Archive for May, 2015

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Watch the Trailer Here

 First, please note, I totally and utterly suck at movie reviews. I do not even like to read them. I want to watch a movie and form my own opinion. So please do not decide to, or not to watch this movie based on my recommendations.

With a star stacked cast including: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey,  Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrance Howard, Robin Williams, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, David Oyelowo, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, James Marsden, Vanessa Redgrave, Minka Kelly, and many others this movie was set from the beginning to have big box office pull. With few exceptions, the cast overwhelmingly delivered in their hyper-emotionally driven roles.

I think Whitaker’s quiet deliberateness perfectly embodied the idea that was ingrained in him when he was taught as a youth on the cotton plantation by Annabeth Westfall ( Vanessa Redgrave)  that  “the room should feel empty when your in it.” Whitaker carries that through the rest of his life, as he discreetly and almost invisibly serves some of the most powerful men in The United States, our nation’s Presidents, as a butler in the White House.

The duality he deals with throughout the movie was undoubtedly a way of life for many African American’s through this time in our History. He had to be one person, an invisible servant, while at work and another, a strong proud husband and father while at home.

However, invisible and quiet his service may have been, Cecil (Whitaker) was not a meek man who had given up all hope of a better future for himself or his race. He just chose to be quietly influential in small ways in the background of the changing nation. This is seen several times in his interactions with various Presidents during different periods of the Civil Rights movement and beyond. Especially in his conversation with John F. Kennedy (James Marsden)  and Dwight Eisenhower (Robin Williams).

Though his son takes a more radical approach, that cases a severe rift, he eventually comes to understand and respect his father. However, first he feels betrayed and even mocks his father’s position before running off to protests and eventually a Black Panther meeting, that scares him back home and causes him to look for peaceful resolutions to the problems of equal rights.

Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrance Howard’s characters Carter and Howard respectively, also added greatly to the movie by illustrating the day to day feelings and interactions between those who served invisible, yet had full and meaningful lives.

The end of the movie shows a retired Cecil and his wife (Oprah Winfrey) watching President Barrack Obama becoming the first Black President. I will admit, I cried ( though I am by no means a fan of Obama’s ) watching Cecil (Whitaker) watching what must have been the culmination of his hopes and dreams come true. Then he quietly and carefully dressed and went to the White House, and was treated as a guest and not a servant. A meaningful way to end this wonderful story of triumph despite adversity that was shown through the eyes of an individuals entire lifetime in an ever evolving nation.

I could probably explain this better to a person than I can write it down because most of the issues in the movie were illustrated through emotions that it purposefully evoked in the audience. My two cents anyway, for what it is worth.

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Significance of a Meme…

Posted: May 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Sara, emailed us this “meme” ( hereafter referred to as the image because I don’t know what a “meme” is ), and apparently everyone has chimed in their very academic opinions on the image. My opinion will probably not seem very educated in comparison, because to me sometimes a duck is just a duck.

The image above almost, in my opinion, needs no words. I think it is a powerful image that draws on our emotions, which emotions it draws from depends on the person looking at it though. I personally see an inspiring image that reminds me stereotypes can be broken ( two of the Black men in the photo appear in jobs usually not attributed to African Americans, the Policeman and the Lawyer ) , I also see an image that reminds me stereotypes are still very much in use in our culture today ( a young Black criminal in sweats in a court of law ).

I do not think that the image would hold the same meaning if the three men were White, or even Hispanic. I can also see how others look at this image and want to use it as a commentary on Blacks and our prison system and their poor choices, or take the stance that the image is unrealistic in that most Blacks do not have the opportunities that Whites do to become trained policemen or higher educated lawyers due to a general racial poverty.  I do not disagree with either of these opinions at the core, though I think with financial aid available as it is those that “choose” to work harder can attain higher education goals despite racial barriers, and after all that is all this image is asking you to do, make a choice.

When I first looked at the image my first though was this needs to be a poster in every neighborhood that has a racial majority of Blacks. I think positive imagery, even if it is not technically, precisely, 1000%, correct in its delivery ( especially those meant to inspire our youth, as I think this probably was ) is a good thing. I think all neighborhoods and schools need positive imagery for our youth. We do not necessarily need it to be as racially charged as this, but this one works well with the subject matter it covers, especially since 1/3 of the Black men in America are likely to spend some time in jail or prison in their lifetime, as 1/3 of the men in this image would seem to be doing.

Well that is my humble opinion on the little image that sparked such great debate. If a picture is work a thousand words, I would say this one definitely got its thousand just out of this class! Good job Sara!