Weekendly clickables II

OK, I’m going back to read what Gessen thinks of the word ‘twat.’

Posted: Sunday July 13, 2008 by Alesh Houdek · · Comment feed for this post: RSS, atom



  1. Miguel Marcos    Jul 14, 04:17 AM #  

    On freerice.com see snopes:


  2. Alex    Jul 14, 09:54 AM #  

    Emigre comlete set: $8,000. Worse, I actually contemplated asking the agency to buy it.

  3. Alex    Jul 14, 10:30 AM #  

    Oh, and about Will Smith. The Root is a multiple-personality blog and among its writers Dauphin wears the hater mantle. What he says about Hancock is ridiculous (BTW, spoiler alert, don’t read his article if you haven’t seen the movie), starting with the parallel with black athletes (nevermind that Bonds is in trouble not for being black but for, duh, taking steroids. So it’s Clemens who last time I checked is white) and continuing with the ridiculous assumptions about the Smith/Theron dynamic in the movie, assumptions anybody who has seen the movie knows they are false.

    Dauphin doesn’t like that Smith is successful by being “too white”. But I suspect if there were calls were for Smith to become militantly black, he would be protesting that as well. There are people that delight in seeing the spectrum of racism at every turn for their own purposes. They don’t advance anything but their careers.

  4. alesh    Jul 14, 11:06 AM #  

    Miguel~ I saw that. BUT I’m not sure they address the issue that the article I linked brings up.

    Alex~ I love a few of those fonts (the logos of both this site and CM came from typetease screen grabs), but the complete set? Some of that stuff is just ass.

    There is a certain parallel between some African American analysis of culture/society and Marxist analysis of capitalism — you may not agree with its most extreme claims, but it raises many good issues, and in any case is an interesting ride to go on.

    In the case of Will Smith, I think the real lesson is that you make $$$ by creating bland, inoffensive, predictable films. The stuff about Hancock sounded plausible, but then I haven’t seen the movie and have no interest.

    I would argue, though, that occasional exposure to arguments like this is good medicine — there IS more then a grain of truth to the article, and people need to hear it articulated.

  5. Alex    Jul 14, 11:37 AM #  

    Some, but most of it is brilliant. I worshipped Emigre in college.

    Re. Smith: I think the biggest problem is that it souunds “plausible” when it’s really a distortion of what the movie says —and it’s distorted to tint Smith with some kind of cynical racial awareness when the guy just wants to make money. (Before he was attacked for selling boatloads of “clean” rap). Whatever grains of truths Dauphin has get lost on the “too white” argument. Why does Smith have to behave any different than Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt just because he’s black?

  6. alesh    Jul 14, 03:51 PM #  

    BTW, there’s a link to an online version of “Parents just don’t understand” in my twitter feed in the footer.

    “Distortion”? It read as an interpretation to me, but I guess an interpretation one disagrees with could be classified as a distortion.

    I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I suspect that Dauphin would point out differences in the roles that Cruise et al have taken and those that Smith has taken, and point out the political implications of those differences.

    I’m not saying that I follow his argument all the way, but I’m glad there’s someone out there trying these arguments out, because there often ARE racist practices in unexpected places, and having them pointed out is helpful.


  7. American Chicken    Jul 14, 05:11 PM #  

    The rents in this godforsaken town are prohibitive. Nevertheless, I’m staying.

  8. Alex    Jul 14, 05:39 PM #  

    It’s hard to tell you what’s distorted if you haven’t seen the movie or without giving spoilers, but I’ll say this: the “white PR guy” doesn’t force Hancock to apologize (he’s a very naive, idealistic PR guy whish is a fantasy), Hancock stint in jail is not “pro-forma” but deserved (and it says a lot about Dauphin that he thinks Vick is serving a pro-forma stint) and to see what happens between Hancock and Mary through a racial prism is to deliberately miss the premise of the movie by a mile. Most ridiculous of all is to say Hancock gets out of Dodge so that Mary and her hsuband can make “white babies”. If he doesn’t get out of Dodge, nobody is making any babies of any color.

    This is “perhaps the most racially dishonest major American film of the last 20 years”? It’s a damn superhero fantasy. Change Smith for Cruise, nothing at all changes. It’s as ridiculous as claiming there is a racial subtext in “I am Legend” in which Smith’s black, brainy and brawny hero lays waste to all the pale zombies.

    Dauphin wants so much to see racism that he’s painting Smith as an uncle Tom motivated by greed. Smith is not “keeping it real” (an old accusation), although I don’t know what would please Dauphin since he doesn’t like when Denzel kept it real in “Training Day” either. Maybe his ideal black movie superhero was Ice Cube in that XXX sequel.

    This critique can only work for those who hasn’t seen the movie or those blinded by either black victim complex or white guilt. everybody else will be turned off, and what’s helpful about that? I’m a big fan of pointing out covert racism. I’m not a big fan of crying wolf for self-aggrandizement.

  9. LIZ    Jul 14, 09:55 PM #  

    I saw Jeff Bridges a few years ago riding a bike outside the Public Theater in NY (he was wearing a murse), and so I online stalked him, and I found his website. It is THE BOMB. I can’t even tell you how much I love it. I think it’s on “my interests” on my My Space, really. I’m glad you found it and appreciated its beauty.
    About FreeRice, I hope they give those poor bastards some food!

  10. alesh    Jul 14, 10:24 PM #  


    I agree that pro forma stint re Vick is BS. That aside, I have no intention of seeing this movie, so the spoilers are irrelevant, but I can’t really address the “facts.”

    I also can’t address how the movie would read with Tom Cruise in the role. But I DO think it’s a worthwhile exercise (since he’s arguably the biggest movie star in the world right now and the most successful african american actor in history) to look at the range of roles Will Smith has done and see what we can learn from it.


    The Dude abides. It really tied the room together. Fuck that other actor Jeff.

    Ok. Also, would it bother you if FreeRice WAS giving poor bastards food, but and also somebody was making bucketloads of money and riding around in a porche?

  11. Alex    Jul 14, 11:51 PM #  

    Worthwile? Well, here’s what we can learn from it. He has done the kind of roles you have to do to become the most successful actor in the world. Biggest common denominator, tent pole material, created and marketed by first class professionals. That’s not Smith’s formula, that’s everybody’s formula. Smith just happens to pull it off very well and with more charisma than anybody else.

    So when he does “Ali” it does’t make as much money as “Independence Day” and Dauphin assumes it’s because of race. That gives us an interesting parallel with Cruise, because Cruise also did “Collateral” with “Ali”‘s director, Michael Mann (incidentally a producer in “Hancock”) and “Collateral” didn’t do Cruise kind of bank neither. So is it race or simply the material? You could also look at it this way: “Ali” is Mann’s most profitable film. More than “Heat” and “Miami Vice”.

    Anyway, I could go at this for hours and bore everybody stiff. One parting shot: the quote you pull is quite revealing. “Heroes must work for the good of the white folks (especially families and romantic pairings) in the movie, often to their own detriment.” Take away “white” and it’s the formula for EVERY HERO MOVIE EVER MADE. Who ever heard of a selfish hero?

  12. LIZ    Jul 15, 12:23 PM #  

    I understand that people find issue with others profiting off of “do-gooder” endeavors, and I know that’s what that “investigation” site is about, but I have mixed feelings about it.
    Look at me, I make my pathetic salary helping other people, like that dude, and I’m a little jealous and also impressed by this guy making millions feeding hungry people. Who knows, maybe he gives tons of his profit to charity or will use it to develop more do-gooder sites or something—- this would be the ethically sound thing to do. If he’s using it to lobby for off-shore drilling, then that sucks. However, no matter how much I want to, I can’t control how other people make their money nor how they spend it, otherwise I’d be very wealthy. I can only try to exercise some faith in humanity, and hope that if he’s feeding the hungry, he’s not the kinda guy that’s over-feeding his own ego/stomach. Ya know?

  13. alesh    Jul 15, 01:26 PM #  

    Alex~ Yah. I understand what you’re getting at, and I think most people would agree with you. And obviously Dauphin would still say there’s something you’re missing, but I’m not going to keep sticking up for him.

    Liz~ I guess. They say that if he was serious about it he’d incorporate as a non-profit and report his income/expenses, but I agree that that’s not for everybody. Heck, google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, is a FOR-profit (supposedly because it allows them to support a wider range of good endeavors). I guess there’s room for all types.

    The only effect I’d worry about a little is “I don’t need to make my donation to oxfam this year because I spent, like, hundreds of hours playing freerice.” Then again, I don’t think anyone who was giving to oxfam would really be susceptible to that type of thinking.

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