The Act of Killing @ The Ross

Poster

“It is forbidden to kill and therefore all murderers are punished. Unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” I would like to add to Voltaire’s quote, “and to get away with murder and live to tell it regardless of circumstance surely will kill any and all feelings of remorse.” The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer’s arresting documentary features members of a killing machine in 1968 Indonesia, when its government was overthrown. The threat of communism followed, and executioners Anwar Congo–the dashing star of this cinematic jaunt–Herman Koto and their comrades killed more than 1,000 Chinese suspected of communism. In The Act of Killing, Oppenheimer appeals to Anwar Congo’s love of action film stars such as John Wayne and James Bond to recreate on camera those very acts of killing. The behind-the-scenes collaborations and discussions and the casting call are distressful; even more wearing on the spirit is the joie-de-vivre the executioners demonstrate as they talk about why each carried out the murders and reproduce with abandon how they did them. They are national heroes. Their communities welcome them and celebrate their pasts. They carry on the ordinary of everyday. They shop with their families. They dance. They sing. They tell bawdy jokes. More troubling, they smile and they smile and they smile. For the full 159 minutes, the camera, along with the audience, searches for grand gestures of sorrow or guilt. Even Anwar Congo hunts among his friends for a way to handle his sleepless nights that are filled with nightmares. Yet, all the camera can marshal is a glimmer of regret from him, but it is too little too late.

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To Paula Patton, Robin Thicke and Gloria Loring

The Family

The Family


Dear Paula Patton and Robin Thicke, parents of a 3-year-old son, and Gloria Loring, grand/mother:

I am,
Actress/poet
critic of pop culture
instructor of African American literature and film;
semiotician or a reader of signs and symbols or anything that has meaning–

If you saw the film The Davinci Code, note the opening scene were Harvard University Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is giving a lecture on symbols and their meanings past and present.

Or, simply watch an episode from any CSI series or on CBS, more recent, NBC’s Hannibal

but I digress–

Here’s the chase:

The sun set on my anger Sunday, August 25, but days later I woke up in a clear contemplative mood. After careful review of comments made by all of you in myriad media outlets over the Thicke/Cyrus MTV-Video Music Awards performance on that Sunday, I am ready to read more of the signs from that night, and, if I may, I begin with a statement:

It is about time all of you admit Robin’s complicity in this mess, not to mention Paula’s prior knowledge of the risqué nature of the show. It is about time. Yes, it is.

Paula, if the reports from sources on tmz.com are true on your response to your husband’s performance at the MTV VMA with Cyrus, and I quote, “we’re told Paula knew the performance wasn’t gonna be G-Rated because there were ‘tons of rehearsals’ before the show”, then you cannot wash your hands of the responsibility for that visual debacle.

Robin, if the reports from sources on perezhilton.com as to your response to your ‘duet’ with Miley Cyrus are true, and I quote, “Robin thought it would be fun to include Miley, but he didn’t realize how much she would overshadow him”, then you are more than responsible; you are the culprit.

During ‘tons and tons of rehearsals’, you let Miley Cyrus, a 20-year-year-old lick and bump and grind YOU, a 36-year-old husband and father, tons of times as you sang, “you know I want it! so c-c-c-come on!” from your newest release Blurred Lines. And, more glaring, in the end, your only worries are that you did not win Video of the Year and were upstaged by Miley both on and offstage.

In your appointed ’15-minutes’ onstage, you expected to (re)introduce your hot new single as a young hot(?) ‘kitten’ purred to your blurred lines, but you failed to anticipate a backlash from the public or that we would even care or notice. We did, though! The backlash, Miley Cyrus, along with the performance, and the blogs and scholarship on same, will attend your newest hit–always! There’s the gotcha!

To Robin’s mother, Ms. Loring, in your exclusive interviews with Yahoo! and OMG!, you lamented,

I just keep thinking of her mother and father watching this. Oh, Lord, have mercy. … I was not expecting her to be putting her butt that close to my son. The problem is now I can never ‘unsee’ it. Him? Loved it. I love that suit, the black and white suit. I don’t understand what Miley Cyrus is trying to do. I just don’t understand. I think she’s misbegotten in this attempt of hers. And I think it was not beneficial.’

Ms. Loring, recognize your son’s collaboration in that performance, then maybe some understanding will come to you of a grown man taking advantage of a young woman’s sexuality to advance his own artistic endeavor. THAT is misbegotten.

As for Paula and Robin, you are hereby added to the list of guilty parties for the infamous Thicke/Cyrus spectacle. As you are more than aware by now, the public noticed:

Paula Patton, actress; Robin Thicke, entertainer; Jesse Ignjatovic, Executive Producer; Amy Doyle, Garrett English and Dave Sirulnick, Executive Producers. Joanna Bomberg, Jen Jones and Lee Lodge, co-Executive Producers. Hamish Hamilton, Director.

There.

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