One of the three men responsible for the infamous 1963 Birmingham Church bombing that resulted in the killing of four young black girls- Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair- is up for parole. Right now, as in today. Since he’s serving four consecutive life terms, the likelihood of him getting out is slim. The fact that courts would ever consider pardoning one of the most notable administrators of violence against black people in US history is unconsciousable. Another visceral reminder that the past is our present and the state is still as antiblack as ever.
Basically this whole thing is about like shaking that whole boy band image that was kind of bestowed upon us. This is like getting back to the roots, what Emblem3 is, and was about, and is still about today, right now.
listen…….. you just know that if harry’d gotten his way there’d be pap pics right now of him prancing around LA with wesley in tow and a little striped shirt pomeranian sticking out of his tom ford tote
I mean seriously - I love this route. I’m not far along in it yet, but it is absolutely light years away from how the first couple of routes started out. I’ve played all but Leonardo’s at this point. Wesley’s route is what I was expecting when Oz’s route arrived, but Oz turned out to be weird too (I dunno, his route was boring and he never seemed to click for me).
But dang. Wesley’s is good. He’s confident without being a jerk to Dorothy, seems to care for her well-being, & for the first time in any of this game’s routes, believably behaves like he is actually attracted to her - romantically & sexually.
Crowlie seemed more in love with the idea of Dorothy than Dorothy herself, likening her to an angel and all this romantic notion stuff, but he never really seemed to be very open to Dorothy in his route (apart from the Our Secret Lesson - woah, I was not expecting stuff that hot from him). Heartmann was similar, but much, much whinier/more insecure. A good portion of the story, he’s completely cut off from her emotionally thanks to Norton’s shenanigans.
I mean, those sort of work with their characters - Crowlie’s seems more like he learned about love from books in the actual way he goes about relationships, because he really does learn all of this stuff from books, but it doesn’t make for a very satisfying story. He seemed very immature for his role as King of Oz, especially as he’s been at this job for some years now - I would have expected that to get him up to speed a lot quicker, but instead he’s still very teenager-y about a lot of things.
Heartmann just plain didn’t grow about relationships at all. I remember being frequently annoyed by him in his route, thought it’s been a while now since I played it. I’m still plain annoyed by all three of them – all Heartmann, Crowlie, and Leonardo ever seem to do is bog down the story with whole tickets’ worth of arguing over who should/shouldn’t be Dorothy’s boyfriend. Who ate someone else’s food (it’s either Toto Jr. or Leo, spoiler alert). Yada yada yada. I completely zoned out for Oz’s route as they went for Oz & Wesley arguing instead. Just hit the fast forward till something changes, please.
But so far, the whinging has been minimal compared to earlier routes: it seems like people acquiesced to Dorothy’s choice quicker & with less fuss than previously - which is ironic, since they should be arguing more here, as she chose the Wicked Wizard of the West this time - and the banquet seemed to go over a lot speedier (and may I say YES on that dress? I seriously disliked the Quadlings dress for the first four routes).
I like Wesley’s lines. I like Wesley’s cute little Chibi. I like how he interacts with Dorothy. I loved the cute little scene where she promises to say “Good Night” to him every night until her birthday. I love how he jumps right in and plays with her hair and shows that he wants to kiss her. I love how Dorothy in return shows real interest in him, wanting to know what his eye under the patch looks like and wanting to be a friend to him - not out of a seeming debt that she melted him last time round, but because she realises how lonely this guy has been. I’m really liking him right now.
Though am I the only one who thought of Lay when he does the whole blow in her ear thing?
Why a movie about car thieves is the most progressive force in American cinema
— article from the Boston Globe by film critic Wesley Morris —
Right now, anyone who watches a lot of television, or listens to pop music, is familiar with a certain vision of America. If not exactly colorblind, this America is one in which different races easily interact, in which a white person might have an Asian boss, Hispanic stepson, or African-American frenemy. On TV, Khloé Kardashian, the part-Armenian mega-celebrity, has a new reality series about her marriage to the Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom, who is black. In the music world, no one has time to notice that the Black Eyed Peas are ambiguously, strategically cross-racial because it’s much more important to debate whether their infectiousness is awful.
Then there’s a different America: the one in the movies. Of the 30 highest grossing films from last year, only two featured major nonwhite characters. One of them—“The Karate Kid”—was set in China. The other, “Grown Ups,” had a couple of scenes for Chris Rock (black) and Rob Schneider (part Filipino). The year before, only six of the top 30 had mixed casts—and two of those (“Avatar,” “District 9”) featured races that were computer-generated effects. The dismay over the overwhelming predominance of whiteness at the movies is almost as old as the movies themselves, but the divergence from normal American experience seems to be, if anything, getting worse.
There is one glaring exception. If you reach back to 2001, you’ll see the list of top-grossing movies has recurrently featured a hit series whose nod to diversity goes far beyond sassy neighbors, illiterate linebackers, or Will Smith. It’s a collection of movies that in its Utopian way puts blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics, and their various combinations on equal footing. It would be like a grown-up “Sesame Street,” except for the deadly road races, and the fact that the puppets have tattoos, guns, muscles, bald heads, and a ton of moving violations.
Go on and laugh your Benetton, Kumbaya, Kashi, quinoa laugh, but it’s true: The most progressive force in Hollywood today is the “Fast and Furious” movies. They’re loud, ludicrous, and visually incoherent. They’re also the last bunch of movies you’d expect to see in the same sentence as “incredibly important.” But they are—if only because they feature race as a fact of life as opposed to a social problem or an occasion for self-congratulation. (And this doesn’t even account for the gay tension between the male leads, and the occasional crypto-lesbian make-out.) The fifth installment, “Fast Five,” comes out Friday, and unlike most movies that feature actors of different races, the mixing is neither superficial nor topical. It has been increasingly thorough as the series goes on—and mostly unacknowledged. That this should seem so strange, so rare, merely underscores how far Hollywood has drifted from the rest of culture.
The movies have often dealt with race, of course, and when they do they tend to treat it as a serious and unwieldy problem. Sidney Poitier became a star in part by helping black and white Americans negotiate their new relationship in the post-Civil Rights era. As a rule, white characters—through white writers and directors—do a lot of the talking in these movies. Black characters rarely travel a similar dramatic arc. The bravery of Stanley Kramer’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” amounted to two Hollywood legends—Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy—telling the world that a black son-in-law is something they can live with, and so should you, especially if he looks like Sidney Poitier and has degrees from Johns Hopkins and Yale.
That is the loose history of race as a subject in Hollywood: the province of a liberal white industry that wanted to promote fairness and equality, often at the expense of realism and sometimes at the cost of the black characters’ humanness. Movies about race still tend to be self-congratulatory (“Crash”) or mine tension for comedy, the way “48 Hours” and its offspring have. As a rule, a movie starring a white guy and a black guy is a movie about a white guy and a black guy. The enormous success of 2009’s “The Blind Side,” in which Sandra Bullock makes a black teenager one of the family, demonstrates that America isn’t post-racial. It is thoroughly mired in race—the myths that surround it, the guilt it inspires, the discomfort it causes, the struggle to transcend it.
The “Fast and Furious” movies, by contrast, are free of this angst. They’re basically a prolonged party for a ring of street-racing urban car thieves. The leader of the ring, Dom, is a big, racially ambiguous mechanic played by Vin Diesel. The hero of the movie’s first installment, in 2001, was Brian O’Conner, a blue-eyed, blond LAPD detective played by Paul Walker. As a classic white-cop hero, with a surfer-boy vibe, he was presumably meant to be the audience’s point of entry into the movie’s multiracial car-racing world. That world, however, was the star. It was a place the movies had never precisely seen before: gangs of young people of different races unified by automotive exhilaration. There were blacks, Asians of all kinds, Mexicans, Michelle Rodriguez, and whatever Vin Diesel and Jordana Brewster are. Friction exists among the factions, but it’s just the organic sort you expect from a bunch of marginal kids engaged in a variety of illegal hobbies. It’s funny and almost touching how well Detective O’Conner fits in with these gearheads and speed freaks. He ends up feeling so at home among them that he helps his new blood brother, Dom, evade arrest.
Since then, the series has spiraled even further into a world that’s post-racial, post-American, post-almost every category you can think of, including coherent. The second movie, in 2003, teamed Brian up with an ex-con, played by the African-American model and R&B singer Tyrese. The third (“Tokyo Drift,” 2006) lost the original characters and introduced a sullen white southerner (Lucas Black) who, in Japan, befriends a black American guy (Bow Wow), learns a highly specialized car trick, and steals a yakuza’s girl. The fourth installment restored Brian and Dom to the franchise and moved business to the Dominican Republic. “Fast Five” sends the gang to Brazil, brings back Tyrese, and invites the half-black, half-Samoan Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to chase Brian and Dom around Rio.
All the racial mixing isn’t idealized, and isn’t untouched by the reality of race in America today. Brian’s ability to move from one side of the law to the other seems as much the result of white privilege as it does bad screenwriting. And it’s useful to remember that most of the nonwhite characters aren’t upstanding businessmen or girls-next-door—they’re robbers and car thieves. But the weird excitement of these movies, if you take them together, is how they distort reality to create the illusion of revolution. The movies give us felons who seem, even unwittingly, like they’re fighting for something—say, for the normalization of racial integration at the movies. Some of us grimaced when John Singleton, the director of “Boyz n the Hood,” signed on to direct the first sequel. It seemed desperate. He should be out doing something important, we thought—but, as it turns out, that’s exactly what he was doing.
It’s a strange thing to see these movies as a novelty in 2011, and not because Barack Obama is president. The series has grossed just under $1 billion, and for the young and youngish people who’ve bought tickets (and rented and downloaded it), this is just how the world looks. And it’s how a lot of pop culture looks, too. Last February’s Grammys telecast was a cross-racial bonanza, whose highlight was the team-up of Janelle Monáe, B.o.B, and Bruno Mars, two black artists and one half-Hispanic, half-Filipino, all popular, who, for one evening, tinkered with pop, hip-hop, and rock so that the music they made no longer had a genre.
The movies, meanwhile, have become lucrative in their segregation. While most major-studio productions feature white casts, Tyler Perry has capitalized on the void. In less than a decade, his all-black melodramadies have helped Perry build an entertainment empire that caters to an underserved black audience. Perry works independently, and his success demonstrates that Hollywood has just been ignoring the needs of a significant moviegoing bloc. From this, the major studios have taken perhaps the wrong lesson: more all-black movies. It’s a development that appears to obviate a need for more integrated ones.
In a sense, the balkanization of movies would appear to be an example of how much culture has splintered into niches—more proof, if we needed it, that we no longer watch, listen to, or read the same material. But moviegoing is one of our last shared public acts. Hundreds of millions of people continue to watch movies together, and it’s easy to scan the house and see who’s watching with you. Were you to visit the big theaters in Boston—the AMC Boston Common or the Regal Fenway—you’d see that the audiences at both complexes are often diverse. The movies are not.You wouldn’t draw much of a popular audience, mixed or otherwise, to a movie about race, of course. And that is the accidental genius of the “Fast and Furious” movies. They’re not about race. Race—and casualness about race—is just their hallmark. They’re about something else, a great American unifying principle: sexy cars that everybody wants to drive.
Even (or maybe especially) when they’re demolishing the Dominican Republic or tearing up Brazil, these films couldn’t be more American. If we don’t know where race is headed in this country, or where in the movies it ought to be, perhaps we should climb aboard. In the end, it might not be Barack Obama who drives us into the future. It may just be Vin Diesel and The Rock.