Saturday, May 07, 2011

At The Loft: Super

SUPER: Movie Trailer. Watch more top selected videos about: Kevin Bacon, Nathan Fillion

Being that the only two posts of 2011 thus far have both come on the heels of tragedy, in a sense, I think it's time to lighten things up a bit.

Tonight we went to see Super at The Loft.

It's a little weird because it borrows from a few different genres, making it feel at times like a movie that doesn't know what it wants to be.

The excessively graphic violence is congruous with the comic book genre, for example, but perhaps the more tender, human moments make scenes where heads get bashed in or blown apart even harder to stomach. (For more relevant theorization on the topic of violence in film read "Masculinity as Excess in Vietnam Films" by Susan Jeffords.)

I was hoping the presence of Ellen Page (playing the side-kick) was an indicator that the film does something beyond typical Hollywood gender roles, (I'm thinking about Hard Candy) but...meh, not so much. The side kick is just that, a side kick. In this case Page's character, Libby, is played like an overly enthusiastic junior antihero-cum-sacrificial lamb. Liv Tyler plays a whore of circumstance who needs saving. Pretty predictable female roles.

What I do like, however, is that the film has some "heart," if you will. Frank, (played by Rainn Wilson of The Office fame), starts out as someone who can only recall two perfect moments in his life. By the end of the film things have not gone the way he wanted, but he gains something precious: he has collected an arsenal of perfect moments. He represents them in naive-style drawings but we aren't compelled to belittle them. Instead, we are brought to acknowledge that this really is the magic stuff of life: any chance we have to share and connect with others, a scene as quotidian (and moving) as a moment of affection between a person and their pet rabbit.

Having seen this movie shortly after, Megamind, I have to wonder if the antihero is on the rise. I'd like to believe films like these are a sign of how collectively tired we are of oversimplified "bad guy/good guy" constructions in current-day dominant media representations related to war situations in which the United States is currently embroiled. I mean, I'd like to believe that.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Tucson Unified School District Board Meeting 5/3

This is a photo from The Arizona Daily Star taken at Tuesday night's Tucson Unified School District Board Meeting. For detailed reporting on what transpired, read this Tucson Weekly report.

The person standing in the blue shirt is a a good friend of mine. A Ph.D. student and a gentle, non-violent guy. This is a photo of him being brutalized by the police. These are his words: "Yeah, we're fine. The cop seems to have had a good strategy. The first thing he did was smack me in the face and almost break my glasses. My automatic reaction was to try to pick them up off the ground, which made me break the chain... not to mention... that he was standing me up by my hair!"

There was no official warning to disperse. The cops just started right in with their violence.

Meanwhile, Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor has stated that "No one was dragged, no one was pushed or forced, no injuries of any kind."

At the beginning of the meeting board president Mark Stegeman said the police were there for student safety, but obviously they were there to intimidate and control the opposition. They didn't protect anyone. What really happened was they arrested students, the parents of students and brutalized students. (There is an Abuse Clinic being held this Friday. It's urgent that we attend.)

Here is footage of the first arrest.

There were 100 police there, many in riot gear.
There were also motorcycles, paddy wagons, patrol cars, a trailer and a dog unit. I also have footage of a police helicopter that flew over several times. THIS WAS A SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD MEETING. As I looked around at the display of force, I had to ask myself "Where am I? I thought we were in the United States, you know, land of the free?"

Not to mention, given the state's financial crisis I'd like to know how much all that so-called security cost.

I don't care what you think about Ethnic Studies. I'm not even going to touch Ethnic Studies. This is a post about the sanctity of PROCESS.

The students and their parents want to have their voices heard. They want their opinion to be counted in regard to the fate of a program that means so much to them, (regardless of what it means to anyone else.)

The students are the ones who are the most effected by this issue, and ironically they are also the most powerless in this process. Too young to vote, how else can they have a chance to be heard, especially when board president Mark Stegeman has orchestrated a perfect situation in which he doesn't have to listen?

Open meeting law states: “All meetings of any public body shall be public meetings and all persons so desiring shall be permitted to attend and listen to the deliberations and proceedings.” Less than half of the 500 people who showed up were allowed inside the boardroom. It was a terribly inappropriate venue, and what they should have done was re-schedule and re-locate the meeting as soon as that became evident. Instead, the meeting was dragged on for four hours so that by the time Stegeman started pointing out people to be arrested, much of the crowd was gone. Also, it was conveniently more difficult to record the police brutality outside under the cover of dark.

The mountains of data that were trotted out during the meeting were just a stalling technique. Stegeman had packed slides of data on what the programs cost, but when asked what percentage of the student population is Hispanic, for example, he didn't know. (It's 60% by the way!)

If he gets to drone on and on about data without making a point, then shouldn't everyone who wants to speak get whatever amount of time they want? If Open Meeting Law is not clear enough about this, then it needs to be changed.

Tom Horne says ethnic studies promotes ethnic chauvinism, but what I saw on Tuesday was essentially people of color and their sympathizers silenced and forced into obedience by white people through brutal police force. Let's not pretend we live in a post racial society.