Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Pam Grier

By Andrea Plaid

Pam Grier. Courtesy: Image Stock Nice

What can you say about an actor whose blessed several generations of pop-culture afficianados–especially young Black girls–with indelible images of Black female badassery? Well, you know we at the R can wax rhapsodic and ecstatic about the folks we love…and this is Pam frickin’ Grier, so we’re gonna wax thankful–along with rhapsodic and ecstatic–for her life and legacy.

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8-30-12 Links Roundup

The young people, mostly from Mexico and Central America, ride to the border on the roofs of freight trains or the backs of buses. They cross the Rio Grande on inner tubes, or hike for days through extremes of heat and chill in Arizona deserts. The smallest children, like Juan, are most often brought by smugglers.

The youths pose troubling difficulties for American immigration courts. Unlike in criminal or family courts, in immigration court there is no right to a lawyer paid by the government for people who cannot afford one. And immigration law contains few protections specifically for minors. So even a child as young as Juan has to go before an immigration judge — confronting a prosecutor and trying to fight deportation — without the help of a lawyer, if one is not privately provided.

So far this year, more than 11,000 unaccompanied minors have been placed in deportation proceedings, nearly double last year’s numbers.

Young migrants say they are fleeing sharply escalating criminal violence in their home countries. Federal agencies have scrambled to muster adequate detention facilities, while legal groups try to find lawyers to represent them. Judges, for their part, have struggled to offer fair hearings to penniless youths who speak little English and often do not even understand why they are in court.

“Today, the first generation of Chinese Americans who grew up in the area is coming of age. To many of them, with their often halting Chinese and brash American ways, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong seem distant and strange. At the same time, they don’t want to abandon the world their parents left behind.

“You don’t fit anywhere, so you create something new,” says Aileen Xu, 21, who grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. “A lot of us don’t necessarily connect to our homeland. We’re not from China. We speak English.”

This new creation is not entirely formed, but you can see the signs of it in song and dance; food from a dozen provinces with an American twist; a funny way of talking that mixes bits of dialect from across China and American hip-hop.

There are new clothing lines and music labels and a reincarnation of Taiwanese shaved ice with a frozen yogurt spin, marketed as Fluff Ice. T-shirts, emblazoned with “Six-Two-Six,” are selling briskly.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s face (pictured) is superimposed over an 1800 female slave painting by French artist Marie-Guilhelmine Benoist. Seated on a chair covered with the American Flag, right breast exposed, and wearing an Aunt Jemina headscarf, the image is part of a feature article examining Mrs. Obama’s popularity among the American public.
“…Behind every great man there is a great woman [which best] describes the Obama marriage. In the shadow of the U.S. President is a person whose popularity ratings exceed those of Barack’s own. This person is none other than his wife Michelle,” reads the roughly translated description for “Michelle Tataranieta De Esclava, Dueña De América” (Michelle, Granddaughter Of A Slave. Lady Of America).

In an open lettter to the Republican Party, Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos writes that the GOP has strayed from the party of Ronald Reagan and that in order to succeed in gaining the votes of more Latinos, it needs to take a page from its own history.

“Dear Republicans,” he writes, “you are going to lose the Hispanic vote in the upcoming presidential elections.”

But that isn’t the worst part, Ramos continues. “I am writing to tell you that, unless you change several of your anti-immigrant positions, you could be condemned to lose the White House for many decades.”

The latest Latino Decisions poll shows Republican candidate Mitt Romney with 22 percent of the Latino vote. Since Ronald Reagan, Ramos writes, any presidential candidate who gets less than one-third of the vote has lost the election. “Will things be any different this year?” he wonders.

George W. Bush received 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, the largest percentage ever attained by a Republican. It was due in no small part to Bush’s support for immigration reform. Yet it was Republicans in Congress who were responsible for blocking immigration reform, something that Latinos will not soon forget, Ramos writes.

There are plenty of artists who share his vibe in Korea, however. PSY belongs to an established genre of entertainers that pop pundits there have dubbed “gwang-dae,” after a caste of performers traditionally attached to royal households.

“Gwang-dae are more clown or jester-like,” says Kang. “They don’t have to be sexy idols to be popular. Their songs are either very humorous, or can sound serious, but with silly lyrics.”

The closest Western comparison that Kang can think of is Andy Samberg’s sketch troupe Lonely Island — but she notes, while they have big viral hits, they don’t actually sell a lot of records, and are seen as musical comedians rather than an actual pop act: “In Korea, gwang-dae actually top the music charts, perform on big music shows, and so on.”

Praise Billith: The Racialicious True Blood Roundtable For 5.12

King Russell, We Hardly Knew Ye

Alea: Well…the end of Russell Edgington was rather anti-climactic.  Though I’m tickled that Eric got to have the kill, Russell was one of the few interesting characters/storylines/anything going on this season.

Joe: They have a weird habit of resolving plots for the sake of a cliffhanger. It stinks of gimmick. Not a fan. Where is the epic battle climaxed by a surprising victory? Sam goring the maenad (something that still makes me cringe to this day) comes to mind. How I wish Russell went out like that.

Tami: Russell deserved better than that. It makes me wonder why they bothered to bring Denis O’Hare and the character back only to play second fiddle to Lilith and then to be staked unceremoniously in the middle of a Bond Villianesque monologue.

Kendra: It was a season of questionable casting choices, really, given the same thing happened with Christopher Meloni. There were plenty of other members of The Authority I would have rather seen killed off first, other than those two. Russell’s character also just changed so much from his arc in S3. I guess some of that could be chalked up to him having been dead, but he went from a genuinely scary villain that I could take seriously to something of a joke. Especially with his faerie obsession send-off.

(Hi, y’all. I’m caught up, finally– turns out this season goes down a little better when you just watch everything in one giant chunk.)

Tami: Also an improvement: watching the show through HBO Go with interactives turned on. I’ll be doing more of that next season.

Alea: “Are you really this undisciplined?” The Eric/Nora chemistry in this scene is great–evocative of what their older brother/little sister dynamic must have been through the ages and how it’s changed now that Eric has essentially pulled an Angel and grown himself a soul.  Also, this petulant, impatient, slightly bratty, but ultimately reasonable Nora is entirely endearing and maybe the first bit of her I’ve enjoyed all season.  Sad that Lucy Griffiths wasn’t really allowed to show some range until the finale.

Seal Team Six They Ain’t

Tami: Is there anything on Earth more ineffectual than The Authority’s security team? They routinely fail to…y’know…secure anything. They are comically easy to kill. And dude drew his weapon as defense against Fly Sam.

Kendra: Note, the older red-headed member of The Authority knew they were in lockdown looking for any flies or strange-looking bugs, yet, when trying to corral Luna-as-Steve into the interview room, she wasn’t concerned at all. Good job, that’s how you get exploded from the inside out.

Joe: For how scary the Authority was presented, they were all killed as quickly as that oldest faerie was. How do these main characters survive in a world of exploding vampires and disintegrating faeries?

Alea: Bill chasing Sam-in-fly-form is totally how I feel chasing centipedes around my apartment, with a bit more squealing.

Hot Emo Viking Vampires!

Alea: Oh shit.  Eric’s little cave of domestic and foreign currency is mountainous!  And, really, Nora’s going to throw shade over Pam being a “former prostitute?”  The look on her face when Tara talks back to Eric is priceless, but does anyone else think it’s strange that being vampire family automatically makes Eric’s past wrongs vis-a-vis Tara seemingly forgotten?

Tami: Alea, apparently. Though I’m glad to hear somebody finally say “Be nice to Tara.”

Alea: Why is Sookie dressed like she’s going to a Sunday School prom, again? Aaaand Jason sees his parents full-time now?

Kendra: Everyone has to have a power.

Tami: These Stackhouse phantoms are going to become tiresome.

Alea: Dear gods, Eric seems super-emotional–for Eric–about the possibility of Bill “losing himself.”  I wonder where their bromance is going to go from here.

Tami: I want the Eric who gave no fucks about anyone (save maybe Pam) back. I’m no fan of Emo Eric, especially if he’s going to waste his new-found emotions on Bill Compton.

Kendra: Between his Godric visions and the reappearance of Nora, I doubt we’ve seen the last of Emo Eric.

Alea: Tara is super Pam-centric so far this episode.  I think romance is in the air!  Why is Jason holding a honeybear?  “If I wanna be a fool, then I will be a fool.  That is my god-given right as an American”–thanks for clearing up what this whole damn season’s been about [though “American” can be replaced with “faerie,” “werewolf,” “vampire,” and any other number of nouns].

Alea: Bill is much more believable as the smooth and cunning master of political intrigue than he is as a general rallying the troops.

Tami: “…our human livestock…”

Alea: Yes, Pam, all roads must lead to fucking Sookie.

This Is How Skynet Disposes Of Old Models

Alea: While this convo between Alcide and T-1000 doesn’t quite do it for me, it does tie up all of the various storylines about the difficulties of contemporary parenthood that have popped up this season–Holly and her boys, the deceased Stackhouses and Jason and Sookie, Luna and Emma, Godric and his progeny, Pam and Tara, Bill and Jess, Andy’s unintentional fatherhood.

Tami: Can Robert Patrick get some sort of career award for portraying shifters?

Raise your hand if you think Papa Herveaux–with a shower and shave–is actually hotter than his pup.

Alea: Rikki = the Faces of Death?

Alea: “That train has already sailed.”  Indeed, Jason.  He’s kinda making sense, but he also seems crazy as eff.

Alea: I love that Steve had Emma for, like,two seconds before sitting for a family photo with her and Russell.  He was so, so hungry for love and companionship.

Tami: I am as unimpressed by FlyVision as I am by 3D. They both make me kinda woozy.

Haven’t we already done Jason as anti-vampire bigot?

Kendra: That’s really the only other option for humans on this show, it seems. You’re either 100% behind Sookie and her drama or you’ve got some sort of anti-vamp and/or racism thing going on.

Cajun Margaritas? Is There Filé Powder In That?

Alea: I actually do want to know what hell is in a “Cajun margarita,” and why does it taste like candy? Cajun flavors typically include black and cayenne peppers, bell pepper, [green] onion, parsley, bay leaf, and celery.  You can’t just call shit “Cajun” because it’s made in Louisiana.

Kendra: Ask and ye shall receive: 2 tbs. coarse salt, 1 lime wedge, 3 oz. white tequila, 1 oz. triple sec, 2 oz. fresh lime juice, 1/2 tsp. green Tabasco sauce, 1 cup crushed ice.

Uh, not that this would be anywhere near as pink as whatever Lafayette brewed up, but enjoy!

Alea: The color is indeed off and I still don’t understand why it’s anything like “candy.”

Tami: Dear Nelsan Ellis (aka Lafayette), you are doing too much. I love you, baby. But all the dipping, dialect, and general sassiness has taken a dangerous turn into Mammy territory. I know the writers gave you shit to work with this season, but seriously…stop it.

Alea: So. Much. Cosign.  The outfit, the lashes, the turban, the swag–all fierce, but can we have Laffy doing something besides making shit for white folks when Merlotte’s is closed?

Tami: Also, Arlene: “What is this music?” Come one, now. No way this woman is so culturally illiterate that classic R&B is some foreign exoticness.

Alea: Seriously, Miss Bodehouse.  Andy Bellefleur did get super hot this season. Looooove Maurella’s style.

Dr. Stackhouse Is In

Alea: New spinoff: Jason Stackhouse, Relationship Counselor.  He’ll be like a cross between Dr. Phil and Dan Savage with a dash of nihilism.

Alea: I am just realizing where I’ve seen the actress who plays Rosalyn Harris–General Hospital!

Tami: I would totally be down with having kids if you can guarantee me an experience like this.

Alea: So, wait.  The “Cajun margaritas” that were allegedly delicious are sitting on the bar mostly full and Ar-Laffy have moved on to shots?

Alea: I thought Alcide’s former/now-current pack was larger than this?  Where is everyone else?

Tami: Count JD as another character dispatched a little too easily. For all the angst this season, you would think we would at least see an actual fight.

Kendra: I’d like to think that the writers realised what I spent most of the season thinking: the plot drags whenever we suddenly switch over to the werewolf story, which has nothing at all to do with what’s going on in Bon Temps. So why spend any time there at all? I get that this is probably leading to some Alcide-as-a-V-addict-and-pack-leader storyline for next season, but not having it tie back in the end to Bon Temps in some way kind of leaves it just…hanging. Especially with Russell dead now.

Alea: Sam shifting inside of Rosalyn, FTW.  Luna threatened to out all of the other supes earlier in the season. The implications for her shifting on live television are going to be crazy.

Alea: Nora is some kind of stake-throwing Robin Hood.

Kendra: Well, the actress did play Maid Marian, hah.

Alea: Ah!  Very cool.

Move Over Brangelina And Make Room For Tam

Alea: I think Pam’s underwear evaporated when Tara said she came to bust her out.  Kristin Bauer can sure do a lot with her eyes.  They’re so gonna do it.

Alea: “Do you honestly think you understand the system I helped design better than I do?”–so timely and straight out of Rebecca Solnit’s “Men Explain Things to Me.

Alea: I knew it!!  I effing knew it!!  Yes, I know that having Tara fall for her kinda racist mom and/or having Pam hide her growing love for Tara behind mindless racist comments is incredibly problematic, but I’ve been waiting for a Tam make-out session all season!  They’re the fiercest, most aesthetically pleasing ladies on this ridiculous show, and, being the simple lass that I am, I really just want them to have lots of hot sex.

Tami: Cue the racist commentary of Tara-hating Truebies. From Vulture’s recap:

Pam and Tara

Nooooooooooooo. Look, I am ALL FOR HOT LESBIANS but these two have no chemistry. Honestly, like watching an unusually pretty Craigslist dominatrix tongue kiss one of the Williams sisters.

Yeah, someone wrote that shit. Sucks teeth.

Alea: Ugh!  Ugh times infinity plus 1.’

(Like This Season Of True Blood, No?)

Alea: Silver in the blood.  That’s cold, Bill.

Alea: Holy Grail, Rapture, Salome going out a tad Christ-like because of a betrayal.  This storyline has gotten so heavy-handed.  “Vicissitudes” is the name of a book of the Vampire Bible?  Le sigh.  Nobody’s buying what Sookie’s selling this episode.  Not Jason and certainly not Bill.

Alea: That is some Terminator-like regeneration Bill has going on there.

Kendra: Can Lafayette, Holly, and Arlene play Tipsy Greek Chorus for every episode? That vastly improved my viewing experience.

Alea: I wasn’t really feeling it [well, except for Miss Bodehouse].  It felt more than a little hackneyed and forced considering that all of those characters have been in more nuanced and interesting scenes that challenge the actors playing them.

 

Post-Season Finale Breakdown:

Joe: I think I speak for everyone when I say: What in sweet fancy Moses was that?

Tami: I will love True Blood again if they promise that Bill will die next season. Nice turn making our former hero next season’s big bad–even though it took way too long and too many crooked pathways to get here. But if Bill is gonna be big and bad, then he needs to meet the same fate as Russell and Maryann and Salome and other villains. No redemption. By episode 12 of next season, someone needs to be playing “Dixie” over the goopy remains of Bill “Vampire Mopey Reb” Compton.

Alea: I agree, though I wonder if Bill will even last that long.  Given the preview that came after the credits, I think Warlow might be next season’s big bad, not that there has to be just one [Warlow’s presence as the “greater” Evil might be used to bring Bill back to little-e evil or even good-ish].  If she and Jason survive the coming battle, Nora’s about to drop some inside knowledge on the Scoobs, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jason took a bullet from whatever the threat at the top of the stairs is.  It looked like he was two seconds away from attempting to kill Tara, Pam, Jess, and Nora in the elevator, and I think that there will have to be something to bring him back into the fold and, perhaps, closer to Jess.  His parents haven’t appeared to him at all since he stopped driving the truck, but I’m not sure if that means that they won’t be back and driving him toward the semi-reasonable extremism he’s tending toward [though, extremism might be slightly off — radicalism?].  All that said, this season was, on the whole, almost a total drag, and I’m not actually excited about next season.  Morbidly curious about how the writers are going to climb out of this clusterfuck, but not edge-of-my-seat, keeping-up-with-leaks-during-filming, effing rabidly psyched.  The brand has lost its lustre.

Kendra: I’m looking forward to hate-watching a new season of Glee more than I’m looking forward to season 6 of True Blood.

More interaction between Nora and Eric, more Lafayette in general, and Pam and Tara’s relationship are the only three things that left me even wanting another season of the show to begin with.

I want this writers’ room to learn how to streamline. I’m not sure next season works if there are two vampire Big Bads, so I’d agree. Let’s put Bill out of his misery. Let’s also not bring Hoyt back (I was shocked to see the show actually get rid of a character). Let’s let Terry and Arlene lead a normal life. Let’s not introduce any more characters. Oh, and also, let’s not have those four babies of Andy’s suddenly show up as teenagers (which, for some reason, I’m suspecting is going to happen. Fae biology and all). Seasons 1-3 of this show were entertaining, if problematic, and it could go back to that if it just stopped trying to do so much.

Alea: Those fae quadruplets are so going to get SORASed.  Good catch, Kendra.

“People Don’t Want To See Problems On The Screen”: Why The West Won’t Watch Bollywood

By Guest Contributor Margaret Redlich

Kajol (l) and Shahrukh Khan in Dilwale Dulhania le Jayenga. Courtesy: planetradiocity.com

When they’ve tried to make realistic pictures about the poor and the middle classes, they get miserable attendance…People don’t want to see problems on the screen.

So says a 2001 article from Smithsonian magazine about the rise in popularity of the Indian movie industry, a.k.a. “Bollywood,” in the West during the 1990s.  And this is the general assumption many in the First World like to make about Indian film: that it is an escapist genre, and that all the poor people of South Asia need to be happy is three hours of brightly colored fantasy.

Indian films have been the main source of popular culture for all of South Asia and popular in many other countries throughout the world since the 1950s. The first international hit was Raj Kapoor’s Awaara in 1951, followed by Shree 420 four years later. Although the 50s are generally considered the “Golden Age” of Indian film, the Indian film industry had been around for 40 years before that, with the studio system already thriving within 20 years. Although the West, especially America, likes to pretend that they invented the movies and every other country is merely imitating them (as is implied in the very name “Bollywood”), in fact India has been making movies in its own style since the advent of the artform.

The West didn’t suddenly make a Columbus-like discovery of Indian film in the 90s; it was a result of a calculated strategy on the part of the Indian industry. A series of political shifts in Indian government had led to weakening import/export regulations as well as the legalization of investments in the Indian film industry. Therefore, there was suddenly more money around to make these globe-hopping song- and dance-filled extravaganzas. And that money could be turned into even more money by making plots that were universal and of interest to Desis and others living in the First World. What is more universal than romance?

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Red Hook Summer: On Post-Soul Culture And Spike Lee Talkin’ Smack

By Guest Contributor Naomi Extra

What shocked me most while watching Red Hook Summer was its striking similarity to the films of Tyler Perry and T.D. Jakes whose work Lee has openly criticized. In fact, many reviewers have put the film right in line with Perry’s films by describing it as a church movie. Red Hook has been criticized as preachy, messy in narrative structure and development, and sensationalist. All are valid critiques. They also seem ironic in light of the ongoing beef between Perry and Lee, which was ignited when Lee referred to the films of Perry and the like as “coonery and buffoonery.” And of course, the media loves this sort of melodrama.

Jules Brown as Flik in Red Hook Summer. Courtesy: aceshowbiz.com

Spike Lee’s newest film takes place in the projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn, where Flik (Jules Brown), a teenage boy from Atlanta, goes to stay with his grandfather, Bishop Enoch Rouse (Clarke Peters) for the summer. Flik is a teenage Afro-Punk type: vegan, middle-class, afro-hawk, suburban speak. In contrast, Bishop Enoch is a Bible-thumping preacher and active member of his community. Amidst heavier themes of class, politics, religion, and generational difference, a budding romance between Flik and Chazz (Toni Lysaith) is also threaded through the film.

The question is, could Red Hook be Spike talking more smack, mocking the immensely popular church films of Tyler Perry and the like? I wouldn’t put it past him. When recently asked about the ongoing feud, Lee responded with a request: “No more Tyler Perry questions please” and later “peace and love, leave it at that.” And although he doesn’t speak of Perry directly, in a radio interview, Lee describes the film’s inception as a conversation between him and writer James Mc Bride. The two were discussing what they “felt was a sorry state of African American cinema.” With this film, Lee seems to have found a way to squash the beef and have the last word.

Mild SPOILER ALERT under the cut.
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Quoted: Gabby Douglas’ Interview With Oprah Winfrey

Gabby Douglas (l) and Oprah Winfrey. Courtesy: Comcast

“I was the only African-American at that gym,” Gabby went on. “I definitely felt isolated. Why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black? — those thoughts were going through my mind.”

Gabby appeared on Oprah’s show Sunday with her mother, Natalie Hawkins, who recalled how her daughter told her about the cruel treatment on several occasions.

When Gabby was 14, her mother said, she reached her breaking point.

“She said, ‘I’d rather quit — if I can’t move and train and get another coach, I’d rather quit the sport,’” Hawkins said.
- New York Daily News

Chromatic Casting: The All-Female Expendables

By Arturo R. García

Film bloggers got a bit abuzz last week at reports that an all-female spinoff of the Expendables franchise was being developed, with “several prominent actresses affiliated with the action genre” being contacted.

This being Hollywood, of course, don’t expect too much on the diversity front–heck, even seeing Jet Li as part of the crew in Sylvester Stallone’s original ensemble and Yu Nan and Terry Crews in the sequel–is about as good as we’re probably going to get in that series.

But here at Chromatic Casting, we know we can do better. And so we’ll give it a shot under the cut.

Keeping in mind that this series basically involves anthropomorphic tropes as characters, we won’t get too deep with the descriptions, but we’ll slot folks into some archetypal roles for the protagonist team, with the villains being a bit more fluid.
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