Winter Review: A Tale of Love and Desire

Last night I watched the 2021 film “A Tale of Love and Desire”. “A Tale of Love and Desire” is French with English subtitles. “A Tale of Love and Desire” is a modern romance. It’s not my favorite romance but I enjoyed the film. Unfortunately there aren’t many romances being made these day and I love a good romance. I recommend “A Tale of Love and Desire” if you enjoy foreign, artistic films.

The film is a love story of two students at the Sorbonne who meet on campus and fall in love. Ahmed is a French man from a first generation immigrant family from Algeria. Farah is a foreign exchange student from Tunisia. The pair are from a similar cultural background but have different and surprisingly different viewpoints. A Tale of Love and Desire makes subtly commentary about immigration, identity, racism, traditionalism, feminism and sexuality. It’s an intelligent and thoughtful film with youthful sex appeal. I enjoyed it and recommend it.

Winter Review: Top Gun Maverick

I recently watched “Top Gun Maverick” and I recommend it. “Top Gun Maverick” stars Tom Cruise as Navy pilot Pete Mitchell who also goes by Maverick. Pete is an instructor that teaches aviation skills to a young group of elite pilots as they embark on a dangerous and complicated military mission.

The plot is fairly simple and the movie is well done. The cast is great looking and the special effects are sharp. There is a wholesome love story between Maverick and Penny, played by Jennifer Connelly. There are swear words but aside from that this is a film that a family can enjoy together. Tom Cruise looked great but my one complaint of this film is that I wish Tom had some gray in his hair. A little gray would have at his temples would have taken Tom’s sex appeal up a notch in this film.

Despite the lack of gray hair this is an enjoyable film. It’s not a film that takes a social or political stance. It’s an old fashioned movie where you root for a hero to succeed at his mission and love life. Tom Cruise and all involved did a nice job on “Top Gun Maverick”.

Product Review: Starry

Pepsi has replaced their lemon lime flavored pop Sierra Mist. The new beverage is called Starry. Clear pop is my drink of choice when I have a carbonated beverage. For some reason I was kind of sad when i heard Sierra Mist was being taken off the market.

Evidently, Sierra Mist was having a difficult time competing with Sprite for market share of lemon/lime flavored pop. Pepsi decided to try and appeal to younger consumers by changing their clear pop formula and changing the marketing. Starry is what they came up with. I tried Starry over the weekend. This is my review of the new product.

My first impression of Starry is that it was flat. After a few more sips it reminded me of sparkling water. Starry is like sparkling water with lemon/lime flavoring and a bit of sugar. Starry is not as syrupy and sugary as Sprite, Sierra Mist and 7 Up. I don’t really like it but younger people may. They seem to be more health conscious than Gen X and Boomers.

I couldn’t tell the difference between Sprite and Sierra Mist in a blind taste test. I wasn’t picky and would drink either depending on availability. But I don’t think I would choose Starry again. I would choose something like orange, strawberry or root beer instead. Starry isn’t terrible once you get use to it but it’s still a downgrade from Sierra Mist.

RIP Sierra Mist 1999-2023

African American Studies

I remember learning why Frederick Douglass had two s’s in his last name when I was in the fifth grade. He added the extra s in order to distinguish himself from his legal owner. Black slaves carried the last names of their owner. The legacy has continued. Black Americans carry the last name of their families former legal owner. I recall admiring the subtle act of rebellion. I respect Frederick;s strong sense of self during the times of legal slavery.

I remember wanting to change my last name. However, I didn’t want to change my name to X like Malcom Little did. I wanted to change the spelling of my name. There is no way to change the spelling of my and have it make phonetic sense so that idea was fleeting. But I have taken strong interest in Black American studies since then. Learning about Black people’s history in America has given me perspective, admiration for Black Americans and a strong sense of self, pride and belonging.

The story of Black people in America is very dramatic. It makes me sad, angry, confused and dismayed. But some of the stories of Black people in America are historic and awe inspiring. Black Americans are ironically very patriotic and have stood up for the American way more than anyone else. Other disenfranchised groups have modeled their campaigns for equality and rights on the African American struggle in this country. African American history is fascinating.

The governor of Florida wants to block advance studies of African American studies in Florida. He wants to limit the history of what is taught about Black people in American schools with the Stop WOKE Act. Rob DeSantis doesn’t want any subject matter about race taught in schools. I’m unsure how you teach American history without talking about ethnic background when you consider the vast majority of this country has ancestors that originated outside of North America.

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/ron-desantis-blocks-ap-african-american-studies-course-1234663155/

The current political attitudes in the US are very disappointing and insulting. Republicans are firmly committed to dishonesty and controlling Americans. They are also devoted to presenting White people as morally righteous and admirable. The agenda of White Americans is thought of as destined to be and all their actions are thought to be justifiable. That’s not history. That’s not education. That’s propaganda.

Winter Review: M3gan

My Spoiler Policy: If the media is old or based on a book it is fair game but I will still warn you of spoilers. M3gan is a new release that is currently in theaters so I will give my review with sparse details as to not spoiling the plot.

I saw M3gan over the weekend. I recommend the film and I enjoyed it more than I expected I would. M3gan is about a nine year old girl named Cady who moves in with her career oriented Aunt Gemma who lives along and is a designer at a toy company. Aunt Gemma gave Cady a robot named M3gan (Model 3 Generative Android) as a companion. M3gan is Gemma’s creation and a prototype for a mass production of M3gans at her toy company.

The underlying theme of M3gan is that technology undermines parental authority in modern times. Institutions also challenge parental influence. A child and her toy are the center of this movie but adults can see themselves in Cady and ponder how much they are attached to technology and influenced by it.

Social media facetiously debated who is better between Chucky and M3gan. I think the better comparison is between M3gan and T-1000 from T2. M3gan is not a result of paranormal activity, demonic possession or witchcraft. She is a piece of technology with a purpose. M3gan is an action film and an old fashioned slasher movie.

Violet McGraw does great work playing Cady. Ronny Chieng did a nice job playing David, Gemma’s terrible boss at the toy company. He gave Mr. Spacely vibes throughout the film. Two actresses play M3gan. They are very talented as well. I was surprised to find out humans brought the android to life. I kind of thought it was a robot or CGI technology.

https://people.com/movies/who-plays-m3gan-in-m3gan-movie/

M3gan is an entertaining and thoughtful film with relevant commentary on modern society. It’s well acted and a good action and slasher film. I think you’ll be entertained by it. It’s worth your time and money if you’re looking for something to see at the theater.

Winter Review – The Works of bell hooks

I’ve been listening to the work of Black, feminist writer *bell hooks on audio books. I listened to “Sisters of the Yam”, “Feminism is for Everybody” and “Ain’t I a Woman, Black Women and Feminism”. I don’t remember the interaction but someone on social media recommended that I read Black feminist theory after I stated that I am not a feminist. I took the advice and my stance hasn’t changed. I appreciate some of bell hooks’ work and ideas but I reject significant parts of her theories. Ultimately I don’t think her beliefs are beneficial to Black Americans if someone follows Ms. hooks’ teachings religiously. And many follow bell hooks religiously. Ms. hooks states in one of her books that she had admirers that say her books are their Bible. That’s very unfortunate.

bell hooks is the godmother of social media. Her thoughts, ideas and wording have been repeated on social media for over a decade. bell hooks is often copied without being credited and cited. I’m unsure if this is intentional. She used the phrase Black women are seen as mules. She uses the word bodies often, as in “Black bodies”. She talks about Black women being unprotected. All of these expressions are common among social media users that like to discuss liberal women’s issues. At this point social media pundits are likely repeating other social media accounts. There isn’t much originality on social media. People simply post what they think will go viral or get pushed through the algorithm.

I certainly think it’s a worthwhile academic pursuit to study Black women in America. I appreciate Ms. hooks’ scholarship on Black women and our place and image in society. bell hooks notes in her work that the Black Civil Rights movements focused on freedom for Black men. I think that is debatable but hooks uses the fact that Black men were offered suffrage before women of any race. hooks also states that White women are the focus of the feminist movement. I agree with that and that’s one reason I don’t subscribe to the belief system. Studies about Black women in America can be enlightening and beneficial.

hooks made note that Black women have always worked in America. Professional opportunities that feminism created were given to White women. hooks also states that the professional opportunities that were offered to White women kept Black men out of high paying professional opportunities. The Feminist movement conveniently came about on the heels of the Black Civil Rights movement that broke the boundaries that were set in place by segregation. Black Americans made a step forward due to the Civil Rights movement but the feminist movement was a step back, road block or detour. To me that sounds like Feminism is meaningless to Black Americans at best and destructive at worst. So why should any Black women call themselves a feminist?

bell hooks thinks the answer to advancement for Black Americans is communities that aren’t necessarily centered around nuclear families and non Christian spiritual paths. hooks encouraged Black women to explore new aged and Eastern religions because Christianity is a patriarchal religion that encourages traditional gender roles. As a believer in Christ I think both suggestions are detrimental. I think the institutions of Black families and Black Christian churches are the two entities that helped Black people advance in this country. The abolition movement, Underground Railroad and Civil Rights movements were all Christian faith based movements.

hooks thought of Christian teachings as anti female because it encourages male leadership and gender roles. She used the word patriarchal often. Ms. hooks sees patriarchy as a system in which women are dominated. She doesn’t see male leadership and provision as potentially beneficial for women. Bell didn’t seem to think relationships between men and women can be respectful, loving and enjoyable. bell hooks acknowledged that Black women suffered because they were/are unprotected but she sees male leadership and provision (patriarchy) as domination. It doesn’t make any sense.

bell hooks acknowledged in “Ain’t I a Woman, Black Women and Feminism” that it was a shock to the post Antebellum economy when Black families decided that Black women would devote more time to their families as opposed to labor outside of the home. I don’t know why she didn’t see the act of investing in Black children and families as rebellion, revolutionary and creating a foundation for economic advancement.

bell hooks describes herself as queer. bell hooks never married and did not have children. She revealed in an interview that she was celibate for seventeen years and she would love a partner. It’s hard to say if that influenced her opinions of nuclear families.

bell hooks didn’t seem to have much admiration or respect for Black Americans period. She doesn’t say anything about Black American contributions, perseverance and accomplishments despite what we’ve faced in the United States. Her view of Black American history is all a matter of being a victim despite new opportunities that become available with each generation. She has a similar view of being a woman within Black communities as if we have no agency and more opportunities than ever.

bell hooks died in December 2021 at age sixty nine due to kidney failure. bell hooks spoke a lot about history but not the present. I enjoy learning about Black American history. I think history paves the way for the current events but we have to acknowledge that we are further down the path of time.

bell hooks and her admirers act as if we have experienced the same circumstances as our grandmothers and those that came before them. I don’t feel like her work offers many realistic solutions to challenges that affect Black women in 2023. bell hooks and I don’t even agree with what the problems are.

bell hooks speaks of Black women and Black people through a lens of comparison and how we are viewed by White people and Black men. I also don’t see the purpose in making comparisons between Black women/people and others because we have a unique history in the US. The comparisons can’t be discussed without discussing the factors that made the circumstances so different. We know that we were/are viewed with a distorted, self serving lens and have lived under a different set of circumstances. I don’t think a personal ideology should take the opinions and actions of those that we agree are racist and have self serving biases. Centering the actions and opinions of your oppressors is the opposite of liberation.

I also take issue with bell hooks’ scholarship. She frequently makes statements like “Many Black women feel…”. Who are the women? How many? She doesn’t talk about her research and how she obtained her information or came to her conclusions. I don’t know if she surveyed Black women or if her information is anecdotal. bell hooks had a BA from Stanford and a PhD from the UC system. She knew better.

bell hooks’ had some interesting and valid things to say. She points out some injustices against Black women that tend to be over looked but her solutions to social problems undermine Black American history and culture. I don’t think that liberation is found in her ideology. hooks’ work is more of a hindrance and hasn’t yielded any positive results that I see. I think her work isolates Black men and women from each other and fans the flames of disrespect. Even if individuals forego participation in a nuclear family or regardless of who they may choose who to create a family with society can not function without respect between men and women.

There’s nothing wrong with Black individuals exploring ideology, spirituality, careers and relationships that aren’t traditionally Black. That’s a natural consequence of fewer societal boundaries and growing affluence. But there is no reason to disregard and or disrespect those that came before us. We’re standing on the foundation that our ancestors laid for us and it should be recognized; and we should continue to fortify the foundation through family values and Christian beliefs. I’m in favor of empower and opportunities for women but feminists never get it quite right.

*bell hooks chose not to capitalize her pen name because she wanted readers to focus on her work. Her given name is Gloria Jean Watkins. She was just being weird.