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We have a serious problem. Trump can still win

From Douglas Mcgrath “We have a serious problem” New Yorker 18 January, 2016:

Trump: Excuse me? You’re telling me I gave the Mexicans-are-rapists speech, which was one of the worst pieces of out-and-out racism ever uttered by a non-Southerner and my numbers have gone up?

Jeff [Trump aide]: by a lot

Trump: Let’s review. I said that Megyn Kelly was menstruating. I insulted Carly Fiorina’s face. I did a routine about Ben Carson’s’ belt that should have provoked a psychiatric intervention. I proposed internment camps for Muslims already here, and then I said we should bar all other Muslims from entering the country. And you’re telling me that my numbers are what?

Jeff: the highest ever

Trump: we have a serious problem. I might win.

 

From Jason Shaltiel “Rudy slams Beyoncé” AM 9 February, 2016:

Former mayor Giuliani blasted Beyoncé’s super bowl performance for its ‘black power’ references. Beyoncé donned black panthers-styled berets and formed an X with her dancers.

Giuliani: I think it was outrageous… I don’t know what the heck it was. A bunch of people bouncing around and all strange things. It was terrible…this is football not Hollywood, and I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive…

Giuliani also cursed Tarantino last month over the director’s stand against brutality, saying he will boycott his movies.

 

From “Trump, Bush tussling” AM 9 February, 2016:

Donald trump on Jeb Bush: This stiff, Jeb Bush, he’s a total stiff…He’s like a child. A spoiled child.

We call Bush a child for not insulting women. We criticize and berate Beyoncé’s song for its supposed “indirect” political message, but we let Trump rave, rant, alienate, hate, insult, call names, pull out of debates, push women back to 100 years ago. We vote for him.

Presidential run speeches vs song. One directed towards all Americans and everyone else on Trump’s hit list and the other, a song sung by one person for herself, for entertainment, even if it has a message. Hasn’t there been a bloody fatal spate in police shootings of innocents and unarmed black boys & girls and men? If Beyonce likes her negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils, who does that offend? It’s on her own person, not impinging on anyone’s existence or rights; NOT a direct address or harmful to others – women [American or otherwise], good police officers, foreigners, Americans of different faiths-  as Trump’s twitterature proves:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/28/upshot/100000004173782.app.html?nytapp=iphone&_r=0

Beyonce’s message for trigger happy police is publicly criticized. Her platform, was Superbowl. Trump’ s winning New Hampshire is not seen as problematic. His platform is all of America.

We have a serious problem indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

Silence of the majorities

Media today makes plenty of noise. Media is greedy for news, information, and angry when it doesn’t get noise, but on silence it says nothing. Trump constantly refers to the silent majority, a group that speaks, can speak, has spoken, will speak. And which votes, so has veto power. This silent majority is not at all silent.

But there is a silent populace whose story media doesn’t like to tell. Not the voluntary silent type, of sages sitting and meditating: Buddha under the Bodhi tree, or Gandhi keeping days of silence. Gandhi’s silence and silent fast were a strategic defense against the British masters; it was their solidarity and resistance, which was complimentary to speech, and which didn’t need words. This silence was noise and strength against the British. But forced silence is the kind of silence that media doesn’t like to tell: the silence of women who are shamed or dishonored or marginalized peoples.

Forced silence goes beyond muteness to speechlessness because of rape or other dishonor in the case of women. Because of loss of virginity, which is a girl’s entire identity or worth in some cultures. A silence that could speak, even protest, but whose speech is like a dying spark without the fire. A silence desperate for speech. For listeners. But the absence of which condemn them to more silence. An eternity of silence. And if, pray tell, they try to speak then men silence them with threats, blows, stonings, imprisonment, rape and other violence, which further rob them of an identity, memory, and make them even more vulnerable to silence. This forced silence is culturally constructed.

What do we do with the silent? The dishonored? The child bride? The raped? The mutilated genitally? Widows in some places? The displaced? The old? The deterritorialized? The marginalized? The subaltern? The homeless? Whose silence is just another form of pain?

The more we become digital the more they become silenced. The more we don’t converse with them, but instead with the Internet, the more they become silent. The speed and noise of the scientific & information age silence the old, the forgetting, the shamed or the dishonored into helplessness and despair. Sometimes their silence grows like a cancer until it is too late, and we never hear the stories of the silenced.

“There is no such thing as the “voiceless”. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard” [Arundhati Roy]. Roy says this in reference to Indian women and Dalits, but this applies equally to all who are forced into silence everywhere. For whom voluntary silence has become their defense, not because they have nothing to say, but who, due to habit, have lost their tongue and need storytellers to tell their stories, and to break the silence. NYC subway ads and announcements say if you see something, say something. There are many ways to say something today with omnipresent media: post, tweet, retweet, share, blog, speak up or act out, or stand up for those silenced, as this young man does in this video:

visual vocal tantrumps

Recently, we were worried about keeping traditional americanization alive in America vis-à-vis letting immigrants in, but the Americans favoring Trump were not worried about him closing all kinds of borders [cultural, multicultural, political, gender borders etc]. They did not see that he stood against the principles of the constitution we hold so dearly. And even if they were not worried that he was alienating Muslims, Chinese, Mexicans & others alike, weren’t they concerned about his hatred & sexualization of women in a country where feminism has come a long way since 1872 when it was first introduced in France, yet has made the greatest strides in America?

Here’s a pictorial/digital portfolio of Trump who might’ve been president of the United States of America had he not lost Iowa.

On women:
trump on ivankatrump rosie

trump huffing
trump arianna

 

 

trump arianna

 

 

Global trump or Trump’s foreign [intersects with local] policy:

trump on mexico

trump n chinese

 

 

trump-syrian-refugees-tweet

 

 

 

trump on muslims sports

trump-quote-muslim_3520951b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On local/national policy:

trump on not losing voters.jpg make america great again

 

 

On what’s important:

trump 4

 

His great presence could have made the portrait of the president of the greatest country could look like this:
* racist, misogynist [therefore no women’s rights], dodger, bigot, hater, uninformed, nihilist, narcissist, protofascist [http://nyti.ms/2054RvX]…
* spent 25 plus years in the wrestling business and use low brow behavior of that job in his politics [David Brooks http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/donald-trump-professional-wrestling%5D.
* Acts and sounds like a frathouse partier, and is an outsider to governing, illustrating what political irrelevance is [Abdul-Jabbar “this is the difference between donald trump and bernie sanders” https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/09/02/kareem-abdul-jabbar-this-is-the-difference-between-donald-trump-and-bernie-sanders/?tid=a_inl%5D.
 * Braggadocio with a lingua franca that reeks of 21st century adolescent behavior, trying to ‘fit in’, calling people he doesn’t like or who don’t agree with him ‘morons’, ‘idiots’, ‘bimbos’, ‘losers’, ‘slobs’, ‘disgusting animals’, ‘dogs’, ‘fat pigs’ – a demeaning and belittling language that bullies and some mean young adolescents use, which they grow out of in young adulthood. But alas! Trump is not a young adult. Nor is he in the wrestling ring. Nor running a beauty pageant. America might have become a reality show in his hands, with showbiz theatrics, making it look like one big circus.

And the winner goes to… NOT diversity

Charlotte Rampling, Sylvester Stallone, Matt Damon, Leonardo di Caprio, Rooney Mara, Brie Larson, Saoirse Ronan, Jennifer Lawrence…have more than one thing in common. They’re all actors & actresses, they stand to get nominees and/or Oscars for 2015 and…they’re all white. But does talent only come in this color?white oscars

 

There’s been a lot of noise about white oscars, so much so that critics launched the pointed hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, and aptly so. Not a single nomination for a minority actor/actress/director: Idris Elba in netflix-heavy Beasts of No Nation, Samuel Jackson for Hateful Eight, Ryan Coogler or Michael Jordan in Creed, any of the actors in Tangerine in a post Jenner trans era,  Will Smith in Concussion, Teyonnah Parris in Spike Lee’s Chi-raq or any of the actors in the much talked-about, positively reviewed, box office hit Straight Outta Compton. Not a single nomination or plaudit after last year’s grand tirade that America and Hollywood are ready for a change in Hollywood narratives.

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Last year, the nominees and winners were not the typical awardees. Hollywood, for once, accepted plots and stories that weren’t told and didn’t revolve around youth on grand quests, or beauty or fast action. But rather edifying and intimate drama, depth of character, which included winners who were 50 year olds or twenty something yr olds [Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne]. The other nominees & winners were also older than the average past awardees: Keaton in Birdman, Arquette in Boyhood, Simmons in Whiplash etc. What all of these previous winners had in common last Oscars was their battle against infirmities and death, which they brought out by their talent, their acting skill. They found told/acted their story differently that garnered them the Oscar for best actor. And although the white movie industry did make up for years of neglect by recognizing 12 years a slave for best picture and bestowing statues on Forrest Whitaker, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Halle berry and Mo’nique in the past, we cannot forget that since 1998 Oscars has been white. Nor can we forget that they snubbed David Oyewolo or director/co writer Ava du Vernay for the brilliant, award winning film Selma. It would seem that depute mvid industry’s craving for different stories the Selma story was not part of the line-up of those stories. Perhaps only one story gets to win an Oscar so we didn’t need to remember our dark history of slavery in Selma? We didn’t need to remember the wretched story that gutted and touched black lives told by a woman. Straight Outta Compton, Chi-raq, Creed or Beasts of No nation are not stories the industry liked last year, yet they liked the white writer of Straight Outta Compton and the white actor in Creed: #OscarsSoWhite that Rocky got nominated in a movie about Apollo’s son [Hari Kondabolu]. Spike Lee asks: “How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year that all 20 contenders under the Actor category are white? 40 white actors in 2 years and no flava at all! We can’t act. WTF!” It seems easier to be president of the United States as a black man than to be the head of a studio, he says.

What happened last year with different narratives? Have we gone backwards from 12 years a slave? Or are we continuing the Selma trend of snubbing anything related to black America or black lives or history? Is the lack of nomination for any of the issues that these films raise not a powerful enough narrative for hollywood and its audience? How could Chi-raq not ring an urgent bell in our age of gun violence and killings when it used abstinence from sex to drive the point home of no violence? Is black history and hip hop culture in LA not worthy of story telling? Are stories told by child soldiers in Africa too far removed and too much for us to be interested in? Or black trans lives?

Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith are boycotting Oscars this year. Jada feels that people can only treat them in the way they allow. And on the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr, Spike Lee announced his boycott reminding us of Dr King’s words: “there comes a time one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it’s right'”.

#OscarsSoWhite reminds me of what Jean-Luc Godard said in an interview for Goodbye Language in 2014 about Cannes Awards festivals when asked why he stopped going to Cannes. He thought he could find a cinema family there. But people would discuss ideas with him, lead him to his hotel, eat with him, then leave him alone. Jada feels used, too, like Godard: people of color are always welcomed to give out awards and even entertain but rarely recommended for their accomplishments. Spike and Jada are saying Goodbye to Oscars because those they & all the others actors, directors, writers etc of color consider their Oscar family leave them without a family. They don’t belong to that family.

War of the Images 

Fashion used to be shot in contrast. The clothes and accessories [bags, shoes, jewelry] were clearly the foreground and in the foreground. Everything else was relegated to the background which itself struck a harmony with what was being highlighted. It was the photographer and the designer who decided what to pay attention to and what should stand out.

normal constrast allure mag jan 16_7    est ouest 2   est ouest 6

 

But lately, there seems to be a battle of the images, a battle of the foreground over the background in fashion. My eyes have never been so busy. Nor have they had to compete for attention or to figure out what is the thing being advertised.

Allure [November 2015] has images where not only the bold colors compete, but ideas compete, too, and the eyes need to look hard to see the details of the centerfold, because there are so many other details around what’s being highlighted. There’s a kind of chaos and clutter to these images, which make it a bit difficult to settle on the clothes. and hopefully i did see what they wanted me to see. Clothes, right? Or is it bags?

allure mag jan 16_1allure mag jan 16_2.jpeg

 

 

 

Marie Claire [January 2016] features ads with colors so heavily saturated in the entire image that it is easy to see everything together, or everything else first, then the item being advertised. Then suddenly you realize  ‘ah! it’s a shoe or a bag they’re advertising! Not mini figures of characters of games.’

New York Times Style magazine [6 December 2015] had a similar idea where contrasts are all on the heavy side; no longer is there lightness against darkness, and no longer does the jewelry occupy frontal space but here it occupies a small space and everything else, the majority of the space of the whole image:

 

It is a very different way to shoot, photograph, edit or put images together, especially when your eyes have been trained to see the clothes and accessories being advertised easily. This new way to shoot images for magazines seems to imitate the era in which we live, a fast-paced technological era, where there is so much going on that is vying for our attention that we have to really focus on what we should see. Art imitates life!

Star Wars & Oscars in a race sensitive world

In 2012, Star Wars: the Phantom Menace blew away the Hobbit: an unexpected journey and it even beat Avatar which grabbed $3.1 billion worldwide in 2009. And the last Starwars: the Force Awakens released on 14 Dec 2015 in the US did so well that it had international fans from Europe and Asia booking trips to the United States because they didn’t want to wait for the film to arrive in their countries a month later when everyone would have already been talking about it or reviewing it. And neither did the dread of a Batman-style shooting keep the crowds at bay. And perhaps if the fear of terrorism was removed from our present day terrorist concerns – as we don’t know where terrorists will strike next – movie goers would’ve shown up in Star Wars regalia like swords etc and sales would’ve climbed even higher, especially during the first couple days of its release in December 2015.

Such loyalty and crowd following for the Star Wars saga convince us why the film’s broad appeal to so many people made it a box office juggernaut into 2016. People went to see it through nostalgia, as they grew up on it, and some like me, who didn’t grow up on it, didn’t feel obligated to see it on the first or second day, but still wanted to see it, for other reasons. What really drew me to this Star Wars is JJ Abrams’ two lead characters: Daisy Ridley [the female warrior fighting the dark side that princess Leia never saw during her days] and John Boyega [a deserter from the first order]. I wanted to see this Star Wars for its story of two disparate orphans who discover each other and who discover that they can trust each other. But I especially wanted to see it because Rey [Daisy] and Finn [Boyega] are updated heroes – a female protagonist and a coloured male actor in a new gender and race-sensitive world. These two stars talk and behave the way they would have had they starred in the early Lucas movies, and both are seemingly ordinary people who don’t have plans to do anything extraordinary, but when thrown into the situation, they end up saving the world. Boyega’s role was heroic and great for young black and colored audience to identify with.

But despite this, some people criticized the trailer and even threatened to boycott Star Wars for showing a black actor in storm trooper uniform. Boyega’s interview 20 December 2015 with Dave Itzkoff in the NYTimes “Bracing for Impact of Galactic Fame” really explains racism in America and why #OscarsSoWhite.

When asked how he felt about the boycott Boyega responded that he was grounded in who he is : “A confident, Nigerian, black, chocolate man. I’m proud of my heritage and no man can take that away from me. I wasn’t raised to fear people with a difference of opinion. They are merely victims of a disease in their mind. To get into a serious dialogue with people who judge a person based on the melanin in their skin? They’re stupid, and I’m not going to lose sleep over people. The sale of tickets has gone through the roof- their agenda has failed. Miserably.”

Interviewer: you didn’t feel the urge to respond to these crtitcs?

Boyega: I just don’t get it! You guys got every single alien imaginable to man. With tentacle so, five eyes. Aliens, that if they existed, we’d definitely have an issue. We’d have to get them to the government and be like, “what are you?” Yet what you want to do is fixate on another human beings color. You need to go back to school and unlearn what you’ve learned. I think Yoda said that or Obi-Wan.

The interviewer made it known to Boyega that up to now there have been few black characters featured in Star Wars and asked Boyega if he wasn’t proud to “help add diversity to the franchise”.

Boyega: I dont know whether I’m proud or anything. I’m happy we’re able to mesh together in this ensemble and create a wonderful story. It’s Hollywood’s fault for letting this get so far that when a black person or a female or someone from a different cultural group is cast in a movie, we have to have debates as to whether they’re placed there just to meet a quota. I also understand , on the flip side, where thes mentalities arise. “He’s just placed there for political correctness”. I don’t hear you guys saying that when Brad Pitt is there. When Tom Cruise is there. Hell, when Shia Leboeuf is there, you guys ain’t saying that. That is just blatant racism!

This interview exposes not only the racist mindset of the white film industry, but it foreshadows the Oscars snubbing of non white nominees and is consistent with the seeing and recognizing of the only white star in Creed for example, but not the rest, who are black. Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith, as I mentioned in a previous blog, have boycotted the Oscars [https://crossingfrontieres.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/and-the-winner-goes-to-not-diversity/] and now Will Smith, Tyrese Gibson [Fast and Furious star] and possibly Quincy Jones. Jones has been asked to present an award and intends to speak for 5 minutes on the lack of diversity; otherwise he won’t present.

Some stars have reacted to #OscarsSoWhite: Clooney feels Oscars is going backwards; Michael Keaton told BBC reporters that Academy voters are maliciously prejudicial while Dustin Hoffman says Oscar nominations is “subliminal racism”. But Trevor Noah and Roy in the Daily Show sum it up best and “do the right thing”:

 

 

America’s trigger fingers

In Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia,New York, Connecticut, Georgia, Fort Gibson, Minnesota and far too many other places to mention in a little blog, school shooting has become as American as apple pie. And like apple pie, it can be had anywhere: gurdwara, planned parenthood, colleges, elementary schools, high schools, cinema, driveways, streets, church, malls, lawns, disability centers, military base…has any place been left out?

Guns are banned in schools yet most shootings occur inside and around elementary and high schools and universities. gun cartoon 1 A weird thought shot to my mind as I write this: the terrorist group, Taliban, shot Malala Yousafzai in school. Yet our shooters aren’t called terrorists. Our Land of freedom is quickly becoming the Land of fear, and soon to be Land of guns. Barely 3 years after Sandy Hook, which took 20 lives of 5 yr olds and 6 adults’ lives, 142 more shootings have occurred. And each time a shooting occurs in America there’s a kind of ritual:

  • NRA heaves it chest, characterizing and normalizing it by calling it “an act of a lone madman”
  • America’s power figures solemnly go on air, offer prayers and condolences to/for gun victims & their families then callously and fearlessly reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killings.

Even though an astounding 40 percent of guns in America are acquired without a background check as New Harvard research between 2004 and 2014 show. And more than 2,000 terrorism suspects purchased guns in the United States [Nicholas Kristof’s “on guns we’re not even trying” nytimes.com 2015/12/03]. The Senate allows people from the terror list to buy guns, but block them from boarding planes, and the NRA & its republican allies distract us from the real problem of guns, with the word ‘terrorism’.gun ima 2.png

Yet, all the senseless shootings by killers are nothing but acts of ‘preventable’ terrorism.

America is fighting guns at home while the rest of the world is fighting ISIS. Our own guns, our homegrown terrorism which we perpetuate, by our own people whom we humanize after they shoot to terrorize and kill. We get into the past of these homegrown, overwhelmingly white radicalized shooters and publish histories of their loner status, how they were ostracized, bullied, isolated, intimidated, disrespected, picked on etc. But we dissociate their brutal acts from terrorism and continue to conflate terrorism with only those having Muslim names while never calling the shootings of the white majority American shooters a terrorist act, thereby skirting the whole gun issue while the ‘terrorism’ issue rages on. But whether it’s a school shooting or Planned Parenthood or a community college or San Bernadino, it’s a shooting by guns as the unrelenting average of 92 gun deaths per year in America proves [Kristof’s “hysteria about refugees but blindness on guns” nytimes 2015/12/06].

To say that shooting continues in America because gunners have guns is simplistic. Gunners have another strong weapon to fight gun control & violence which they brandish like a sword every time the gun control talks come up: the Second Amendment. They cite a constitutional document written hundreds of years ago when gun shootings didn’t yet exist among civilians, and when Internet & social media didn’t make it easy to buy guns or gun parts online and assemble guns to kill.

gun ima 4.png

America has proudly come a long way in creating change for our own good: we are now told what and when to eat because eating became uncontrollable and they had to ban foods with TFAs and huge sodas etc before we kill ourselves. They had to remove candy machines from our schools before we kill our children and they’ve instituted change in areas where other ‘first world’ countries like France lag far behind: affirmative action. They’ve even been able to remove the stigma of behind non heterosexual unions and told us we can marry into the same sex, but they can’t curb their trigger fingers. We’ve abolished slavery in America, but we cannot let go of that second amendment clutch to create SAFETY for all peoples. We cannot let go of that ‘right to bear arms’ even if those arms are in the hands of psychotic killers. We cannot forego that ‘God-given right’ to protect our homes, families, and lives. All that this tells us is that no right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation or doubt.

Perhaps the shooting spree we’ve been living – or dying for – should be given more life in areas like presidential races. Not the Jeb bush kind where “Islamic terrorism that wants to destroy our way of life, wants to attack our freedom” Or “they’ve declared war on us. We need to declare war on them”.  We must declare war on our fascination with gun violence, on our mostly white male, suburban gun owners and shooters. War on our toxic culture of masculinity that fosters the destructive narrative of one winner and a whole lot of losers. It behooves America to look at the other countries which have been able to curb or eradicate gun violence. In 1996 in Scotland a gunman shot 16 children at school, and the public outcry the following year made the British gov’t ban private ownership of automatic weapons and handguns on British mainland. In Australia of the same year after a massacre by guns, sweeping gun control laws were passed. In such places, although the natural instinct is to arm oneself, self-defense does NOT count as a valid reason to have a gun, post 1996.

If our constitution requires everyone to bear arms including psychos, mentally ill & other criminal minds , then we need a new one, like Australia & Scotland. Vigilantism is not a constitutional right, and when someone loses a child or any loved one s/he doesn’t care about people’s sympathy or eulogy; s/he just wants those who can do something to get to work and do something!”

Guns-Dont-Kill-People

Thought of the day: if your constitution requires psychos/criminals to bear arms and kill, then you need a new constitution because guns kill. Alllivesmatter.

 

 

 

 

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