most of you have no idea what martin luther king actually did

10

THE LITTLE ROCK 9

So for those who don’t know any of the history of the integration of America’s public schools, you should Google the LR9. It’s such a well-documented history that I won’t bother rehashing what others have already covered. I’ll just add some odds-n-ends commentary to supplement what you’ll readily find online:

  • Carlotta Walls is the young woman in the second panel, standing closest to the guardsman, looking directly at the camera. She was the youngest of the 9. Ms. Walls actually signed up to attend Little Rock Central High School WITHOUT FIRST TELLING HER PARENTS. They supported her decision to go to Central, after the fact. More on her below.
  • Go home nigger! Go back to Africa!,” is what Hazel Bryan is spewing at the back of Elizabeth Eckford’s head, in panel four. The two women actually actually met again as adults, and they reconciled; sort of. That story is interesting, and can be found here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/8813134/Elizabeth-Eckford-and-Hazel-Bryan-the-story-behind-the-photograph-that-shamed-America.html
  • Panel seven depicts a contemplative Ernest Green on graduation day, 1958. He was the first to receive his diploma from Little Rock Central. More on him below.
  • The next-to-last panel shows the LR9 receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Bill Clinton, in the East Room of the White House, November 9, 1999.
  • That last photograph was taken just this past June, in the auditorium of Central High. From left to right are Ernest Green, Carlotta Walls-LaNier, Spirit Trickey (daughter of LR9 member Minnijean Brown) and current Central High principal Nancy Rousseau.

So I was in Little Rock, AK, last month, on history business which placed me in that auditorium, merely three rows away from the panelists. Here is some of what Mr. Green and Mrs. Walls-Lanier shared with the audience on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, while reflecting on their experience integrating Central:

Earnest Green

… We were the first back-packers. It only took us about a week of having our books knocked out of our hands several times a day and getting hit in the face with debris to realize that we needed our hands free. So we bought back packs to carry our books around in so that our hands would be free.

… We developed a system, along with the National Guard, to move through the halls safely. We would always walk up against the walls of the school building - in the hallways, through the stair wells - so that the Guard could walk beside us a shield from the white students who most vehemently didn’t want us there.

… When it came close to time for me to graduate, the principal of the school offered to mail my diploma to my house, so that I could avoid the tension of walking across the stage. I politely refused and stated that I intended to walk across that stage like everyone else. There was no way I was gonna miss out on that, after all I had been through… When I walked across the stage, there was dead silence. And then one slight Black man in a nice suit, who was sitting next to my parents, began to clap. That man was Martin Luther King, Jr. He had been following us in the news, and came just to support us. Luckily, white folks hadn’t yet discovered him. This was 1958, so we knew who he was, but most of them didn’t yet.

… I received an invitation to my 50th class reunion. I assume there had been other ones, since the invitation said “50th,” but it was the first one I’d ever received. So I went, in 2008. Everyone was nice to me, and many people even posed for pictures with me with their families. The funny thing was… they all were against racism, and told me how much they hated the way I was treated while at Central, but nobody in that reunion that night was racist, and certainly none of them had been involved.

… I learned that night that this one main group of our tormentors was being assisted by some of the teachers in the school. It was our chemistry teacher, who actually seemed pretty nice, who was making the bombs that that group used to firebomb some of our houses.

Carlotta Walls-LaNier

… I want to make one thing clear: we wanted to come to Central because it was the best high school in the city. Period. I don’t get a kick out of sitting next to white people, so I wasn’t here for that. Today this school is ranked in the top 16 of U.S. public high schools. Central High has always been a top-notch school. So I wanted to come here because I had plans for my life post-high school, that demanded that I get the best education Little Rock had to offer.

… My parents had no idea that I had signed up to attend Central. But they didn’t object once I told them. I waited until about two weeks before school was about to start before I did, though. 

… In my family, we didn’t talk about what happened to me at school each day. There was the news, and eventually the National Guard could be withdrawn, but it was just something we never discussed at home. You know, there is counseling for soldiers who return home from war, but we were children, and we were traumatized daily in this school, for years, yet no one provided any of us any kind of relief or counseling. 

… Some of the very people who tormented us the most came up to us at the reunions. One leader of the pack, in particular, who I’ll never forget, because he’s since been… well, his troubles with the law were in the local news, so it’s not a secret… He came up to me and introduced me to his wife and children, asked to take a picture with me, and even asked me for my autograph. He acted like he had no memory of all the awful things he did to me while at Central.

Yall excuse my French in this post. I just typed up the solution to racism that no one has EVER found out until today. Enjoy.

White people (the racist ones/majority/the one per centers) harbor a ruthless trait that goes by the name “ignorance”. We (people of color/the minority, but technically the majority since there’s way more of us) have a tool. Our tool is protests, educating our people and “trying” to educate their people on what the hell equality means(which they should know because everyone has common sense right?). Their ignorance is the concrete. Follow me people keep reading. THEIR IGNORANCE IS THE CONCRETE. Our tool is the butter knife. THE MF BUTTER KNIFE. Okay? Got it? Alright so let’s keep it going.


When you try to cut concrete with a butter knife, you will fuck up the knife. The teeth will be blunt. The pretty little knife will no longer be fucking pretty. Ya feel me?

Martin Luther King.
Nelson Mandela.
Mahatma Ghandi.

All these amazing great people (that I am grateful for don’t get me wrong) tried to cut concrete with butter knives. Okay? Don’t get mad yet, keep following me.

Let me throw out this scenario: go to a Christian and try to sway them from their religion.

Did It work? Nope I bet it didn’t. & you’re probably lying if you said that it did. They will not budge. Because Jesus is their savior. (I say their because I am not Christian) matter of fact, try to sway anyone from their religion. If they were RAISED that way and were taught and had the word of God instilled in them, they WILL NOT budge. Because “all things through Christ strengthens them” and you know what? I have witnessed the strength of religion. People believe with their minds, bodies and souls. They believe with all their might that what they believe in is the only truth.

Let’s keep it moving.


Now let’s take that Christian and replace them with a racist person (or a white person to keep it real frank in this bitch)

A racist that has been RAISED and has had racism INSTILLED in them will NOT sway or budge. Because “all things through racism strengthens them”. They believe with all their might, that racism is right. It is their belief. It is almost as if it is their religion. They fucking BELIEVE that it is the truth. You feel where I’m going?

Let me break it down for you.

The same amount of time it took to teach racism, is the same amount of time it will take to unteach racism. You know what that means? A racist person around their mid-twenties needs to be conditioned and go through intense therapy to truly understand equality. It would take a lifetime to re-educate these poor souls. In their world, it just doesn’t make sense. Like to Christians: people who aren’t Christian just don’t make sense.

Ignorance (*cough* racism *cough*) is like steel. It’s like gravity. You cannot fight it. It’s like the Black Plague.


There is no solution to racism. Let me tap this mic so yall can hear me now. *taps mic*

THEREEEEEEEEEEEEEE
ISSSSSSSSSS
NOOOOOOOOOOO
SOLUTIONNNNNNNNNNNN
TO RACISMMMMMMMMM


The only solution is to obliterate it. Eradicate it. Destroy it. Demolish it. Squish it like a bug. Drive by on it like they did Ricky. Come on now am i preaching or what?

Who tf is going to sit down with every racist person in the world and take their sweet time to nurse them back to mental health? Who will quit their day job and neglect their children to let Bob and Carol sit on their laps for today’s “lesson about common mf sense and basic skills of humanity”? Any volunteers? No? Okay then.


Now let me say this.

MLK and other civil rights activists did not change the world. What they did do was change the way black people and other POC acted. They promoted peace. They promoted education. They promoted love and forgiveness. They even inspired a sprinkle of white people to understand equality. But they did not change the world. They did not obliterate ignorance or racism. They say that Jesus died for everyone’s sins and that His death was supposed to be some miracle that saved us all.

But check this out:

1. People are still dying
2. People are still impoverished
3. There are actual legitimate SLAVES that still exist
4. Inequality is obviously here to stay.

And somehow forgiveness and peace was the mystical magical anecdote that would save us all.

You know what?

I was raised in Wisconsin. THE most segregated state in North America.

In school I was beat the fuck up by white kids and harassed daily. Poor little black girl, Poor me, boo hoo, right?

So you telling me if I would have “reached a kind hand out” to those ignorant ass kids, they would have stopped like “oh sorry. all i wanted was your kindness. i beat you up because you weren’t kind”

Fuck no. I was nice as shit. Black people have been too nice in my opinion. We are always fucking nice. Always pushing over and taking it in the ass. Nah nope.

A lesson on forgiveness: YOU HAVE TO FUCKING EARN IT.

The shit ain’t free. It’s like respect. Forgiveness is way too abused in today’s society. A KKK member will take your forgiveness and wipe his ass with it, and then go kill your brother and rape your daughter. You telling me all the people who have been killed because of their skin could have been saved if all they said was “I forgive you”? Fuck. Out. Of. Here.

Now what do we hear them say?

“Come on black people UNITE”
“Come on black people EDUCATE YOURSELVES”
“Come on black peoples BE PEACFUL. LOVE. FORGIVE.”

That’s all we do. I hate the phrase “kindness kills”. Nothing can kill ignorance. You can be as kind as you want. You can be kind until your face turns purple. But your KIND black ass will still get a NICE black bullet through your FRIENDLY black chest. You keep smiling and nodding at Kaitlyn and Dick until your cheek bones hurt.

Now I am as nice as they come. I am as kind as they come. I believe in treating people right. I know right from wrong. I was raised with dignity and respect. But how the fuck did a whole race forget to raise their fucking children without those things? White people answer me this. Where the hell did you get the idea that one race of people were supreme? I’m talking to you skinheads with the white supremacist tattoos. Yes you buddy. Now tell me please I beg you…..

I don’t think yall listening. Can yall hear me?

Now Back to my “brothas and sistas”,
Youre screaming and kicking and yelling at brick walls. You’re trying to dig into their conscience with plastic sporks. Come on now. Look now. Listen now.

All of this overload of a rant from yours truly is quite overwhelming I can see. I know you’re like she’s crazy. But I’m saying this to make this point very fucking clear:


1.Racism is learned.
2.It is very contagious.
3.Racist people have money and power.
4.Money and power make the world go round.
5. They’re playing chess with us…
6. Since our butter knives cannot cut through their concrete, what the fuck can we do? WHAT THE FUCK..CAN.. WE DO?!

The reason I posted earlier that I didn’t want to be on this earth anymore, was because I realized this fact. There is no solution to racism. All this arguing and heart ache. There is no solution. What do you do to a dog that has rabies??????????

You fucking PUT IT DOWN.

Racist people are sick. They are sick with a disease. They cannot function in the real world with real humans that don’t look like them. They are ill. OKAY?!

The only way to make a racist become unracist is to

A: take approximately 20+ years to unteach it to them while funding their weekly therapy sessions

B: I mean A is really honestly the only “legal” thing.

C: kill em.


How do you stop a virus? Kill or cure all who contain it.


And with that being said, THAT is why I seriously considered suicide a while ago. Because nothing in the world is right. You can’t fix this shit. Unless you commit genocide of every fullgrown racist person. Most teenage racists are only racists because they think it’s right and their parents are dumb as shit.

But I have just been so fed up lately. Being called a black nigger bitch was only part of my day. Don’t worry I won’t kill myself. It’s just a fleeting thought.


Racist are zombies mannn… They’re all just dead as fuck. Infecting everyone and shit. Like ugh…


Anyways, the point is:

1. I’m not killing myself yall, lol. I just don’t want to be here in this ignorant sorry excuse of a civilization
2. I just wanted to drop some knowledge on yall. Don’t forget what I said. There is no cure. Let those words haunt you because it’s as true as the sky is blue.

(excuse my French. I promise I don’t cuss this much. Lmao)

Selma

5 Stars
Directed by: Ava DuVernay
Written by: Paul Webb
Starring: David Oyelowo, Carmed Ejojo, Tim Roth,

Review by Naomi


When Selma was released, I had many discussions with my friends about it. Did we need another civil rights movie? Did we need to keep being reminded of the past? Do we need to see more brutality against people of color? All good questions. I for one love historical films. I think they are important. Especially projects like 12 Years A Slave, A Normal a Heart,  Lincoln, Brokeback Mountain and , because I believe that we should never forget. Never. Not for a second.

Going to see Selma, I went to see a civil rights movie. I went to see a film directed by the first woman of color to be nominated in the director category of the golden globes. I went in for politics.

The moment the film begins it becomes so much more than that. This movie is a masterpiece. A film as brilliant as its story. I immediately researched all of Ava D’s movies, because this woman with three films under her belt is a master filmmaker.

She knows exactly where to place her camera. How much to show and how much to withhold. She knows exactly when to leave a scene and when to keep us in a physical space until the tension has grown so high you lose your breath. The fear so strong it’s as if you are standing behind these characters, as if a police man’s club is about to come directly at your head.

From a filmmaker and cinephile perspective this is one of the best directed films of 2014. Just artistic and action packed and emotional. It pulls your emotions out of you as if you are a puppet on a string. It’s that powerful. You can not fight against it. You simply feel. And yet the film is enjoyable. Through the tears and the anger there is joy. There is the presence of the strength of the human spirit.

This film tells the story of the struggle for the right to vote. Black Americans technically had the legal right to vote, but not the physical and personal right to vote. Especially in George Wallace’ Alabama.

The name George Wallace has always given me the angry churning in the pit of my stomach that Hitler, Castro, Stalin and Kony give me. A devil who is responsible for the death and persecution of innocent people.

And, he in many ways is the main villain of this film. Sure, there are the sheriffs and guards and majors and police officers with their guns and dogs and water hoses and tear gas. But, he is the captain of the ship and Eli Roth plays this man with this sort of indolent charm that shows the reason he was elected governor. The disregard for black lives that illustrates the very idea that people like George Wallace absolutely believe in the superiority of white skin.

One thing that this film demonstrates expertly is that the civil rights movement is not just a black thing. It is an American movement. This isn’t a black film , it is an American film.

This is proved by the white characters who are featured in the film. They are not on the edges, they don’t just stare and shout slurs in the streets. We see them in their homes, we see them with their families and in their churches. And we see when they decide to risk their lives in Selma, Alabama and join their black brothers and sisters in the fight for equality. We see them be beaten and killed for their beliefs. This is something that we forget. And we shouldn’t. There are moments when the Baptist MLK stands with Catholic priests, Jewish leaders and walk arm and arm toward waiting armed soldiers and police officers.

Martin Luther King Jr. is the hardest person in the history of the world to play. I will not argue this point as it is true. We know that voice. I know it better than I know the voices of my friends, my family, etc. Ever had a moment where you go “who is this?” When you hear a voice on the other end of a line. If MLK spoke you would know him.

We know his voice. We know his face and we know his dream. He is one of the most beloved people in world history. Unless you are racist, what could you possibly dislike about the guy who led the civil rights movement for 13 years? (Led, not was the movement. A distinction most people forget.)

That being said, David Oyelowo was Martin Luther King. It’s not the kind of performance that you are not aware that you are not actually looking at MLK, because that is quite frankly impossible. No, it’s the kind of performance where you are aware it’s a performance and you just don’t care. His performance is beautiful. He encompasses the legend as well as the man. You are looking at the leader, the noble prize winner, the man who sits across from presidents and tells him what black Americans need and want for the first time in history. David Oyelowo is all of that. He is also a man. A man who struggles. A man who falters. A man who fails. And a man who feels the weight of his responsibility to a people and to the world.

For the first time, I actually thought “how difficult it must have been for him.” When I think of MLK I think of a man standing in America’s capital giving the greatest speech ever written and inspiring the world with words. I am a pacifist. I believe in the power of words and he is my hero, because he is the prime example that words are the strongest weapon there is.

That’s what I always think about, but after “Selma” I think, how heavy the crown must have been for that man. He walked into a room and he was either a beacon of hope or the bullseye for hate. He had to live his life just so, in order to be above criticism. Because if people lost respect for him, they lost respect for the movement.

This film also shines the light on the power of Malcolm X. People often wonder what he did for the movement. Well, despite galvanizing young black people to respect themselves, to be more, to be tough, and to be proud. Malcolm X was the antithesis of MLK. To be frank, white people feared him. If MLK’s vision failed then people would turn to Malcolm and the world as we knew it would be over. He was the devil, so that MLK could be the angel. MLK’s voice was heard because white lawmen understood that if he was not heard then Malcolm’s would be. By being the militant, MLK could be above approach. Also, Malcolm X was just one badass motherfucker.

There is so much I want to say about this film. Like, the amazing blocking of the action sequenxes. Or, the costumes which were both elegant and authentic. Or, the perfect pacing. Or, the music, but I will let you experience all of that for yourself.

This movie is not basic. It is not civil rights film by numbers and it is not simple. This is complex with brilliant storytelling and a well written script. The dialogue is so magnificent I had sentences running through my mind hours later.

See this film.

Written by Naomi

Opinion | Black, British and Living In America

So after living all my life in London, I decided to take the chance to live in America. One thing I can say, is that the way the British perceive America, isn’t totally accurate (from my own personal experience)… With this post, I’ll try to share some of my experiences; With how African American culture differs from Black British culture.

The first thing that stuck out to me upon relocating to America was the evident racism. In my first few weeks here, there is one particular incident that stays in my mind. I was out with some friends from college- (who happened to be white) and as we stepped out of the taxi, one said "oh shit, we’ve lost him, where is he?“ In my mind, I was thinking "how can he even think this is an appropriate joke?" My white friends in England wouldn’t even see that as a joke in any way, so when that rung in my ears I felt like a computer finding an error. From my reaction, the dude realised I was about to let him know about himself, so he quickly apologised with one of those "I know you’re mad" smiles…. Not funny.


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Another time, a black dude I chill with in college told me how a white guy, who we are both familiar with, came up to him and said "Hey, wassup my Nigga?!" In England, a white person trying to say hello to me like that would result in a punch in the face. He told me that he almost got into an altercation with him; his excuse for being allowed to even say that was because he’s from an area where mostly blacks live there. My jaw dropped! Did he think he had the privilege to say such to black people because he’s from a black area? After hearing this I had to explain to the white guy to be careful with what he says, if he was in England, especially London, he would be missing a lot of teeth, because the connotation of the word is not lost on the British. (The majority of them, anyway.) 


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Since being here, there isn’t a week that goes by when I don’t have to talk about what someone has said that shouldn’t have been said, or thinking "rah, do they know they’re saying some racist shit right now?”. I don’t know anyone in England that would hear something extremely offensive and not go on a path to let that person know what they’ve said is racist and offensive; Here, from what I’ve witnessed it’s more a “meh” reaction. One student told me how he wanted to approach a white female and she told him “leave me alone, you black animal”, my head was spinning when I heard that. An African-American who was born here and lived here all his life even told me how its got to a point people who are not even from America, also have that racist mindset. Someone from France couldn’t come into England and do something like that, in my experience living in England its unheard of to that level.

It makes me wonder why it is like this, whenever I’m told stories it makes my stomach turn. I have been searching for the reasons as to why America seems stuck in this place, and trying to come to a conclusion it seems it is because of the public perception of African-Americans here. For those Americans who still have prejudice towards black people, its because their ignorance levels are so high; as if they still have the mindset of those who where in the slave era.  There are, of course, many Americans who are civilized, not racists and good people- But those who are, a racial ‘joke’ is said more often and the stereotype of a African-American is acted on more often than in England. In England, for me growing up, racism and the ignorance towards black people was evident, and it still is without a doubt, however it is definitely a fraction of how intense it can be here, after having experienced it.

Another difference I’ve seen is heritage, or lack of- in African-Americans. Being born to parents who moved to the UK willingly, like many of my friends, it is not hard for me to know where my parents grew up. Indeed, those who have parents who were born and grew up in England, they still know where their grandparents are from. When asked “where are you from?’ in England, most have an idea where their parents and grandparents were born. From the African-Americans I have spoken to, this is different. When I would ask, America was the answer. They disliked the label "African-American”- but their history has literally been wiped away. This made me appreciate being able to know where I have come from that much more.

Moving here in August, it was a few days after the world found out about the police officer that murdered Mike Brown. The general consensus in England, and what we perceived, was that this should not have happened in any way; him allegedly stealing from a shop doesn’t warrant a police officer to take his life away.

I tried to get an understanding of the general public's outlook on a situation like this; the Internet can only provide a certain amount of feedback towards another country’s perception of a situation. I asked people, mostly adults what they thought of it. The mindset towards a situation like this was “well, he shouldn’t have robbed the liquor store in the first place”. This answer left me so confused at this thought process, because Darren Wilson did not even know Michael Brown had allegedly done. I asked even if Darren did know, was Michael Brown’s death deserved? I would be greeted with a shrug or some random babbling, trying to answer my question with a long-winded yes. Below shows public opinion on the decision of the decision not to indict Darren Wilson:


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I was so shocked, but the thing is, in every single situation like this, an unarmed black man being murdered by police, a lot of people in America do not see an actual problem with it, it doesn’t stir up something within them that even as a human being its wrong. It astonished me that people actually existed that didn’t see anything wrong with that.

The Michael Brown situation has however shown me the strength of black people when united. This has been shown by the protests and lie ins, and blockages of main roads that have been happening to bring awareness and attention to what has been going on. The Michael Brown situation made me very conscious about being black and living in America; I certainly felt less safe here than back in London because of happenings like these; what they show on the news isn’t all of what actually happens, there is so much more less conspicuous scale.


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This differs to England; mainly because of our strict gun laws which I appreciate even more now living here. Random people cant carry a pistol in their car like its possible here. As well as that, police in England didn’t originate from the patrolling of slaves; but going in on the origin of the police for in America is for another time. Targeting of ethnic minorities in England happens as well but police fatalities happen far less often than in the states. The statistics are crazy, every 28 hours a black man is killed in America, in England we don’t have this as a social issue. The worst in recent years was the killing of Mark Duggan, (May he rest in peace).  Stop and search data showed that in some parts of England, black people were 29 times more likely to get stopped and searched than a white person. I wonder what that figure would be in America, if they’d stop killing us first.

I would write more on how living in America has opened my eyes to how different America is let alone how African Americans differ from Black people living within England, but I would go on forever. If you’re reading this from England; yes, the situation in America is as crazy, if not crazier than how we perceive it from media outlets and the internet. 

LA Times Q&A

Benedict Cumberbatch is chasing the sun. Fresh off an island vacation with fiancée Sophie Hunter and just out of a steam at the Parker Palm Spring’s sauna, Cumberbatch is moving his patio chair clockwise around a firepit on a chilly January afternoon. “There’s no shame today,” says Cumberbatch, clad in gray sweatpants and a vintage Pink Floyd T-shirt. “I’m going back to England, where it’s like the Arctic Circle. I need to store up the sun now, otherwise I’ll get rickets by the time I step off the plane.”

Cumberbatch has landed in Palm Springs along with the rest of the cast of “The Imitation Game” to accept an ensemble award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The movie, a look at the life of Alan Turing, the Cambridge genius who led the team that cracked the Enigma code that Nazi Germany used to encrypt its radio transmissions during World War II, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and recently won eight Oscar nominations, including nods for best picture and for Cumberbatch’s lead turn.

We moved right alongwith the 38-year-old actor as he shifted his chair to account for the dying light and spoke about his eventful journey between Toronto and Palm Springs.

You look a lot more relaxed than when I saw you last in Toronto.

It was a really steep incline toward Christmas, just crazy, finishing “Richard III” [which will be featured in the BBC’s “The Hollow Crown” series], getting ready for the holidays, moving around seeing different families. That was a big induction this Christmas. A whole new world opens up. And then we were able to just breathe, be in the present tense, be in one place, just relaxing and … [Cumberbatch leans forward and drops his voice to an excited whisper]. That’s Robert Duvall! Wow! [Duvall, also in Palm Springs for the festival, walks by on a path about 20 yards away.]

I’ve never met an actor who doesn’t idolize him. Have you ever met him?

He’s one of the masters. I haven’t met him. I’d love to.

Maybe tonight at the gala?

As a fanboy, yeah, to just touch the hem of the garment. But at the same time, to get a meaningful moment, you need to be away from the circus. That’s why I’ve enjoyed the acting roundtables I’ve done in this roar. You get to have a free-flowing conversation about acting stuff.

Have you learned anything from those conversations?

Well, you have that moment where you meet your heroes and, initially, they’re just something “other.” And then the common ground of what we do for a living erases that. The best thing about the job is that it breaks down class and age and sex and race and transcends those things. You’re never one person. You’re always part of a team.
That’s why I love this award we’re getting tonight. It’s a great excuse for us to get together and have a giggle. [Looking around the expansive grounds.]Put us in a place with a cricket pitch over there and a fire pit right here. Later tonight, we can get a bit feral. Maybe burn some notes like we did at the end of “The Imitation Game.”

Invite Robert Duvall to join you …

Absolutely. He will be right here, presiding over the proceedings, calmly steering things.

Just going by the way you photobombed U2 with that impressive leap at last year’s Oscars, you seem to enjoy these events.

The Oscars were really good fun. And, yes, I leapt and bound all over the place.

Which you blame on Ellen DeGeneres, right?

And vodka.

That seems to be a running thing with you when you do something silly …

I’m drunk. That’s not actually true. I wish I could blame the evils of alcohol and say, “Kids: Don’t go there.” But that … happens when I’m sober. It would have happened. And I say “drunk,” but I had a little slurp of a tiny miniature. It was just the high of the whole thing. A friend of mine did literally say, “Get a photo of U2 if you can.” Not with them. Just of them. And I thought, “I don’t have my camera phone and I’m not going to ask for a selfie with U2.”

You showed some impressive height on that leap.

White boy can jump.

U2 attended this event last year. Everyone ignored the movie stars and went straight for Bono.

Does rock star trump movie star? Well, unless they’re selling tickets for Hamlet faster than a Beyonce and Jay Z tour. [Cumberbatch’s upcoming, summer 12-week “Hamlet” run in London sold out instantly.] But, by and large, yes.
But I’m still thinking about what I learned in those roundtable conversations. The fundamental thing I learned was how many actors said there’s not a singular way of approaching the job, which is a relief to me. The first person who told me that was Meryl Streep. We were making “August: Osage County” and I said, “I hate to do this but it’s an opportunity to talk about your process. How do you start? You’ve got the depression, the alcoholism, the cancer, the grief, so many states. It’s so richly comic and deeply upsetting at the same time.” And she went [Cumberbatch does a dead-on Streep impersonation], “I don’t really have a singular approach. I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I’ve done if I had one way of working. Sometimes it’s outside in, sometimes it’s inside out.” And I thought, “Oh god. I adore her!”

What about practical advice for negotiating Hollywood? What’s the best you’ve heard?

“Always take Fountain.” Wasn’t it Bette Davis who said that? That’s come in handy many times. Because the traffic on Sunset … forget it.

That’s it?

I’ve been chugging away in my career 10 years. That helps you prepare for the exposure. And there are things now which make it easier to escape the obsession with self. If you have someone you love and you’re devoted to them and it’s a proper devotional love — as I do in my life — there’s nothing better than that tonic. First of all, you have your world between you and that person. But also, being devoted to that person takes you away from yourself. There’s someone more important. Not that that’s a reason to be in a relationship, but it’s a very healthy byproduct of it when you’re doing such an obsessional job as acting can be.

Paul Thomas Anderson recently said that having kids helps too. With them, you realize you’ve already done your best work, so it frees you to be a little looser with your day job.

I salute that principle 100 … no not more than 100%. I’m not Simon Cowell. [Cumberbatch breaks into a Cowell impersonation] “One hundred and fifty percent!” There’s no such thing. I get very nerdy every time he does that on “The X Factor.” He’s brilliant and I completely endorse every thing he does … except for the math part.

You once said your greatest regret was not being a dad by the age of 32. Why 32?

When I was growing up, I had a weird obsession with 32 being the mark of adulthood and that was part of what I thought that might mean, naively. It was just a hunch about a number. I was always a bit of an old soul. I wasn’t really interested in being young. I mean, I wasn’t eccentric.
But I’m glad it didn’t happen. Things happen for a reason. And I’m definitely with the right person for that. So no regrets … [Actor David Oyelowo, who plays Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma,” approaches.] David! How are you? The back of your head is everywhere. As I was driving in last night, I kept seeing it all over the place.

Oyelowo: I’ve got one of the most famous backs of heads in history. But you … Richard III, Hamlet, Sherlock … are there three of you? You’re setting the bar too high. It’s hard keeping up with you.

Cumberbatch: What I fear, if the work gets diluted, people will go, “Well, he just took on too much.” But, to be honest, I just can’t turn down those opportunities.

Oyelowo: Somehow, I don’t think people are going to be saying, “He spread himself too thin.” [The two talk a bit more before Oyelowo takes his leave. I tell Cumberbatch, who hasn’t yet seen “Selma,” that some have said the movie isn’t fair to President Lyndon Johnson. “The Imitation Game” has also caught flak, with a few critics saying the movie should have shown Turing’s sexuality on screen.]

How do you balance legacy and storytelling in fact-based movies like yours and “Selma”?

You can’t do one without the other. The argument with ours, that you don’t see him being sexually active, upset me because we weren’t shy of it. I’m not interested in the vanity of a character or my own vanity as an actor. The idea that for a second I would want to do that or the film would do that is perverse.
The whole structure of the film is about showing a man who had a life that wasn’t allowed. So, what, you need to prove that he was gay by seeing him be with a man? Whether it was something we needed to see because it was very much a part of his life is another argument, but I would argue that in our paradigm, it just would have looked really stuck in for good measure; it would have looked distasteful.

There could be another movie made about that aspect of his life.

There are so many movies to be made of this story. We have only two hours. It packs quite a punch, our film. At one moment, it’s war-espionage thriller, the next moment a tragic story of a man wronged by an intolerant society, the next moment a celebration of someone who’s different.
Everyone has a version of the story they want to see and I completely respect that. And, obviously, they are going to have to respect me being defensive about it because I’m in the thick of it, trying to be fair and uncompromising in my portrayal of this great man.

Q&A - Benedict Cumberbatch: fanboy, photobomber, award-circuit rider.

Benedict Cumberbatch is chasing the sun. Fresh off an island vacation with fiancée Sophie Hunter and just out of a steam at the Parker Palm Spring’s sauna, Cumberbatch is moving his patio chair clockwise around a firepit on a chilly January afternoon. “There’s no shame today,” says Cumberbatch, clad in gray sweatpants and a vintage Pink Floyd T-shirt. “I’m going back to England, where it’s like the Arctic Circle. I need to store up the sun now, otherwise I’ll get rickets by the time I step off the plane.”

Cumberbatch has landed in Palm Springs along with the rest of the cast of “The Imitation Game” to accept an ensemble award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The movie, a look at the life of Alan Turing, the Cambridge genius who led the team that cracked the Enigma code that Nazi Germany used to encrypt its radio transmissions during World War II, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and recently won eight Oscar nominations, including nods for best picture and for Cumberbatch’s lead turn.

We moved right alongwith the 38-year-old actor as he shifted his chair to account for the dying light and spoke about his eventful journey between Toronto and Palm Springs.

You look a lot more relaxed than when I saw you last in Toronto.

It was a really steep incline toward Christmas, just crazy, finishing “Richard III” [which will be featured in the BBC’s “The Hollow Crown” series], getting ready for the holidays, moving around seeing different families. That was a big induction this Christmas. A whole new world opens up. And then we were able to just breathe, be in the present tense, be in one place, just relaxing and … [Cumberbatch leans forward and drops his voice to an excited whisper]. That’s Robert Duvall! Wow! [Duvall, also in Palm Springs for the festival, walks by on a path about 20 yards away.]

I’ve never met an actor who doesn’t idolize him. Have you ever met him?

He’s one of the masters. I haven’t met him. I’d love to.

Maybe tonight at the gala?

As a fanboy, yeah, to just touch the hem of the garment. But at the same time, to get a meaningful moment, you need to be away from the circus. That’s why I’ve enjoyed the acting roundtables I’ve done in this roar. You get to have a free-flowing conversation about acting stuff.

Have you learned anything from those conversations?

Well, you have that moment where you meet your heroes and, initially, they’re just something “other.” And then the common ground of what we do for a living erases that. The best thing about the job is that it breaks down class and age and sex and race and transcends those things. You’re never one person. You’re always part of a team.

That’s why I love this award we’re getting tonight. It’s a great excuse for us to get together and have a giggle. [Looking around the expansive grounds.]Put us in a place with a cricket pitch over there and a fire pit right here. Later tonight, we can get a bit feral. Maybe burn some notes like we did at the end of “The Imitation Game.”

Invite Robert Duvall to join you …

Absolutely. He will be right here, presiding over the proceedings, calmly steering things.

Just going by the way you photobombed U2 with that impressive leap at last year’s Oscars, you seem to enjoy these events.

The Oscars were really good fun. And, yes, I leapt and bound all over the place.

Which you blame on Ellen DeGeneres, right?

And vodka.

That seems to be a running thing with you when you do something silly …

I’m drunk. That’s not actually true. I wish I could blame the evils of alcohol and say, “Kids: Don’t go there.” But that … happens when I’m sober. It would have happened. And I say “drunk,” but I had a little slurp of a tiny miniature. It was just the high of the whole thing. A friend of mine did literally say, “Get a photo of U2 if you can.” Not with them. Just of them. And I thought, “I don’t have my camera phone and I’m not going to ask for a selfie with U2.”

You showed some impressive height on that leap.

White boy can jump.

U2 attended this event last year. Everyone ignored the movie stars and went straight for Bono.

Does rock star trump movie star? Well, unless they’re selling tickets for Hamlet faster than a Beyonce and Jay Z tour. [Cumberbatch’s upcoming, summer 12-week “Hamlet” run in London sold out instantly.] But, by and large, yes.

But I’m still thinking about what I learned in those roundtable conversations. The fundamental thing I learned was how many actors said there’s not a singular way of approaching the job, which is a relief to me. The first person who told me that was Meryl Streep. We were making “August: Osage County” and I said, “I hate to do this but it’s an opportunity to talk about your process. How do you start? You’ve got the depression, the alcoholism, the cancer, the grief, so many states. It’s so richly comic and deeply upsetting at the same time.” And she went [Cumberbatch does a dead-on Streep impersonation], “I don’t really have a singular approach. I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I’ve done if I had one way of working. Sometimes it’s outside in, sometimes it’s inside out.” And I thought, “Oh god. I adore her!”

What about practical advice for negotiating Hollywood? What’s the best you’ve heard?

“Always take Fountain.” Wasn’t it Bette Davis who said that? That’s come in handy many times. Because the traffic on Sunset … forget it.

That’s it?

I’ve been chugging away in my career 10 years. That helps you prepare for the exposure. And there are things now which make it easier to escape the obsession with self. If you have someone you love and you’re devoted to them and it’s a proper devotional love — as I do in my life — there’s nothing better than that tonic. First of all, you have your world between you and that person. But also, being devoted to that person takes you away from yourself. There’s someone more important. Not that that’s a reason to be in a relationship, but it’s a very healthy byproduct of it when you’re doing such an obsessional job as acting can be.

Paul Thomas Anderson recently said that having kids helps too. With them, you realize you’ve already done your best work, so it frees you to be a little looser with your day job.

I salute that principle 100 … no not more than 100%. I’m not Simon Cowell. [Cumberbatch breaks into a Cowell impersonation] “One hundred and fifty percent!” There’s no such thing. I get very nerdy every time he does that on “The X Factor.” He’s brilliant and I completely endorse every thing he does … except for the math part.

You once said your greatest regret was not being a dad by the age of 32. Why 32?

When I was growing up, I had a weird obsession with 32 being the mark of adulthood and that was part of what I thought that might mean, naively. It was just a hunch about a number. I was always a bit of an old soul. I wasn’t really interested in being young. I mean, I wasn’t eccentric.

But I’m glad it didn’t happen. Things happen for a reason. And I’m definitely with the right person for that. So no regrets … [Actor David Oyelowo, who plays Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma,” approaches.] David! How are you? The back of your head is everywhere. As I was driving in last night, I kept seeing it all over the place.

Oyelowo: I’ve got one of the most famous backs of heads in history. But you … Richard III, Hamlet, Sherlock … are there three of you? You’re setting the bar too high. It’s hard keeping up with you.

Cumberbatch: What I fear, if the work gets diluted, people will go, “Well, he just took on too much.” But, to be honest, I just can’t turn down those opportunities.

Oyelowo: Somehow, I don’t think people are going to be saying, “He spread himself too thin.” [The two talk a bit more before Oyelowo takes his leave. I tell Cumberbatch, who hasn’t yet seen “Selma,” that some have said the movie isn’t fair to President Lyndon Johnson. “The Imitation Game” has also caught flak, with a few critics saying the movie should have shown Turing’s sexuality on screen.]

How do you balance legacy and storytelling in fact-based movies like yours and “Selma”?

You can’t do one without the other. The argument with ours, that you don’t see him being sexually active, upset me because we weren’t shy of it. I’m not interested in the vanity of a character or my own vanity as an actor. The idea that for a second I would want to do that or the film would do that is perverse.

The whole structure of the film is about showing a man who had a life that wasn’t allowed. So, what, you need to prove that he was gay by seeing him be with a man? Whether it was something we needed to see because it was very much a part of his life is another argument, but I would argue that in our paradigm, it just would have looked really stuck in for good measure; it would have looked distasteful.

There could be another movie made about that aspect of his life.

There are so many movies to be made of this story. We have only two hours. It packs quite a punch, our film. At one moment, it’s war-espionage thriller, the next moment a tragic story of a man wronged by an intolerant society, the next moment a celebration of someone who’s different.

Everyone has a version of the story they want to see and I completely respect that. And, obviously, they are going to have to respect me being defensive about it because I’m in the thick of it, trying to be fair and uncompromising in my portrayal of this great man.

January 29th 2015, Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times

(x)

We have a society that conflates resources with values and then kicks the shyt out of those who lack resources because we have judged and deemed them “valueless.”
— 

by princss6, a commenter on the Daily Kos article “Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did” written by HamdenRice.

I had so many feels when I read this.