is to take that position of being truthful. If the urges were so strong with being a woman, why wasn't the decision to do this come much earlier? Is it just more fame whoring and money because there are claims that he is about to cash in with lucrative contracts.

What we look for today is something that is intangible and that particular substance is called recognition. We want to be recognized for everything in this me society. It's not just that there are thousands of people who take selfies, it's the myriad of tweets and Facebook post about absolutely nothing. Being it food that you've eaten, clothes that you wear or not wear, baby's first step, smile, burp, laugh, your ass in tight workout pants, in lingerie, hotdog legs, we get to experience it all. Bruce wants to be recognized as a woman, Rachel Dolezal wants to be recognized as being black. DNA says otherwise but in once case, there is recognition for one of the party.

So how far can we keep moving the bar with things? What if I want to be be recognized as being Chinese. On the surface you see brown skin and recognize me as being black. But my DNA says otherwise. I had my DNA tested through the Sorenson Genealogy Group and with Ancestry.com and what I got back says that I'm a mutt. My DNA is literally all over the world. On my paternal side of my genetic in one area of the globe I have elements of DNA derived from Asia. Does that make me Chinese, no, but I could argue that I have a link to being Asian. But I do have DNA from Ireland and I've always felt a connection with Ireland for quite sometime. So, does that make me Irish?




Does anybody has the right to make claims about their race if DNA testing says it's diverse as mine? Since the founding of this country we have had a constant issue with race and that's what this is all about. There are the old soldiers who have shed blood over this issue and there are the new soldiers who have lost their lives in this new struggle. But no blood has been shed over this issue, just inkjet fluids.

Rachel Dolezal, as far as I know, hasn't garnered a windfall of cash with this revelation. She is not seeking any fortune and apparently no fame, unlike Jenner. Why did she chose to resign herself from her own racial makeup is for more qualified people to ascertain her mental health, if it is in question. So let me ask this one final question, are we judging her by the content of her skin or by the content of her character?


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Your TV Family

by

Bobbie L. Washington

Well, the time has come for this crop of TV shows to have their season finales or is some cases, their series finale. There is a chow called Community that originally aired on NBC for a few years before they were canceled by them not because it wasn't a good show but because of lower viewership. But fate stepped in and Community found a new home with Yahoo. And with that new venture came with it a new found invigoration to expand the comedy by using more expressive language in small increments. They ran 13 episodes and if you were a fan of the show, you at least had the chance to catch all 13 episodes in you were lucky and some if you were fortunate. And the best thing about it was that you could watch off of them through the process of binge watching. And as I watched the last show, I didn't know if I was watching the season finale or a series finale?

So as I invoke the spoiler alert for those who may not have watched it but still are planning to watch it, one of the key people is moving on with her life. It becomes the lynch pin for the other characters to absorb especially for Jeff Winger. And as Annie takes that next journey into an undiscovered life, you get that sense of ambivalence, you just start having this sense of longing and foreboding and loss. But why are you feeling this way and why is it that we tend to have a visceral connection to our favorite shows?

Well, we let them in our viewing home for, in some cases, many years. They become an extension as to who we are. We live vicariously through their one dimensional lives. We escape with them through whatever travails they may experience. We cry for them, we're happy for them, we get angry for them, we even talk back to them, we go on an adventure with them.

When David Letterman ended his 33 year run on his Late Show with David Letterman, you had to resign yourself that it was probably time for him to say goodbye. Perhaps what many did not know is that once his last show aired, that was it. There was no reruns of the show anymore. There was no slow tapering off form the David Letterman shtick. What we got was nothing for the withdrawal pains. It was cold turkey. David Letterman owns his show unlike what he had gone through while at NBC. And because he owns his show, we are subjected to reruns of the Mentalist, oh, the horror, the horror. You at least thought you would see Dave through the summer until Stephen Colbert took over the slot but since that didn't happen, we sorely missed David.

This may be a new phenomenon in this age where social media has become the new normal and television shows generates a lot of media hits. When The Wonder Years had its run back in the 80's and 90's, it ended with a a bit of nostalgia and melancholia. If that was your generation, you perhaps related to the coming of age with Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper. As Kevin narrated his life story, it reached a point where becoming an adult would end his childhood landscape. And when that final show aired, Kevin told of his rites of passage where his brother would run the family business after the death of his father. He would say that his mother would have discovered her own calling by becoming a businesswoman and that his sister had become a new mom and that he and Winnie didn't turn out being together anymore. And even though it had to come to an end, it was bittersweet and perhaps a bit real in that happy ever afters are left to fairy tales.



The same can be said about the TV show Cheers. When it ended its 11 year run, it to was bittersweet. Once again, people move on with new chapters to their lives and we are there to make witness to that. And although you wish you could write some of those final scenes, Sam was left at the bar by himself with his last line being, “Sorry, we're closed.” Why couldn't Diane secretly had his love child and be surprised that it was a girl? We want them to be okay, to not wind up no being left alone to their own devices. Sorry, but a bar will not comfort you or hold your hand or place an arm around you when you need it.



But there have been many shows, fine shows that we let in and treat them as family. We tune in each week to get the latest and see where they have progressed in terms of character development. We saw the teenager Buffy The Vampire Slayer become a young woman who watched as her town implode under a hell hole filled with demons. We saw chemistry teacher Walter White turn into a mild-mannered man into a methodical killer whom you sympathized with and champion as well. We watched as Jack Shepherd from Lost stare up to a clear blue sky as he slowly dies and dream of things gone by and where he wished he would be, among his friends and father in a church as that beautiful lofting music played in the background and the dog laid next to Jack wagging his tail with content. And Seinfeld, well, as Julia Louis-Dreyfuss said on her last appearance on Letterman, “... a hugely disappointing series finale”. 



 What was Jerry thinking? A show touted as being about nothing, ended on nothing but a bunch of misanthropes who would take a selfie at a Texas execution and be mad if it wasn't about them.

So, what does this say about us as individuals and as a group? Well, we want a connection and a sense of belonging and purpose. TV shows aren't real but they bridge the real with the surreal from time to time. If we, with purpose, buy the bit and buy the premise, we become the latest of investors of a show, singing its praises and accolades. Derek Shepherd meets his demise of Grey's Anatomy and half the women feel betrayed by these turn of events. How could they do this? Maybe it should have been a dream?

We have become a media savvy generation where we get to stream any content on any platform and at any time. I have watched old episodes of The X-Files in anticipation of the return of the show with new episodes. I watched them online with a sense of longing for the show and questioning why they should have ended it after Season 8 but continued with Season 9. I can't wait to see the new episodes though because I want to see if they will find Scully and Mulder's son, William?




William should be 14 years old by now. They had left that story line open ended. Surely you didn't think their son would be exempt from the darkness did you? So, you see, in my scenario William was given up for adoption to some couple who were mysteriously killed when he was still an infant. He winds up in foster care being passed around from foster parent to foster parent. At some point in his life, he realize that he's different from his peer group. There is a longing in him and he has this pull for him to find out who his parents were. At the same time Scully is having vivid memories of William. She does not pass this information on to Mulder because as much as she has seen, she still does not trust her instincts. William has decided to find his parents and oddly enough, winds up in the Native American tribe of Albert Hosteen. With the tribes guidance, William is set on a new path along with an American wolf that has befriended him. At the same time, young William is being watched by a mysterious figure who does not do anything to intervene. William makes it to the FBI headquarters where he finds Scully's name on the computer file.

Did I mention that the kid is a computer genius? So, Skinner catches him in the act and William tells him who he is because somehow the boy knows who Skinner is. Skinner takes him to the home of Mulder and Scully. Mulder is a successful novelist who write fiction about the cases that he has turned into stories. It has made him very rich in the process. Skinner knocks on their door and Mulder answers it. He is surprised by the visit from Skinner until Skinner reveals that he has brought along an additional visitor. Mulder sees the boy and calls for Scully. Scully comes to the door and sees William and she knows who he is. She calls out his name but William stops her with telekinetic powers. Mulder stops him because there is a connection with Mulder that William seems to understand. After tensions have settled down, Mulder and Scully final get some of the answers that was left open. The wolf comes up to the mysterious figure and shape shifts into a naked woman. He covers her with a coat as the woman says that “They have reunited once again.” He replies, “Good, they will be able to train him for the next crusade.”


So why do I know I care so much about this? Because it's The X-Files and I'm a shipper and a the theory of Trust No 1 is true or maybe I just invested way too much time in watching this show.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Crime & Black Guilt/Shame


CRIME & Black Guilt/Shame

by

Bobbie L. Washington

If you are human, you harbor secrets. It may be an innocent little secret or it could be a huge secret or it could be the kind of open secret that nobody wants to talk about but it is as plain as the nose on your face. What I speak about is the guilt or shame that the black community feels when a horrific crime is committed by black men.

When news outlets reported that there was a Washington, D.C. Mansion that was on fire and subsequently the bodies of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; Amy Savopoulos, 47; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, 57 were found, you didn't think about who the suspect was. But as investigators looked closer into the crime and discovered DNA on a pizza crust, you may have had a remote clue as to who the suspects were. And as it was revealed that the primary suspect was Daron Dylon Wint, 34, of Maryland, you were disappointed that it was a black man who did the alleged crime. As then it hit you, that guilt, that shame, that's associated with crimes of this magnitude that was done at the hands of a black man. But why the guilt, why the shame?

As a collective, we did not commit the crime nor had a conspiracy in it either. However, as a whole, this crime, unfortunately, bears a reflection on an entire group of people and that is the primary perception. We are dealing with perceptions and how it reflects back on us when one person does something horrific.

Black guilt or black shame is nothing new. It came about during the Reconstruction Era after the civil war when W.E.B. DuBois describe in his writings, Souls of Black Folk, accounts of slavery, of ignorance, of being unattractive and with Frederick Douglas on his perception of how history would view American blacks and slavery. At it's core, black guilt by definition, is a commonly found in American blacks who follow the rule of assimilation. By giving up those common ties, they find themselves in a constant battle between their natural instincts and a need for self preservation. But that was over 100 years ago, we are dealing with a different set of rules.

Be it local or be it national, whenever a crime is committed and you're watching the news, the ever reaching credo is “please don't let it be a black man, please don't let it be a black man”, and when it is, it's as if you lost a bet and you curse the television for letting you down. The types of crime that are perpetuated by black men have changes over the years.




In Atlanta, Georgia between 1979 and 1981, Wayne Williams was put on trial and convicted of killing 29 children. The idea of somebody murdering children in this manner was unusual and the black community had no idea that someone of color would be committing these types of murders, after all, serial killers were always white man with sexual issues. But the culprit was unmasked as Wayne Williams, a sometimes music producer and manager.




And then there is the case of John Allen Muhammad and his young protege' Lee Boyd Malvo. Their crime consisted of crossing the country and acting as snipers from their car, killed 16 and wounded 9 people before getting captured. With their faces plastered across the country, once again the black community felt betrayed by the notion that black men would kill in this manner like any white men would, with cold, methodical callousness and indifference. The type of crime they were committing was suppose to be left to the crazy white men so they thought. By now, the rules were changed. Assimilation of the most heinous of crimes have ebbed into the American black communities.


Jesse Matthew, a former hospital worker and taxi driver, has been charged with killing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham and is a suspect in the disappearance of Morgan Harrington. When surveillance footage showed Matthew with Graham on the night she disappeared, the conclusion was drawn that this would end tragically. His alleged crime appears to be opportunistic in that his objective was to rape Hannah Graham. Once he was captured and his photo was graced across network television, the disgust from the black community was at a dull roar. Here is another black face.





And while young black men are being killed by cops and neighborhood watch patrols and protests are being held, one has to wonder if there is a cause and effect scenario underneath all of this? But what about other communities. When Ariel Castro was arrested for holding three young women captive for years, was there a sense of guilt or shame in the Hispanic community knowing that it was a Hispanic who committed the crime?


Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnarv, doesn’t represents all Muslim but by default, the Muslim community feels like his actions, along with his brother, is not a representation or reflection on the Muslim community as a whole. As with many terrorists who have corrupted and hijacked the interpretations of the Koran, they continue to manipulate passages as a means to an end.


The Japanese community does have shame when it comes to one of their fellow countrymen commits a heinous criminal act. The atrocities of WWII has affected their country for years and in some cases, they refuse to acknowledge such acts when it comes to the Comfort Women of Japan, the documented systematic kidnapping and raping of women from Korea, China, the Philippines, Thailand, etc.


But black guilt or black shame is a pervasive annoying beast. We are not collectively responsible for these guys actions. There have been cases where black men have been heroes that not always get the attention that it deserves. Army Captain Steve Voglezon rescued two people from a burning vehicle in North Carolina. The time allotted to him was a few seconds of speaking, literally. But the networks would have allotted more airtime if he was a Kardashian who had nothing important to talk about.


Wesley Autrey, a construction worker and Navy veteran, saved one Cameron Hollopeter from uncertain death when Wesley jumped down from a subway platform in New York and covered Cameron, who had fallen in, with his body as a subway car roared over them. Fortunately for Mr. Autrey that he had a chance to say more because David Letterman had him on his show. David is known to give the everyday man/woman his chance to shine when others do not.


It's unfortunate that if the news bleed it leads in this current configuration. It seems like that's all we are suppose to know. Bad things happen to people. Not all black men are killers. It seems like the black community must apologize for these man bad acts. Maybe it's a knee jerk reaction for vestiges of a bygone era that refuses to die? If we are to have this “normal society”, we must not feel guilt or shame for the actions of others, we must look at people as if they are not criminals, we must accept that every human has inherent faults, that not all people think alike, that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton do not speak for the entire black community because nobody made them the leader, that at the end of the day we can stand together in a singular voice while we work out our problems.



Sunday, May 3, 2015

Kurt Cobain: The Suicidal Brilliant


by

Bobbie L. Washington

There is a documentary on HBO that is currently running entitled Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck. It is about the meteoric rise and subsequently spiraling crash on the life of Kurt Cobain. And it is remarkable. It was written and directed by Brett Morgen with the cooperation from Kurt's parents, his sister and his daughter, Frances Cobain. She also serves as executive producer on this project as well. It was reported that Frances Cobain wanted an honest portrayal of her father perhaps so as not to elevate him to the point of beatification. But in this documentary, you get the sense that you are more than just spying on this family, you get the sense that you are watching Kurt's soul being painted on a canvas and you are helpless to stop what will become the tragic outcome.

What makes this documentary such a stand out is the use of illustrations and animations as well as old stock footage and home videos that turns it from a picture perfect portrait of idealism into a stark unpleasant portrait of substance abuse. With montages of a World War II generation getting on with their lives after the war and with images of the Cleaver family, that ideal family form the 50's, we look into the life of Kurt's parents and what pass as the ideal family. It was a conventional relationship with the parents, all of the girls in his mother's age group was married off and his father made overtures towards her and as a matter of convenience and expediency, the union was formed. Kurt soon followed and since he was the first grandchild in the family, Kurt was adored and showered with affection from all quarters in the family. And as time moved on, nobody was divorced in the tiny town in which they were from said the mother, that's how things were. But for her, that wasn't the case, Kurt's parents divorced when he was a prepubescent teen and for him it was a precarious time of upheaval and a thing to come.

As you watch this, you see a lot of Kurt's writings, illustrations, lyrics, general thoughts, just about everything he's ever put pencil to paper being put on display. It moves the documentary on in a way that captures even more the insight of who this man was and the angst he had gone through as a child. He dropped out of school with two months remaining and never looked back. By this time he was already writing lyrics to some of the most captivating concepts he would eventually explore. There is one scene where you see a still picture of Kurt sleeping on a sofa and his face morphs into a distortion and you are in his thoughts filled with a psychedelic imagery of misshapen globules coming at you from all corners.

And then there's the images of Kurt as a cartoon done in rotoscope animation. This is haunting in that you hear Kurt in his own voice as if Brett Morgen has taken the images directly from a video and transposed them into a ghoulish specter that has come back to haunt you. But it works as it draws you into something more than documentary. It doesn't allow you to become bored with just one voice droning on. It is layered, it is compelling.

And it comes to the point where you see the evolution of Kurt and the band Nirvana. Like all things of success, timing is everything. What was it about this band that help capture the disassociate generation of that time? Kurt had become the default leader apparent and by all indicators, a reluctant one at that. Like all artists of a certain ilk, it was suppose to be all about the creative process of making music. There was a scene of Kurt on stage that reminded me of a Jim Morrison performance with The Doors. It seemed to parallel each other lives and you don't know if that was intentional or not but it was eerily fascinating to see.

But it seems like his relationship with his mistress, suicide, had been going on for quite some time starting as a teenager. It appears that the divorce of his parents was the catalyst that changed the way he saw things from that point on. He was given Ridalin at an early age to quell his hyperactive self and at the time, narcotizing kids was the preferred thing to do. You have to wonder if parents just wasn't capable of dealing with children who were active as a norm and instead just listen to some psycho babble about kids behavior? He wrote so much about suicide but nobody looked over his shoulder or really seemed to take such concerns with the level of interest that should have raised alarms.

And so we reach Nirvana. The band is wildly successful with all the trappings that comes with it. But still, there is this edge that Kurt struggles with. He wears the mask of success but deep down he is terrified. He finds new love with Courtney Love, he finds fleeting happiness with the birth of his daughter and yet the demons still exist. He writes more about suicide. He attempts a suicide after he suspects that Courtney Love is having an affair. Why didn't anyone check him into rehab after, that is a question that needs to be asked? One month later, he succeeds with his thoughts.


And you wonder what might have been with Kurt Cobain if he hadn't killed himself? Where would he be musically? You ask that with many artist who have left us much too soon but with Kurt, his writings were something to behold. Like Jim Morrison, who's poetry and lyrics were something on another plain, Kurt Cobain was just as equal in delivering compelling tortured prose. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck should be viewed in an academic environment and as a life lesson to any up and coming angst riddle artist.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


 Naked Zombie Girl     by

Bobbie L. Washington

Have you ever ran across something that for whatever reason, resonates something in you that leaves a lasting impression? Well. I made such a discovery of a somewhat innocuous little gem of a film that's called Naked Zombie Girl that came out in 2014. It is exactly what the title claims, but it's about a girl who kills or rather re-kills zombies. So the premise is this, apparently there is a plague of zombies roaming the land. They just jump right into it without any setup. They have to since the little innocuous film has a running time of 28 minutes. And so there is a 1971 Cadillac Broughham chugging along down the highway with three people in the car, two women and a guy. The car comes to a stop having engine trouble and at the same time, the guy is sick, apparently bitten by a zombie.




All of a sudden a horde of zombies come out of nowhere attacking the occupants in the car. One of the girls in driving. The zombies grab the girl in the backseat and the dead guy. The driver eventually is under attack as she fights off the zombies. In her escape, her dress is torn off after getting caught in the car door. She runs to a barn or some structure where she finds a chainsaw. Now unlike some other teen horror slasher movie, this chick figures out things and she gets the chainsaw started and now the fun begins.



Unlike The Avengers: Age of Ultorn which is long, laborious and lacking the fun element that's gone missing from the earlier films, Naked Zombie Girl has it's tongue planted firmly in cheek with the camp factor. It's not thought provoking, it won't make you cry for Ryan Gossling, it won't do your taxes, it won't have a dog rescuing you from a well. Here you have a naked girl running around with a chainsaw dispatching zombies left and right. And then you realize that her being naked is her super power. It sort of reminds you of Buffy Sommers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Here was a high school girl who had this gift of killing demons, vampires, ghouls, etc. while attending the prom in a ball gown. But Naked Zombie Girl takes it to a whole different level. After she kills her first set of zombies, a guy in a white pickup truck pulls up and blows one of the zombies away, saving our heroine from a fate worse than death, literally. But he didn't bat a eye when he tells her to get into the truck and he drives her back to his place so she can wash all of the blood off her. Of course you can see this coming because while she is in the bathroom, the zombies get into the house and eat the guy. She hears the noise and puts a towel around her and goes out into the hallway and looks down the hall to see the zombies devouring the guy. She drops her towel and she has her super power again as she goes on the attack.



And that's what I took away from this and that was her “girl power” was her being naked and I don't know if she knew that her power was derived from her being naked? She seemed to free herself from those conventions that were placed by the social norms. Those emotional shackles, invisible as they are, were liberated from her when she grabbed that chainsaw like it was her “new dick” and stuck it in the zombie splitting him into. What you saw was someone who wasn't looked at as some sexualized creature but a different kind of warrior that's worthy of further examination in the cinematic structure on women in film.



Writer/Director Ricky Bird did a masterful job with the resources that he had. And with a budget of $17,500 the zombie makeup and effects didn't seem cheap. Meghan Chadeayne plays Barbara/Naked Zombie Girl without reservations. Money was raised though crowd funding sources and I don't know if a feature film is planned. It falls under the category of grindhouse and there is a graphic novel of Naked Zombie Girl floating out there. But please find this film and be surprised by it all. Become a fanboy of Naked Zombie Girl and go to the website at nakedzombiegirlmovie.com , it's worth the trip.