When RHS started, the time frame – specifically the emphasis on the time frame – threw me off. I was shocked to see Lee using props like iPads as a central part of a storyline. In fact, a lot of the character traits found in Flik and Chazz were bizarre. It’s very evident that there is a generational gap going on here – the young characters found in Lee’s films in 2012 are a lot less natural than young characters found in his films from the 90’s. All of the dialogue and attitude that the two partook in were a cringe-inducing attempt at trying to replicate the behavior of kids born in the 20th century, which Lee seems to have no experience with, or at least a very skewed experience with. On top of the actor who played Flik not being particularly good at his job, the fact that he carried around an iPad like a video camera read like a watered-down criticism of materialism in the middle class. Children and teenagers in Lee’s films are always over the top and comical, which he was definitely attempting with Chazz and Flik, but it was not believable or amusing, and incredibly contrived. I was trying to keep in mind that Lee’s films don’t always follow a straight narrative form, but the first half of the film was all over the place in terms of storyline and character growth. It feels as though Lee has lost the ability to write child characters anymore. What was interesting about RHS, however, was that once the storyline switched it’s focus to Deacon Zee, the film became much stronger. The acting was more moving, the action shocking and upsetting (almost like a “wake up!” moment) and the tensions within the church community started to spiral in a manner that was both intriguing to watch and complex in nature. It was suddenly a Spike Lee Joint again, with highlights of current problems and a focus on a community battling demons both from the inside and the outside. I just can’t figure out why Lee waited til an hour into the film to start doing what he does best. The first half fell so flat, I was certain that it was going to be a flop. Once Deacon Zee moved into the spotlight and Flik backed out, the film picked up…why the film didn’t center on the Deacon from the start is beyond me. It seemed frivolous and self-indulgent to spend so much time on Flik. Was Lee experimenting, and trying to see if he could still write children? If so, I would argue that he has lost his touch.
The idea of a post-racial society has become increasingly popular in our society since the 2008 election, when the belief that racism was over because a Black man was in office started to pop up more and more among the liberal class. However prevalent this idea has become in the past decade, it is evident that it has been present for many years, and is manifested through the character of Sal very blatantly. Sal, and on a lesser note his youngest song Vito, both appear to be under the impression that because they have (supposedly) overcome their own prejudices that they have moved past racism. For these two, the fact of institutionalized racism is never addressed or acknowledged – not even when they are confronted with it physically at the climax of the film. In the fashion of willful ignorance, Sal and Vito are choosing the “refusal to acknowledge” approach to the realities of their surroundings and the lives of the people that they interact with that Finnegan discusses.
This willful ignorance is ever-present in Sal, who actively tries to combat the multitude of differences between his customers and himself by brushing off problems as if they are not a huge deal. There is something inherently selfish about the way that Sal claims his own post-racism. Whenever he defends his decision to stay in Bed-Stuy, he talks about it from a personal perspective – “I never had no trouble with these people,” he says, pointing out that he has “watched these little kids get old…and seen the old people get over,” and that the kids have grown up on his food. This list of excuses highlights that Sal, although he may believe otherwise, is keeping his pizza shop open for the sake of his own pride. Moving out of his shop wouldn’t just take him away from a neighborhood he had grown to love (or maybe just get used to), it would also mean that he had succumbed to the racist pressures stemming from the beliefs that are embedded in many of the people who surround him, and that Sal actively – but faultily – tries to combat. This is where the idea of racism being an individual problem that one must overcome on their own comes in strong within the film – Sal is focusing solely on the self when it comes to addressing racial problems. But the problems don’t just stop with Sal’s personal worldview, which completely relapses by the end of the film anyway.
Perhaps the only solid message that Lee gives us in DtRT is that non-racism is a fantasy that only white people – people who can move in and out of the space that racism takes place in – can entertain. Sal’s misunderstanding of Mookie’s throwing of the trashcan, as well as the misunderstanding of the audience members who found the destruction of the pizza shop to be the tragedy of the film, show this. No matter what, Sal is always considering himself, his shop, and his own sentiments before he considers anything else (specifically the community and Mookie) first, which is why he will never overcome the discrimination that is embedded in his system.
Ever wish you could use “I got bored” as an excuse for your actions? Well, Ryan Murphy can. Turns out, Ryan Murphy can do whatever the hell he wants. He announced today that he’ll be having the golden couple (literally!) call it quits during the second half of this season, and that it would also give Sam and Quinn the chance to make out with other New Directions members. I’m not particularly heart broken over this. Sam was trying waaay to hard. He was just too kiss-ass for her, and Quinn needs a challenge. Plus, you can totally tell that she wasn’t as into him. Oops. As annoying as I found Quinn and Sam’s relationship to be, the fact that his only excuse was that he “got bored” pisses me off. Even if you have the power to make decisions like that, it’s not okay to admit it! It makes him look lazy and has given him, in my eyes, a bit of a divinity complex, like he’s totally indulging in the fact that he gets to play God to this show. It’s cool that he gets to make the plot changes and what not, but it almost sounds like he’s bragging about it. Bragging about what, your show that has zero continuity and has lost any sort of character development this season? Give Quinn time to be single, tap into her feminist core (which we all know is there), and stop preaching that relationships are the only way people can ever be happy. What Glee needs are some independent women (I’ve got my fingers crossed for Rachel) and some more realistic men. There is no such thing as Sam, he doesn’t exist, nothing about him seems remotely plausable. But what they could do to make him more real is delve further into his manorexia/body image problem that they scraped the surface of earlier this season. Now that would make for an interesting storyline.
This decision probably wouldn’t bother me so much if Ryan had just kept his mouth shut, or thought before he spoke. Perhaps admitting that Sam wasn’t actually right for Quinn would have been better, or even blaming it on the fact that high school relationships just don’t last.
Here’s another cool idea, Ryan. Try having them date OUTSIDE of the Glee Club. This is all getting a bit too incestuous for me.
I read a lot this year – blogs, articles, books, essays. I also did a lot of my own writing. Here’s a compilation of all that I’ve learned, and where I learned it from, with special thanks to coketalk, Atonement, the South, and, of course, The Arcade Fire.
- Human contact is crucial. Talk to someone – anyone – every single day. (Thanks, Sylvia Plath.)
- Keep in touch so that you have an excuse to travel. You never know where time will take people. (Thanks, Grace Rosen.)
- Books are like people, but better, because they never change. (Take, for example, Harry Potter. Also, thanks to The Social Network and True Blood.)
- It is better to observe from the shadows. (Thanks to Lisbeth Salander, Simon Bellamy.)
- Comfort zones are for wusses (Thanks, South Carolina.)
- Sleep is great, but a sunrise is better. (Thanks, Small World, Emmy, and South Carolina.)
- It doesn’t matter so much where the feeling comes from, but rather that you are experiencing it. (Thanks to The National, Vampire Weekend, Sufjan Stevens, the train from Penn Station to Princeton Junction.)
- If you don’t get moving, you’ll be stuck in the same place forever. (Thanks, Sookie Stackhouse.)
- Childhood never ends if you don’t want it too. (Thanks, Harry, Hermione and Ron.)
- Patience is a very rewarding virtue. (Thanks, various surprises I have experienced this year.)
OKAY so talk about calming my nerves… I woke up yesterday morning to a pleasant acceptance e-mail from Rutgers, my safety. I’m not going to be living with my parents next year! I’m in college! Oh, happy day… I’m so relieved right now youhavenoidea…
I accomplished something today – I reached 50,000 words in my National Novel Writing Month submission! Which means that I won! It doesn’t mean that it’s complete, or that it’s decent, or that I’ll ever look at it again – it just means that I somehow wrote a 50,000 word story over the course of only 30 days! I honestly don’t know how I did it, or if I’ll ever do it again, but I’m content with myself in this moment, so I know that it’s worth it.
P.S. That icon is so much less impressive than I thought it would be.