(see here for more on King Kong)
politics, media, culture and life from a queer boricua in brooklyn
(see here for more on King Kong)
Well, my girlfriend and I are about to escape NYC for sunny Florida, to spend Christmas and the first couple days of Chanukah with my family. While I am in complete and utter support of the strike and the TWU, I’m also relieved to leave the madness for a little while.
I hadn’t heard until today that Bloomberg had called the transit workers “thuggish.” How disgusting can you get? This kind of inflammatory, racist and classist rhetoric, along with this obsession with the word “illegal” when talking about the strike, is just infuriating. And the mainstream media is, of course, playing along very well. From so many of the reports I’ve heard or read, you’d really think that most of the city hates the union and is against the strike, when really, it seems like the papers and the news shows are working really hard to find the most outrageous, virulent opinions and put them in the spotlight.
Roger Toussaint wrote an open letter to Bloomberg in response to the “thuggish” comment and other issues. It’s an excellent response. I especially loved this part which speaks to the whole issue of the “illegal” strike:
But what about our conducting an “illegal” strike? What about the law? You are all over the media with high-minded talk about “illegal” behavior, castigating criminals and screaming that no one is above the law. Your hypocrisy knows no bounds. You must hope everyone has forgotten your biography: “Bloomberg on Bloomberg.” You boast on Page 59 on how you started your rise to great wealth, great enough to enable you to buy the Mayor’s office twice. You set up your office “…all without permission, violating every fire law, building code and union regulation on the books.”
I guess illegality is in the eye of the beholder. A confessed lawbreaker has the gall to lecture 34,000 hard working people whose only crime is standing up for their families and for dignity and respect on one of the toughest, most dangerous jobs in New York.
Right on, Toussaint.
La Mala over at Mamita Mala makes similar points about how the media (FOX News, specifically) has bought into the whole “illegal strike” hysteria:
… don’t ya think it’s a little incendiary for the logo regarding the strike to read ILLEGAL TRANSIT STRIKE.
I mean when is the last time they put up a logo saying ILLEGAL POLICE BRUTALITY or um ILLEGAL SPYING BY U.S. GOVERNMENT? Hmmm?
I tried to stay awake last night for the news on whether there’d be a transit strike here in NYC, but fell asleep at around 1am. After all, if there wasn’t going to be a strike, I’d be getting up and out at the same time as usual this morning. So I missed the announcement, which apparently occurred at around 3am.
I woke up this morning to my girlfriend’s clock radio, from which we dcoculd hear talk of the strikes. Part of what we heard before she hit snooze: Mayor Bloomberg calling the strike “morally reprehensible.”
Now, yes – the strike is gonna suck for many, many New Yorkers, probably primarily NYC’s working poor, and not least of all the transit workers themselves. But, morally reprehensible?
Bloomie, I can think of many, many things in this city that are morally reprehensible. And you and your ilk are at least partially responsible for many of them. But it’s just plain wrong to attempt to demonize legitimate and important union tactics in the eyes of the NYC public. Strikes are a necessary evil borne of the much larger evil of worker mistreatment. The fact that employers (like the MTA) won’t act right towards their workers without being strongarmed – now that’s morally reprehensible.
On a side note: in this morning’s statement, Bloomberg said, “Let’s show our determination by walking, cycling or carpooling, to get to work and school.” Now, maybe I don’t know much about these things, or else I’m just a bad capitalist, but wouldn’t it make infinitely more sense to encourage folks whose jobs aren’t crucial to someone’s survival (I’m thinking doctors, nurses, firefighteres here) to stay home? To work from home if that’s at all possible, but if it isn’t, wouldn’t it be good to encourage businesses to declare a snow day of sorts, with absolutely no penalties to employees who couldn’t make it into the workplace without jumping through flaming hoops? I keep hearing about all of the transit and traffic nightmares that are about to ensue because people simply must get to work, and I wish that we didn’t live in a society in which the capitalist, money-making show simply must go on, come hell, high water, or no subways.
More on the strike:
think good thoughts for the TWU, losing two days’ pay for every day on strike and standing on picket lines in 25 degree weather in a stiff wind. every time i hear someone blaming the union for this strike, i remember this picture of my mom, with my then 3-year-old sister sitting in her lap, on a picket line looking at her check, which was $3.42 for the month. like they would strike if it weren’t fucking important.
This post, and the next one I’m about to write, have been lingering for days. I feel like I’m posting all sorts of outdatedness, due to the busyness of life right now. Ah, well.
It was (white) beauty killed the (black) beast…?
So, Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame has remade King Kong, as most of you probably know. And it’s been getting all sorts of rave reviews, or at least, most of the reviews that I’ve caught have been raving.
But, ever since I first heard about the film, I’ve been a little nervous. I’d never even seen the original King Kong in its entirety, but what I knew of it was enough to inspire some worries. Let’s see… a big, dark, savage ape falls in love with an extremely white woman, wreaks havoc left and right, and is taken down in the end? Hmm… do I smell a thinly-veiled, dubious racial subtext here?
Jackson doesn’t really solve King Kong’s “native” problem—nor can he. The original was as much a symptom as a movie—the most extravagant cinematic expression of white supremacy made in America since The Birth of a Nation and perhaps the most delirious imperialist fantasy ever. Lose the spectacle of the white woman at the mercy of a savage horde and you lose the movie, although in keeping with Skull Island’s decor, Jackson recasts the indigenous people as a mob of slavering aboriginal zombie orcs.
So, my question is: come on, Peter Jackson. I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but every time I see your undeniably racialized depictions of Uruk-Hai and Haradrim, I kind of hate myself for loving it. What’s with your penchant for taking old, racist source material and retaining the worst of it? I understand and appreciate being true to the text, but does truth to the text trump being a wee bit less fucked up, especially when, by now, we should know better than Tolkien and the makers of the original King Kong?
Luckily for me, whereas I have a sustained love for and addiction to the LOTR movies despite the racial fuckedupedness, I have absolutely no interest in sitting through the 3-hour long tragic romance between a giant ape and a white girl.
Now, on to a tragic romance that I was very happy to sit through, and will most certainly purchase when it comes out on DVD: Brokeback Mountain.
I loved it. It was amazing and heartbreaking and beautifully shot. And, on top of all of that, it did not disappoint on the hotness factor. I love me some Jake Gyllenhaal, but Heath Ledger surprised the hell out of me with his excellent acting. I won’t say more so as not to spoil it for those of you who have not gotten to see it, but I will recommend that you do get to seeing it ASAP.
It’s been a long time / I shouldn’t have left you / without a dope blog to … step to?
I’ve been brought out of my blogging sabbatical by this article from the Washington Post this morning, which discusses how a Latino student in Kansas City was suspended from school by his principal for speaking a few words of Spanish in the hall.
Being the angry brown butch that I am, I decided that I need to give this sinvergüenza of a principal a piece of my boricua mind. So I did a little google research, found an email address, and sent the following off:
To Jennifer Watts:
I read about your suspension of a student for speaking Spanish in the hallway in this morning’s Washington Post. After reading the article, I felt compelled to write to you to express my utter outrage and disgust for your actions. The suspension of this student for speaking his native tongue was not only completely baseless, but also a thoroughly ignorant and racist act.
Like Zach Rubio, I am Latino, and I can barely speak my own language. It pains me to see that a boy like Zach, who actually can still speak his own language, is being discouraged from doing so by the very people who are supposed to be nurturing and educating him. I have been robbed of an integral part of my culture because of the insistence of Americans like you that I am in America and should therefore speak English.
Using that logic, I put forth to you that you are living on land that has been stolen from native peoples, and that you should therefore be speaking -their- languages, not English, a language that was foreign to this land before white Europeans came and colonized, pillaged, and wreaked genocide on the native people. Of course, since the United States has succeeded fairly well in its aim of total destruction of Native languages and culture, you might be hard pressed to find a tutor of one of the true native tongues of this country.
I sincerely hope that, if nothing else, you learn from this incident that blatant racism and discrimination is unacceptable in our schools. If you aren’t able to learn that, I hope that the school board of Kansas City is wise enough to remove you from your position as principal, since you are clearly unfit for the job.
Enojado y asqueado,
Who knows if this woman will care about what I wrote, or if this email won’t just go off into the abyss of some unused email inbox. Regardless, it was very satisfying to hit the send button on this one.
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