Thinking of Us or, Why Thinkpieces Give Me Heart Palpitations: A Personal Essay

Pop culture wise, 2018 has been Black as fuck.

I’m sure we’ve had Blacker years, but I bet that 2018 will rank highly among them. Music was good, strides were made in television, and the movies? LAWWWWWDD THE MOVIES!!!! If we weren’t the central focus of the narrative, we were definitely up in that bitch somewhere.

The beautiful thing about this Black Entertainment renaissance is that it causes discussion. People from all different walks of Black life gather in spaces both private and public to discuss their thoughts and feelings on the art they just witnessed, engage in fierce debate about whether or not something is a classic just 24 hours removed from release, or get upon their contrarian high horse to shit on anyone who dared like this mega-popular event and berate them for being sheep. It’s wonderful because it can be fun, and it can be downright annoying, or you could occupy that space in the middle. General indifference is an option as well.

While I’m glad that there is discourse about art, especially when it comes to discussion about those -isms that really keep us all from enjoying life to its fullest – necessary discussion that needs to be had – somethings don’t require, aren’t ready for and sometimes shouldn’t be given extensive critical thought. Some of these things are as shallow as a kiddie pool, some of these things are incomplete and others have been analyzed to death and can’t offer us new insights into ourselves. Thinkpieces and theories have become a staple of online discourse and I won’t lie and say that I don’t enjoy reading or composing them occasionally, but it can be a bit much.

The highly anticipated trailer for Oscar winning writer-director-comedian Jordan Peele’s follow up to 2016 tour de force Get Out premiered in the predawn Christmas morning. Us is a family film, if your family is getting chased and lit up by dopplegangers of themselves. Set to an eerie remix of, of all things, the Luniz’s seminal work “I Got 5 On It”, the trailer is an exercise in creepy.

I was legit creeped out watching that trailer.

Any way, once it was over, as I anticipated, the thinkpieces would come about before midday. You have a Black family (a dark-skinned Black family at that) vacationing in Northern California, they look affluent enough, the husband wears Howard University sweatshirts, the teach their kids the classics and the mother keeps a close, keen eye on her children. Yes, a great shout rose from the collective consciousness of the Woke and this idyllic view of Black family life being tormented by something other than white people.

What we got made me take a nap. When I awoke from that nap, the realization of what I had seen loaded into my brain and I sat up, exclaiming, “I know kung fu!” I don’t, but you get the point. I learned that “I Got 5 On It” wasn’t just a song about going “half on a sack” of some Indo’ weed, but a call from the ancestors to always offer our brothers and sisters in the struggle the five fingers of our hand to get ahead in this racist American society, something something, Five Percenters something something. That the film is a revenge plot on the talented tenth and suburban Blacks (probably the very people I am ranting about). That Jordan Peele is automatically unqualified to give us much of the discourse he’s given us with this trailer and Get Out because he’s a seemingly unproblematic biracial Black claiming man married to a seemingly unproblematic white woman (I ain’t dug into her background nor do I care to).

Point is, there is only so much that we can get from a two and a half minute trailer, combined with what the director himself has said the themes of the film are. I’m going to take his lead on this until I actually see a final cut of the film.

Us and Black-specific culture isn’t the only instance of this though, but it is the freshest. We get this type of speculation with nerds a lot as well. I saw so many thinkpieces and theories popping up with the drop of the Avengers: Endgame teaser that my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I had to get knocked silly to get them straight again. “Tony said ‘Rescue’! Pepper Potts is going to save him!”, uh uh, “Ant Man is a Skrull, there’s no way he got out the Quantum Realm!”, uh uh, “It’s in the past!” I saw someone break down the reveal of the movie’s title at the end of the teaser, indicating that the stylization and fonts used were indicative of certain events in the past MCU (the snap, the Infinity Stones, etc.). I need another nap thinking about it.

Look, I’ll admit that this is all deeply personal. I like to be told things. I did all my critical thinking in high school and college and when I try to apply much of it to everyday life I end up being disappointed or looking like a fool critically thinking about why Chik-fil-A breakfast is the GOAT fast food breakfast (their biscuits taste real). So when I see people engaging in a two and a half minute trailer, I feel a bit guilty that I’m not engaging in a two and a half minute trailer outside of, “Holy shit, this looks interesting, I will wait for it to come out.” Like me not engaging it further is a waste of my education and not just me wanting to be taken on a journey without expectations.

Then I remember the pretentiousness of a lot of these people. Don’t get me wrong, I can do pretentious. These people are on a whole different level with it, and that turns me off from trying to be one of them. None of the markers that these people celebrate – including thinkpiecing media to death – makes them that important. The rest of us who don’t want to engage in the pretentiousness aren’t any lesser for it either.

In conclusion (wink, wink), Black Entertainment has had a banner year in 2018, and looks to be making strides well into the ‘19 and the 2020. While discussion about Black art (as well as any other art) can be beneficial, sometimes it is taken too damn far for the sake of being taken too damn far.

I’m Sick of Nostalgia

Part of The Dirty 30

This post is going to be hypocritical, as I too have waxed poetic over the favorite things from my childhood. Power Rangers, Space Cases, the Fox Kids weekday and weekend lineup, Nickelodeon on Friday and Saturday nights, the beginnings of both Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel, BET, MTV’s Rock N Jock Baseball, Daria, you get the idea. The 1990s were a hell of a decade in human history, and those of us who lived as children in them are now approaching or are in our 30s.

We washed y’all.

What comes with age and the further progression of time is the tendency to look back fondly on those years; I happen to see those years with a golden aura around them. Considering the state that this country is in, the future is bleak and the present is complete bullshit; therefore, many of us, aided and abetted by like minds on social media are able to relive those moments from our childhood and reminisce about how good everything was back then and how we wish we could go back and have it all be so simple.

Fuck that.

I don’t want to go back and be a child in the 1990s. I don’t want to to it. I refuse.

For one thing, common sense says that shit was just as foul then as they are now. We just had a few radicalized white men send mail bombs and open fire in synagogue recently; in the 1990s, we had Waco, Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City Federal building bombing. The government fucked up the Middle East then just like they continue to do now. The nations of Africa were still struggling from the effects of colonization then and now and Black Americans people were no closer to being “there” that we are now. People were getting killed every fucking day. We just barely had a 24-hour news cycle reporting on it and grown folk didn’t allow us to be in their whack ass business.

Speaking of grown folks…listen. I know paying bills and being responsible sucks. I know. But if that’s what I have to do so that I don’t have to depend on grown folks to look out for my well-being, then so be it. I don’t want to go back to being a dependent. If that’s your MO, then by all means, go back and do it. I’m good luv, enjoy.

Finally, how much of the shit from the 90s did I actually enjoy and didn’t just watch because it was expected that I watch and enjoy them? I just recently revealed that I didn’t like Living Single. A show about a group of women living in a 90s kind of world and glad to have one another just didn’t mesh with me. That shit was on every week in my household though because it was a Black ass show. Maybe I’m simple. Even the stuff that I did enjoy, I’m not about to sit and watch that shit today. I’m not going out of my way to find or wait for The Splat on Teen Nick to air the Mega Diaper Babies episode of Rugrats. The reruns of Martin and The Wayans Bros. on MTV and BET were cool for all of five seconds. I stopped somewhere in the middle of Power Rangers Zeo on Netflix and haven’t been back yet. It’s not just a time thing, it’s a I don’t care to relive this shit thing and also a I just don’t enjoy consuming television and films like I used to* thing.

We get so wrapped up in the past and and remember things as being so much better than they actually were. That shit does not do you any favors and if you’re someone like me who is prone to bouts of depression, then you don’t need to linger on things that you cannot go back and experience again, or change. Again, I know the present sucks and it doesn’t look like there’s too much to look forward to. Truthfully, we’re kind of stuck in that regard. The past is gone, the present is a mess and the future is uncertain. For many of us, nostalgia is a salve, soothing over the current battle wounds, carrying us to relief in the future. Maybe I’m just a sucker for pain.

 

 

 

*How am I going to be a filmmaker without wanting to watch films and TV shows though?
Follow the photog on Instagram @bladvagacian

 

 

I Almost Had to Throw Captain America to the Bushes

Warning: I’m giving y’all a spoiler alert just in case many of y’all haven’t seen it. I won’t go too much into it, but if you really know what lead up to the Marvel Civil War prior to this film even being made, this may not be an issue for you. Even still, out of respect for those that have not seen the film, I’m putting this up. This review (I guess it’s a review) isn’t spoiler heavy, but there’s enough.

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Dear White People: Or How This Movie is Cutting Me Deep bka Identity Crisis

So I finally saw Dear White People.

Geeked. It was a good film.

Took me back to college. Maybe because I kept to myself so much, I didn’t have a similar experience at UCLA. BUUUUUUUTTTTTTTT…. that is not to say that shit didn’t happen. My hair was a point of conversation at many, many, many, many points, so many points that it was uncomfortable. Dear White People, we are not basic animals at the zoo. Don’t touch us. Not our hair, or back, or even our hearts. Just don’t.

Outside of the racial elements, it also touched a lot of other human nerves. Particularly with identity.

I’m concerned with my identity. It could be due to ego. It could be due to a genuine curiosity and an anthropological mindset, if that’s the discipline I’m looking for.

Continue reading “Dear White People: Or How This Movie is Cutting Me Deep bka Identity Crisis”