26
Feb
12

How I got over my hate of “The Help”.

Now that the Academy Awards are over and Octavia Spencer grabbed an Oscar but Viola Davis didn’t. I thought it was time to reflect on the movie, “The Help”.  When it first came out, I was determined not to see it.  My whole attitude was, “Oh no, not another ‘ White-Person-Cures-Racism-With-The-Assistance-Of-A-Magical-Negro’ movie”. In my defense, it wasn’t something that I imagined. Just a couple of years before, Hollywood trotted out “The Blindside” and even gave Sandra Bullock an Academy Award for it. So yeah, I was a little bitter and not ready to see “The Help” at all.

Let’s face it, when it comes to portraying racial conflict, Hollywood rarely gets it right. Either its too heavy-handed (Crash), or brushed aside in favor of a more palatable plot point (The Long Walk Home). Even with black filmmakers at the helm, they often miss the mark. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been shaking my head at the closing credits while asking myself, “What in the hell did I just watch?”

But I’m one of those people who feels like in order for me to hate something, I have to actually see it or read it. So the other night I rented “The Help”.  I didn’t hate it. I really liked Octavia’s performance. I thought Viola Davis brought a quiet dignity to her role. That’s not to say that I didn’t have MAJOR problems with this movie. As good as the two leads were, they were still examples of characters that I had seen before in previous movies. The noble, quiet, suffering mammy type figure and her sassy sidekick. The thing is, those two were better than most of the white characters. Bryce Dallas Howard’s Hilly was “Mean Girls Racist”, while Jessica’s Chastain’s Celia was a nothing more than a rejected character from “Steel Magnolias”. I won’t even get into Emma Stone’s Skeeter; the least interesting character of the whole bunch. However, there were still some funny lines and a couple of really touching moments.

The movie was a major success because it made a lot of people feel good. I guess that’s the point with movies like “The Help”. It’s supposed to make you feel good and not think about history. You’re supposed to cheer for Skeeter’s success and not dwell on the fifty eleventh injustice heaped on Abilene. You’re supposed to applaud Celia for sticking it out with her husband and not feel a tinge of bitterness that the only reward for Minnie is the opportunity to cook more chicken.

I still didn’t hate it. I was really rooting for Octavia and Viola to win. As problematic as the movie was, I still feel they deserve the awards due them. It’s not being hypocritical, it’s understanding that it’s the way the game is. If an African-American actress manages to break through and win a round from time to time, it’s okay to celebrate that. My hope is that in the future, both Octavia and Viola get great roles that defy stereotypes that tell our stories with clarity and truth.

 

15
Feb
12

Whitney Elizabeth Houston

Whitney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve just been in a state of shock this past week. Music’s most talented angel has been called home. May she rest in peace.

You’ll never be forgotten.

05
Feb
12

Welcome Back

Venus Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Venus Williams returned to competition after being out of commission for six months due to illness. She teamed up with Liezel Huber to defeat Belarus 6-1, 6-2 in the Federation Cup doubles match. The United States swept Belarus (without Vika playing), and hopes to enter to back into the World Group.

Great to see her back!

02
Feb
12

The War

There’s a war going on and no, I’m talking about the one in Afghanistan. I mean the one that’s being waged against a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices. The latest battle pits the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer Research vs. Planned Parenthood. Earlier this week, the Foundation board of directors led by an unsuccessful pro-life gubernatorial candidate voted to pull their funding of Planned Parenthood. Now, they claim they yanked the funds because Planned Parenthood is under federal investigation. Mind you, the investigation is being led by a pro-life Republican Senator. It was NOT POLITICAL claimed the paid puppet on MSNBC today to Andrea Mitchell. Ok. Then why haven’t they pulled the plug on the funding for Penn State, which also happens to be under federal investigation?

Good thing is, the response has been swift and direct. The Komen Facebook page has been filled with posts from people opposed to the decision. Two high-ranking officials have resigned and several state chapters of the Foundation have spoken out against the National Board. The best result is that Planned Parenthood has raised more than enough to cover the loss of the funds. Even New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg donated $250,000. That’s more than awesome, but like I said this is one battle in a wide ranging war.

Unfortunately, there has been a State by State campaign to defund Planned Parenthood. The Anti-Choice front has moved to attack on as many fronts as possible. Even though federal money can’t be used to fund abortions, Anti-abortionists have attempted to dismantle Planned Parenthood at every level possible. Forget the fact that Planned Parenthood provides cancer screenings (including mammograms), the idea that it also dispenses affordable birth control and performs abortions means that has to be destroyed.

It’s sickening to think that a charitable organization can be bullied by political pressure into not helping women who deserve these services the most. I personally didn’t know anything about breast cancer until I went to Planned Parenthood and received information about it. Since my first visit nearly fifteen years ago, I still do a monthly check of my tatas in the shower as directed. Just think of the women who have been saved because of the very same information. Then think of the alternative: Countless women being denied a chance to save themselves.

Feel any way you want to about abortion. I really don’t care. If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t ever have one. But stop trying to prevent women from making their own choices. One person’s ideology shouldn’t cause another to possibly lose their life. Planned Parenthood has helped so many women lead healthier lives. If the Komen Foundation no longer wants to be a part of that, then so be it.     I just need for the Powers That Be behind this decision to be honest with themselves and the rest of America. It was more important for them to appear good, than to actually do good.

31
Jan
12

Just one more thing…

Taylor Townsend

Congratulations to American teenager Taylor Townsend who won the Australian Open Girl’s Singles Final last Saturday. Townsend is a Georgia native who is coached by a former teen phenom Kathy Rinaldi defeated her Russian opponent in three hard fought sets (6-1, 3-6, 6-3).

It’s way to soon to heap a boatload of expectations on her young shoulders. But it does bode well for the future of American tennis. Not only that, a former Girl’s Aussie Champion won the Big Girl’s Crown that same day.

Good job Taylor!

 

29
Jan
12

Triumph After Disaster

Finalist

It was the epic that most tennisheads expected. It was also the result that most tennis pundits predicted as well. This isn’t going to be some desultory post about the loss. For sure I’m disappointed. But knowing how hard Rafael Nadal fought for nearly 6 hours, and how well he handled himself during the trophy presentation and his post-match press conference, I feel an incredible sense of pride.

There were no tears. There were no recriminations. He didn’t wallow in his defeat. Instead, he praised his part in making more tennis history. He remarked how he actually lives for the, “suffering” (we Nadal fans know all about suffering). In essence, moments like those are the reason why he plays tennis. Who can’t but admire that attitude? Hearing that just makes me look forward to seeing him on the court again very soon.

The fire is there. The passion is just as intense as it ever was. Although Djokovic fans can gloat now, they know that the victory was by no means easy. These two will meet again and  the result will be different.  This I know. I know because Nadal said so. I have no reason to doubt him.  It’s not often that one derives an important life lesson from a tennis match. I learned one last night. It is this; no matter what the odds are, you go on and keep fighting. You may not get the result you desire, but you shouldn’t be ashamed of your effort if you put everything you have in it.

Nadal did just that. All I can say is, Job well done.

 

28
Jan
12

the final four: Oz Championships, the fellas

I’ll admit, I really don’t want to know what’s going on in Rafael Nadal’s mind right now. Is it just a jumble of bad memories and regret? Or is it an endless stream of fury and point scenarios? What does someone do when they are facing an opponent who has defeated him or her six straight times? SIX.

This time last year, Novak Djokovic was preparing himself for the final against Andy Murray. No one knew that his subsequent victory against Murray would be the launch pad for a furious assault on the number one ranking. Even though history will determine that Novak’s 2011 was one of the best performances in the Open Era, it wasn’t much fun to watch it happening. Especially, since my favorite player was on the receiving end of so many defeats. It looks as if Djokovic hasn’t lost any steam in 2012. Before his five set semi-final victory over Andy Murray, Novak had only lost one set in the tournament.

So how will the final play out? Some people like to listen to a song over and over and over again. Others get quickly tired of the same tune and want to change the dial. The thing is, does Rafa have the wherewithal to do just that?  Judging from his last couple of matches, he can. After a scare with his knee and previous shoulder issues, he’s been serving and moving quite well. The real test is going to be between his ears.  Can he push away those dark thoughts? Can he tap into those mental toughness reserves?

We’ll just have to see. All those previous defeats haven’t been easy on Nadal’s fans either. The sense of trepidation that this final could turn out to be like the others  isn’t unwarranted. A victory for Nadal could very well hinge on hope and luck more than good groundstrokes and easy serves.

I’ll set my tent in the hope and luck camp.




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