Friday, December 23, 2005

ester weighs in on the controversies of the day

#1) Transit strike over! But: Bloomberg racist?

Three cheers for being able to use the subway again. I hope sincerely that the union folks get something in return for this craziness (whose inconvenience I do believe affected them as strongly if not more than the rest of us.) On the other hand, accepting a deal in which they begin to receive pension benefits at 62 instead of 55 isn't exactly comparable to going back to the 10 hour workday.

That aside, naturally race poked its head out of the mess like Nessie from the Loch. Bloomberg gave a speech in which he accused the union of acting "thuggishly." Immediately, the heads of the union, which is majority-minority, shouted RACISM, a cry picked up by the echo chamber. Far be it from me to deny anyone the right to be offended; in our victim happy society, somehow even members of the majority-race and the majority-religion get to cry discrimination when Target doesn't do exactly what they want. But to my mind, describing a behavior as "thuggish" is not the same as calling individuals "thugs." To put it a Christian way, it's condeming the sin, not the sinner.

Does Bloomberg, deep in his Republican, businessman, billionaire consciousness, think of most black men as thugs? Perhaps; and in any case he should probably take a workshop just to make sure. In this particular case, however, I think that calling the union leaders' tactics "thuggish" simply went along with the general administrative theme of their holding the city hostage & he would have used the same description whether the striking workers were Italian-American or Irish-American or plain old Mayflower borne. Inasmuch as he accidentally caused offense, he should apologize, the way any of us would. And Touissant and Sharpton should make sure that their knee-jerk reactions played out loudly in the press don't give them a black eye.

#2) Kong is king! -- And racist?

Maybe. More importantly: the movie is too damn long, tonally inconsistent (are we in the 30s or aren't we?) and kind of boring, actually. Lots of soulful staring into eyes. If you're in the mood for a tension-saturated love story, I recommend Brokeback Mountain, or even Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Kong was my favorite character. They did do him proud.


Nate said...

Oh, come now. Kong wasn’t so bad. When he reaches out to Anne in the boat as he fights the chloroform, arm out, palm up, fur streaming with water? That scene? My god, woman, have you no soul?!

And aren’t reflexive apologies part of the problem as well? Maybe not as much as reflexive insults, but still. I’m no expert, but I got the impression that the word "thug" was co-opted by much of the harder elements of the hip hop community; it wasn’t foisted on them. That version of thug. You know the one. You gotta spit it out a little bit. Thug. Sideways ballcap, fingers forming some sort of coastal representation.
Deep in Bloomberg’s Republican, businessman, billionaire conciousness, do you think he’s humming a lot of old skool Tupak? Or is he maybe just using the straight ahead version of the word in its blandest sense (imo still misrepresenting the union leaders), and the union leaders were the first ones in this situation to associate the word with bling, 40’s, and Old English tats. Because...because, well, it suits their aims.
True, racism insinuates itself into the most innocuous sounding language, but not everyone is on the same page with the same words.

God I cannot write concisely today. I could put that better on a better Friday.

jonah said...

i think i'm with you on kong. the ape was phenomenal, all the damn special effects were phenomenal, naomi watts is soooo hot it was distracting. and i really like giant pink worms that suck off people's heads. but yeah... while i understand excess was part of the point, it could have easily been two hours long, and would have been better for it. cries out for a fan-edited version, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

christmas move: kong or brokeback mt?