US film review(spoilers) by C.C. Saunders

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In its contemporary context, blackness assumes a violent coupling. Filmmaker Jordan Peele (Get Out) tackles this coupling in both a literal and figerative sense with his latest release Us. Peele depicts humans as “coupled” by a being who mirrors their exteriority. In challenging the presumed singularity of identity, the coupled being obscures reality, simultanously inciting the following query: Are humans replaceable?
Well, according to the film’s doppelgängers, who wear red jumpsuits accessorised by gold scissors, the answer is yes. Viewers meet Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) as a child who goes to a mirror house and encounters a girl who looks exactly like her. After this encounter, Adelaide is never the same, and later viewers learn that Adelaide is never the same because she and her doppelganger switched places on that faithful day. Though Adelaide’s parents noticed a difference in their child, this difference, viewers learn, with therapy, could be negotiated. In no time, Adelaide resumes the nurture of her parents and becomes the girl they raised.

The original, for lack of a better word, Adelaide grows up to lead an uprising where the different or the othered, kill their counterparts. Us features a battle between those who reside behind the mirror—at society’s peripheral, and those who look into the mirror and reside at the center. Peele never makes it clear who or what these beings are. The sole reference to identity the film gives is Red’s proclamation that they too are “Americans.”
Red (or Adelaide depending on your perception), to ensure that her initial plan remains in motion, eventually kills the girl whose place she took years. Her son is the only one who knows her secret, a connection she hints at with the early line “stick with me kid and I’ll keep you safe.” Here, Adelaide foreshadows the choice her son will eventually have towards the end of the movie, to share or remain silent. Red/Adelaine’s offspring is also coupled, as he encompasses both the center and the peripheral. Thus, the secret is a gateway to his understanding of self, a gift obscured from the realities of his sister and father.
The film as a whole exhibits a coupling distinct from what it delineates in part. Peele couples black actors with their American counterparts. Specifically, the media exhibits black bodies by way of representation, but the exhibited blackness remains superficial.

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For example, though Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong’o, who occupy the film’s lead roles, encompass a physical blackness in their melanin-dominant appearance, both play roles that could easily be played by white actors. Black actors in race-less roles, marks what the western world calls progress; however, this colorblind casting depicts the violent seizure of power from black people. Colorblind casting extracts black personhood from the black body. Specifically, colorblind roles attempt to circumvent the presumed problem of race. Race in this context also functions superficially; as color is a part, not the whole, of racism. Yet, Peele’s film attempts to showcase those often eliminated from lead roles because of their complexion in a role where their complexion is merely a coicidence. Us eliminates race in a world build on this falsified concept made real in the systemic disenfranchisement it continues to afford black people.
Thus, US makes “us,” or the black person, invisible by casting melanin dominate actors as coupled with an American identity that has never truly been theirs.
US and Social Reproduction of the Invisible [Wo]Man
Though I do not think it was intentional, Peele presents a diasporic discourse with Us. Particularly, the coupled identities that dominate the film illustrate the black individual as coupled by a collective identity. The envy dynamic present between Adeline and Red illustrates the envy many blacks within the diaspora have towards the black displaced in America, or what I will call the “invisible man.” The phrasing “invisible man” alludes to the Ellison novel where a nameless protagonist struggles to see himself in a world built on his invisibility. My use of “man” does not cite gender but references “human.” This invisible man remains largely invisible to his diasporic brethren who often view him or her as a “favored child” in the disillusion of black disruption. Us, in its depiction of black persons as the invisible man, depict the coupling of the black body and personhood as crippled by disallusion.

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By the film’s end, Adeline loses her life because her diasporic doppelganger (Red, who eventually becomes Adeline) wishes to be her; so, Red assumes Adeline’s space and takes her place. This is very much the reality for black people throughout America who have witnessed the perils of racism and prejudice, perils strategically aggravated by immigration. Buried by the fantasy that is American idealism, the invisible man remains invisible to many of their diasporic brethren who are often unable see to past this veiled reality. Instead, this invisible man becomes a hyper-site for a social reproduction that affords white hegemony its violent stagnancy.
In Us, Adeline encompasses the “invisible man” ideal that her counterpart seeks to socially reproduce. Red sees the space Adeline occupies as a bridge to a better life. She (Red) deems her position in American’s peripheral as inferior to the central placement of her doppelganger (Adeline). This notion is particularly complicated by Peele’s colorblind roles, where the black actor remains in the periphery despite seemingly central placement.
Nevertheless, I digress.
Red believes that she is more deserving of the space Adeline occupies and thus would occupy said space “better.” This is often the ideology many Africans in America face with our diasporic brethren who become “model minorities” in seeking to occupy the American space “better” than their kidnapped kinfolk. America, for the being of black form, is a site of physical and mental abduction perpetuated by the continued pressure to assimilate. This assimilation, despite its societal perception, does not mark achievement but cultural compromise. Thus, it is Red’s desire to socially reproduce the invisible man that drives her sadistic and physically violent attempt to take-over an exclusive space. It is this desire to socially reproduce the invisible man that makes the mentally enslaved black predisposed to attack those who look like them and not their true oppressors. As long as the oppressed see themselves as the enemy, the narrative remains focused on the oppressors. Thus, Red/Adeline and her diasporic counterpart cannot co-exist because then the narrative runs the risk of becoming “us,” and within this global paradigm of white supremacy, it must always be about “them.”

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Peele’s colorblind casting alludes to the Duboisian notion of double consciousness in his depiction of the black person is physically split into two selves. So while viewers physically see black actors, the main role remains reserved for white cultural hegemony. What I mean here is that viewers see black actors but are forced to engage with the white space these black actors wish to occupy rather than the black actors themselves. It is the desire for American-ness, or to exist beyond blackness, that makes Us’s viewing experience a visual engagement with the invisible man. Specifically, with “Us,” black viewers witness what will become of them if espoused to an American identity. The film functions as a visual illustration of the “black American” or “African-American” concept that the abducted Africans in America must detach from as a rudimentary step in our collective liberation.

Buried under the American fantasy and entombed by the fiction of progress, there is no “us.” This fact is perhaps best illustrated when Red kills another black women to aid in a white plight to assume a space.
It is Red’s desire to socially reproduce the invisible man that drives her sadistic and physically violent attempt to take-over an exclusive space. It is this desire to socially reproduce the invisible man that makes the mentally enslaved black predisposed to attack those who look like them and not their true oppressors. As long as the oppressed see themselves as the enemy, the narrative remains focused on the oppressors. Red/Adeline and her diasporic counterpart cannot co-exist because then the narrative runs the risk of becoming “us,” and within this global paradigm of white supremacy, it must always be about “them.”
The singularity Red seeks and attains ensures that there is no “us,” if there ever was an “us.” Her actions represents the inevitable end for a group who remains disrupted. As a product of a festered disruption, the black collective, in part remains what they made of “us.” The black representation seen on-screen and throughout politics, education, and every other field, is not us and has never been us. It’s them.
Conclusively, as evidenced by his latest film venture, Jordan Peele also fails to represent us; rather, he remains vested in “them.”

Comic Book films-Black Heroes,White Wealth(Part 1 of 2)

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There’s been a lot of hype about the upcoming Black Panther film. The film is set to be released worldwide on February 16,2018. Which is convenient since February is Black History Month right?  Anyone who follows my blog knows I have mentioned I grew up reading comic books as a child.  I read a lot of DC and Marvel comic books.  I used to read Spider Man,Batman,Superman,The Hulk,X Men and The Fantastic Four. Over the years I have collected hundreds of comic books.  But I was always fascinated by the black comic book characters.  Some of my favorites were Storm,Black Lightning,Steel,Misty Knight and Luke Cage.  But my favorite was probably Black Panther. Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four issue #52 back in 1966.  That issue of Fantastic Four is selling for $400-$800 on the internet.  Although after the Panther film comes out I’m sure the price will skyrocket.  I always thought Black Panther was a cool character.  Panther’s birth name is T’Challa. T’Challa’s senses and physical attributes have been enhanced to superhuman levels by the heart-shaped herb.  T’Challa is a brilliant tactician, strategist, scientist, tracker and a master of all forms of unarmed combat whose unique hybrid fighting style incorporates acrobatics and aspects of animal mimicry. T’Challa being a royal descendent of a warrior race is also a master of armed combat, able to use a variety of weapons but prefers unarmed combat. He is a master planner who always thinks several steps ahead and will go to extreme measures to achieve his goals and protect the fictional kingdom of Wakanda.  Wakanda is not a real African country.  But it could just as well be Kenya,Nigeria,Tanzania or Ghana.  And this is one of my conerns about the film.  I have covered great African civilizations on this blog many times. Most of us know about The Mali empire as well as ancient Kemet(Egypt),Ghana and Kingdom of Kush. So why is Hollywood making films about fictional African empires when real ones exist?  Of course you know why right?

 

I will admit that the trailer looks really good.  The visuals are nice and it looks to be action packed.  I have watched the reaction from many black film goers on the internet.  I would say that 85% of the reaction has been positive.  And I can see why.  Talented actor Chadwick Boseman  plays the title character.  The cast has some pretty big names. The cast includes Angela Bassett,Forest Whitaker,Danai Gurira,Michael B. Jordan,Lupita Nyongo(my favorite),Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright. It’s a majority black cast.  Even the director Ryan Coogler is a black man.  So is this a black film? It seems like it.  But of course the film is being made by Marvel Studios.  Marvel Studios was bought by the Walt Disney Company back in 2009 for 4.24 billion dollars. I did a post in the past about the wicked and racist Disney company.  The Disney president and CEO is a white man named Robert Iger.  So the Black Panther film is basically a Disney film with a black cast.

Black Superheroes..

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I have done many posts on racist Hollywood and their negative stereotypes. Many black people are excited about this film.  And it’s because we want to see ourselves in a positive light.  We want to see ourselves looking glorious and majestic.  We want to see black people as kings and queens on the big screen. Hollywood has given the masses films about Roman empires for years.  Films like Ben Hur,Julius Caesar,Spartacus and Gladiator.  Not to mention fictional films/tv shows like Lord of The Rings and Game of Thrones.  They give us hundreds of films showing them as powerful kings and queens.  Then when they want to show African royalty…we get a fictional country??  That is white supremacy at it’s best.  The film looks good but I know how Hollywood operates.  I will be looking for any type of anti-blackness in this film.  And I’m sure there will be some type of black degradation in it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some interracial love going on . Maybe they’ll slip in some lesbian/homosexual scene.  Or possibly showing African traitors in which to instill black people to not trust each other.  I could be wrong…but I doubt it.

Kingdom Kush...

Wakanda is fictional but the Kingdom of Kush was real. Don’t get me wrong,I have nothing against fictional stories.  I grew up enjoying films and television shows like Star Trek and Star Wars.  I think they can be fun and entertaining.  I just think we have to be mindful who is getting our money when we pay for these films.  Black Panther looks like it will be a big blockbuster.  And I’m glad the mostly black cast is getting paid.  But the white owned Disney/Marvel company will be getting the majority of the money. We will be giving our money right back  to racist Hollywood.  They are just doing this film to throw black people a bone! But there are many black comic book artists and writers that could use our support.  That’s what I’ll address in part two.

 

Black Storytellers: Should they have a Black spouse?

I saw this trailer about a month ago.   It’s for a six-part mini-series called Guerrilla on Showtime.  It’s about an interracial couple who are activists in London during the 1970’s.  It kind of  reminds me of the Black Panthers or Black Liberation Army movements.  It stars actor Babou Ceesay and actress Freida Pinto. Actor Idris Elba also is in the series. But I thought it was strange that the film had Indian actress Freida Pinto has the lead actress.  And I saw virtually no black women in the trailer.  Black women have been fighting against racism and sexism since forever.  Is this the erasure of black women? And even if there are some black women in it…why is the lead female an Indian?  I guess some will say that it’s to show that Indian people struggle with racism as well.  But why can’t we ever show black men and women working together against their oppression?  Why can’t we see many more films of black men and women loving each other? What are we  supposed to take from films like this?  That it’s better to fight racism and oppression if you’re having sex with a  non-black person.  This is utter nonsense! And we can no longer fall for this trap. Black unity and black love  is the answer.

Freida Pinto...

Who needs Assata Shakur? Yaa Asantewaa is not needed either.  Freida Pinto will lead black people to freedom!  She is the savior for black people! This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

John Ridley....

So after seeing the trailer I wanted to see who was the creator of this series.  I found out that the executive producer is John Ridley. Ridley is a screenwriter,novelist and director. He won an Academy award for his screenplay of 12 Years a Slave. He also is the producer of the show American Crime.  The picture(above) is of Ridley and his Asian wife Gayle.  His wife isn’t black so is this why he didn’t cast a black woman as the lead in his new series?  And why are all these men without black wives telling black stories?  And he’s not the only one. I have noticed black actors,directors and producers telling black stories without black wives.

Steve McQueen.....

This is director Steve McQueen.  McQueen grew up in London. He’s good friends with John Ridley because he directed 12 Years a Slave.  This picture(above) is McQueen and his Dutch wife Bianca.

David Oyelowo...

Actor David Oyelowo is another black British man.  He has been in films like The Butler,The Help,A United Kingdom and Jack Reacher. He even played Martin Luther King in the film Selma. Should this man be playing black historical figures?  This is a picture of him and his white wife Jessica.

Get Out poster....

Jordan Peele....

Actor/filmmaker Jordan Peele got a lot of praise for his horror film Get Out.  It broke box office records making over $160 million.  Some say it was a great horror film.  Some say it was a film that had a much more deep psychological meaning to it.  It definitely had a lot of subliminal messages regarding racsim,occultism and organ harvesting.  But some may not know that he’s biracial.  Peele has a white mother.  And his wife Chelsea is a Zionist Jew.  So even though he told some truths in the film Get Out..will expose it all? Will he tell black people everything that racists whites are doing in Hollywood?  Is wife is a Jew so I know he has some insider information.  But the question is…who is he loyal to?

Underground...

John Legend...

The television drama Underground takes place during slavery.  It has been getting good reviews from critics.  One of the executive producers is singer/songwriter John Legend. He will even play Frederick Douglass in an upcoming episode. His wife is model Chrissy  Teigen.  Her mother is Thai and father is white.  That makes her a hapa. If you don’t know what that is go look it up.

Nate Parker....

Of course we can’t forget actor/director Nate Parker. Parker directed the controversial slave rebellion film The Birth of a Nation.  The film had some good elements and some truth in it.  But it was mostly controversial because back when he was in college Parker was accused of raping a white woman. He claims he was innocent and that people should support the film.  I’ve seen him in interviews and he seems intelligent and articulate. But he can’t be too smart because if that white woman caused him so much grief why did he go and marry a white woman.  What sense does that make??? Some negroes never learn. Anyway this is a picture of him and his ugly ass wife Sarah.Sunken Place....

I bring up this issue because I wonder can they be trusted. Can they accurately tell the black experience?  Can they express our pain and struggle?  Can they express the truth about our oppressors if they’re married to them?  Can they be about black love but not married to black women?  These are the questions that come to my mind. But I think they hire these type of men because they know they’re not about black empowerment. They will always be intellectually dishonest about the black experience.  They know that since they have non-black wives they have already been compromised. The interracial element just adds more confusion to the black psyche. We must be careful watching anything by these men. These films have a way of  distorting black consciousness. And keeping us stuck in the “sunken place”.