March 27, 2019

MOVIES: "UNPLANNED"



Yeah. I saw it. Here are my endorsements. (In theaters March 29, 2019.)
#ShoutYourUNPLANNEDexperience

--"'Unplanned' is the film event of the twenty-first century."

--"'Unplanned' 'goes there' like no other film--with love and compassion--proving 'love is stronger than death.'"

--"'Unplanned' is a victory for all who want take a second look at what abortion really is. This is a win-win film!"

--"Truth wins. Forgiveness wins. Love wins. Life wins."

--"If you think this is a typical 'Christian film'? Guess again. It's fair, it's gritty. It's real."

--"Hard to watch? Only because, as Abby Johnson says, 'Abortion isn't pretty.' But abortion will not have the last word. Not in this film, not in history.'"

--"With serious talk of the horror of infanticide on the horizon, 'Unplanned' couldn't come at a better time."

--"This would be a horror film--if love and life didn't win in the end."
____________

The new feature film, “Unplanned”—the true story of Planned Parenthood director, Abby Johnson, who turned pro-life—is phenomenal. It’s rated “R” due to the violence that is abortion, or as Abby says in the film: “Abortion isn’t pretty.”

As is the trend today, the film is not chronological. It starts with the abortion that changed it all, the abortion Abby witnessed on an ultrasound machine, watching a baby struggle and fight for its life before it was suctioned out of the womb and reduced to pulp. We get bits and snatches of Abby’s life before working for the abortion industry, her own two abortions that she needed to justify by joining the anti-mothership itself:  Planned Parenthood.  Perfectly seasoned with just enough candid voiceover (a film like this really needs some narration of what the protagonist’s intentions are), we learn two mind-boggling mysteries. 1)  Abby really was na├»ve, was deceived as to what abortion is (she was convinced the fetus doesn’t feel pain, and that’s what she based her support for abortion on). 2) She, along with many of the southern, Texas women working at the clinic, were Christians and some even believed they were doing “God’s work,” helping “women in crisis.”

The film is incredibly fair to pro-aborts. It speaks from within their fatally-flawed logic. Good arguments are given to “the other side”—the problem is, those arguments will never be good enough. "Unplanned" also depicts the brand of shrill, shrieking, hostile, insulting pro-lifers who get few flies with their acrid vinegar—as they protest outside Abby’s clinic. The heroes of the film are the kind, prayerful “40 Days for Life” vigil-keepers at Abby’s Planned Parenthood who befriended her from the very beginning, before she rose up the ranks to become the PP director. When Abby’s eyes were finally opened, she knew exactly where to go, who to go to, who she could trust.

Although “Unplanned” has the look, feel and soundtrack of a typical “Christian film,” the rest of the content does not. This is a gritty film that “goes there” with no “easy” God solutions. Cheryl (Robia Scott, a Madeleine Stowe lookalike)—the PP director before Abby took over--gives an icy, Oscar-worthy performance. All the acting is superb, in fact, as well as the dialogue, which completely avoids platitudes, soundbites and catch-phrases of any kind. “Unplanned” is not the idea or theory of the rightness or wrongness of abortion, it is the everyday, lived business of abortion. Nowhere does the fact of a de facto ideology of abortion come to light more clearly than when Abby is given a baby shower in the abortion clinic. It’s a baby if I want it. It’s a baby if I say it is. If I don’t want it or say it isn’t? It’s not. No incongruity there! The “triumph of the will” is on full display but in a subtle, mundane way (“the banality of evil”). The “impose” worldview is hard at work: Nothing “is what it is” or has any value until I say so, until I impose my ideas, meanings and values on that thing or person. I am not only the master of my own destiny but the master of everything and everyone around me. I am speaking of the social engineers of abortion. The film also shows many young, lost, confused, unsure, scared, hesitant women who have assumed that because it’s legal, it must be OK. Also, the fact that everyone in the clinic wears scrubs and a (surly) doctor performs the procedure, what could go wrong?

“Unplanned” will educate you about abortion. Educate you about facts you may not have known. You will be educated by someone who directed one of the largest Planned Parenthoods in the Western Hemisphere for eight years, until she was asked to assist with an abortion—for the first time--and saw the ultrasound….

I met Abby shortly after she turned pro-life and know many more of the details or her amazing conversion. The film is incredibly faithful to her story. Not only that, this was a difficult film to make in every way: the writing, the acting, questions of what to show/how much to show/how to show it, the editing, etc.--and the filmmakers succeeded, far better than I would ever have dreamed. This may not be a “perfect film,” but it’s a “perfectly made film.” It’s everything it needed to be. One would even have been able to call it “entertaining” because of the almost unbelievable story-line and plot twists, the way it draws you in and never lags--except that this is a story of death and destruction of the lives of women and children on a massive scale.

The fence between the abortion clinic and the pro-lifers becomes a poignant symbol throughout the film and is well utilized, as are so many other cinematic storytelling devices.

A few minor drawbacks: the actress who plays Abby could’ve come across as a little more strong-willed (as is the real Abby); the soundtrack is cloying at times, at other times when scenes was screaming for silence, snatches of bombastic Christian songs are plopped in. The immediate aftermath of Abby’s conversion was almost anticlimactic in its ho-hum normality. But maybe that was the point. No trumpets went off, no awards were handed out. But little by little the personal and public triumph grows, with all the love, gentleness and sweetness of hundreds of red and white roses.

OTHER STUFF:

--The abortion on the ultrasound is not an actual abortion. Authentically simulated.

--Should I bring young people to see this film?
This is what I told one mum:

Only a parent knows each child and what they can handle. I would say a mature 13 year old who already knows what abortion is and has a steady fare of today's media could handle. A sheltered child? Maybe not so much. Nothing terribly graphic except an ultrasound (shown 3 times) of a baby being sucked out of the mother's womb (baby loses a leg in the process)...then we see a closeup of the blood and "pulp" in the tubes. It should be rated "R" because abortion is a horror, of course. Also lots of women in distress and some blood and gore when a woman takes the "morning after pill" and it doesn't go so well.

--Anyone who goes to see this film and has participated in an abortion in any way is going to be deeply moved and may want to avail themselves of counseling/healing. Here are some organizations that can help:

www.hopeafterabortion.com  (post-abortion healing)
www.SistersOfLife.org  (help for women in crisis pregnancies)
www.rachelsvineyard.org (retreat for men & women wounded by abortion)
www.heartbeatinternational.org (the largest worldwide network of aid to pregnant women)

--Remember, many on the pro-abortion side outright lie that pro-lifers are not concerned about the woman and only want the baby to be born. “Catholic Charities” (the charitable arm of Catholic dioceses in the USA) and many other organizations (see above) have all kinds of assistance to mother and child before, during and after birth, including housing, job training and child care.


--After landing role of Abby Johnson, "Unplanned" actress finds out she was almost aborted. (Here she also states that she's willing to be blacklisted in Hollywood for taking the role.)









March 8, 2019

WHAT'S AT STAKE WHEN A CHILD SELF-IDENTIFIES AS "TRANSGENDER"


Can a Child Really Self-Identify as Transgender? (The Silencing of Discussion, Therapy, Debate, Research--4,500% increase of ROGD in girls--Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria--Using Suicide as a Threat)

A Brave "Inclusion Expert" Educator Stands Up For Youth:

The role of online/digital/social media in ROGD:
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202330




March 1, 2019

MOVIES: "UNPLANNED"




Yeah. I saw it. These are my endorsements. (In theaters March 29.)
#ShoutYourUNPLANNEDexperience


--"'Unplanned' is the film event of the twenty-first century."

--"'Unplanned' 'goes there' like no other film--with love and compassion--proving 'love is stronger than death.'"

--"'Unplanned' is a victory for all who want take a second look at what abortion really is. This is a win-win film!"

--"Truth wins. Forgiveness wins. Love wins. Life wins."

--"If you think this is a typical 'Christian film'? Guess again. It's fair, it's gritty. It's real."

--"Hard to watch? Only because, as Abby Johnson says, 'Abortion isn't pretty.' But abortion will not have the last word. Not in this film, not in history.'"

--"With serious talk of the horror of infanticide on the horizon, 'Unplanned' couldn't come at a better time."

--"This would be a horror film--if love and life didn't win in the end." 



MOVIES: "BLACK PANTHER"




Multiple Oscar-winner “Black Panther” is a triumph for Marvel Comics and African-American filmmaking, as well as Black youth the world over. “Entertainment Weekly” quotes a Black teen after screening BP: “So this is how white people feel all the time?” Each Academy Award (costume design, production design, original musical score) was well-deserved, although I didn’t think there was anything terribly new about the heroic, dime-a-dozen soundtrack with just a few African drums thrown in. I was expecting something much more distinctive, more of a stand-out, something hummable.

WOMEN OF WAKANDA

Wakanda is a fictional small country in Africa (thought by the rest of the world to be a Third World country with little power, resources or influence). But in reality, they are a highly-developed technological society, also harboring the world’s strongest substance, vibranium, which obviously gives them an advantage in battle. Battle with whom? Only four of the five warring tribes in the area put themselves under the Black Panther (that consummate all-around actor, Chadwick Boseman) as their king-ruler.  His generals are all fierce, high-tech-spear-wielding women. His mother (the ageless Angela Bassett), sister and ex-girlfriend (Lupita Nyongo) are all formidable women to be reckoned with. His mischievous, scientific sister runs a James Bondesque lab for weapon gadgetry. However, there is a harmonious blend of ancient, primitive Mother Africa with her incomparable landscape (and some rhinos)—why would you give that up?—and the ultra-modern: skyscrapers and electronics. Dress, accessories and bodily adornment is a colorful pan-African mix.

I SEE WHITE PEOPLE

There are a few white people in the film, side characters—but they are not tokens, fools, whipping boys or scapegoats. A few are accurately villains in a way only white people (meaning those in power, those who, at the moment are privileged/at the top of the food chain) can be (i.e., stripping/robbing others of their cultures, cultural appropriation). But the film doesn’t take the tack of dismissing Caucasians as “the problem” (a form of continued enslavement/subjugation?)—rather the film wants the Black community to find their own solutions within. Not everything in BP is a thinly-veiled reference to a real-life twenty-first century inequity. This is a fun, fantastical adventure as it should be! But one can certainly draw parallels without too much trouble.

TO FIGHT OR NOT TO FIGHT

The conundrum, question and quandary of violence is always lurking beneath the surface. “Wakandans only fight when necessary.” One character even chooses a path of self-destruction in the face of being wronged. It seems the film is sympathetic to his choice, but that will not be the route the film will propose. The film proposes overcoming together, not despairing alone.

The mythology of Wakanda is straightforward enough and not too complex. The intricacies of the story lie in the family ties (including the Black Panther’s deceased father), the loyalties (or not) to Wakanda, the prospect of revenge and the Black Panther’s throne being challenged, and finally the future of Wakanda potentially thrown into disarray: “I don’t want to serve my country, I want to save my country!” Wakanda needs to be strong together before it can help the rest of the world.

WHO RETELLS THE STORIES RULES THE WORLD

BP is good-hearted with a large view and a true social consciousness. There is deserved, justified anger toward colonialism, but it takes the high road and transcends injustice by controlling the narrative to the point of having the upper hand and the ability to condescend, but chooses not to! Kinda brilliant.

BP is a clever, clever meta-retelling, reclaiming of Black power at the top and the bottom, even to the point of Wakanda “taking responsibility” for “creating monsters” because they abandoned “their own” in the world (along with the rest of the world). “Wakanda is strong enough to protect itself AND help others.” The implication is that not only should Wakanda NOT take up arms and fight colonizers the world over, but rather help the poor things. Otherwise, there’s always the danger of “becoming like the people you hate.” And isn’t that always the dilemma? Falling into the master-slave dynamic, the Marxist oppressor-victim relationship—as though there were no other choices? Just an endless cycle of the victim becoming the oppressor becoming the victim becoming the oppressor.


#OscarsNotSoWhiteAnymore

Oscars 2019 seemed to be a sincere effort to listen to African-American stories with new ears, eyes and heart. Although Hollywood is international, it’s also American, and there are the proverbial “two Americas”: black and white. The Black stories brought to the fore are not only the older stories of the horror of U.S.-style slavery (a particularly heinous form of human slavery)—but more recent grievances—and not only grievances and reactive stories, but fresh, proactive stories. Spike Lee’s speech, Congressman John Lewis’ speech, “BlacKkKlansman,” Barbra Streisand’s speech, James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Green Book” winning Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor/Actress awards didn’t feel patronizing. It felt like recognizing true achievement and honoring diversity. I know not everyone will agree with me, but at very least it seemed like a step in the right direction. But of course, I’m not Black.

MORE OF THIS, PLEASE

I want to see a sequel to “Black Panther” with the BP on the streets fighting injustice on the micro-level, teaching kids or something. I think there’s so much potential for a sequel to go in any direction it wants after doing the macro thing with this “first” filmic tale. All I can say is: “Wakanda forever!”

OTHER STUFF:

--Not that BP takes itself too seriously, but I wouldn’t have minded a TAD more humor.

-- I’ve often heard people say: “Slavery is long over!” As though it should be forgotten, as though there were no fall out, as though attitudes have completely changed, as thought it weren’t just a few lifetimes ago (I met a woman in her 90’s in the 1980’s whose MOTHER was a slave as a child. Think about that). I also heard that after “Twelve Years a Slave,” Hollywood is kind of tired of slavery movies. Tired? We’ve only just begun! Can there be too many World War 2 stories or Holocaust stories? Now, more than ever, we need to tell these stories. Now that we have such an incredible screen story tool box of MOTION PICTURE ARTS & SCIENCES.




February 26, 2019

MOVIES: "THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS"



This star-studded Coen Brothers Oscar-nominated film, "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs," is a typical Coen Brothers quirky, stylistic offering. Buster, a cowboy in white on his trusty horse, Dan, clops through the opening scene, strumming and singing a lonesome ditty about water--as the majestic canyons echo back. Suddenly, Buster turns to the camera and begins to narrate. At length. In fact, he's the only one who says pretty much anything for the first 15 minutes or so. Yeah, the monologue is pretty funny, but the Coen Brothers' unique style of shocking, callous, in-your-face, "campy," bloody, mounting violence comes all too quickly. I had to shut it off. Maiming and brutal murder isn't funny. Watching a man's fingers be blown off one by one is not my idea of entertainment. Sometimes I think this is all the CBs have. None of their stories are terribly coherent or feel like a real story. They just have eye candy and mayhem. Thus endeth my review.




February 12, 2019

YOUTUBE: "BRIDES OF CHRIST"--AUSTRALIAN TV, 1991




It was recently brought to my attention (by a young woman in discernment) that there exists on YouTube (for free) the 6 episodes of an award-winning Australian TV mini-series called "Brides of Christ." It's set in the turbulent 1960's before/after Vatican II (featuring a young Naomi Watts and Russell Crowe!)

Now. I am bringing this series to your attention NOT in order to recommend it, but rather to briefly review it, warn you and head you off at the overpass. I have been a vocation directress for a long time, and I keep abreast of the latest "discerning" trends. Young women today do tons (or tonnes) of online "research" regarding religious life, and they watch all kinds of documentaries and movies (like the heinous and completely unrealistic "Novitiate," see my review: https://hellburns.blogspot.com/2017/09/movies-novitiate.html#.XGMifjNKiM8) about nuns. Some guidance is in order.

The storyline: Some young friends attend an all-girls nun-run boarding school. Some of their teachers are young women, not much older than their students, who are in formation to become full-fledged nuns. We enter the drama on both sides and the intersecting drama of teachers and students as well. Masterfully done! So much attention to detail, camera angles, etc.

"Brides of Christ" has excellent production values, stellar acting and deep insider knowledge of how the Catholic Church (and religious life) operates. I saw the name of a priest and two nuns as advisors in the credits. It goes from a very realistic moment to the next moment being "um, that would never happen," so, it's confusing. The nuns are, for the most part, genuine, lovely people, each with their unique personalities and approaches to life and religious life in particular.* However, it's fairly clear (while voicing some good arguments for healthy tradition and doctrine) that the perspective of "BoC" is a "liberal" one. Ugly moments like the shaming of a divorced Catholic, some heavy-handed (but accurate!) sex education with morality (what a concept!) and quandries about "renewal" in the convent, as well as the jettisoning, trashing and under-bus-throwing of "Humanae Vitae," all make this abundantly clear.

"Brides of Christ" is SCREAMING for Theology of the Body: not only in the 1960's setting, but in the 1991 setting of the filmmakers who only seem capable of examining the whys of Church teaching in a truly rigid, harsh, truncated, negative, legalistic, controlling, judgmental, inadequate, incomplete, impersonal way. The rudimentary elements of Church teaching are there, but not the positive, "what are we saying yes to when we say no?" abundant fleshing out. And so, it all falls miserably short. (And yet, we can still see glimpses of the beauty of order and discipline and how it benefits everyone concerned.)

Watch at your own risk of becoming misinformed and having faulty scenarios lodged forever in your cranium. I would love to "teach" this entire series by freeze-framing and commenting on the good, the bad and the preposterous. Until that becomes a reality, may I recommend reading Anne Carey's "Sister in Crisis (Revisited)"--the hands-down best chronicling of "what the heck happened" to women's religious life in the 20th-21st century.





January 28, 2019

MOVIES: "THE WIFE"




In case you're thinking--as I was--that you pretty much know what the film "The Wife" is all about? You kind of do and kind of don't. If you think it's about a woman who has devoted her whole life to her husband while she stays in the background and then has regrets, you're half right. Glenn Close is absolute perfection in the role of an older woman whose husband has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Jonathan Pryce is sterling in all his irresponsible despicableness. The opening scene is the white-haired couple canoodling in bed, so you know their relationship is strong and sweet. So why the strange look on the wife's face when she listens in on the phone call announcing the prestigious award?

The second wrinkle in the blissful afterglow of the jubilant news is the adult son, himself an aspiring writer, being patronized and rebuffed by the father he idolizes. In fact, it doesn't take long for us to realize that this Nobel awardee is a bit self-involved, rude and self-indulgent. His wife strives--sometimes in vain--to keep him cordial, healthy and on time.

But hubby seems to truly adore wifey. He introduces her to all the bigwigs, credits her constantly and sincerely with being the love of his life, his muse. He evens says he is nothing without her. So what's the problem? What is the discontent between them?

This lean, tight drama that unfolds like a Harold Pinter play, could easily have been a play, but fits smoothly on screen. There are untold amounts of foreshadowing everywhere, and the acting is so believable that we are almost convinced we're watching a documentary of the pair in Stockholm--getting ready for the biggest day of a deserving, brilliant writer's life.

Flashbacks tell us how the relationship began: he the writing professor, she the enthralled student. What secrets they have built up together over the years gradually emerge. The exposition is incremental and masterful. The relationship is steady as a stone and as volatile as a volcano. Who will win? Who will lose? Whose love is real, whose is not? In some ways "The Wife" reminded me of "Phantom Thread," where the logic of unspoken husband-wife agreements from another era seems inscrutable to us. But as my mother once told me in no uncertain terms when I was dishing out advice on her marriage (to my Dad): "You can judge us as parents, but not as a couple. You have no idea and no understanding about what has gone on between us."

OTHER STUFF:

--The young wife is played by Glenn Close's real-life daughter!



January 24, 2019

MOVIES: "GREEN BOOK"





Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, "Green Book" is a feel-good, road-trip, buddy movie. Or is it? Someone recently commented: "'Green Book' isn't saying as much as it thinks it is"--or maybe what it's saying is even worse than vapid. But first, my first impressions watching the film. The premise is delicious, of course. An uncouth, Italian-American New York bouncer becomes a chauffeur for a highly-cultured, fastidious African-American genius pianist in the 1960's. But that's not all. They're going on tour in the Deep South. It's the mismatched Odd Couple among wolves--a spin on the "fish out of water" story.

Oh, and the title "Green Book" is apt. There was actually a book for "Negro motorists" telling them what they could and couldn't do, where they could and couldn't eat and sleep in the South. I think this title, this chilling and pathetic "little" piece of history is a bigger part of the film than we might first realize. Lest we forget. 

PREMISE HAD PROMISE

Although the premise had promise, I was skeptical about the execution. Was the film going to be full of facile, writ large SET UPS for trouble with a capital T? Was it going to be brimming with polarizing white vs. black stereotypes and truisms? Would it really "go there" to the roots and heart of racism and make us uncomfortable and convicted (I speak as a white person, of course)? Although remaining rather surface (GB is a light comedy), I was pleasantly surprised by the nuance (for the most part) and humanity and mirth (meaning it made me laugh a lot).

EQUAL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT?

GB is billed as "based on a true friendship," but the main character is squarely Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen in the role of his life, not for the depth of the part, but for his "inhabiting" the character).  Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is almost an under-developed, one-dimensional prop in the back seat. Ali does a fine acting job (far better than "Moonlight," where I didn't "buy" his tough guy acting at all). In fact, Dr. Shirley's character is so under-developed, isolated, conflicted, reticent and one-dimensional that it seems impossible that this portrayal could have been the real Dr. Shirley (a man who left his cushy digs and gigs in NYC to put himself in harm's way on purpose). We're not even sure why he's so interiorly conflicted (beyond the constant challenges that prejudice presented).
It seems my suspicions may be correct. (If this was a work of pure fiction, go ahead and develop a Hollywood-type, interesting persona for the man, but it is not--much like the movie "Silence" falsified the life/history of a Jesuit missionary in Japan, using his real name, when the facts were known to be otherwise: http://hellburns.blogspot.com/2017/01/movies-silence.html#.XEnpMlxKiM8 .) I understand the "BASED on a true story" poetic license, but I believe that has limits when you're talking about real, historical people. Toward the end of the film I thought: this really isn't an "equal" film about friends (no matter what "color" they are). Shirley is fading into the background and we barely know him at all.

THE REAL DR. DONALD SHIRLEY

Not only is "Green Book" being castigated by many in the Black community for being a "white savior" film (although there is some tit for tat with Shirley challenging and teaching Vallelonga to "do better," helping him write love letters to his wife, appreciate the finer things in life and not always immediately resort to his fists), it seems that not only is Dr. Shirley's life, work and personality misrepresented and mischaracterized, he never gave "life rights" for this film to be produced.* Vallelonga's son, Nick, along with director, Peter Farrelly, claim some kind of verbal permission, but this has been roundly denied by Shirley's family (Dr. Shirley died in 2013). In fact, the only person Dr. Shirley allowed to tell his story was a neighbor living in the artist's colony above Carnegie Hall, Josef Astor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DY69eoacdLg  "Let It Shine--Donald Shirley In His Own Words." (Enjoy this delightful eight-minute snapshot!)

ANOTHER TRUE OUTRAGE

Like fellow musical prodigy Nina Simone, who was trained to be a classical pianist but was denied the right to perform and pursue this genre professionally simply because she was Black, the same happened to Dr. Shirley, and that's why he had to create an amalgam of classical and jazz in order to have a career of any kind. (This fact alone in Shirley's story is incredibly outrageous and infuriating.) However, Shirley was able to put his foot down on many other (albeit lesser) issues in his life and demanded to be accepted on his own terms (e.g., wearing tuxedos).

Why the short, truly humiliating homosexual bath house scene (where Tony is, once again, the hero)? Is this just a political statement that, like the prejudice of racism, the prejudice against homosexuals needs to be done away with? It seems the real Dr. Shirley wouldn't even exactly declare himself on the "question" of his "sexuality." I found it very off-putting that the filmmakers chose to include this scene, in the sense of anyone--especially such a distinguished figure as Dr. Shirley--being exposed, naked, in flagrante (although the visuals are discreet) in the context of a light comedy. It really didn't match the tone.

HONORING THE ARTIST

As far as GB being labeled "racist," it's not so much for the racial epithets hurled around on all sides in the film--which is absolutely true to life--(much like TV's "All in the Family" which did the same in order to highlight the wrongness and ridiculousness of it), but for the perspective. The white entertainment perspective. I get that. I'm white and I admit I thoroughly enjoyed the film with few misgivings at first. I'm sure that there are Black people who don't take offense at GB and appreciate "the effort" to make Dr. Shirley and his music known once again to the world (even while glorifying Vallelonga over Shirley), and to deride bigotry by skewering it.

However this film got made and however it was executed may have been at least partially unjust, but think about this: "imitation is the sincerest form of admiration."** Tony Vallelongo and his son Nick literally hitched their wagon to a star.

OTHER STUFF:


More "Green Book" fallout. A Canadian cellist (who had Tony Lip's job for 8 months--he doubled as a musician & driver) weighs in:
https://www.pressreader.com/canada/toronto-star/20190301/281900184505553

Great story of music and a  Black family from the South driving in the South: https://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2019/02/18/how-gospel-music-helped-me-find-my-catholic-identity

Please read this ENTIRE article (finder's fee = @belovedbless):
but also note this one comment at the end:

johnatdell . / Jan 14, 2019 11:20:29 AM
I don't blame the Shirley family for being hurt by not being consulted by the film makers prior or during the making of the film, but the truth of the matter is that Tony Vallelonga and Dr. Shirley had long relationship as friends that the family were obviously unaware of (i.e. decades of letters, visits and interviews). The family claimed that the two men only had an 'employee/employer relationship'. But, there is a on camera footage of Dr. Shirley saying these words regarding their actual relationship. “I trusted [Vallelonga] implicitly. See, Tony got to be, not only was he my driver, we never had an employer-employee relationship. We didn’t have time for that. My life was in this man’s hands. Do you understand me? So we got to be friendly with one another." I don't think it would have benefited the film to have had the family standing over the shoulders of the Director and Editors making content decisions that would only serve their own interests. Why would they want his closeted homosexuality to be included in the story, in light of the fact they came from very conservative/religious roots? If the Shirley family's relationship was so close with their brother, why were they ALL left out of Dr. Shirley's Will when he died in 2013? That fact should tell you quite a bit about their 'close' relationship.
____________________
*My understanding of "life rights" is that if they had made a biopic directly about Dr. Shirley, that would not be allowed without some kind of express permission (from the person themselves, their estate, etc.). But since the main character is Tony Vallelonga, one can include--even in a major way--acquaintances, employers, family members in the telling of one's own story.

**This, incidentally, is why I have a problem with much of the outcry against "cultural appropriation" (coming from any culture). Um, cultural appropriation is an incredible compliment (if done sincerely and not to shortchange, rook, distort or mock). Cultures have ALWAYS appropriated all kinds of good stuff from other cultures. It's what human beings do. It creates a beautiful mixing and harmonizing of cultural aspects and produces something new. If we want to trademark/patent every last aspect of our culture (and is it purely ours?) then we won't matter any more and we won't have influence and we are ghetto-izing ourselves. I think it's almost important not to veer off into Marxist class struggle or a kind of toxic critical theory.

On the other hand, "Imitation" may be the "highest form of admiration," but there's also the question of "cultural appropriation" as described online by Nicole G. Cowie as: "Imitation without giving respect to the originators of a said [culture]/art form and at times a poor imitation at that. Also the fact that those who appropriate a [culture]/art form can get more accolades and financial rewards for their watered down version than the originators." Agreed! But I guess my question is this. How does one always and exactly determine this bad kind of cultural appropriation--in cases that aren't blatant, obvious and/or malicious? Perhaps it's up to the culture being appropriated to make that call? But who speaks for the entire culture? Perhaps it would be determined by a kind of majority sensibility? (I'm serious.) 

Here are some questions of cultural appropriation. Is it cultural appropriation when:

--K-pop uses whiteface
--Non-Korean Asian K-pop fans get plastic surgery to look like K-pop
--Wu-Tang Clan uses an Asian name
--A Chinese teacher and his Chinese students dance to hip-hop and make a video that goes viral
--NHL Blackhawks logo is a dignified looking Native American face (and tomahawks) on jerseys
--My mother got a 'fro back in the 1970's (she's white)
--Black people use skin whiteners
--White people use bronzers
--Jazz or hip-hop musicians "sample" other forms of music
--Asian women have surgery to make their eyes look more like white women's eyes

Is it religious appropriation when:

--Nuns are constantly "walk-ons" in the background of films
--The "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" dress like ridiculous-looking nuns

Is it gender appropriation when:

--"Woman of the Year" is Kaitlyn/Bruce Jenner





January 12, 2019

THIS ARRIVED IN MY MAIL...


...from a Caps fan. (I'm a Blackhawks fan.)

Ooops! TWEEEEET! Ovi is high-sticking again! (See what I did there?)