On Russell Simmons and Harriet Tubman (after the apology)

Harriet Tubman

I haven’t yet expressed my outrage on the smut accorded Academy Award Nominee for Best Actress Quvenzhané Wallis by The Onion. As she sat in her seat at the Oscars, a grown man from that social network looked on this nine-year-old and tweeted: “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c–t, right?”

Nor have I expressed my outrage on Justin Timberlake and his blatant demonstration of cowardice at Superbowl XXXVIII. He left—no he ABANDONED Janet Jackson on stage. Standing. By herself.

Nor have I expressed my outrage over Chris Rock’s signification on Janet’s breast and holding her totally responsible for the mishap during his HBO stand-up comedy special Never Scared.

Nor have I expressed my outrage over Li’l Wayne’s lyrical dare to compare his alleged sexual prowess to that of Emmett Till’s lynching. I won’t even mention R. Kelly.

These posts still are to come, but I do believe I curry a hesitancy that stems from trying to find the words to engrave the depth of my anger.

Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons

Now, this draff from Russell Simmons.

Yes, Simmons,

the Hip Hop magnate whose HBO Series Def Poetry attracted master wordsmiths such as Nikki Giovanni, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, and Nuyorican Poets Café founder Bob Holman,

who mined the field for a whole new generation to appreciate the elegance and power of words, and

whose pioneering efforts honed the comedic talents of Ced, the Entertainer and D. L. Hughley.

Yes, THAT Russell Simmons who produced all of that artistic hauteur has thrown to us some of his prurient imaginings. What’s worse, THAT Russell Simmons expected us to LIKE them. After the apology, I wonder if he will reflect on his pop culture gesture, and what it will mean for him, a father of two young women. He obviously knows his history, and I’d like to know what was it about this particular moment in African American history that compelled him to make that video? What did he expect to accomplish? Why that particular storyline? Why Harriet Tubman? The Harriet Tubman Sextape is a blatant disrespect of African American history; more specific, his visual product is an attempt to devalue the vital role African American women have played in history.

I just have one last statement as I close out because I have to prepare to do what is necessary to keep my day job:

Russell Wendell Simmons, we are moving still through our grief over Trayvon Martin; some of us are shoring up the strength to see Fruitvale Station in honor of Oscar Grant; and, some of us are doing all that is necessary to free Marissa Alexander from that 20-year sentence down in Florida. We are in mourning; yet, the Harriet Tubman Sex Tape produced by you is what you hand to us to look on as we journey towards healing?

A Royal Affair @ The Ross

Dr. Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), the Danish King Christian (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), and Queen Caroline (Alicia Vikander)

Dr. Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), the Danish King Christian (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), and Queen Caroline (Alicia Vikander)

Courtly madness and arrant passion combine for A Royal Affair, Nikolaj Arcel’s lavish historical drama set in 18th century Denmark. It is based on the true story of a love triangle between Dr. Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), the German physician to the mentally ill Danish King Christian IV (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), and his love affair with the well-versed English Princess turned Queen, Caroline Matilde (Alicia Vikander). It is the Age of Enlightenment, and Dr. Struensee and Queen Matilde contemplate the ideal of personal freedom. Arcel’s production unleashes the usual suspects once the affair is discovered: the lovers’ carelessness, intrigue, and, of course, the set-up. The device Arcel cleverly uses to set-up the attraction between Dr. and his patient, the King, and for the love affair to materialize is the seduction of the written word. Dr. Struensee earns the Royal Physician’s post by trading quotations from Shakespeare with the King like an experienced chess player. When the Dr. examines the Queen for a possible illness in his office, she spies his library and borrows a book on the Enlightenment. Later, the Dr. sends the Queen a gift of Rousseau and Voltaire for her private reading. These literary gestures endear physician, King and Queen to each other as each word conjures up intense friendship and fascination; loyalty and trust.

The Dr. and Queen in a stolen moment

The Dr. and Queen in a stolen moment

Worth noting in A Royal Affair are the sumptuous eye-pleasing costumes overrun with rich brocades, lace and silk. Nikolaj Arcel has produced an astonishing smartly executed period piece drawn with a very modern feel.

A Royal Affair plays through February 21 at The Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

This weekend’s Met HD Live opera is Rigoletto February 16 and Sunday, February 17.
The Coffee and Conversation film on Sunday is Soul Food Junkies.

Abridged audio version @ 49:36 http://tinyurl.com/d3gd4es on Friday Live at the Mill!

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