November 18th, 2001


Kiva, Spike Lee, and the Leonids

Last night I took Icy to Kiva for hottubbing. Their private outdoor hottubs are nice, nice, nice. Came home steamy and very relaxed. I still need my own hot tub...

Got home... she passed out, I watched Bamboozled. Like most Spike Lee movies, definite food for thought. A good movie about the effects of negative stereotypes. I don't think most people really got the point of the ending, however. Yes, blackface was a negative, dehumanizing, disempowering stereotype for Blacks, but even back the days of blackface, there were a lot of honest (if simplistic) depictions of hopeful and even humanistic Black characters that strike universal chords. It was this kind of "Uncle Tom" characterization that was blown away at the end of the movie by modern day gangbangers; one stereotype replacing the other. Both are shown as wrong. In this sense, it is hard to believe that some people find Spike Lee to be so intimidating, because the beliefs he espouses in his movies are actually quite peaceful.

One issue about the movie that Spike Lee wanted to make clear (and cause a conflict in his audience with) was that blackface comedy can be both a racist depiction of blacks and funny... and that the same thing is still happening with modern sitcoms. Personally, I find it shocking that some people in the Black community would brand Black performers from early this century almost as if they were traitors to the cause. I remember seeing an "In Living Color" skit once which used a character based on Louis Armstrong as an example of "Uncle Tom" behavior. I'm not sure which I felt more of from seeing that skit... angry or sad. Yes, Louis Armstrong was a happy, congenial person who entertained a lot of people. Exactly. He was an entertainer and an ambassador of Jazz. He did more than any other human being to make jazz a thriving art form. Yes, he was a black man, but he was also a gentleman of the world... a person that anyone and everyone should have the right to identify with, in the same way that people identify with Michael Jordan. There's nothing wrong with going out there and giving it your best under the circumstances, and there's nothing wrong with embracing humanity. You might just find they'll embrace you back... and ultimately, that is a critical part of fighting discrimination. Common humanity leads to common rights. In the same way that trees only break in the wind when they are rigid, conflict only occurs when inflexible objects collide with each other.

Oh... almost forgot. Savion, Savion, Savion. Can't get enough Savion.

Afterwards, I popped outside and watched the Leonid meteor shower. Even in the brighter-than-preferable sky around the downtown, I probably saw over a hundred meteors in the course of an hour, including one that travelled from one horizon to another, trailing a long white plume that hung in the sky for a much longer than expected time. Very cool... Hope I don't have to wait another 35 years to see something quite so astronomically impressive again.