The Michigan Daily
Tuesday, November 19, 1991
Special P.C. Edition
1 ofes From
Forrest Gre ||
OWe are at war
Strangely, America romanticizes
the most militant artifacts of Black
history and culture nowadays. In the
1950s, the tide of the American
counter-culture might have been de-
fined by the popularity of Elvis
Presley, "the king of Rock 'n'
Roll." Now, we might see it as be-
* ing represented by a great demand
for Public Enemy records and
Malcolm X caps. But the issue of a
working Black identity need not be
threatened by the likes of conserva-
tives who'd brand me as "P.C." for
being myself, as long as the concept
of race in America remains as ma-
nipulative as it is.
I personally feel that not every
African American should call her or
himself Black, while anyone at all
can buy a Malcolm X cap - pur-
chasing an artifact that represents an
essential figure in Black history.
Whether Malcolm's ideas and be-
liefs come as part and parcel of the
cap remains to be seen. In a sense,
Americans can pick and choose
whichever parts of Blackness appeal
the most to them and toss the rest
regardless of skin color.
Anyone can buy a Public Enemy
record and memorize the lyrics, or
sport an X cap, donning supposed
badges of Black legitimacy, but ac-
tually, they only succeed in becom-
ing archetypal Americans. They
haven't become Black by a long shot,
but they have, in both meanings of
the word, purchased American cul-
Ultimately, buying P.E.'s ever-
popular It Takes A Nation Of
Millions To Hold Us Back will give
you a brief, intrusive glance at
Blackpeople in the '80s, and more-
over, it will show you that Black
culture is unquestionably American
culture. The expansive range of the
samples, from Brown to Bowie to
Gaye to Hayes to Scott-Heron,
draws Chuck D.'s representative
strength from the history of
American and Black music at'one
and the same time.
The unique identity of Black cul-
ture in America can be seen in the
history of its Blues People, as Gil
Scott-Heron recited in "Bicenten-
nial Blues": "The Blues grew up in
the nightmares of the white man.
The Blues grew up in the Blues
singing of Bessie and Billie and Ma.
The Blues grew up in Satchmo's
horn, on Duke's piano, in Langston's
poetry, on Robeson's baritone."
American culture today does not
exist without the creativity of
Blacks - Blues People - in every
aspect of the culture and arts being
assimilated and enjoyed by everyone,
regardless of race.
Ironically, Blackpeople may
never be truly accepted as a whole
here, because everything in America
is defined in terms of black and
white. The terms of overseer and
underdog. The logic of absolute
success vs. absolute failure.
Blackpeople have survived within
the diversity of American history
and culture, while the factors that
define our struggle force white
people at large to resist the motion,
beauty and necessity of change, at all
As a result, to be genetically
Black in this society is to represent
much that is culturally beautiful
here, yet still being seen as threa-
tening and dangerous. The most
See NOTES, Page 8
Eric Bogosian talks
some mor e about .. e
Getting personal with the star
of Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll
by Mary Beth Barber
Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) is confronted by psychotic former client Max Cady (Robert DeNiro) in Martin
Scorsese's ultra-violent 1991 remake of the 1962 Robert Mitchum-Gregory Peck thriller, Cape Fear.
Scorsese ' s Fea.O.'r smells
of art, tastes of
dir. Martin Scorsese
by Mark Binelli
N ot so surprisingly, Robert
DeNiro is the best thing about direc-
tor Martin Scorsese's latest effort,
Cape Fear. What is surprising is the
fact that the rest of the film, a re-
make of a 1962 thriller which
starred Robert Mitchum and
Gregory Peck (who both have
cameos in the new version), is so
DeNiro plays Max Cady, a heav-
ily-tattooed rapist who has just
been released from prison. Cady
immediately seeks out lawyer Sam
Bowden (Nick Nolte), who de-
fended him 14 years earlier, but
buried evidence of a victim's former
promiscuity which would have af-
fected the trial's verdict.
Cady, predictably enough, is out
to systematically destroy every
facet of Bowden's life, which is al-
ready pretty shallow. Bowden's
wife, Leigh (Jessica Lange), is still
bothered by his past infidelities, and
their angst-ridden 15-year-old
daughter, Danielle (Juliette Lewis),
is moody and withdrawn.
But these little nuclear family
woes are nothing compared to what
Cady has up his sleeve. First comes
the stalking. Then the dog mysteri-
ously dies. Then Bowden's lady
friend (Illeana Douglas) is raped
and beaten. Then Bowden gets
reeeeeeally pissed. Sound like Death
Wish V yet?
OK. So it's not that simple. The
actors are first-rate, especially
Lange, whose character is the only
female in the film who isn't unbe-
lievably stupid, and DeNiro, whose
seductively smooth Southern-ac-
cented psycho rivals such formi-
dable past creations as Travis Bickle
and Jake LaMotta.
And Scorsese's directing, for the
most part, is- also right on target. He
manages to keep the tension high
throughout, with tight facial shot
after tight facial shot and om-
nipresent creepy music by Elmer
But the unavoidable shortcoming
of Cape Fear stems from the fact
that at its heart, the film is a genre
picture. Which isn't inherently a bad
thing. A good filmmaker can tran-
scend any initial limitations set by
the genre that he or she chooses to
work within (see David Lynch's
"film noir," Blue Velvet), or else,
said filmmaker can just do a really
nice job without stepping outside of
the boundaries of said genre (see the
Coen Brothers' "gangster film,"
With Cape Fear, however,
Scorsese, certainly a good film-
maker, is unable to make a "thril-
ler" that either transcends or works
extremely well on its own terms.
Sure, you've got your Biblical
references and your Macbeth im-
agery and your weighty, symbolic
speeches and even your hints at a la-
tent Electra complex. But. ulti-
mately, any attempts at making a se-
rious statement fail, as his film de-
generates into an absurdly drawn
out Kill the Indestructible Madman
bloodfest. DeNiro could even make
a Jason/Freddy Krueger figure com-
pelling, but it's still hard to
swallow a character who doesn't
even flinch after being splashedin
the face with boiling water. Much
See FEAR, Page 8
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Present this coupon when
purchasing a large popcorn and
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Here it is, folks - the third and
final chapter of an interview con-
ducted with performance artist
Eric Bogosian while he was in
Ann Arbor this past summer. The
film version of Bogosian's one-
man show, Sex, Drugs, Rock &
Roll, opens at the Ann Arbor 1&2
MB: Would you go to New York
again? Given New York as it is
EB: Right now? I feel really for-
tunate getting to New York when
I did, but the thing is, when I got
to New York, I felt the odds were
really stacked against me, and
there were all these people who
came to New York ten years be-
fore (who) had it really easy. All
these people had lofts, they paid a
hundred dollars a month, two
hundred dollars a month ... they
just hung around. They were, like,
hippies. They didn't have to work
and didn't have to do anything.
I was working a job, I was
killing myself. There was no
time, but at least I could find
someplace to live. Now, you can't
even find some place to live. And
then there's nowhere to perform
anymore ... But I would go to
New York again. New York is
MB: Have you noticed any differ-
ences in the city?
EB: Yeah, there's a lot of shit on
the street, but there was stuff on
the street when I got to New
EB: Jeez, it just hit me. You were
seven years old at the time.
MB: Yeah. I was still watching
EB: Well, a lot was happening at
that time, and it all looked very
grim. And there were garbage
strikes and there was garbage all
over the street, and you know, it
comes and goes and it's an amnai-
ing place, and it never stops. It
goes around the clock, and fyop
can't compare Los Angeles ti.'
... I didn't like cities. I didn't
think cities were very appealiig.K
But if you think of your life asia
series of relationships with peo-
ple, then you're going to get a lot,
more 'trusting' ones in New Ydrk-
than anywhere else. I thinkv
Maybe it's just an ego trip fNP
sexist pigs like me.
MB: You've been called a sexist?
EB: Of course. My show was oan-
celled for the material I did.
EB: You see, the irony I use in my
shown wasn't ... that's a new
thing now, that's hip now.' It
wasn't hip in 1980, 1979. I would
get out there and I would play
some motherfucker guys ... to me
it was a feminist statement, aibd
women would be sitting tM
I've had some people intervew
Andrew'Dice Clay, people wio
know him, and they sa'y, 'You
don't understand, he's doing this;
as a big put on,' and you say, 'SQ
what?' I mean, he understand$
what the reaction is. I can't, b-
lieve that he's fostering betterie
lations between men and wom,
See DRUGS, Page 8
Cape Fear (1962)
dir. J. Lee Thompson
The difference between Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear and J. Lee
Thompson's is the difference between any '60s and '90s film. Today's
audience demands more violence, more sex, more action. People today
watch Psycho or Repulsion, films that were considered the scariest of
their generation, and wonder what the big deal is. In the same vein,
Scorsese's Cape Fear is far more intense than Thompson's, and DeNiro
makes bad guy Robert Mitchum seem like George Bailey from It's a
Wonderful Life. However, Thompson's version has much more going for
it than just the fact that it was the original. .
Gregory Peck and Mitchum star in what is still a tense and scary
battle in a small Southern town. This is a film about good and evil, where
the lines between the two are clearly drawn. Peck is a lawyer who
witnessed Mitchum raping a woman and was a key witness in sending
Mitchum to jail. Eight years later, Mitchum is out and he wants revenge.
Mitchum's role as the belligerent and brutish Cady is possibly his
finest (although it's hard to beat his psychotic preacher in Night of the
Hunter). He's the epitome of the '50s/'60s bad guy - not someone who
would bite your cheek or nose off, but someone who would beat the shit
out of you. Cady is also one of the first screen characters to embody
Of course, this film wouldn't be the same without Gregory Peck.
With the exception of Jimmy Stewart, no one has captured the trust of an
audience as Peck has. How could anything bad possibly happen to Atticus
Finch? (Surprisingly, To Kill a Mockingbird was released the same year.)
Of course, Cady is what happens to Peck, and to see Mitchum insinuate
that he is going to rape Peck's wife is sacrilegious.
The film is at its best when Mitchum and Peck face each other.
Mitchum is a pure animal, without a thought in his head other than his
primal instincts; Peck is all humanity, abandoned by society and forced to
defend his family against the circling beast. To see Peck made helpless by
Mitchum is unbearable, and this matchup is what makes J. Lee
Thompson's Cape Fear a horrifying movie.
From jazz commentary to Young is the author of 15 boobof
movies starring Sidney Poitier and poetry, non-fiction and. fictioitlln-
Richard Pryor to a recent collabora-.
tion with Janet Coleman entitled
Mingus/Mingus: Two Memoirs, vi.
siting creative writing professor Al
Young has written the gamut.
cluding the novel Sitting PFi'e}.
Don't miss his fiction reading tbdiy
at 4 p.m. in Rackham Amphitheatre.
Admission is free.
Expires 11/28/91 1..
A Message to All Students About Registration
We are looking forward to assisting you as you prepare to register for the winter term (early registration is -'
November 18 to December 6). As you know, charges for the current term were due in full on October 31,
a month earlier than last year. If you have not as yet completed your payments, or if you are having difficulty
making them, the following suggestions may be helpful:,
-If you have an unpaid balance on your account and have a week or more remaining until your early registrati"
appointment, please make payment on your account by mail (UM Student Accounts, Dept. Box 77722, ,
Detroit, MI, 48277-0722). By mailing in your payment, you will enable us to provide better service.
-If you have an unpaid balance and there is less than a week until your registration appointment, make paymens
on your account at the Cashier's Office and be sure to ask for a release of your financial hold. Ask for a
receipt and bring it with you to your registration appointment.
-If you are uncertain about the status of your account, contact the Student Accounts Office for information.
-Regardless of your financial status, it is very important to keep your Registration appointment as scheduledso
that a re-entry pass to Registration can be issued.