Tag Archives: American history
140-Word Review Of The First Two Episodes Of Hulu’s (And Nikole Hannah-Jones’) “The 1619 Project”
Easily the most militant, near-radical Oprah product yet. 🙂 Episode One is the usual (corporate) skewered portrait of Black people (only) wanting as-is American identity through American liberal democracy and capitalism instead of freedom, which is a much more complicated socio-political discussion that American documentarians wish to ignore. (Docs like this conveniently 🙂 forget that the American Civil Rights Movement was a McCarthyite compromise to what Blacks really wanted and had to politically dismantle–a Freedom Movement.) But admittedly, having a Black woman on-camera asking other Black women about the state of American democracy, regardless of the lack of imagination of the answers, feels new. Episode Two’s Black womanist-centered approach to the discussion of the concept of race, again, felt quite innovative. Overall, the personal-is-political approach works for Hannah-Jones since it creates tensions not normally “scene” in Black American docs.
FEBRUARY 16TH UPDATE: I finished the whole series. Nikole Hannah-Jones deserves her own family-centered, elite-access-influenced worldview, but I think future explorations of Black America should be divided into sections of multiple commentators/producers/narrators, etc. I believe that this historical doc should establish a new tradition.
Belated 78-Word Review Of The TV Adaption Of “Kindred”
Mallori Johnson is a star but she has to burn through an unnecessary mess. A uniquely powerful story about the pain and irony of slavery in America–a short but stout book that slams the reader in the face–is so packed with television characters and thinned out and stretched as to lose its original meaning. Sad for non-readers who will think any of this has to do with a product produced by our amazing ancestor Octavia Butler.
And so now I feel I just wasted eight hours of a Sunday. But I’m glad to be introduced to Mallori Johnson, who deserves better projects.
My Comments on “Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra” Finale (Episode 8)
Power to the Person?
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is a master storyteller, and Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra attempts to be an epic story for this moment. It succeeds in being hella entertaining.
My last Ultra post was about its historical emphasis, allowing this subsequent comment to be ideological in nature. And so, clad in my dashiki, a note to Maddow and MSNBC:
The best way to fight organized fascism is an organized radical united front, not just individual efforts because the latter depends on liberal democracy working on your behalf. Didn’t McCarthyism, instead of an American movement against fascism, flow from this history?
This kind of color-within-the-lines conclusion is why what Dave Chappelle said at the end of his Saturday Night Live monologue was so important: as Black people, we are no strangers to the system not working. Sadly but not surprisingly, Maddow doesn’t have a James Baldwin/I.F. Stone-type voice who would hit that target, expressing the idea that American democracy itself is a flawed concept at its core. Nope, me no trust paleface.
And, Rachel and MSNBC, um, you might want to, um, not take off the air anyone else who speaks plainly about the current rightwingers (*cough* Tiffany Cross *cough* 🙂 ).
Brief Thoughts As We Wait For Next Week’s Finale of “Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra”
A true drama about a deliberately-forgotten time
Tellingitlikeitis/keepingitreal/keepingithunnert, etc. I have never gotten the Rachel Maddow hype. Every night I tuned in to her MSNBC show she acted like she and her research/producing staff had broken Watergate or had the Pentagon Papers! LOL! I still don’t understand that RussiaGate stuff!
So, now, to her podcast narrative series Ultra. I’m now completely caught up and I’m excited about the forthcoming last episode.
Like the greatest middlebrow magazine writers of the last century, Maddow’s clearly a very talented reporter, narrator and dramatist. But she continues her television approach here. Clearly, the ultra-patriotic American nation was not shivering in collective fear before and during World War II because of the existence of small (but well-organized and armed) groups of American Nazis and their fellow travelers; their salutes dropped quickly after Pearl Harbor. And as someone who has also studied a little of the history of 20th-century radio, perhaps it’s debatable that the radio racist Father Charles Coughlin was as politically powerful as she is saying, the same way not everyone in the nation believed Martians were invading Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. 🙂 But she’s making the same point that Pulitizer Prize-winning historian David Blight made at the end of his recent Yale conference on teaching race and slavery: these politically-retrograde people have always been here, will always master any updates to the art and science of influence and are never leaving the collective, progressive us/US at peace.
Book Mini-Review: The Glossy Raised Fist
Our Kind of Historian: The Work and Activism of Lerone Bennett, Jr.
Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 328 pp., $27.95.
West uses his mastery of the histories of Black Chicago and Ebony/Jet well here, significantly building on and adding to his previous work on the topic. An author explains an author in a wonderful intellectual history that sticks to very exciting facts: Lerone Bennett rises in a rising time, gaining knowledge and experience and pointing them toward what he would call in print the Black Revolution. He transforms himself from journalist to historian, from moderate, Kappa Morehouse Man to Pan-Africanist revolutionary. Absolutely necessary for those who want to understand 20th-century Black press history and, perhaps more importantly, how one “Black-famous” author’s Black history texts–all the outgrowth of one national Black magazine, a 20th-century legend once on every Black American coffee table–were significant weapons in the Black struggle before African-Americans had full access to local and national broadcasting and now international streaming.
106-Word Review of “Being The Ricardos”
Yes, the impersonations are far from perfect. No, regardless of what you’ve heard or read, the acting is great–particularly J.K. Simmons as William Frawley/Fred Mertz. Yes, it’s amazing to see that two of the smartest people in Hollywood in the early 1950s were a has-been movie-star white woman and a Latin signer, actor and bandleader. Although it takes the now-standard liberties with the truth, this whole flick is about how innately intelligent and savvy they were–how both were five steps ahead of everyone else. In the end, this docudrama shows, if not argues, that they were too smart and too powerful for each other.
The New Yorker Book Review: The 1619 Project and the Demands of Public History
I think this is an important review.
My Lastest Book Review, On Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Assault On American Historiography,…….
…..is right here.
My Root Article On The 50th Anniversary of “The Autobiography Of Malcolm X As Told To Alex Haley” (Its Full Title, BTW)……