121-Word Review Of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” [MAJOR SPOILERS]

There are now six “Spider-Man” films, and this fresh, lighthearted ’80s-teen-films-inspired romp is better than 1, 3, 4 and 5.  (But not combined. And no “Spider-Man” film may ever be better than Tobey Maguire’s “Spider-Man 2,” and Marvel Films has seemingly made peace with that reality.) And don’t be surprised that your opinion of Spidey’s high-tech, 2017 costume might be determined by how old you are. As the villain, superhero movie veteran Michael Keaton brings the amount of gravitas this film sometimes wants and needs. After the identity-discovering shocks of “Homecoming”‘s final scenes, it’s clear Zendaya is not the only one who is no longer undercover. And be sure to stay to the very end of the credits like the well-trained Pavlovian Marvel Films dogs we now are…..(heehee 🙂 ).

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CONGRATS TO…….

……..Wayne J. Dawkins, on his new post!

Here’s his statement:

Wayne Dawkins in August will join the faculty of the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism & Communication as an associate professor.
In May, he completed 12 years on the faculty of the Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications. Dawkins joined the faculty in 2005 as an assistant professor, in 2012 became the first associate professor in the history of the unit, and again in 2015 became the first faculty member promoted to full professor.
Last fall, Dawkins received the national award for excellence in teaching from the American Journalism Historians Association.

Book Mini-Review: Fighting To Live, The Mumia Library Grows

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?
Mumia Abu Jamal.
City Lights Open Media Series.
San Francisco: City Lights Books.
202 pp., $15.95.

 

The core of this book, the author’s ninth from prison and fifth collection of commentaries, is at the end: “To Protect and Serve Whom?,” a 2015 pamphlet for the Black Lives Matter movement. Abu-Jamal’s Black radical, revisionist history of the Civil Rights Movement that centralizes the blood and anger of young people is in his deceptively simple agitprop style. In that pamphlet, briefly post-scripted for the end of the Obama era (“As far as the Black Lives Movement is concerned, by raising their voices under the Obama period, they established their sound integrity—and perhaps it may be seen that it’s possible that they should have yelled louder”), he reminds his symbolic charges that movements come from oppression and will guarantee violent resistance.

In the pages that precede his extended meditation, Abu-Jamal compiles his brief commentaries about the justice system and Blacks from 1998 to 2016, a time spanning from President Bill Clinton to President-elect Trump, from Death Row to his release into general population to his fight to get the Hepatitis C treatments he finally got two months ago. He has constantly used writing to fight for life—a craft the 63-year-old began at 15 as a member of the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party. The fact that his writings about police brutality in 1969 are not different from his writings in the late 20th and early 21st century does not show his intellectual stagnation, but America’s bloody consistency.

The columns list the roll call of victims in real time, from Abner Louima to Travyon Martin and beyond. This is a book containing examples of, as one column called it, “legalized police violence,” killings and abuse “you pay for….every time you pay taxes, endur[ing] this every time you vote for politicians who sell out in an instant.” To Abu-Jamal, “Americans are blind to everything but color” because “United States history is a history of denial.”

Abu-Jamal may no longer be “The Voice of the Voiceless” in the social media-era, a world now filled with scattered prophets of digital rage worldwide. However, the lifelong rebel’s compiled writings are still important because he shows the difference between progressive movements and radical movements: the latter believes that America’s systems need either radical reform or revolution. His intellect and talent remain directly in opposition to America because America has proven it is opposed to Black and brown people.

 

Book Mini-Review: Trans-Spotting In South Africa

The Prey of Gods.
Nicky Drayden.
Harper Voyager.
377 pp., $15.99.

In the multicultural South Africa of 50 years from now, expertly carved out from the ether by Drayden, a Black American woman, the future belongs to those willing to grasp it with both hands and at least one foot, to feel the fear and evolve anyway. The fact that most of the identity struggles the main characters experience are (now considered) universal does not take anything away from Drayden’s superb skill in making them flesh (and metal, and….). Zulus and walking Ancestral trees mingle with demi-gods and sentient robots, while the pitfalls of both pop celebrity and drug abuse take new, fascinating societal forms. The novel, one that proudly wears its LGBTQIA gender orientation politics as a full body-length tattoo, takes waaayyy too long to get to a loooonng climax, but ultimately satisfies, its last-minute twists turning a well-established (hetero white male), sometimes-dense literary genre into post-modern, not-ashamed-to-be-accessible, post-feminist pop art. When the characters finally interact and transform, the reader happily devours the book’s pop-culture-inspired gumbo. Drayden has written a sci-fi novel that, for the most part, owes neither Isaac Asimov nor Octavia Butler; it’s a new product for the 21st century fan who wants and needs a fun, culture-based read.