Friday, October 7, 2016

Arts Express: Rapists In The White House

**Accused Rapists In The White House - No Matter Who Wins The Election. Whether Donald Trump, or co-president and aspiring First Lewd-y, Bill Clinton. CNN reporter and The Uncondemned filmmaker Michele Mitchell on the hot seat.

** "I'm a journalist first and a human being second"
The Lennon Report: A conversation with Jeremy Profe, the director of this dramatic feature revisiting the night John Lennon died. Along with an indictment of an out of control commercial media and celebrity culture.

** "Don't worry about me" Tom Hayden, The Last Interview.


**Bro On The World Film Beat: Arts Express Paris correspondent Professor Dennis Broe phones in. Delving into the politics of horror in movies, leading up to Halloween. And referencing the stifling of all collective feeling; the history of military and religious fanaticism in the western; the contemporary US urban nightmare; villainizing the masses; and a sadism reflecting Middle East colonial wars.

** "Please don't call rape a sex crime"
CNN reporter Michele Mitchell is on the line to Arts Express to talk about her documentary, The Uncondemned
. Detailing internationally unprecedented war crimes trials in Rwanda, indicting rape as a weapon of war. While fielding questions during the interview, about why this country has always evaded or ignored their own war crimes charges. Along with accusations against CNN and the corporate media, of biased news. And Accused Rapists In The White House - no matter who wins the election. Whether Donald Trump, or co-president and aspiring First Lewd-y, Bill Clinton.


Delving into the life, work, politics and literary imagination of African American writer and activist James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro mixes recollections, period footage of both the writer and historical events primarily surrounding the turbulent years of the US Civil Rights Movement - and readings from Baldwin's work delivered by Samuel Jackson. Who seemingly in a bid not to overshadow the iconic scribe with his own dramatic charisma, has disappeared so entirely into Baldwin's persona as to create a mystifying lost and found entity of himself within this production.

That said, Jackson is perhaps one of the most intriguing elements within the crafting of this screen memoir. A somewhat disorganized collage constructed by Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck which, rather than building political and dramatic momentum and comprehension, shifts indecisively at repeated moments just when a propulsive point is about to be made. And an implication concerning the cinematic outsider's point of view about US culture that can often be an asset objectively speaking, but with the potential of, on the other hand, lending itself to unfamiliarity and uncertainty as well. 

I Am Not Your Negro is based on Remember This House, an unfinished manuscript at the time of Baldwin's passing in 1987, that had been compiled as a memoir of his recollections of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. And for this both personal and political record of the Civil Rights era, Peck has impressively amassed assorted historical and literary material

What is ultimately lacking, is a coherent fusion of what has been gathered, along with serious omissions. Including a nowhere in sight ideological embrace by Baldwin of a social struggle going beyond race to advocate a massive societal shakeup and revolution - as exemplified in the parallel ideological class conscious evolution of Martin and Malcolm on whose lives this film is based - and actual significant factors leading to their assassinations, in effect turning against the entire system itself. Why Peck chose to ignore this essential evidence is disappointing, but here it is in Baldwin's own words at a District 65 union meeting:

"...It is not simply a question of equality. It is impossible for any Negro in this country to be fitted into the social structure as it is. The structure must be changed...The point is that neither party can move on this question. Both are useless in this revolution."

Leading to Peck's objectionable conclusion that Baldwin would have felt his life work and struggle against racism complete were he still alive, with the ultimate election of a black president, Barak Obama. Indeed. A leader who has done nothing to improve the lives of African Americans, while presiding over a society and economy further impoverishing people of color and continuing to incarcerate them in the millions, while having nothing to say as they are murdered in the streets by the enforcers of an evolving police state.

Along with a dubious, enormously positive critical response to the documentary so far, which begs the question of Baldwin's intent to disturb and provoke, not placate the mindset of white privilege and guilt-free self-satisfaction when it comes to racism.  And with the apparently ironic effect of the film twisting the notion of The Other, not as oppressed people of color in this alternate pandering context, but instead as not me, but 'those whites over there.'

So the question of I Am Not Your Negro, might have been posed by Baldwin, directly to Peck instead.

Prairie Miller
Host and Executive Producer, Arts Express
WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network and Affiliate Stations


  1. With respect, I believe you have missed Peck's purpose entirely. His inclusion of Obama's election makes the exact opposite point you claim he is putting forth. Peck is under no delusion that Baldwin would think his work is done. The entire film is sounding the alarm that nothing has fundamentally changed, that Baldwin's rage was and continuous to be justified. That our sickness has not been cured. These points along with Baldwin's understanding that the illness is reliant on much more than the construction of race -- a symptom -- are essential to this beautiful film.

    1. Thank you - I was trying to find the words to say that. You did it better.

  2. thanks. i'll be sure to skip this shlock

    1. Youre missing out on some important history you might have glossed over or never even learned about!! Yes ignorance is bliss, but don't always look for the easy way out (;

  3. What a shame such a clueless, incompetent "critic" is allowed to tarnish the grade of this masterpiece of a documentary.

    -Sam Juliano

  4. of 31 reviews so far on Tomatometer, this is the sole negative one, lowering the score to 97%.

  5. fck this critic kill urself

  6. Such edgy white critique. Really sticking it to... who exactly? Who is this helping? The mayonnaise factory you were born in?

  7. At least you gave Diablo and Live by Night good reviews.

  8. About to see it tomorrow. It is ironic that of about 100 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, only 2 critics gave it thumbs down- you and the reviewer from National Review. I listened/supported BAI for
    years, till I couldn't deal with the ideological ignoring of messy realities. I knew what was going to be said before I
    heard it.

    Having read a lot of Baldwin long ago, especially his novels, it is clear that this insightful and beautiful man could not neatly tie up his views and observations into a neat package, a "coherent fusion" that you seem to demand. Life is messy. But the messiness does not have to mean a lack of passionate commitment, which Baldwin clearly had.

    1. Please note: this is the 1 and only 'critic' who gave Master of Disguise a positive rating. I believe that understanding nuance or theming is beyond the depth of this person.