One of the hardest aspects to understand about any phenomenon is why it is the way it is.
Take, for example, the United States. It’s commonly held that this is a country which values individualism. As opposed to celebrating the person who dutifully does what his family or community says and wants, as some cultures do, we hail the white guy—it’s typically a white guy, right—who “bucks the trend,” “goes against the grain,” takes the path less chosen,” “innovates.”
The Iconoclast. The Rebel. In some societies, these are figures of outrage. But, here, they are seen as absolutely, quintessentially American.
James Cameron’s Avatar has been hailed for its medium-busting visual effects and astounding commercial success. Since its release on December 18th it has repeatedly topped the box-office in multiple countries, and is now the highest-grossing film in history, having taken in nearly $1.9 billion worldwide.
But, underneath the breathtaking graphics and lifelike performance capture, does the story of Neytiri and Jakesully, above, just retell the story of a white person finding himself by “going native”? Is it merely a fable about Europeans who would take over non-white people, save for the leadership of a Caucasian guy who leaves his reprehensible, bloodthirsty tribe, in order to cast his fate with the natives?
Avatar has famously been compared to Kevin Costner’s Oscar-winning, 1990 work, Dances With Wolves, which also raised similar charges regarding the consistency of the “white savior” myth. Disney’s Pocahontas has also been i.d.-d as Avatar‘s spiritual predecessor, though, perhaps no more pointedly than in these two YouTube clips, the first of which remixes video from Avatar to audio from Pocahontas‘s trailer, and the latter which does the reverse.
Today, this afternoon, Friday, April 25, at 2 pm ET, on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, my guests are:
They’ll talk about Avatar, race, and these issues, with the goal of giving listeners some clarity on them.
But first: After the President’s state-of-the-union address this past Wednesday, Chris Matthews, right, of MSNBC’s Hardball fame, opined that Obama “is post-racial, by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.”
I’ll talk with Jesse Washington, race and ethnicity editor for The Associated Press, and author of the essay, “Do Blacks Truly Want to Transcend Race?” about what Matthews meant, and what it means for Obama and our national understanding of the subject.
You can hear these thoughtful individuals’ ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.
I didn’t know the name or work of Nollywood actor Genevieve Nnaji, above, before today’s rebroadcast of Oprah‘s “Meet the Most Famous People in the World” episode. But I’ll be looking for the 30-year-old’s films in 2010. Consider that my New Year’s resolution.
Hallelujah! Kids, hear this: The immaculate chanteuse, Sade, announced on her web site today that
The highly anticipated new body of work from SADE Soldier Of Love, will be released WORLDWIDE on February 8, 2010.
The cover, shown above, appears to portray the artist from the rear, in Spanish garb. She’s wearing a couture black-and-silver backless silk dress, pale pink roses in her hair, and large silver hoop earrings, as she overlooks the ruins of Teotihuacan in Mexico.
Helen Folasade Adu, 50, right, leads a namesake group with three instrumentalists. The band has sold over 50 million records, since the release of their debut album, Diamond Life,in 1985.
The upcoming release, her sixth studio work, continues the artist’s prerogative for near decade-long gaps between albums.
Love Deluxe (1992) her fourth CD, was released four-and-a-half years after Stronger Than Pride, her third.
But Lover’s Rock followed eight years later, in November 2000. Soldier of Love‘s February delivery will place it at 9 1/4 years since the Nigerian-Britlish song stylist’s previous work, and less than a month after her 51st, January 16 birthday.
No word on singles or track listings yet, but, hey, believe me: We can wait.
I absolutely have no patience for white people who try befriending dangerous, wild animals, not only because the animals never get to negotiate these arrangements—except with claws—but more because I view such efforts as seated squarely on the continuum of white arrogance.
However, in this clip, these two men attempt to re-introduce themselves to a male lion, in the wild, that they’d befriended earlier, after he had acquired his own pride and mate. Take a look at what happens.
On July 1, 2008, Bill Gates, above, stepped down from full-time work at Microsoft Corporation, the company he founded with friend Paul Allen in April 1975. How does his departure affect the now-and-future direction of this corporate behemoth, a company whose software runs over 90% of the world’s computers, with assets of over $70 billion, and whose market capitalization approaches a quarter of a trillion dollars?
You can hear their ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, you can check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, check out our archive for up to two weeks after broadcast.
Chances are this will never make the TV news: According to an estimate by Eric De Place of Sightline Daily, “every cent of Africa’s crushing debt” could be retired for $350 billion. (The sum was actually estimated at $320B by the U.N. in 2003, so De Place just adds another $30 billion to make a round number. It could be higher, or lower.)
Now, that would leave $350 billion. Working from this figure, De Place then states,
You could install solar panels on 20 million American homes for $300 billion. …
We could install ground source heat pumps for 5 million American homes for $50 billion.
Affianwan, Calabar South, Nigeria, 2005 (Photo by Phyllis Galembo)
Photographer Phyllis Galembo burrows deep into what she calls “the transformative power of costume and ritual” by shooting large-format chromes of revelers and worshippers in remote parts of Nigeria, Haiti, and other Caribbean and African countries.