Friday, 26 March 2010

Crash - Review, and Personal Reflection

L.A.'s Race-and Traffic-Problems Face Off in Paul Haggis' Crash

This is an incredibly disparaging and chastising review of "Crash". The reviewer, Andrew Sarris, appears to be simply 'knit-picking' when it comes to the faults that he finds in the film. A fine example of Sarris' aggrevating reaction to the film would be "[after writing about the two car jackers, and their individual endings] ...And speaking of disbelief, the film manages to keep the hotheaded Iranian shopkeeper from killing anyone by a stroke of what I can only describe as fairy-tale magic. Again, one has to see it to disbelieve it"


HE WANTED THE LITTLE GIRL TO DIE?! If that had happened, and there were real bullets in that gun over the blanks that were really in it then... my god that would be one depressing film. That's another bizzare interporatation that I've found from critics, that Crash has some 'relieving comedy aspects' in it.... which is like the critics stating that "Slumdog Milionare" and "Up" are 'feel good' movies.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

"Moving at the speed of life, we are bound to collide with each other." - Crash review

Many Oscar winners and nominations for Best Picture have been subject to debate and some people argue that the Academy's decision comes down to a 'flavour of the year' attitude. Crash is a film that has sparked much controversy among film critcs after winning Best Picture in 2005. As a film buff I subscribe to both Empire and Sight and Sound magazines but do not pay attention to the reviews; essentially, it is down to personal opinion whether a film is worthy of praise or not. After finally watching Crash on Monday, I believe that it was most worthy of winning the Oscar over the other nominations: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night, and Good Luck and Munich.

When I initially heard about Crash I conciously avoided it. I remember the advertising campaign when the film was released and did not realise the film would be socially concious and concentrate on such an important and relevant issue. From what I gathered, the film was just another star-studded crime thriller. Considering this, it is interesting to trace the history of Best Picture winners. Past winners including The Godfather and The Departed are not films that delve into societal issues and impact life outside of the cinema, they are just well shot crime dramas with an epic twist. Personally, I believe that a truly brilliant film should explore themes like a good book but portray them uniquely in the way that only moving image can. Crash applies to this as it is not only slickly shot, it also explores the lives of a mixture of ethnicities while elaborating on two themes: Race and redemption.

Crash is not a film that overtly intends to seek viewing pleasure. It does not offer escapism to the viewer; it rather presents an uncomfortable reality. Saying this, while watching the film I was thoroughly engaged with the story and found the film enjoyable thanks to the slick cinematography and straight-talking dialogue. It can be argued that these things simply gloss over the serious nature of the film but I felt it was very refreshing to see all the conventions of a Hollywood blockbuster applied to a story that is stereotypical of independent filmmaking. There is an air of sophistication in Crash; it may not portray reality in all its grit but issues are presented accessably to the viewer via a variety of ways. However, this aspect of viewer manipulation has caused much of the debate in relation to Crash's success.

This argument is exemplified in Scott Foundas's response to film critic Roger Ebert's Crash review. While Ebert praised director Paul Haggis in potentially making his audience better people by moving them to "have a little more sympathy for people not like themselves", Foundas (from LA) believes that Haggis doesn't accurately reflect the city of Los Angeles. He sarcastically comments that he has "made lots of meaningful connections with others, none of which have been the result of a car accident" and unlike Ebert's praising of realistic characters, Foundas beleives that the characters in Crash are calculated, "plugged by Haggis into a schematic thesis about how we are all, in the course of any given day, the perpetrators and the victims of some racial prejudice." To some extent this is true, but Foundas fails to see the positive implications of presenting people in this light, especially in terms of progression and changing one's beliefs. I agree with Ebert that the strongest performance in Crash is by Matt Dillon, playing the racist cop John who is in anguish over his father. However, Foundas simply describes his story as "A white racist cop sexually assaults a black woman, then the next day saves her life." While watching the scene where he saves her from the burning flames, I initially held the same pessimistic view but I reminded myself that the film is not just about racism, it's about redemption and how situations are not always as black and white as they seem; people should look beyond what is presented before them. In regards to whether Haggis's manipulation with audience expectations has positive or negative implications, the only way to find out is to watch the film again, not distracted by the unpredictable heart-string pulling scenes or the slick cinematography.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Week Seven - Crash

Paul Haggis' 2004 Oscar-winnig turbulent tale of diversity - Crash, brings together a distinguished cast of notable names to reflect the boiling-point issues of race and descrimination, forever lurking over the shoulders of a sprawling Los Angeles community. The film reflects the hibernating resentment of true-blue America towards any outside co-inhabitation. For better term, those seen simply as outsiders. Wheather they are legal or illegal, seems to hold little sway with the higher-up or middle/working classes who control the system, be it financial, Legal, Welfare or otherwise. The same roller-pin of segregation paints everyone who's not from "Down round these parts right here" the very same. Though dark in tone, the stories paralell exsistences come face to face in many incidences such as the two gangbangers deciding on an apparent whim, after a rather philosophical confersation of note on the subject of colour, to hijack the black SUV of the very people the discussion was based on. Both of which, of course, are white (Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock). Refreshed and upbeat, they leave a resturant after a seemingly pleasant meal and evening out when the senators wife (Sandra Bullock) notices the two black men on the side-walk glancing at them as they pass by and instinctivly, she covers up. Shortly after, they are converged upon by the two as they sit into their car, ready to drive home. The experience proves altogether too much for Mrs Cabot (Sandra Bullock) who, later on in the film, after arriving home safe and sound from them filling out a report for the missing vehical, soon after retreats into something of state of depression derriving from the ordeal which, in turn only fuels her distrust of colour in general. Enter - Mexican-American locksmith, and conveniently so. From Scott Foundas' point of view, Haggis fronts the sympathizing angle on her still shaken frame of mind, and rightly so, instead of condemning her to the mountain top for verbally enforcing a potential accusation or "What if", of the locksmith making copies of their key for his "Gangbanger friends" to come back and burgle them. Personally, I'd say after the time she's been through, she would be perfectly justifiable and entitled to just a little bout of thunderous venting. In Foundas' directionless rant he says, "Instead, when Sandra Bullocks pampered Brentwood housewife accuses a Mexican-American locksmith of copying her keys for illicit purposes, Haggis doesn't condemn her reprehensible behavior so much as he sympathizes with it." There's nothin' reprehensible about it because she didn't directly accuse him of anything. All she did was propose the possibility of it happening which I've already said, perfectly justifiable after what happened, wouldn't you think. For me, (Sandra Bullocks character is the most interesting because she draws on the feelings we hide most, the everyday ins and outs that sometimes secretly just makes us want to disect the world piece by piece and get rid of anyone in our way who poses any threat to out comfy exsistence. Later on in one of the most poigniant scenes in the film is when she is talking to her husband (Brendan Fraser) on the phone from work, her laid-bare frame of mind mentallity awakens itself when she describes herself as being "Angry all the time, and I don't know why". For me, this pretty much clinched her the Oscar for most interestingly messed-up character above everyone else in the film. Roger Eberts review and response to the soarly missplaced analystic ramblings of Foundas, is one of a calmer overview to the films diversely related structure. He says "If there is hope in the story, it comes because as the characters crash into one another, they learn things, mostly about themselves. Almost all of them are still alive at the end, and are better people because of what has happened to them." Which is very true, just because Foundas lives in Los Angeles, as glamorous as that sounds to the outside world around, doesn't mean he knows a damn thing about what goes on within it. There's a saying in western civilization that goes - "Sometimes you just can't see the forest for the trees." As for the Slick Cinematography, Paul Haggis creates a wonderful wide-angle world for these unsuspecting characters intertwining lives to collide or indeed Crash into one another in L.A.'s unforgiving sprawl, bringing to life an atmoshere that is as profoundly desolate as it rewarding.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Native American Tribes - Southern Ute

This is the flag for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe who are based in Colorada State. The Southern Utes Tribe are part of a larger group of tribes collectively known at the Utes. Whilst describing the history of the tribes and how they ended up in Colorado, no mention is made of them moving there under any duress and if the reader did not know any better, could easily be under the impression that the Utes moved and developed their way of life of their own accord. According to the website, the SOuthern Ute Tribe appears to be extremely well organised, with a casino and a number of active community projects. The Southern Ute Tribe is considered to be one of the more financially prosperous tribes with assets of over $4 million for it's 11,000 members. Some of this is attributed to Leonard Burch, former tribe leader who died in 2003.

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes

For my two tribes, I have chosen the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. I chose these tribes as they are a good example of modernisation in the Native American community. Where many of the Tribes of America were simply whiped out in the 19th century, the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes worked together to preserve their tribes. In 1937, the two tribes made their cooperation and partnership official by forming a single government and gaining recognition from the Federal government of the USA.

Today, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes seem to be quite prosperous, in 2007; their economic impact was estimated around $27mil and rising. They own a number of different casinos, which span two states and four counties; and founded the Arapaho & Cheyenne Tribal College, to allow Native Americans access to education, but also to increase awareness in the 'outside' community.

Native American Tribes - Blackfeet

This flag is for the Blackfeet Indian Tribe based in Montana. This tribe is considered to have one of the highest levels of poverty, however this is completely glossed over on the website. They do however, acknowledge the impact that the "white man" has had on thier population, especially alluding to the smallpox virus and the annialation of the buffalo. What is interesting is that what historians today consider to be a systematic killing of the buffalo is referred to as a "federal mistake". It is clear from the history section of the webstie, that the Blackfeet firmly believe that land was taken from them and continue to fight for this resoration. It is interesting that in a number of news reports, this tribe is considered poverty striken, however form the website, the tribe looks prosperous and is activly recruiting new members.

Russell Means - these from Alasdair

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Week Six - Captain Jim Shoshoni
This is a picture of Captain Jim Shoshoni taken in 1880. It is one of many, taken from an educational website for kids in which they can learn about Native American Culture, and the over 140,000 Native American Tribal Chiefs, the sight has on offer. The sight itself, is designed by Paul Burke and can be navigated easily through a series of figuritively informative profiles.

Week Six - "It Is Him".

This is another native American image from the website. Strange in name, yet friendly in face, "It Is Him" sits calmly and easy, as though listening to a long lost friend recant stories of some journey past. This picture was taken in Otoe, 1907.

Week Six - Hot Coffee

This is a standing image of Commanchi Tribal Chief - Hot Coffee from 1894.

Native American Tribes

The Cherokee Tribe consists of over 200,000 tribal members, making it the second largest Native American tribe in the US. Cherokee Nation is the official website of the tribe and provides a large amount of information about both the history of the tribe and the current issues affecting them, as well as general information about things such as language and cultural projects. The history section of the website provides an indepth overview of the general history of the tribe, key events that involved the cherokee people, information on the trail of tears and other info such as biographies of tribal members and lists of the tribal chiefs. All the history provided is detailed and describes the tribes interactions with both the white settlers as well as just their history. The news part of the website details current affairs that the tribe are involved with such as the setting up of a food distribution centre and acts being passed by the tribal council. A lot of the news is focused on the cherokee nation helping out and being involved with community projects within the tribe including things such as daycare for teenage mums and retirement savings workshops. This coverage suggests that the tribe is very much focused on caring for and protecting its own community, trying to improve the welfare of its members.

The Rosebud Sioux tribe are a native American tribe located in the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota. Their website provides a re large amount of information on all aspects of the tribe and their homeland, including info on their history, education, government, news and culture. The section on history provides videos explaining the tribes creation story, as well as a detailed timeline focusing primarily on political events i.e bills and laws passing, that have affected the tribe. The news section contains stories from both local and national native American media outlets but as with the cherokee website, the current issues seem to be predominantly focused on community welfare issues.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Native American tribes

In the website for The Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas, there is a sense of optimism and pride as current events include a feature on Lipan Apache tribal member Uvalle RedKnife being chosen to be one of the Native American faces of the 2010 Census. This is important for the Lipan Apache people as it allows them to proclaim their identity which will help assist their quest for Federal recognition. Their history is presented directly through an article from the journal 'Memoirs of the American Folk-Lore Society' called Myths and Legends of the Lipan Apache Indians. This academic style of information is representative of how the Lipan Apache's seek credibility of their tribe, expecially as the themes of "myth and conception" are discussed. As "Lipan stories take their inspiration from events which transpired in the underworld before the emergence", it is clear that only an academic tone can be taken seriously in regards to presenting myths as history.

Rather than focusing on just the tribe, The Navajo Nation is a wesbsite devoted to the Native American homeland of the Navajo people. Most of the current events presented on the website revolve around politics and voting for the 2010 Navajo Nation Primary Election in particular. Similar to the Lipan Apache tribe's website, the right to vote is presented here and this suggests that Native American tribes deem voting as a high priority. In contrast with the Lipan Apache tribe's website, the Navajo Nation's history is presented as factual explaining their geography: "The Navajo Nation extends into the states of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, covering over 27,000 square miles of unparalleled beauty. Navajoland is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America.", their work in World War II: "Unknown to many, the Navajo language was used to create a secret code to battle the Japanese. Navajo men were selected to create codes and serve on the front line to overcome and deceive those on the other side of the battlefield. Today, these men are recognized as the famous Navajo Code Talkers, who exemplify the unequaled bravery and patriotism of the Navajo people." thier government: "Navajo government has evolved into the largest and most sophisticated form of American Indian government." and explanation of their flag. Such phrases as "unparalleled beauty", "unequaled bravery" and "largest and most sophisticated" used to describe their history exemplifies how the Navajo are a very proud people.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Anti-Latino sentiments and racism

This is a group of Californians that believe that their state is 'under attack'. The site in question doesn't encourage racism, but instead is seen as a front for more extreme members.

pro latino immigration

Border Angels is an organisation that was set up in 1986 and describes itself as a "non profit organisation supporting humanity", aiming to stop the numerous deaths that occur each year when immigrants try to cross the border. Whilst not openly advocating the immigration of mexicans into the US, the group provides essentials necessary to allow the safe crossing across the border, such as rescue stations with waster in the summer and food clothing in storage bins in the winter. The group does not state political leanings regarding the issue of immigration but instead approaches it froma purely humanitarian and practical point of view.

anti latino immigration

Defend Colorado Now describes itself as a multiple issue committee that supports reform on immigration legislation. The website talks of understanding the 'fundamental fairness' of not allowing illegal foreign residents to reside in the US and utilise services intended for US citizens. The website focuses mainly on the different legislation in place already and what reforms are needed and are beginning petitioned for. The website doesnt really seem to offer any justification for its views other than that illegal residents shouldnt be using their services or taking jobs. The website presents itself as being fairly intellectual yet their seems to be little information to back up their argument. However i suppose its necessary to take into account colorados positioning in the US, neighbouring New Mexico. This means that colorado is likely to have seen a larger influx of illegal immigrants than many other states which may go some way to explaining the negative attitudes towards illegal immigrants.
Only two posts on Friday morning at 9.30...

We did move the class to give you extra time to do this and the extra time is so that you can read other people's posts before we meet - but that doesn't work if you post late (or if you only write a few words)

I trust all the posts will be up before 12.00!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Week Five - Invasion Row

Week Five - Anti-Latino Immigration

This is CNN's ex-current affairs anchor and out spoken Anti-immigration activist - Lou Dobbs. The online news publication L.A. Progressive ran a segment not so long ago about the media figure now at CBS, being dropped by and on rather ill-terms ever since with the Anti-immagration group ALIPAC, because of slight change of heart on illegal-immagration. Dobbs, once hailed Champion of America's favourite Anti-immagration extreamist group is now on the outs with the right wing organisation and have also dropped their backing for his 2010 Presidential bid for the hill.

Week Five - Pro-Latino Immigration

Immigration Impact
This is a Pro-Latino immigration website documenting accounts of Border Patrol filtering tactics aboard the national expressway bus company - Greyhound. Apparently, the organisation found that Border Patrol officers were knowingly let on bus routes with Greyhound employees for the sole porposes of identifying any illegal, under the radar passengers that might have come from across the Mexican boarder to reach the U.S. The Rights group watchdog for treatment of illegal-immagrants are now urging every legal Latino-American immagrant in the U.S. to boycott the Expressway giant as sign of protest.

Latino Immigration Issues

There are a variety of pro Latino immigration websites that aim to prevent negative attitudes of immigration by emphasising a Mexican work ethic including BEYOND THE BORDER the accompanying website for a documentary film that traces four sons who leave their close-knit family in Mexico to seek a better life in the US. Issues such as immigrant deaths due to hazardous conditions while trying to cross the border and how millions Mexican-born people living in the US are undocumented is presented in this website and there is a suggestion that Congress should push a "guest worker program, wherein Mexican workers could freely come and go across the border but would not be allowed to stay in the US permanently". Mexican immigrants are reflected neutrally in the 'Immigration Issues' section: "many Mexicans work in the United States to help support their families south of the border". This can be perceived pessimistically in the sense that Mexican immigrants drain the US economy for the Mexican economy's profit but I believe this statement applies to the principle of the American Dream as their intentions for immigrating to the US is purely to provide a better life for their families, not to live a life of luxury.

Comparatively, Coalition Against Illegal Immigration is an anti Latino immigration website that encourages a coalition of bloggers to "fight against illegal immigration". In the post 'Rush cashes in on Democrat demonizing', the opinion of Mexican immigration is set in stark contrast to that of BEYOND THE BORDER as it is adversely stated that "For some reason, Americans have this romantic vision of hard working Mexicans fleeing their native land to find a better life in the US" and "the reality is that all illegal immigrants have broken our laws by illegally entering this nation". Mexican immigrants are referred to as "criminals" and this appears to be the main gripe of bloggers from this website. This however does not take into account the reasons why they flee to the US and the hostile tone of this post makes the validity of this argument questionable.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Hurricane Katrina

While these videos aren't from this site, I just wanted to post them. is a site that was redesignated by the owner of the domain name '', it is now dedicated to telling individual stories about their experiences of Hurricane Katrina.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Assimilation and Separatism - Hurricane Katrina

Life after the hurricane

Both of these articles come from the website The Website is called "Black Voices" and is an online lifstyle magazine for the black community. Alhough the whole website is not devoted to Hurricane Katrina, a simple search brings up a number of articles particularly around the aftermath.

The article I have chosen contains a number of videos of black people talking about their feelings. As the author says at the beginning, the media has been quick to portray the black community of New Orleans as "alternately violent during the heat of the tragedy and passive during its rebuilding". The videos portray a very different view of the black community and illustates a number of people who are positive about their future. Some are questioning government and certain aspects that have not been publicly discussed, however the majority are definately not passive during the rebuilding of the area.

The majority of the articles on the site show the black community in a positive light and seem to have almost "ignored" the race issues raised by Kanye West. This seems to be an almost Martin Luther King way of dealing with matters rather than fighting and raising any concerns around race wars. The only article that I found on the site which even alludes to the Kanye West school of thought was at the bottom of the page which discusses an article written in another magazine.

Hurricane Katrina & African Americans

Hurrican Katrina hit the coasts of Mississippi and Louisiana in August 2005. An area that was particularly badly hit was New Orleans, which was and still is a predominantly African American area. The chaos that ensued after the hurricanes devastation of the city brought to light a number of issues regarding African Americans in contemporary America.

A comment that illustrates some of the issues facing African Americans in the US was provided by Alphonso Jackson (a Bush era HUD secretary) who guaranteed that New Orleans was "not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again". Having previously made up 67% of New Orleans population, the African American community has decreased significantly due to both the hurricane and the problems in its aftermath.

Housing has become a particular issue for African Americans in New Orleans. Many of the homes most badly damaged were those owned by African Americans on low incomes. As such, 1000's are in "FEMA trailers awiting curiously delayed federal aid money" in order to repair their houses. However whilst there are some who are waiting for housing repairs, many more have been pushed into selling their houses and entering the rented market which has thrown up more problems. African Americnas, alongside latinos have found themselves disciminated against in the rented market, with research by Professor John Baugh and theNational Fair Housing Alliance suggesting that white renters were favoured by landlords.

A final issue that has affected African Americans in the wake of Hurrican Katrina has been in regards to crime and racial profiling. As a result of the movement of evacuees, some areas hosting these evacuees experienced an increase in crime rates. This has resulted in an increase of racial profiling and cases like the Jena Six.

Week Four - Hurricane Katrina.

These two images are from a website documenting Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. They're from Well if there was ever a picture to simply slice your heart right down the middle, it's most likely this one right here. This little wet and weary, brown-eyed, long-haired terrior's just about had enough excitment for one lifetime and just wants to go home forever and absolutely ever. This was taken on September 10th, 2005 in New Orleans as rescued dogs are taken to the airport. Says it all really, doesn't it. The little fella's war-weary appearance reflects a true spirit of fighting courage in its purest form as he glances off at an angle, just happy to be safe and sound in his owners arms.

Week Four - Katrina.

This is a rather haunting image of a stray dog making his way down Lower Ninth Avenue in the flooded aftermath of the quake. They say pictures speak a thousand words but sometimes they're just not enough to describe the vast loneliness of this captured moment in time. A distant glare into the lense is probably all we'll ever know of what happend to this wandering best friend.

Week Four - Katrina
This is a hurricane identity-relief website in which loved ones or indeed someone you know or a concerned about can have their well-being checked up apon by simply tapping in a phone number by which can be traced to their whereabouts.