23 August 2009

Who Perpetrates Racism?

I've watched a couple movies this past week that have both been thought provoking on the issues of race, ethnicity, culture, and who perpetrates the clash between different ones. The first movie was "District 9" which juxtaposed humans and aliens to bring up the issues. The second movie was "Daddy's Little Girls" which, very interestingly, was able to bring up the issues while only dealing within one ethnicity.

"District 9" - what can I say? You've got to get past the gore, violence, and language, but if you can, the values and ideas of the movie are intriguing. The main character has certain ideas and notions of who the aliens are - and it isn't good. Yet, by his own clumsy dufus-ness, he is forced to understand their ways and culture. He literally walks in their "shoes" and in the process learns to treat the aliens with respect and compassion. Another interesting angle was the idea of having two very different cultures living together. While it wasn't subtle, setting the film in South Africa with it's history of Apartheid, to show a different kind of Apartheid, made me wonder - if we (human race) were faced with the issue of how to live with an alien culture would we react with imposing segregation? Even though it was such a disaster in the U.S., Australia, South Africa, for the Jews, Indonesia, etc. would segregation be our response? Why is it that when faced with something different, strange, unpleasant to our sensibilities we judge it as bad and try to create distance between ourselves and this new thing? We each perpetrate racism when that is our reaction.

As for the other movie, "Daddy's Little Girls," it was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it would a fun, light-hearted, romantic-comedy, chick flick. Tyler Perry wrote it after all, he does comedy. While I did enjoy the movie and there was a romantic storyline and funny parts, it was much more of a drama. Living in white bread suburbia I have absolutely no notion of how accurate or realistic the films characters are, but I respect Tyler Perry and believe he would make 'serious' characters truer to life versus Madea who is just outrageous, although probably based on someone he knows. What captivated my attention in the movie was the portrayal of racism among African-Americans against each other. There is one small bit character who is acted by a Caucasian person, other then that the entire cast is African-American, and prejudice, racism, inequality is a main theme. The way the characters talk to each other and the slurs hurled at one another was astonishing. If two different races were to talk to each other in such a manner it would be a disaster. I hear in the media people speaking out about how segregation still exists despite civil rights laws and have wondered who is creating the segregation. Maybe it's my naiveté and growing up in one of the least diversified city in the States, but I don't understand the claim. Yet watching this movie, if it's to be believed, even partially, as an accurate depiction of African-American culture, it would seem that the culture itself is a main contributor to racism and segregation. Bill Cosby's criticisms of the African-American population make more sense too.

It makes me lament, "Why can't we all just get along!?" Get over your fears and insecurities, people!

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