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January 16, 1992 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-01-16

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The Michigan Daily -Weekend etc.

January 16, 1992

The Michigan Daily-Weekend etc. Januaty 16, 1992

Noise = Activism
A Radical Brainstorm
Too many times last year, I found
myself explaining information -
that I felt should have been known
- to people who just didn't want to
hear it.
Yours truly, the Underground
man, then started to write a column
that read like the Imaginary Night-
mare Leftwing's opening state-
ments on Correctspeak 101 - and
then promptly gave up.
Why? It had become obvious
that what was almost trampled into
the dirt with that column, as usual, is
that an oppositional voice is its own
reward.
May I frighten you?
As we all know by now, femi-
nists are men-hating, unshaven,
dildo-strapping freaks of nature;
Blacks are affirmative action ba-
bies; gays, lesbians and bisexuals
are all promiscuous harbingers of
AIDS; men of color, or minorities,
want nothing more than white
women; Muslims are allbloodthirsty,
murderous, psychopathic fanatics;
Communists are simply Commu-
nists; and the poor deserve whatever
they get; leaving the road to good-
ness and niceness to an amazingly
small group of people.
Meanwhile, it becomes more ev-
ident with time that my association
with the raving paranoid in Dost-
oevski's novel has basis in an exter-
nal relationship rather than internal.
In other words, the frequency that
these Notes are likened to psycho-
babble can be directly linked to the
content of the message itself.
All of the groups or segments
that were crudely slandered a few
paragraphs back - and many other
groups-wanttobeheard and fairly
represented. They want to speak for
themselves, without being obfus-
cated by the mainstream voices or
blurred by the monster mash of lib-
eralism. And this mediation should
occur without any group's having to
blame eveything on those poor,
embattled, heterosexual white men.
But as always, the insularity of
ourdialogueis thebeginning andthe
end of our relations to each other.
The connotations of our seman-
tics continue to strongly persuade
the dictates of our thinking.The price
ofnoise, itseems tome, always turns
out to be the confusion, the chaos
and the disorder of noise.
Meanwhile, the Notes From
Underground - that pervasively
strange, often ugly, Angry Black
Voice that you used to see once
every two weeks on the Arts page-
has gone weekly. And although I
hadn't entirely meant to become the
trademark Angry Black Voice, it
doesn't seem all that terrible now to
make this noise.
Without getting - pardon the
pun - blacklisted by the powers
that be, whoever they are, I find it
refreshing to do this, because an

opposition voice is its own reward.
It seems to me that the prevalent
line of race - however some may
try to trivialize it - is one that
somehow manages to cut a swath
through most of the issues of today.
So, it will continue, contrary to
the hopes of many people I've at-
tempted to confer with. And in their
own words, I'd like to say - Deal
with it.
This column was originally con-
ceived as an exploration of the arts
and culture, with political under-
tones, of course. So it may take a
subversive turn at any time.
But I would like to give some
credit to some of the more dedicated
voices I've heard this year, for chal-
lenging the compone ofpublic opin-

i

Pictures of Greed
The films of '91 profit from their 'enlightenment'

by Michael John Wilson
Looking backon 1991 only reminds
me of the problems within an art form
that is also an industry. No matter
how much we talk about a Hollywood
feature film as a work of art, we can
never forget its roots in business.
While praising the apparent enlight-
enment of Hollywood in '91, we can-
not, then, confuse the art andthe in-
dustry. In real life, little has improved.
The major trend witnessed last
year might have been, in the words of
producer Warrington Hudlin (House
Party), "the beginning of a Black re-
naissance." Nineteen major films by

Despite bombs like Livin' Large,
the fact that Hollywood is allowing
new voices to be heard is a good thing.
Until last year, we would have never
been exposed to the unique,
unapologetic visions of directors like
John Singleton (Boyz 'n' the Hood) or
19-year-old Matty Rich (Straight out
of Brooklyn). And considering the
fact that Boyz made a profit of about
$50 million, the production of films
directed toward Black audiences
should not drop off soon.
Yet, in the fall of this "renais-
sance" year, the NAACP released a
report on the status of Blacks in Hol-
lywood, which stated that Blacks are
"underrepresented in every aspect of
the industry. Hollywood is a closed
shop, with positions of decision-mak-
ing and power totally dominated by
white males." The report also noted
that no Blacks have the power to
approve a project for production.
We can't confuse the changing
contentof films with any sortof change
in Hollywood itself. Simply because
more films by Black directors have
been released does notmean thepower
structure of Hollywood is changing.
Strictly Business was solely re-
leased to tap into a specific market
and to make money. If the white male
Hollywood executives decide John
Singleton's next film won't turn a
significant profit, it won't be released.
The same can be said for women
and film. Last year saw a trend toward
a stronger portrayal of women in suc-
cessful films like The Silence of the

the Lambs and Thelma & Louise. But
at the same time, Arnold
Schwarzenegger was reportedly paid
10 times more than Linda Hamilton
forhis presence in Terminator2: Judg-
ment Day. Schwarzenegger admit-
tedly has more drawing power at the
box office than Hamilton, but is he
really worth 10 times as much?
In a few significant films such as
Silence, Thelma and Mortal Thoughts,
women became their own heroes -
real people who acted for themselves,
instead of serving as background scen-
ery. Even Julia Roberts fought back
for herself in the unexceptional main-
stream picture, Sleeping with the En-
emy. Jodie Foster (Little Man Tate),
Barbra Streisand (The Prince of Tides)
and Martha Coolidge (RamblingRose)
all scored directorial successes.
Yet the number of women di-
recting Hollywood films is still ri-
diculously low. Last year's apparent
progress for women on film simply
doesn't apply to the reality of Holly-
wood. As Glenn Close told American
Film, "I think women will always be
problematic in film because ... it's a
largely male-run business. They don't
know what to do with us in life, so
why would they know what to do with
us in film?"
The Hollywood double standard
persists even in last year's spate of
Yuppie Punishment films. Features
such as The Doctor, Cape Fear, Hook
and Regarding Henry all showed a
Gordon Gekko-type ruthless business-
man who was punished for his

Mario Van Peebles (top) directed the immensely profitable New Jack City,
while a tough Jodie Foster broke ground in The Silence of the Lambs.

Schwarzenegger
Black directors, a huge number com-
pared to recent years, were released in
1991. Much like the rest of Holly-
wood, only a few, such as Mario van
Peebles' New Jack City, were criti-
cally and financially successful.

sins. Robin Williams as Peter Pan
caught a baseball in the head; Har-
rison Ford's cruel Henry caught a
bullet in the brain. But in the end,
everyone was happily reunited with
their families.
But if characters like Henry get
their just desserts, why not Disney
chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, who even
described himself as "unrelenting?"
The nature of the industry says
that greed is good. Even though

Remembering the Gulf War: a year later

by Purvi Shah
T wo dates in personal history
storm my Mom's memory - Aug.
31, 1991, when my Dad departed for
the Persian Gulf, and Sept. 1, when I
left for my first year at Michigan.
I remember discussing my fa-
ther's possible deployment on a car
ride with a friend. My father had
just been alerted, but the idea that a
Navy pediatrician would be utilized
in a full-fledged war was laughable.
Yet, in all seriousness, we con-
cluded that any doctor is indispens-
able when combating death. It was
apparent that the Navy came to a
e . fl, r lnfllutcif

How tactless of Father Time to
converge the two occurrences.
Yet the compelling concerns of
the Persian Gulf War have faded
into wisps of memory. Remem-
brances of ferocious "smart" bombs
and frenzied anti-war protests have
been displaced, even for people who
felt the war as an immediate experi-
ence.
My father, one of 900 military
medics, resided in the tent-city of
Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia. More than
40,000 men and women from my
permanent residence - the Hamp-
ton Roads, Va., region - served in
the war. Norfolk, Va., boasts the
largest naval station in the world.
Tn . .. -t 1 -.a. -rnuin nnrl 1

First-Hand Experience
RC second-year student Braden
Murphy, a Lance Cpl. in the re-
serves, became embroiled in the con-
flict. Braden' s company - 1st Bat-
talion, 24th Marines - was acti-
vated Dec. 8 to replace troops trans-
ferred from Okinawa, Japan, and
Subic Bay, Philippines, to the Gulf.
Since Braden was called up two
weeks before finals, he arranged to
take his French exam early and
change another class to pass/fail. To
make up for the unfinished semester,
Braden took classes last summer and
will again this summer. His goal is
to be a junior next year.
He relates "I had 10 days to tie

Braden is proud of his "maturing
experience," especially because his
company helped to clean up Mt.
Pinatubo's volcanic fury. "The
whole volcano experience is an
example for the military that is un-
warlike. A bunch of people in the
Philippines needed help and we had
the organization skills to provide
it.," he says. The troops have been
recommended for a medal of human-
itarian service.
Braden argues that the military
is a foreign organism that civilians
cannot truly comprehend. "It's a
body of our society that people
don't understand unless you're
plugged into it," he states.

fewer films are being produced, and
budgets and salaries may be decreas-
ing, the most profitable films of the
year - Hook, Robin Hood, T2-
were the most expensive. (The obvi-
ous exception, however, is the most
exceptional film of the year: The
Silence of the Lambs.)
Although we might be fooled
into thinking that Hollywood is
moving toward a greater diversity
See FILMS, Page 5
The weekend begins on
Thursday, right? So, here it is
- Weekend etc. A mutation
of the old Weekend magazine,
and an offshoot of Arts, this
new section is designed to
reflect your weekend -
what's fun to do, what's hip,
what's hot and what's not.
We've keptthe best of the old
- Jon Chait, "Tram to
Nowhere," the List, and
"Food for Thought" --and
brought in a new attitude with
an interested-in-people news
page, fashion tips, a TV
column, creative writing,
weekly photographic essays
and more. A vodka jello-shot
nartyianevenfina atthA

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