Culture: poetry, prose, review

February 2017 reads

by TM Staff




"It’s no coincidence that many of the best filmmakers to find themselves with no institutional support are black women filmmakers. (Why, after all, would the world of movies not mirror the malign neglect of American society at large?) But it is an odd coincidence that the three most exhilarating new revivals I’ve seen in the series are being screened together on the same February 13th program, a program of three short films, or, to my mind, two shorts and a featurette. (I define a featurette empirically, as a film that’s shorter than most features but that I’d be happy to see screened all by itself as if it were a feature. The paradigm is set by Jean Renoir’s forty-one-minute-long film 'A Day in the Country,' from 1936.)

Fronza Woods’s first film, 'Killing Time,' from 1979, is, very simply, one of the best short films that I’ve ever seen. It’s an American counterpart to Chantal Akerman’s first film, 'Saute Ma Ville,' from 1968, and it’s an even richer experience. Woods’s film is a solo piece for one actress (the title card calls her Sage Brush), or, rather, a duo for a woman and death. The woman, alone in her apartment, is preparing to commit suicide but needs to know how it would look; she’s sprawled on her bed but doesn’t like the scene, and, in the sharply comedic, deeply moving voice-over, she explains why: 'Who in the hell wants to be found dead in a Castro convertible?'"

"Bad behavior is enough to lead to arrests, but good behavior isn’t enough to avoid it. If the cops didn’t arrest anyone, it’s because they didn’t want to.

A glance at any Women’s March photo will give you a clue to the reason. Underneath those pink hats were a lot of white faces—a stark reminder of the 53% of white women who voted for Trump, as one protester reminded everyone with a sign that later went viral. The average marcher did not look like John Lewis, or like Ieshia Evans. The average marcher looked like me—a white lady. If I don’t look like someone a cop wants to arrest, that’s not a testament to my law-abiding goodness, or the cop’s. It’s a testament to how sexism in this country fuels racism, and vice versa. It’s a testament to exactly what we need to resist."

"'The transmission of silence is not protective. I think that many parents keep silent for that reason. And while it is horrific to hear about horror, if horror occurs, you've got to hear about it. The conspiracy to suppress traumatic material does more harm than good. You can't solve a problem you don't know about. You can't deal with an unspoken enemy.'

The point to remember about epigenetics, Yehuda reminds me, is that it's not your DNA sequence; it's not imprinted forever. 'This is what resilience looks like,' she says. 'Resilience is about change. Resilience is adaptation. Because what that means is that if we change to events we didn't ask for, we can change to events that we create. Beautiful. We're not victims.'"

“'If they haven’t signed off on my death, they’ve at least said ‘we don’t care,’' says Chris Kennedy, a front-end web developer in San Francisco diagnosed with HIV three years ago. As a contract worker, Kennedy relies on the ACA for healthcare access. He holds Republicans accountable for making efforts to repeal it without offering assurances for the HIV-affected community.

Kennedy says that the full price of medication for him and his partner, also positive, is $7,198.16 per month, totaling a staggering $86,377.92 per year. That’s insurmountable without help. Kennedy is a contractor in the tech industry, where many contract positions involve full-time hours without full-time benefits like health insurance. For him and his partner, the ACA system is critical."

"The feud exposed the truth that white fragility is the most imperative component of Swift’s success. Performing white female melodrama has enabled Swift to establish her posture as victim and navigate any conflict with ease, devoid of culpability. But her conflict with West cannot be dismissed as an insignificant celebrity feud, leaving a trail of snake emojis in its wake – there are sinister undertones. It proved that Swift recognised the power her white womanhood affords her – presumed innocence and empathy – and used this to her advantage in repeated acts that she surely knew would damage West’s reputation and strengthen her own. Swift propagating this narrative of fragile white womanhood to villainise a black man is 'ruthless' at best, and at worst, dangerous."