So I haven’t done a movie review for this site in forever, and I probably will never again. That’s because before I started this gig, I watched movies like this:
And now I watch movies like this:
But the other Knights wanted to go, it looked pretty, Hova did the soundtrack, and I was hoping it would be as much fun as Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.(Huh? Plot? We ain’t got time for alla that. That’s what the book is for.)
So, Gatsby was fun–as one of my friends noted, it’s “Art Deco Porn.” But of course, there’s also race things. Some quick observations after the jump. *SPOILERS TOO!*
There are brilliant scholars who historicize and build upon black feminist participation in conversations about pornography. And there are others who simplify the argument into a false then vs. now paradigm that presents our foremothers as prudes, not as the women who made it possible for us to talk about sexuality in the ways that we do today. I believe these others wish for the day when black women can talk about sex as if they were white men, with no cloud of controlling images over their heads. Read the Post Sex On Screen: An Intro To The Hella Brown Series (NSFW)
This post is the second installment in a three-part review. See parts one and three.
There are many people who have written about the phenomenon of “yellowface,” which is the Asian version of “blackface”–having white (although at times there have been black) actors and actresses portraying Asian and Asian American people in Hollywood films. Racebending.com has a particularly astute and thorough accounting by contributor Michelle I. I recommend reading her piece, “Yellowface: A Story in Pictures,” to familiarize yourself with the looooong history of yellowface in Hollywood cinema. But I think this photo of Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany‘s probably says it all:
The more you read about Antonio Mendez, the more his exploits make Burn Noticelook like Get Smart: the Colorado native who grew up in a single-parent household went from answering a random want ad to a 25-year career in the CIA as an “espionage artist,” specializing in helping assets get out of tough situations.
“I would say the whole thing was like James Bond but even better. I was involved in Moscow creating tradecraft, knocking the socks off the KGB,” he told Open Your Eyes magazine in 2008. “If you are surrounded by an army of that kind of counterintelligence and you can still do your business, Bond doesn’t even get close to that.”
Mendez went on to write two memoirs about his experiences in the field. But his most celebrated operation, an extraction of six U.S. diplomats from Iran in the first days of the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeni, was the subject of a 2007 article in Wired Magazine. As Joshuah Bearman wrote, this particular plan would take a more cinematic turn – literally – than the usual covert actions: Mendez actually created a fake movie production.
All of the things I had grown accustomed to in the US were engaged often and early in my move to South Africa. I felt right at home after experiencing housing discrimination in my apartment search. Seeing airports filled with white travelers, while bus stations overflowed with folks who looked like me. It all seemed so familiar. South Africa was a long way from being post-racial. I could deal with that. I came from that.
What was pleasantly surprising was the level of activist engagement of the South African people. The documentaries I had seen were capturing something real. From service delivery protests to pushback against Wal-Mart’s acquisition of South Africa’s largest retailer, the people were not afraid to protest—nonviolently and otherwise.
South Africans won’t let you off the hook easily. In my role directing programming between the largest American trade union and its counterparts in West African, more than a few meetings with partners ended with tough questions about U.S. foreign policy and my employer’s take on positions supported by the American government. One had to be quick on the toes to navigate queries on Palestine, Israel, and Cuba. The activist community in which I had to engage expected that I would be able to respond to issues and concerns in and outside of Africa. As the only G20 member on the continent, politics beyond its borders mattered to my South African counterparts.