Thursday, September 08, 2005

Aiming for the institution, assassinating the inmates.

The Contender* came up in a conversation I was having today. I mentioned how depressing it was that a majority of critics (not to mention The Academy) fell for that pandering bit of fake-liberal crap.
Metacritic confirmed my fears: J. Hoba, Charles Taylor and Jonathan Rosenbaum seemed to be the only critics who didn't fall under its spell.
But what about Armond White?
Metacritic may not count the Armond's crit, but the Whine Colored Sea sure does. (So what if he lavished praise on The Transporter 2 and claimed Red Eye was a great 9/11-informed thriller?) If ever there was a critic to rip the shit out of painfully naive cinematic politics, it's Mr. White. Unfortunately, he didn't cover The Contender back in October of 2000.
However, in my search of Armond's archive, I did find one of the most lacerating appraisals of Spike Lee I've ever read (via a review of Bamboozled). You know you're in for a ride when the opening salvo is "It is a national tragedy that the best-known filmmaker dealing with African American subjects and characters is as small-minded and undisciplined as Spike Lee."
You should go read the entire piece (Armond never fails to impress me), but I have to excerpt a couple of paragraphs dealing with Lee's relationship with other black members of the entertainment industry:
Lee's willingness to disparage anything black celebrities do grew out of the license and arrogance of a group of New York-based black writers and performers newly acquired during hiphop's advent. (Remember those 80s Village Voice pieces discrediting Michael Jackson, Wynton Marsalis, then celebrating Lee?) In Bamboozled Spike similarly targets the flipside of such black pop authority-variety shows and low-brow sitcoms. He lambastes along the showbiz spectrum from Wu-Tang Clan to Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover to Oprah Winfrey, Jimmie "J.J." Walker to Quentin Tarantino because they don't present blackness his way. But you could make a strong argument that no single mediamaker in the past decade has fostered more black stereotypes than Lee.
Yes, Bamboozled is Lee's poison pen letter to Hollywood. And so what? He doesn't allow for the prevailing irony of show business: the often discomforting sacrifices made by performers who claim the privilege of the spotlight (read any black star autobiography). Lee's distrust of any blacks the mainstream media authorizes besides himself becomes so bilious that he denies the complicating factor of talent--the reason people respond to certain performers, and our mixed reactions to Mantan Moreland, Butterfly McQueen, Hattie McDaniel on up to Ben Vereen, Martin Lawrence, M.C. Hammer, etc. Aiming at the institution, Lee assassinates the inmates instead.

That's just a sample. Go gorge.

* The odious political thriller starring Joan Allen. You know, the one that claims to be uplifting, profound, and progressive, when really it's dull, offensive, reactionary, and sexist beyond belief. Not to be confused with the failed Stallone reality show of the same name.


At 11:34 PM, Blogger Joshua said...

Personally, I like the idea of Joan Allen being gang banged at a kegger.

At 11:40 PM, Blogger Ben said...

So do I! Tell that to the cop-out assholes who made that movie and think that brazen female sexuality is unfeminine and undignified and wrong.

At 8:18 PM, Anonymous sacha said...

She neither confirms or denies, because it's nobody's business who she sleeps or doesn't sleep with. Being feminine or dignified isn't the issue: privacy is.
Whatever. Joan Allen is a crazy anorexic anyway (not that it's any of my business).
I must say I did enjoy the President trying to outwit his chef.


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