Friday, March 31, 2017

MARCH - EPISODE III: SPRING 2017

WISDOM OF THE SAGES
EPISODE III: SPRING 2017
Hello People of the World;

Well, here we are in the merry old month of March. While the snows have stopped, for now, the rain has begun. You know, like it does every spring. It never ceases to surprise me when people are caught off-guard by the rain that happens in SPRING! Why are people surprised that it rains? Rain happens. Sheesh. The Earth turns last time I checked…

All right, let’s get going:

1:[ As some of you know, I am the director of a non-profit film festival that screens Native American-directed films. However, as is usual, many local non-profits have come to be pressured into the Non-Profit Danger of “Mission Creep”, where your organization, because it serves a very specific purpose, people will always try to make your organization bend to their will and work in other areas outside of your mission, just so they can fucking show-off.

This typically comes in the form of the so-self-called “Ideas People”. You get them from time to time, a person who joins up and rather than volunteering to do the real work for mission goals, say that they are more “an Ideas Person” and sit back and offer only “ideas”. Meaning, they will simply throw out ideas to make your organization do things it was never deemed to do, just so they can work on the easy shit that they want to do instead. Then, when you do not use their “ideas” they get mad and quit. Face it; “Ideas People” are clown shit, literal clown shit, meaning: half-digested birthday cake and mint schnapps… (Thanks to CRACKED Video for that one)

While I have nothing against with coming up with new, fresh ideas, they have to be in support of your mission. Steer away from “mission creep” because, for some reason, in the Native American community here, there is this need for any Native organization to be “All things to all Natives”. Meaning, no matter what you set out to do, someone will always come on board to try and shape it to their ends, mainly because they could not get work at other Native American organizations, trying to do the shit they do. So, they go to another, smaller organization and throw around ideas so they can do their shit there. This happens so often, that many of the Native American organizations here end up competing with one another instead of working together. Mostly it is in competition for the same 20 – 30 constituents that use the programs offered.

We are simply a film festival that screens Native-directed films for general audiences. Our constituents are our general audiences who attend the festival and the Native American directors that submit films. That’s it. We are working to build ourselves up around those missions. Trying to be all things for all Natives simply spreads our resources thin and places us in a useless competition for funds and audience. That is not fair, nor smart. Drop the ideas to give yourself work and work to generate ideas to help us with the more abstract and deeper ideas of the mission. Don’t creep our mission towards your ends just because you cannot make it at other places….


2:[ I happened to attend a presentation by Omask√™ko Cree artist, Duane Linklater, who discussed his work, which I love, and he mentioned something that almost no one ever says about the Great Canadian Subterfuge. He comes from one of the treaty reserves in Canada and has been witness to the utterly overlooked history of the Canadian government’s treatment of First Nations people.

The biggest lie that Canada has gotten away with is how they have come to be seen as this benevolent, friendly neighbor to the north. When in reality, they have a harsher, at times, more cruel history and present when dealing with First Nations people. Linklater stated that he watched the recent Trudeau/Trump meeting and while everyone was sharing their obvious contradictory personas, Linklater found that they shared a disturbing common one: “Mineral Extraction”.

If anyone cares to learn the histories of either the United States or Canada, know how ruthless both are when it comes to dealing with mineral extraction from Native lands. There was the Oka Resistance back in the 90’s, and the Elsiboqtoq protests and the militarized reactions to those. This can also be seen with the recent NoDAPL protests. So, I no longer see Canada as this great bright hope of what the Untied States could be. In many ways, they already are like the US….


3:[ LOGAN directed by James Mangold – (Minor Spoilers): I was the Batman Guy in high school and a bit of a Math Nerd. One day a buddy of mine shows me his drawing of Wolverine stabbing Batman and all the gang laughs as if it were a put down. "Wolverine is more badass than Batman!" was the refrain. I had to agree. I, being the resident Comic Book Geek, had to tell them what was cool about Wolverine and that they could not fight because they belonged to different comic book companies. Yeah, I was that kind of Know-It-All Shithead. (PS: Knowing about Pop Culture DOES NOT make you a "nerd".)

Wolverine is cool and a badass and I drew him in my notebooks as much as I did Batman. I used to draw a reservation version that wore a mullet and a Batman t-shirt. When the X-Men movies started I too was very much disappointed by the actor selected to play Wolverine. But he had won me over by the time "Days of Future Past" came around.

To wit, the Top Movie Review Team went out and caught this, the final film with Hugh Jackman as the X-Man, Wolverine, "Logan". It is indeed a somber affair, of a story about a man who has to learn to give a shit again about the world. Here, we find Logan, hiding out with sickened Professor X and Caliban in 2029's Mexico. All is revealed as a young girl is suddenly thrust into their lives looking for help. They hit the road on the run from the Reavers who seek to recapture her.

This is the best X-Men film to date. I will not argue that. But for some reason, it did not hit me as it has so many other viewers and reviewers. Indeed, I was touch by the emotional ending. I love stories about fathers and daughters. Yet, once I saw the X-24, it was a big, loud reminder that it is indeed a comic book movie. In fact, when the inevitable backlash happens with this film, the X-24 will be at the top of the grievances. For me, it felt a tiny bit like the Silver Samurai all over again.

I mean, everyone likens it to a western, or a drama, or a road trip movie, even an indie film, but for that X-24, which was just a glaring reminder to me that it is very much a comic book movie. For as good as it is, I was just not as moved at the story, or as sad that this is Jackman's last go as Wolverine I everyone else. I'm just not. Is it a good movie? Yes, a damn good one. Is it a good send-off for Hugh? Absolutely. Just don't expect me to lose my shit just because this "dark" and somber affair validates me as an adult that likes comic book movies. (PS: fans tend to confuse "dark" with "complex". I mean look at how deified "The Empire Strikes Back" has become as a result of that mix up.)

I think all of the pre-release hype, promotions, and great reviews elevated my expectations beyond what they should have been. Where it should have exceeded those expectations, they were meet, which is not a bad thing at all, but it is on some level a tiny bit disappointing. Please. Make no mistake; I think this is THE BEST XMEN FILM TO DATE. It is what I want from my comic book movies in fact. This should be the baseline for all comic book movies, this and "The Dark Knight", which it has been compared to.

Everything assembled here is great, acting, action, characters, scenarios, and cinematography. This is pop art elevated to high art. So, put on your Wolvie t-shirt, and your neck beard, and go have a good bro-cry for the sixteenth time. HIGH RECOMMENDATION


4:[ How we react to info: What Twitter has done – What started me on this train of thought was riding around with Bonnie and seeing how many idiots hold up traffic at the stoplights because they cannot go fucking 10 seconds without looking at their damn cell phones. We are slowly being conditioned to be screen-watchers. Drivers think that they have to reply to a fucking tweet right that damn second. Come on.

One study states that most students cannot go an hour without looking at their phones. It is all distraction. I keep returning to Neil Postman’s idea about how going from an oral tradition to a typographic society to a televised one, changed the value of “truth”. Now, look at how Twitter and Facebook changed that with their instant gratification of information, not facts; that we begin to push forward unreliable information as truth, as fact. We have to be first with information to be seen as smart. Twitter has been horrible for us. It has turned us into a reactionary society rather than an analytical one.

We no longer read to understand, we read only to react….


5:[ I have had this happen to me lately. On a recent project, I had the temerity to point out how this agitprop idea of “Diversity” will always cost Native Americans a seat at the table of representation, which is never costly to those non-Natives in control of the representation. In an ironic twist, I was proven right, by getting kicked off the project just so the person in charge could maintain that control over the representation of Native peoples, situations, and culture, and use them for their own aims. Sure, it was angering, but I did my best to be clear and concise with my perspective, but it was dismissed in the end. When I brought up how much Natives had lost in the making of this country, I was told that I could not speak to the pain of all Natives. Which, hypocritically, this person stated all the pains and tortures their people had been through. So, basically: I can’t but they can.

The downside of diversity in sharing market space at the table of representation means Natives will never be able to own their own experiences or pains or struggles unless a white hand is there to guide it. That’s fucked up. You should see how far they will go to justify this. Some stating that darker skin color does not automatically allow you to make art that represents yourself. (Yes, I have seen these articles posted around!) People will always look at Native Americans differently than others. Whenever a people of a race or religion speak about their pains and troubles, we all listen and sympathize. But then, when Native Americans ask you to look at how you are representing them, their histories, suddenly, “You can’t speak to all suffering!”

This happens only to Native Americans and First Nations people because many are conditions to see us as always the enemy to defeat, even on a subconscious level. This person automatically took an adversarial stance to my own. While they could whip out the race card or gender card, I could even state that I am allowed to own my experience as a Native person. I had to be defeated in the name of their art, while they hypocritically stifled my place in the “shared space” of diversity, which they “own” and rendering my voice absent, so they can maintain that representational control over Native culture. Yes, it still happens among the leftist-enlightened.

It always seems that Native people cannot gather to discuss their own pains and struggles, to find their own solutions and healing, without the stifling hand of diversity creeping in to steal voices and take spaces at the table. I am constantly reminded of Langston Hughes’ poem in times such as these….


6:[ I have to laugh at how every generation truly believes that it is the epitome of society, that, that somehow, their touchstones of art, philosophy, of technology will be remembered (pronounced “re-member-ED”) throughout time and by the time they are putting in their dentures, they can complain that “Metallica” or “AC/DC” was “real” music. Fucking, get over your selves. You are irrelevant now, as kids these days don’t. give. a. fuck. about what you listened to.


7:[ On Boycotts: A Reiteration - I have been reading (On Facebook, mind you, so take it as you will) about the new Oberweis Controversy, though I cannot find what the controversy is about, I have been inundated with calls for boycotting the business to make a point. It immediately put me in mind of the whole Chik-fil-A boycott a few years back. It was another controversy wherein people were offended at the CEO’s opinion of Same-Sex Marriage and called for a boycott of the business.

Guess what? It didn’t work. He still holds his opinion and Same-Sex Marriage was later made rule of law for the United States, and we moved on. Same Sex Marriage is legal, but N not because we boycotted Chik-fil-A and changed the heart of its CEO. Let’s face it, folks. Boycotts will NEVER WORK because someone, some hidden, unknown individual will ALWAYS BREAK THE BOYCOTT. No matter what business you are boycotting, you will never get 100% of customers to quit it, because Wal*Mart has the cheapest diapers, Taco Bell’s Fake Meat fucking tastes good. Basically, “Hey, I’ll sell out my morals for waffle fries and lemonade!”

I say all that in partial jest. It is true people will still go to Oberweis because they serve awesome ice cream despite whatever the CEO said or believes. The real reason people break the boycotts is because we know that real people work at these places, and the local community knows them and goes there to support them. All the folks behind the counter at either Oberweis or Chik-fil-A, are neither homophobic or advocates of spousal abuse, or propping up Republican candidates, but simply need to work to support themselves and their families. The local communities see this and can forgive a staff worker flipping burgers for working under such an asshole. It’s human nature; empathy.

Besides, there are better, more effective ways to make your point to a jackass who said something you disagree with and with whom you will never meet face-to-face to change their views. But someone, or a community entire, will always, always, break a boycott, no matter how well intentioned it may be.


That is it for this month.

Hopefully, this is a more sustentative episode for you. I am bending some of my own rules about delving into the political side of things but all in all, I hope you glean something from this. I do write to please an audience. That is the greatest biggest lie of art: no one, No One, NO ONE makes art “for themselves”.

As always, I invite you to comment, correct, or contradict anything I write here. I am open to a critical debate. Thanks for taking the time to check out what I write here and I will see you in a month.

Until next time, remember “I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control everything really are.”

2017 Ernest M Whiteman III

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