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November 05, 1991 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-11-05

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 5, 1991 - Page 7

Fores From
()wnce roUVhJ#
Sure, I know that the issue of
Black-white couples is a tired-assed
subject to make copy with. But, it's
a tragedy in which, only after we've
'heard the story a zillion times, the
truly relevant issues start to arise.
Every time I get a look at the
violent plague called Jungle Fever, -
the participants are just ecstatic in
their delirium. There's a beleaguered
Bro-therman alongside his white
girl, and, usually, concerned parents
who don't wanna see their gene pool
pissed in.
The white woman is a prize in
American society, both deified and
dehumanized, given a pedestal to
chill on and not enough air to
breathe up there. She feels like an
unwitting pawn, but check out the
flip side - for every situation like
this one, there's also a Blackwoman
who's been deprived of a basic neces-
sity. The sisters are getting dissed in
droves, systematically, and this is
the main reason as to why Black-
white relationships are seen as cal-
lous and irresponsible.
Spike Lee's Jungle Fever ex-
plored this subject in particular, but
moreover, how the same social fac-
tors contribute to the destruction of
the Black family here in America. I
liked it. Spike did a great job of
thematically covering his subject,
even if he rendered his characters
rather unsympathetically.
But listening to the petty indi-
vidualism spouted by writer/jour-
nalist Itabari Njeri, who spoke at
the University back in September,
you'd think that Jungle Fever was a
Black version of D. W. Griffith's
Birth of a Nation. Having referred to
Lee as "a Black nationalist with a
camera," she called the film
,"fascistic" and accused him of being
"enslaved by a racist mindset" for
his film's "internalized oppres-
sion." Njeri looked into the status
quo and ignored its causes, or worse,
looked only where it was comfy to
do so. Her criticisms of Lee's
sentiments were hopelessly re-
moved from the problems he con-
fronts. Worst of all, she neglected
to mention the genocidal causes of
this shortage of Blackmen.
J.F. revolves around the aptly-
named Flipper Purify, a Blackman
who gives into society's ridiculous
lie that lighter is somehow better.
He indulges in a senseless affair
with his secretary, Angela Tucci, a
white woman, and his marriage is
destroyed - symbolizing the often
destructive effects of such relation-
Lee's decision to ignore the de-
tails of the central fling is his
statement of the emptiness that
such affairs entail. He basically ends
the film with a question from
Purify's daughter: "When are you
coming home, Daddy?" This only
signifies the tragedy of the father-
less Black family, Lee's truest con-
cern in the film.
Njeri basically chose to take one
of many statements made in the

film, the concept that miscegenated
blood is a cesspool, and ran with it.
This may or may not be Lee's own
statement, but is certainly an obser-
vation of the consensus. Indeed, al-
most all African Americans today
are the products of rape - that is,
white slaveowners violating
Blackwomen. But while Njeri seems
to take this fact as a reason to con-
tinue lightening the skin, I take a
different perspective. A hundred and
fifty years ago, the man could've
bought himself an Itabari Njeri for
his own purposes, and today she
would apparently give herself will-
I choose to look at the liberal
ideal of integration as little more
than disintegration for African
* Americans, based entirely on the
last three decades of our history
Lee has offered up a simple im-
perative toward unity - Blackmen
and Blackwomen sticking together.
Let's see if the celebrated Njeri can
come up with something better.
This column is dedicated to
Emilia Nicholas. Nuff respects.

Continued from page 5
napped and penned up under the
basement stairs.
Fool, being a good guy, manages
to succeed where the movie's more
generic characters have not: he gets
out of the house halfway through
the picture. For no other reason than
because he's a really good guy, Fool
takes it upon himself to sneak back
in to liberate the captive youngsters
and kill the bad guys.
One of the movie's greatest fail-
ings is its lack of absorbing villains.
Since The People Under the Stairs
generally skirts the blood and guts
of other horror flicks, it needs the

sort of imaginatively twisted per-
sonalities that made movies like
The Shining and Misery so creepily
entertaining. Unfortunately, Craven
writes Fool's married tormentors
(played by Everett McGill and
Wendy Robie, Nadine and Big Ed
from Twin Peaks) by numbers -
they are the kind of bland lunatics
who kill for no better reasons than
the prostitute-hating serial killers
of low-budget soft core porn
McGill is somewhat amusing
because he overacts to just the right
degree, and his studded leather body
suit makes a great costume. Unfor-
tunately, Craven failed to give him
Freddy Krueger's wit and knack for

killing people in original and enter-
taining ways; McGill never does
much more than whoop and shoot
his rifle indiscriminately at the
walls. Robie's character is just as
plain. Her psychological tortures of
the children are forced and obvious.
With such estimable villains, the
little bit of horror that builds up in
the first half of the movie trickles
out completely by the film's end.
The cannibalistic people in the
basement don't appear too scary;
rather, they look like dirty extras
from the musical Cats.
To the audience's annoyance, the
bad guys refuse to die, not because
they have Freddy-style endurance,
but because Fool, like most horror

movie good guys, passes up the first
18 or 19 chances he has to kill them
(perhaps he should have been named
Stupid.) During the final 15 min-
utes, the movie sinks from being
boring to being unintentionally
Perhaps the most disappointing
feature of The People Under the
Stairs is that Craven never affirms
beyond a shadow of a doubt that the
bad guys are dead. That's really a
shame, because the only thing worse
than an unimaginative horror movie
is its inevitable sequel.
is playing at Fox Village and



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