Sunday, December 2, 2007

Weekend update

Is Gone With the Wind the most pernicious piece of propaganda in American history? Certainly it’s in the top ten. A pining for the feudal delights of the antebellum South, GWTW (book & movie) is one of the key texts of the myth of the “Lost Cause,” the underpinning of a century of Jim Crow apartheid. Tragically, after the unfinished revolution of Reconstruction was smothered to death, the Southern barons reasserted their power, loyal poor whites in tow (the suckers), to be the bedrock of American reaction, and key to GOP power, since. A necessary tonic to this is the Kara Walker exhibition at the Whitney, which is there until February. She rubs history in our faces, and, like bad dogs, we’re a nation desperately in need of it. With her X-Acto knife, Walker cuts brutal, hilarious, pornographic and scatological silhouettes -- yes, silhouettes, those genteel cut-outs of the 18th century -- to stereotype and counter-stereotype the belles and mammies, the bucks and ol’ massa. She’s playing with minstrelsy, with blackface (black paper over white walls; blacking up herself, too), writing a lovehate letter to the long genetic mix and match that has united the so-called "races" since time immemorial. It’s a fantasy and a nightmare, one we still haven’t woken up from. The shadow puppet movies (one is described as “a moving picture,” and so it is) are newer, necessarily more complicated and messier, but just as challenging.
I once saw the late Congressman Henry Hyde getting off a plane at O’Hare. He was buffed, puffed, and lacquered, pink-gilled and impeccably coiffed and coutured. I thought to myself, this guy isn’t gay?

Speaking of fetal-fetishists, when I passed the ban-ban-taliban crowd in front of the Planned Parenthood office on Court St. today, I noticed that two of the three men had bushy beards. Yearning for the Xian Caliphate.

What do you get when you add an R to Che? Saw a t-shirt with Cher in the classic Guevara pose, beret with star and all. Does that make Sonny Fidel? "I got you, comrade."

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