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SAM THE COOK IN HEMINGWAY’S THE KILLERS (1927)

April 26, 2013

OR WHY HITCHCOCK NEVER TOLD STORIES ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE

And the stories about Black people in the American experience are on train cars as luggage men and conductors-or back in the kitchen of any dinner.

And that, simply, is the inherent limitation to any cinematic or even written story about them.

And when the Bogart character in the Cain Mutiny (1954) cracks up as Navy Captain because of the pilfering of some strawberries from the ship kitchen, there are no Black officers involved in understanding the events that lead to the relieving of the captain’s command in the middle of typhoon by his subordinate officers-and not even in the court-marital proceedings afterwards is there a single black person.

Because the only black people that could have been involved were the mess boys who-it was finally determined-ate themselves the strawberries.

But Hitchcock never told stories of Black people because, although he was very much a socialist of the British, intellectual and pre-WWII variety, he was not an anarchist and had no desire to end up like Charlie Chaplin.

And it wasn’t only his silhouette that he would cryptically weave into his films, but rather his middle finger that he continuously flashed to American culture through the crypto levels of many of his films.

Strangers on a Train (1951) and even Psychosis (1960) are good examples of his scorn for the brutality of American society and its obsession with money and the power to ignore your fellow man money gives you.

But Black people were not even useful in this sense, such was their de facto exclusion from the seriousness of the white world of cultural power-and even of drama itself.

And in the 1960s there would be Sidney Poitier and To Kill a Mocking Bird (1962) and Civil Rights would also bring the Story of the black man.

And this story would be, form then on, the only story that still to this day can be told about the Black experience within the American experience itself.

And that story is Alex Haley’s Roots (1977) and the Black man’s struggle for dignity.

Or Mississippi Burning (1988) and Coach Carter (2005) as Roots-or even Finding Forrester (2000) as Roots, also.

But the multiple characters played by Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington, as Washington reporters, wily lawyers or cops who move in and out of the white world and are tied into dramas that seem not to be primarily the story of the black man, do not correspond to real social entities as individuals-that I can find, anyway.

And I have become very used to dealing with the Black man or woman in a white power structure-in companies or public agencies-and I know, first and foremost that they are most insecure in their relationship with their white bosses-and so they continuously compensate for this most often be being over zealous in manner, much like the black master sergeant in army films.

And generally, if life is not about being a rapper, a drug lord in the hood or a prison gang leader, the role model for blacks is essentially the black master sergeant who says only, “stay focused, and disciplined; work hard and you shall overcome”.

Which means basically having a job, but usually not a career.

And if it is a career it statistically won’t be beyond nursing or middle grad levels of the military, just as Booker T. Washington would have it.

And there is no place, even today, for the passion and violence of WEB Dubois for truth, justice and respect.

And he knew damn well that respect is something that is never given to you.

You have to strike hard, again and again to get it.

And if you can’t do that, then you settle for something that is not really respect.

And most of all you forfeit from then on your very voice.

And the Black voice has still yet to be truly heard by White society.

And even somebody like Spike Lee is muzzled when he appears on a Black History Month talk show for white people.

And yes, you can joke and have fun, and everybody calls you equal, but you are NEVER, EVER, allowed to show the white man how you really see society.

Because you’ll never get a film made again.

Not in this country.

(Spike Lee knows exactly what I’m talking about)

And only in Paris, in a TV interview, could Toni Morrison express her true vision of US society as “predatory”.

But you’ll never hear that on American television.

Not even on television for Black people-most especially not there.

The white world of economic and regulating power will certainly be having none of that!

Mums the word!

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