Saturday, June 26, 2021

Movie Reviews: Feral State

Feral State
directed by Jon Carlo
This is a film by a first time director. I decided to watch it because the subject matter seemed promising and because the best known actress in the film, AnnaLynne McCord, whom I last saw in 68 Kill, was here playing a role quite different from her performance in that earlier film. 
Feral State was sufficiently gritty and "realistic" in that people get hurt, lots of action takes place at night time or in dark areas, and there are plenty of people with questionable morals.
However if 68 Kill turned up the volume on stereotypes of rural low class red state Caucasians to cartoonish levels, Feral State is more serious. It's not as entertaining. I find that ironic because 68 Kill, violent and as debauched as it was, actually had a message hiding within. Feral State does not. 
There's a lot of "why" that could have put into the movie, maybe not all in one or two obvious information dumps, but perhaps scattered throughout the narrative. 
I don't think this took place. So I didn't care about many characters or sympathize with them when they do bad things or make tough decisions. I don't think the actors were bad. The film should have taken more time to give the viewer a chance to distinguish the various characters, learn what makes them tick, and give them some background besides being the "quiet guy", the "Black guy", the "bullying guy". What makes violence impactful to me is if I actually care about the person who is committing it or suffering through it. The film looked good. It made the viewer think that he was actually in the backwoods Florida swamps doing dirty things with dirtier people.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Movie Reviews: Den of Thieves

Den of Thieves
directed by Christian Gudegast
This is a heist/action film which references movies or shows such as Heat, Animal Kingdom, and Now You See Me. It's more intelligent than it looks. 
The ending may cause you to rewatch it. My only quibble was that as is common with many such stories the viewer will likely have seen many of the scenes and plot points before. There are a few actors who I thought didn't quite convince but generally this was an entertaining movie. 
I thought the actor who had the best role was Pablo Schreiber as Ray Merrimen, a veteran and former Marine Special Operations operative. I didn't recall until much later that back in the day Schreiber had also appeared on HBO's The Wire as Nick Sobotka.
Schreiber is also Liev Schreiber's little brother, though since he is now taller and more muscular than Liev, perhaps younger brother is a better description. Something similar happened to me with my younger brother. So it goes.
Anyhow, Ray is being released from prison. Ray robs. He goes wherever the money is, but what he specializes in are banks. As you may know, California prisons are segregated by race. In prison Ray was one of the white supremacist gang leaders, but now that he's out, Ray leaves that nonsense behind. Ray's putting the band back together, which includes people of various races: White, Black, Asian-Pacific Islanders, etc. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Bo Schembechler and Sexual Abuse At The University of Michigan

If you grew up in the state of Michigan in the seventies or eighties, the University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler was something akin to a demigod. You might not have cared for Bo if you were a Michigan State or heaven forbid Ohio State fan but Bo was an icon. 
He restored the U-M football team to prominence. He won thirteen Big Ten Titles. Bo was, at least as far as the public could see, a tough mean SOB with a hidden heart of gold who turned boys into "Michigan Men". For much of the time Bo was at U-M, there weren't many other winning local teams, professional or collegiate. More than anyone before or since, Bo Schembechler was Michigan. 
If you were searching for a stereotypical hard nosed masculine football coach who preached and lived doing the right thing, if you wanted to find a man who drank TNT and smoked dynamite, if you were hunting for a man who stood in the path of the Apocalypse and sneered "Is that your best shot?", then Bo Schembechler was that man.
Be tough. Stand up for yourself. Be a man. Put the welfare and safety of your peers and those under your protection before your own well being. Always do the right thing no matter what it costs. The team, the team, the team. That's what Bo was all about. Or so we were led to believe. Apparently, allegedly, there was another side. 
Just 10 years old at the time, Matt Schembechler said that he summoned the courage to tell his new stepfather a horrific, uncomfortable and humiliating truth: During a physical examination he’d been fondled and digitally penetrated by a doctor, Robert Anderson. Anderson was the team doctor for the University of Michigan football team, which Matt’s stepfather, Bo, coached. This was 1969, and as Matt tells it now, Bo told him he didn’t want to hear about the incident and even struck the child hard enough to knock him across the kitchen in the family’s Ann Arbor home.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Asian Man in Ypsilanti Michigan Shoots Six Year Old Black Boy: Gets Low Bond And Is Released

Do you remember when you were six years old? Did you play outside with your friends, siblings, and other relatives? Maybe you liked to jump rope. Maybe you liked to play hopscotch and drew multicolored squares on the sidewalk. 
Maybe you played tag. Maybe you played red rover or dodgeball or stickball. Maybe you played with dolls and had tea parties. Maybe you picked flowers. Maybe you dug holes.
Maybe you played with legos or blocks. Maybe you even rode your bicycle or tricycle. 
Chances are, no matter what you did, you likely got on some adult's nerves at some point in time. But the chances are also very good that no adult ever physically assaulted you or tried to shoot and kill you over your play. Unfortunately a six year Black boy named Coby Daniel can no longer make that statement.
YPSILANTI, Mich. (FOX 2) - An Ypsilanti boy is recovering after being threatened with a sledgehammer and then shot as he retrieved his bike from his neighbor's front yard. Arnold Daniel says his kids were outside on their bikes on Candlewood Lane in Ypsilanti when they stopped their bikes and left one of them in front of a neighbor's home. 
When Coby went back to get his bike, Daniel said the neighbor came out with a sledgehammer in his hand and said something to the boy. Daniel said he didn't know exactly what was said but knows his son said something back. After that, the neighbor went back inside and Daniel said he shot a gun through the front window, hitting Coby in the arm. Ring doorbell footage captured children screaming and scattering down the sidewalk of a residential street after a single gunshot is heard.
“He tried hitting me with a sledgehammer but that’s not going to work because I’m too fast,” Coby Daniel told Fox 2. “[Then he] got a gun and BOOM shot me right here.” The bullet went through the boy's arm and he was rushed to the hospital. Daniel said the doctor told him that had the bullet been an inch in either direction it likely would have killed Coby. 

Domestic Violence Against Black Men

Based on my own experience, logic, research, and history I have always believed that the differences that exist between men and women are not moral or ethical ones. 
I have known women who have every moral failing imaginable. I've also known selfless angelic women. Women as a group are no more moral than men. I'd like to believe otherwise but the evidence doesn't support that conclusion. 
Women may express themselves on average differently than men but anyone who holds on to Victorian ideals of female moral superiority is either deluding themselves or trying to trick other people. This even extends to the evil of domestic violence.
Professors like Dr. Tommy Curry and Dr. T. Hassan Johnson, who have actually done the research, have found that domestic violence, particularly in the Black community, is more bidirectional than many of us would like to admit. In other words men and women initiate domestic violence at close to the same rates and for many of the same reasons. 
The assumptions that philosophers hold about IPV and child physical and sexual abuse are really universalized descriptions derived from what social scientists and feminists asserted as causal amongst white families and in white communities. When we look at racial groups, IPV victimization rates between Black, Latino, and Indigenous men and women in the U.S. are roughly equal and have a much different etiology than IPV victimization between whites. Much of the intimate partner violence in racial groups is bidirectional, not unidirectional, as Duluth assumes, meaning that both partners are abusers and victims.
I was reminded of the truth of this statement by two recent hideous instances of domestic violence in which Black men were the victims.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Movie Reviews: The Breaking Point

The Breaking Point
directed by Michael Curtiz
This is a 1950 film noir that feels very modern both in its story and in the treatment of its characters. 
During a time when racial segregation was still very much in effect this movie depicts a black boy and two white girls playing together before they go to school as no big deal. Their fathers are friends.
Considering that in several states such innocuous activities could easily result in violence, legal or otherwise, against a Black boy and/or other nearby Blacks, this part of the movie was something of a political statement, though it's not presented as one. 
The Breaking Point was one of lead actor's John Garfield's last movies. The left-wing Garfield was forced to testify before the House Committee for Un-American Activities and bravely refused to name names. This act of defiance destroyed Garfield's film career. The consequent lack of income and resulting stress may have contributed to Garfield's early death from a heart attack just two years after this film was released. 
Much like the younger actor Charles Bronson, whom I think he slightly resembled, Garfield grew up in an impoverished environment and often played cynical working class heroes. That is very much the case in this movie, which is based on a Hemingway novel, which I may or may not have read before.