I recently saw the Christian film “Running the Bases”. I can’t go into the plot without giving it away so this will be short. It’s a nice movie to watch if you’re bored. It’s light but dramatic. It’s family friendly. It was OK. “Running the Bases” was entertaining and watchable the way most Christian films are. However, the movie has some theological issues and has MAGA delusions.
Winter Review: Falling Down
Falling Down is a 1993 film starring Michael Douglas and directed by Joel Schumacher. It’s an interesting film and I think you would enjoy it. The film features a character named William Foster. William represents the common American man and the pressure of modern, urban life. The film depicts how William copes with his pressure. He didn’t handle the pressure he was under well.
William is in his late forties, has financial and family problems. William was divorced and didn’t make enough money to pay child support for his daughter. He drove a raggedy car. William is White and feels displaced by immigrants to his area. Oddly he identifies with a Black man that he saw protesting in front of a bank for being denied a loan. The Black man was arrested for protesting with a sign on the side walk after being told he wasn’t financially viable.
William coped with what he sees as injustice by going on a violent rampage throughout LA for an entire day. William was upset with things such as not being given change without buying something first and not being able to buy breakfast a few minutes after a fast food restaurant shifted to the lunch schedule. William was going through a recent break up with his wife. I’m sure marriage to William was no pic nic but his wife seems like what we now refer to as a Karen. They were likely a perfect match for each other but didn’t get along.
“Falling Down” is an interesting film especially from the current day lens. William snapped and went on a violent, armed rampage. It’s debatable on whether some of his actions were justified. Regardless of our judgement on his actions only a White man would be given the space he was given. For instance, the shop owner would have likely called the police on him immediately. I remember when “Falling Down” was a new film. The idea of going on a shooting rampage was shocking and sensational. It’s now commonplace. It seems to me that people use to manage pressure and emotions a lot better.
I recommend “Falling Down” it’s an interesting movie and a great film to analyze especially considering it was made thirty years ago.
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.
Fall Movie Review: The Laureate
This weekend I watched “The Laureate”. It was a little dry at times because I don’t care for films in this setting but it was an interesting story. “The Laureate” is about an English writer named Robert Graves who suffered from PTSD after fighting in WWI. At the start of the film he was a married man with a young daughter. His career and family life was respectable but he wasn’t satisfied.
Robert and his wife Nancy allow an American poet named Laura to move into their home and act as a tutor for their daughter. Laura is manipulative and a user. She also has mental delusions. Laura says she likes to challenge societal conventions but she is really just a selfish social climber. Her ambitions are more important than morals or family.
Laura thought she could position herself near Robert in order to achieve greater success for herself. Robert was in the flop era of his career. Nancy use to be cool but now she was a mousy housewife with a young daughter.
Nancy is a sucker who wants to be edgy so she opened her home and slowly her marriage to Laura who wreaked havoc on her life and ultimately destroyed her family. However, Laura was an effective muse and Robert’s career took off after meeting Laura. He is a writer of influential works from the WWI era.
The draw back of ” The Laureate” is that I don’t care for stories that take place in England around the 1920’s. Shows and movies like “Downton Abbey” and “Atonement” are very boring dark, quiet and dry to me. “The King’s Speech” would be an exception.
There was a point in this film that remind me of “The Color Purple” due to the exotic and exciting woman that moves into a married couples house. Both films take place around the same time period but the parallels end there. “The Laureate” is a good film. It’s interesting and it could start some good conversations. I recommend it.
Fall Movie Review: “Umma”
I watched “Umma” starring Sandra Oh over the weekend. This is a great movie and I highly recommend it. “Umma” is a psychological thriller with many layers. This film touches on matters of family dynamics, particularly the mother/daughter relationship, ethnic identity, spirituality and paranormal activity. It would be a great film to watch with a friend or group because it could initiate interesting conversations.
Amanda and her daughter Chris live in isolation in what seems to be rural California. They raise bees for a living on a farm. Chris grows up believing her mother is allergic to electricity. This is a great setting and set of circumstance for an eerie film.
Chris grew up without modern conveniences and technology which makes her a social outcast among her peers. She is home schooled and her only companion is her mother. Chris later finds out with the help of a visitor to the town she befriends that her mother’s allergy is a lie. It’s unclear if the lie is deliberate or a figment of Amanda’s imagination.
Amanda had a tense relationship with her domineering Korean mother. In an effort to be different from her she distanced herself from her mother, extended family. In the process she rejects society as a whole. Amanda never married. She had her daughter with a White man who played little to no part in Amanda and Chris’ lives. She didn’t teach her daughter anything about her Korean heritage.
Amanda’s attempts to not be like her mother failed. She was similar to her mother in some ways and had a complicated and controlling relationship with Chris. She also had old world expectations of her daughter who was born and raised in California.
I hadn’t heard of this film at all before running across it at the library. This is a great film that I think you will enjoy. It is creepy and has scary moments so it’s suitable for this time of year. It’s also an interesting commentary about family relationships especially the ones we have with our mothers. I highly recommend it.
Fall Review: The Northman
This will be short. This movie is terrible. I don’t have much to say because I can’t really tell you what happened in the movie. It was about Vikings doing Viking stuff but I don’t know why they were doing it.
I thought I would enjoy this film because I enjoyed the TV series “Vikings” but this isn’t that. The movie had an impressive cast with well known actors. They couldn’t help. It was terrible and a waste of time.
Visual Book Review:. American Patriot Bible
Summer Movie Review: American Gospel
I watched the film “American Gospel” over the weekend. I would recommend the film but wouldn’t describe it as good or enjoyable. The film is sad and disappointing but it is informative and eye opening. “American Gospel” is worth the watch.
“American Gospel” does a good job of presenting the gospel. Then it goes into the way the gospel is shared by well known American pastors. There are sharp differences. America’s most well known pastors are sharing a false gospel and their message gets shared around the world.
This movie shows clips from celebrity preacher sermons. The sermons can be described as blasphemous. They can also be described as scams. There are testimonials from people that have followed the teachings of mega church pastors and their regrets. A nephew of so called faith healer, Benny Hinn, who worked in his uncle’s ministry also tells his story in hindsight.
I don’t follow the ministries of celebrity pastors but for the most part I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt and hope that some good comes from their ministry. The exception is Benny Hinn who is obviously a long time charlatan. The revelations by his nephew are worse than I imagined. They are heart breaking.
There were people in “American Gospel” who shared their experiences following mega church teachings. One woman ruined her career and financial standing. I don’t think she worked for the church but she followed the teachings of a popular preacher and quit her job believing she would be miraculously provided for. She wasn’t.
The bottom line of the film is that the popular American Gospel isn’t following scripture at all. They preach a message that is designed to sell books, get clicks and views and garnish donations, not teach the Bible and save souls.
The film also includes the testimony of a family where the wife is terminally ill and their faith and studies of the Bible. Their story isn’t miraculous and wouldn’t make anyone feel like a special snow flake. But they share what God’s word did for them and their family.
I would recommend watching “American Gospel”. It’s well researched and presented. I think it is fair. I think that viewers can learn a lot about the gospel and the difference between what the Bible says and the message being shared by popular preachers.
Summer Movie Review: Spencer
COURTESY SPOILER ALERT
One of my rules for spoiler are that if a book or film is based on a historical event there is no spoiler. This is a courtesy spoiler alert if you don’t want your expectations of “Spencer” influenced by my opinion.
“Spencer” is the 2021 film about Diana (Spencer), Princess of Wales. The film takes place during Christmas season 1991. The film illustrates the burden Diana carried as the wife and mother of the future kings of England. The movie takes some patience but I enjoyed it overall.
Spencer was a bit slow moving in parts. It used symbolism which I don’t enjoy in books and movies. The musical score was also very dramatic and kind of loud. It was a symphony and it was overbearing in some scenes. The director was very artsy fartsy and indulgent at times. It made the story move like molasses.
You will be rewarded if you stick with it. The story comes together and begins to make sense midway through. “Spencer” is filmed like it’s a psychological thriller. The look is similar to that of “The Shining”, “Get Out” or even the “Friday the 13th Series”. It’s dark and hazy.
The film makes the claim that Diana was on the verge of or perhaps already having a nervous breakdown in late 1991. She had been in her royal position for over a decade. She was lonely and isolated. Diana was constantly surveilled and controlled.
At thirty years old all of her choices were made for her including where she lived and her clothes. She had little control over parenting her boys. Diana was treated well and respectfully but it was a matter of protocol. Everyone around her was loyal to tradition, patriotism and The Crown. There wasn’t much interest in Diana as a person.
Her only genuine interactions were with her sons. The scenes with the young mother and her two boys were charming and gave the film warmth. Her older son William was also loyal to royal protocol and tried to keep his mother on the straight and narrow. The boys were protective and seemed to see their mom as mentally fragile.
Diana’s relationship with her husband Charles was a matter of royal business. In one scene Charles justified his affair with Camilla by saying he needed two women because there were two of him; one public and one private. Charles was basically Diana’s boss and she was his employee.
The people around her including the queen played subtle psychological tricks on her. The queen made decisions to quietly let Diana know she was in charge and Diana was a political prisoner of sorts. Diana was the focus of intense media attention and she was not protected or sympathized with by her husband or anyone else except her sons. They were the only people who saw her humanity. It’s easy to believe that someone would lose their mind in that situation.
Kristen Stewart did a nice job as the princess. The casting was great and all the actors performed well. The 80s and 90s costumes were great. Diana was known for her short hairdo so the wig Kristen wore could have been better. It didn’t look bad but I could tell it was a wig. The stylist probably should have tried a weave cut into a short style so the hair would have more movement.
Overall, I recommend the movie despite it moving slowly in some parts. I don’t know if the movies claims are verifiable but they are believable. I like that the film maker was on Diana’s side and told her story.
Film Review: White Hot, the Rise and Fall of Abercrombie and Fitch
White Hot, the Rise and Fall of Abercrombie and Fitch is a documentary running on Netflix that tells the story about the retailer whose popularity peaked in the early 2000s. I would recommend this film if you are interested in fashion, marketing, pop culture, labor and civil rights or late nineties and early 2000s nostalgia. It covers all of that. It’s fairly short and I thought it was an interesting movie.
A & F was a very successful retailer that was a staple in every American shopping mall in the 2000s. I was aware of A & F but I was never impressed by their style. If my memory serves correctly they sold jeans, tees and button downs. Nothing special. I also recall that they were known for the clothes running very small. A & F didn’t really pull my trigger.
The company was notorious for being racist so there was no love loss between me and Abercrombie and Fitch. I’ve been in an A & F store one time. I browsed around one of their stores in the Kansas City area that has closed. I bought a pair of skinny jeans on clearance for about $10. There was nothing noteworthy or memorable about the experience.
White Hot discusses the marketing strategy of the company that made them very successful. The ads featured young, White, fit, natural looking men and women. Youth culture of today criticize A & F for promoting a specific beauty standard.
A & F was sued by some of their former store employees and some of them were interviewed for the documentary. I have worked several retail jobs. The practices described in the documentary are typical of retail companies. Retail is a very racist industry. The discrimination is evident if you’re familiar with the retail industry.
The difference between Abercrombie and other retailers is that they were very direct and brazen about their practices. A & F had manuals about who they saw fit to hire. They didn’t hire and recruit based on experience. They based on looks and were not customer service oriented at all.
They didn’t say they only wanted to hire White people but they discriminated against employees that didn’t fit their standard of attractiveness which is clearly White. Non White employees were written off the schedule or only allowed to work in the stock room if they were hired at all. Abercrombie and Fitch settled with former employees that sued them but the company never admitted wrong doing.
White Hot, the Rise and Fall of Abercrombie and Fitch is OK. You might enjoy it if you’re interested in the subject matter it covered. The film follows in the Netflix tradition of making documentaries of pop culture trends of the early 2000s. They have the benefit of hindsight and people who were directly involved have the opportunity to tell their story. I think they’re pretty fun but it’s not ground breaking film making.