Tuesday, June 1, 2021

TV, when to take a pass on commenting?

Why don't some African-American projects get attention? I'm asked that because I cover media here. Ava and C.I. also get asked that because they cover TV at THIRD. Sometimes, it's not a good show and we don't want to slam it because it's just not good. Maybe it's not funny or a thrilling enough of a show but it's not doing any real damage so we ignore them. The Fred Hampston movie? That was something Ava and C.I. hoped to cover for THIRD. But there were too many problems with it. They felt it was important to cover so they did it for the gina & krista round-robin. Because they were doing it for a newsletter, they were able to bring in several friends who were Black activists at that time (believe all but one had been Black Panthers, sorry I'm remembering it wrong). For all the errors, they noted that the fact that a film had been made about Fred Hampton was a net-positive.

As a general rule, we don't 'dog' a show with African-Americans -- meaning repeatedly note how awful it is. An exception would be BATWOMAN which my cousin Marcia still covers from time to time at her site. That's because she loved the show in season one and hates it in season two. And these days when she's noting it, she's usually noting other people's criticism. With so few opportunities for people of color, we get no joy in trashing projects unless they're hideous propaganda. WATCHMEN, as Betty pointed out, was xenophobic and highly conservative and pro-police violence.

I watch a lot more than I comment on and that's true of a lot of us. ALL RISE? Ava and C.I. wanted to applaud the work that made it on screen but they knew what was going on behind the scenes and that that was about to explode. Patricia Heaton's sitcom? They didn't applaud that. They had no problem with what happened onscreen but off the set there were some real sickos (not Patricia Heaton) who shouldn't not have been show runners. There are all sorts of reasons why they take a pass on something and why I do.

I took a pass on UNDERGROUND RAILROAD which struck me as more vengeance porn from AMAZON. Turns out, I was letting it off easy. Joann Laurier (WSWS) offers:

The “Underground Railroad” here is not the actual historical network of people, African American as well as white, offering assistance to slaves escaping from the South. Private homes, churches and schoolhouses were called “stations,” “safe houses,” and “depots,” and the slavery opponents operating them were known as “stationmasters.”
Abolitionist John Brown was a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad helping fugitive slaves to reach Canada. Former slave and famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass hid fugitives in his home in Rochester, New York, aiding some 400 escapees to make their way north to Canada.
The Jenkins series, on the other hand, imagines an alternative history in which a mysterious—literally underground—railroad exists, complete with locomotives, tracks and tunnels. The railroad, still theoretically an escape route, carries the lead character, Cora Randall (Thuso Mbedu) to several mostly Southern states, in which she undergoes or witnesses one racially motivated atrocity after another.
[. . ]
The Underground Railroad is a major television production, financed by multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos’s Amazon Studios. It has the official stamp of approval from the New York Times (“ The Underground Railroad Weaves an Epic Vision”), Bezos’s Washington Post (“The Underground Railroad is traumatic, unflinching and relentless”) and the rest of the establishment media.
The series, however, has little to commend it. Its racialist content and demoralized outlook contribute to a muddy, gloomy aesthetic. “White society” proves to be little more than congealed racial hostility, either overt or concealed. Meanwhile, ridiculously, director Jenkins describes “Black folks as completely filled with light.” Jenkins has not put 19th century human beings on screen for the most part, but rather has projected contemporary petty bourgeois attitudes onto his cast of characters. It is not pleasant to say, but it seems safe to assume that struggling slaves, including those intent on escape, were never as self-pitying as Jenkins’ lead character.
The Underground Railroad does not treat slavery in the US as a system of labor exploitation, as an objective economic and social phenomenon bound up with the development of global capitalism, but rather as the product of white Americans’ single-minded belief in their “Manifest Destiny,” as Ridgeway claims, their right to subjugate or exterminate other races. He is presumably meant to be a stand-in for ordinary white Americans, past and present.

If it's 'crime' was just being dull or boring, I'd look the other way -- there are plenty of other things to slam; however, this show is destructive and dangerous. It deserves to be called out.




Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


 Tuesday, June 1, 2021.  A brief look at Iraq and at media lies.


A Memorial High graduate is now a combat team commander in Iraq.

Captain Gregory Davis Jr. took over command this month from Captain Brandi Tregre.

Davis is leading the Louisiana National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

A change of command ceremony took place at Erbil Air Base.

Davis is a 2009 graduate of Memorial High School, where he commanded the school’s first NJROTC program.

Davis said the soldiers in this company have had more unique experiences in these past two years with mobilization, hurricanes, floods, ice storms, COVID-19 and deployment.

Leading a combat team.  Combat.  Oh, we're admitting to that now.  Mainly because you can't keep a lie forever.  They've been saying training forever.  Especially after ISIS was 'defeated.'  (It lost control of Mosul, it was not defeated.)  So for several years, the US government has lied that the US troops were in Iraq for training.  Over the weekend, the talking point became that the combat missions were over and they were just present for training.  And no one's supposed to notice that the script is being rewritten yet again.  Endless rewrites, caught in development hell as the Iraq War goes on and on.

We starve, look at one another short of breath
Walking proudly in our winter coats
Wearing smells from laboratories
Facing a dying nation of moving paper fantasy
Listening for the new told lies

-- "The Flesh Failures (Let The Sunshine In)," written by James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt MacDermot for the musical HAIR.

The Fifth Dimension took the refrain from the song and merged it with another song from the musical ("Aquarius") to end up with a chart topper.  It also weakened "The Flesh Failures." "Let The Sunshine In" was about openess.  Not just between people but about an open government.  A government's ies being exposed.  When you reduce the song to just the refrain ("Let The Sunshine In") sang over and over, you also dilute the point about how desperately sunshine (openess) is needed and why.

People think they're doing something new with media critiques.  They're not.  Media critiques start in what is now the United States before the United States starts.  What are Thomas Paine's truths but a rejection of an established media that censors while covering for the status quo.

THE NEW ARAB takes stenography and notes:

The US-led mission to combat the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq announced on Sunday that it will change its role from direct combat to support.

Coalition forces will be focused on providing support to the Iraqi army, and will no longer be engaged in combat missions.

Missing anywhere in that dictation where THE NEW ARAB notes that the US government began claiming in January 2020 (following the vote in the Iraqi Parliament) that they weren't doing comabt or even support missions.  

Just paper over everything with a new lie and don't ask any questions?  Keep listening "for the new told lies."

As we saw last week, activists continue to be targeted and assassinated in Iraq.  Ahmed Maher (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Investigations into the killings of political activists in Iraq since the start of the latest round of protests have failed to produce a single trial or prosecution, the UN has found.

Arrest warrants have been issued against suspects in limited numbers, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq – known as Unami – said in the report, which covers the anti-government protests which began in October 2019.

“The rights of many victims and their families to truth, justice, redress and reparation have not been fully respected,” the report said.

Titled Accountability for Human Rights Violations and Abuses by Unidentified Armed Elements, the report documents a range of human rights violations and abuses carried out by state security forces and unknown militia groups, many of which operate outside state control and have links to political parties.

The targeting of political activists, human rights defenders and prominent protesters by armed groups is not a new trend in Iraq.

Human rights violations have included the excessive use of force, arbitrary detention and related ill-treatment and torture, and interference with freedom of expression – including restrictions on internet access and on media outlets reporting on demonstrations.

However, the number and scope of incidents increased after October 2019 as demonstrators took to the streets across central and southern Iraq to vent their anger at the country's political system. This is perceived by many as corrupt and unable to provide even basic services.

At least 500 protesters have been killed since these mass demonstrations began.

Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) also notes the UN report:

In its latest human rights report published on Sunday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) details investigative procedures the Iraqi government has undertaken to hold accountable perpetrators of crimes against the protesters who took the streets in October 2019 over the state’s structural corruption and weakness to resist foreign influence.

The 24-page report, titled, “Accountability for Human Rights Violations and Abuses by Unidentified Armed Elements,” comes as Iraq witnesses a new wave of protests demanding accountability and the end of impunity for the killings of demonstrators and activists.

Despite the government’s promises to investigate violations against protesters and activists, no one has yet been held accountable, according to the UN report.

“UNAMI could not identify any judicial investigations into crimes perpetrated by ‘unidentified armed elements’ against protestors and critics since 1 October 2019 that have culminated in a trial or prosecution,” the report said.

And that's all we're doing this morning, sorry.  I thought I'd be over the second COVID shot by now but my head is pounding and this is going to have to be it. I'm taking a shower (I worked out while dictating this) and then I'm going back to bed.

The following sites updated:

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