Author Topic: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers  (Read 10493 times)

Offline Metro

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #30 on: August 20, 2013, 02:09:26 am »
no. i doubt you do.

Best wishes for your continued success.
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Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #31 on: August 20, 2013, 02:13:58 am »
I think you're confirming what my concerns were. The black power movement/black nationalism has to be dismissed and considered disreputable, as evidenced by the behavior I read about from the disrespectful son and his female friend. The black nationalists, as symbolized by the son in that scene had to be symbolically slapped down and its adherents had to be described as ungrateful. This is more bashing of black nationalism and I think it does us a disservice to dismiss that strain of thought.

In fact I think our embrace of black liberalism and the dominance of the black liberal consensus (I'm stealing that term now) is one of the reasons why our political debates have become so tired and stale. Black liberals are constantly trying to seek white acceptance through 'conversations about race', conformity, or deracialization, and I think our community has suffered by not upholding and building our culture and supporting our community culturally, economically, spiritually, and politically.

That last statement might sound hypocritical since I'm not supporting the most likeliest fawned over black film of the year but I don't think the ideology pushed by this film is beneficial or that it can generate the debates we need. It just canonizes the black liberal consensus (there I go again) and continues deifying the Civil Rights Movement (there I said it), or the media's take on the movement. We need the creative tension of black liberalism, conservatism, and nationalism.

The presentation in LDTB of the Black Power Movement is nuanced, imo.  It begins with the necessity of confronting northern racism and police brutality with tactics beyond the SCLC. 

Glaude's point on the black radical imagination is a huge concern with the later presentation of the son's Black Power commitments and his leaving the Panthers over their acceptance of violent self-defense.  His statement that he is "not ready" to kill is one of the more difficult moments in the film and it does not negate the legitimacy of people who do feel violent self-defense is essential.  However, the son's perspective on the need for more assertive resistance *wins out* by transforming his mother and father to a Pan-African perspective on South African apartheid. 

I can't recall a 'mainstream' feature film that endorsed Pan-Africanism as the political grounds for African-American family reconciliation.


The slapping remains focused on the son's rejections of the father's support and perspective.  The father had an equal part in the problems in their relationship, but the son's actions made the situation worse, not better, in that scene.


I think it is beyond the film's ability to "canonize" or "deify" anyone. 

If it serves to move 50% of African Americans over age 40 to reconsider the relationship between Civil Rights and Black Power (as Dr. Peniel Joseph's amazing work advances), that's a victory.  If it moves 30% over European Americans over age 40 to consider the continuing damage of "benign neglect" (specifically discussed in the film) and "conservative colorblindness" (represented by the Reagan presidency), that's miraculous.


I'd love to see a serious discussion of the differences between black conservatism and black nationalism, especially since 1970.  However, that remains for a future project.

I have no desire to see this film, but you have so if you think that your assertion that the black power movement was nuanced I can't argue with that. Though to be honest with you I'm skeptical that it really was. The Butler symbolizes 'mainstream' black thought or that liberal consensus and the son symbolized black radicalism-to a certain degree. So his behavior and portrayal was a commentary on that movement. From what I've read about this film at least Cecil and I would assert his son were more than just characters, they were windows into the black experience. They were meant to convey that experience and help the audience understand it by personalizing it. So the son's rejection and disrespectful behavior, in that context, came to represent how some of the liberal elite (white and black) saw the black power movement then or perhaps see it today (since it is no longer a viable rival it probably is less threatening and now can be symbolically slapped down and corrected with some of that tough love that some folks feel blacks always need).

As for Pan-Africanism-I wonder if that term was ever used in the film? I also don't give that too many points since everyone today loves and lionizes Nelson Mandela. Granted for characters in that time period to take up the cause was important so I shouldn't belittle that, but in 2013, to have characters support it is as safe as depicting a movie about Civil Rights workers. Did the Pan-Africanism go beyond divestiture? Did the Gaines' also become interested in other African issues or become knowledgeable about African history or culture?

As for canonization, of course movies have the power to legitimate or reinforce ideas and I bet you the Civil Rights Movement was praised in this film. It's rightness and validity were reinforced, I'm guessing with some powerful emotional scenes. But this film is not designed to inject ideas or create discussion outside of the trite thoughts that 'we' are so beyond that time now, or that was 'ancient history', and 'look we got a Black President now! Look how far we've come! Yay!" So it can reinforce conventional ideas but not really generate new ideas or debates.

Offline Metro

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #32 on: August 20, 2013, 02:32:15 am »
I think you're confirming what my concerns were. The black power movement/black nationalism has to be dismissed and considered disreputable, as evidenced by the behavior I read about from the disrespectful son and his female friend. The black nationalists, as symbolized by the son in that scene had to be symbolically slapped down and its adherents had to be described as ungrateful. This is more bashing of black nationalism and I think it does us a disservice to dismiss that strain of thought.

In fact I think our embrace of black liberalism and the dominance of the black liberal consensus (I'm stealing that term now) is one of the reasons why our political debates have become so tired and stale. Black liberals are constantly trying to seek white acceptance through 'conversations about race', conformity, or deracialization, and I think our community has suffered by not upholding and building our culture and supporting our community culturally, economically, spiritually, and politically.

That last statement might sound hypocritical since I'm not supporting the most likeliest fawned over black film of the year but I don't think the ideology pushed by this film is beneficial or that it can generate the debates we need. It just canonizes the black liberal consensus (there I go again) and continues deifying the Civil Rights Movement (there I said it), or the media's take on the movement. We need the creative tension of black liberalism, conservatism, and nationalism.

The presentation in LDTB of the Black Power Movement is nuanced, imo.  It begins with the necessity of confronting northern racism and police brutality with tactics beyond the SCLC. 

Glaude's point on the black radical imagination is a huge concern with the later presentation of the son's Black Power commitments and his leaving the Panthers over their acceptance of violent self-defense.  His statement that he is "not ready" to kill is one of the more difficult moments in the film and it does not negate the legitimacy of people who do feel violent self-defense is essential.  However, the son's perspective on the need for more assertive resistance *wins out* by transforming his mother and father to a Pan-African perspective on South African apartheid. 

I can't recall a 'mainstream' feature film that endorsed Pan-Africanism as the political grounds for African-American family reconciliation.


The slapping remains focused on the son's rejections of the father's support and perspective.  The father had an equal part in the problems in their relationship, but the son's actions made the situation worse, not better, in that scene.


I think it is beyond the film's ability to "canonize" or "deify" anyone. 

If it serves to move 50% of African Americans over age 40 to reconsider the relationship between Civil Rights and Black Power (as Dr. Peniel Joseph's amazing work advances), that's a victory.  If it moves 30% over European Americans over age 40 to consider the continuing damage of "benign neglect" (specifically discussed in the film) and "conservative colorblindness" (represented by the Reagan presidency), that's miraculous.


I'd love to see a serious discussion of the differences between black conservatism and black nationalism, especially since 1970.  However, that remains for a future project.

I have no desire to see this film, but you have so if you think that your assertion that the black power movement was nuanced I can't argue with that. Though to be honest with you I'm skeptical that it really was. The Butler symbolizes 'mainstream' black thought or that liberal consensus and the son symbolized black radicalism-to a certain degree. So his behavior and portrayal was a commentary on that movement. From what I've read about this film at least Cecil and I would assert his son were more than just characters, they were windows into the black experience. They were meant to convey that experience and help the audience understand it by personalizing it. So the son's rejection and disrespectful behavior, in that context, came to represent how some of the liberal elite (white and black) saw the black power movement then or perhaps see it today (since it is no longer a viable rival it probably is less threatening and now can be symbolically slapped down and corrected with some of that tough love that some folks feel blacks always need).

As for Pan-Africanism-I wonder if that term was ever used in the film? I also don't give that too many points since everyone today loves and lionizes Nelson Mandela. Granted for characters in that time period to take up the cause was important so I shouldn't belittle that, but in 2013, to have characters support it is as safe as depicting a movie about Civil Rights workers. Did the Pan-Africanism go beyond divestiture? Did the Gaines' also become interested in other African issues or become knowledgeable about African history or culture?

As for canonization, of course movies have the power to legitimate or reinforce ideas and I bet you the Civil Rights Movement was praised in this film. It's rightness and validity were reinforced, I'm guessing with some powerful emotional scenes. But this film is not designed to inject ideas or create discussion outside of the trite thoughts that 'we' are so beyond that time now, or that was 'ancient history', and 'look we got a Black President now! Look how far we've come! Yay!" So it can reinforce conventional ideas but not really generate new ideas or debates.

The Black Power Movement has three phases in the film -- SNCC's transformation, the emergence of the BPP, and the unleashing of COINTELPRO.  It is basic, but it also goes far beyond something like "Forest Gump" while falling short of Van Peebles's "Panther".

If the son and father are archetypes, it still doesn't neglect the wrongs the father inflicted on the son and the specific awakening the father experiences to recognize his wrongs in not supporting his son more.

The term "Pan-Africanism" isn't used. Still, the father has more than one conversation with Ronald Reagan on the matter where Reagan reflects that he "might have been" wrong on civil rights and apartheid issues.  Following the dissonance between Reagan's personal affinity for Gaines and his political stand to support South Africa, Gaines joins his son in the streets, claiming he should have come to protest with him earlier.

LDTB is not as challenging as other films I've mentioned in this topic.  However, it is significantly more complex in dealing with the Civil Rights Movement than films like Mississippi Burning or The Help, especially in its focus on SNCC and not Dr. King. 

It closes with a reflection on how close this history is to the present day. and that both kinds of activism were required to bring down any of the barriers over the last fifty years.  There is no clear endorsement that today is better than yesterday.

It sounds like you wanted more of JHClarke's voice from "A Great and Mighty Walk."  It wasn't a feature film, but a powerful biography project, nonetheless.
Dean Walter Greason
The Honors School
Monmouth University
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Offline BmoreAkuma

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #33 on: August 20, 2013, 06:31:48 am »
Im not going to waste my time to look at this film. It is already bad enough that we have posters on Facebook saying "its our history you young folks need to see this". No I don't. If you want to have a film where there a serious discussion about race relations then maybe Panther would be that film. Unfortunately it costs a ton to get this on DVD and even harder to get it on VHS. However thanks to the power of youtube it is currently up and available right now. Iíll make sure to convert it and save a copy of a DVD for me.

When you pull yourself from the plug you realize all of the bullsh*t this country stands for. All of it. The lies the deceit everything. I just need to make sure my debts are taken care soon because I dont think I can take this sh*t anymore. I just want to buy me some land, live in a tent while they are building my house the way I want it. Dammit even have some type of a mini hydroponic place to grow my own sh*t.



With these choices, I felt that the American black man only needed to choose which one to get eaten by; the liberal fox or the conservative wolf because both of them will eat him.

Offline Redjack

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #34 on: August 20, 2013, 11:29:01 am »
no. i doubt you do.

Best wishes for your continued success.


i take that for what it's worth.



Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #35 on: August 20, 2013, 01:28:52 pm »
Im not going to waste my time to look at this film. It is already bad enough that we have posters on Facebook saying "its our history you young folks need to see this". No I don't. If you want to have a film where there a serious discussion about race relations then maybe Panther would be that film. Unfortunately it costs a ton to get this on DVD and even harder to get it on VHS. However thanks to the power of youtube it is currently up and available right now. Iíll make sure to convert it and save a copy of a DVD for me.

When you pull yourself from the plug you realize all of the bullsh*t this country stands for. All of it. The lies the deceit everything. I just need to make sure my debts are taken care soon because I dont think I can take this sh*t anymore. I just want to buy me some land, live in a tent while they are building my house the way I want it. Dammit even have some type of a mini hydroponic place to grow my own sh*t.

I hope you enjoy Panther. I thought it was good in parts but would've been a better film if they followed the history of the Panthers, or at least Huey Newton and Bobby Seale more closely. Creating a fictional character in Judge and telling the story mainly through him had pluses and minuses. Though the climax at the end came off as more like a 70's blaxploitation movie if I recall correctly. There was one cameo, tying the film to Spike Lee's Malcolm X, that I thought was still pretty cool though. 

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #36 on: August 20, 2013, 01:30:36 pm »
Metro,

I have nothing else to add. Thanks for giving me more clarity on this film regarding the South Africa part and Gaines's eventual activism. It's still not my cup of tea though.

Offline BmoreAkuma

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #37 on: August 20, 2013, 04:20:49 pm »

I hope you enjoy Panther. I thought it was good in parts but would've been a better film if they followed the history of the Panthers, or at least Huey Newton and Bobby Seale more closely. Creating a fictional character in Judge and telling the story mainly through him had pluses and minuses. Though the climax at the end came off as more like a 70's blaxploitation movie if I recall correctly. There was one cameo, tying the film to Spike Lee's Malcolm X, that I thought was still pretty cool though.
I already looked at most of the film and yes they angela bassett continued to play the role of betty shabazz.

 
With these choices, I felt that the American black man only needed to choose which one to get eaten by; the liberal fox or the conservative wolf because both of them will eat him.

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #38 on: August 21, 2013, 02:11:51 am »
This Panther talk makes me think of another film, Night Catches Us with Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington. It's about a former Panther who returns to Philadelphia (I think) in the mid-70s after the Black Panther movement has pretty much been neutralized. I had never seen a movie that really dealt with what happened after. And for the most part I thought it was respectful of the Panther legacy.

For some reason I'm also recalling Dead Presidents and that radical group in there. I don't think that was the Panther's though.

Offline Metro

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #39 on: August 21, 2013, 03:51:02 am »
Metro,

I have nothing else to add. Thanks for giving me more clarity on this film regarding the South Africa part and Gaines's eventual activism. It's still not my cup of tea though.


I appreciate the conversation, EmperorJones.  One of my favorite consequences of the "Panther" project was its soundtrack.  The lead single represented a lot of the nommo behind the Native Tongues movement in hip hop.

Freedom
Various Artists - Freedom (Theme from Panther)

Dean Walter Greason
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Offline The Griot

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #40 on: August 21, 2013, 07:41:19 am »
See here's the thing. I grew up in the South. I was born in 1960, so many of the things that occurred during the Civil Rights movement happened just before my time. But I knew people on 'both sides,' those who 'went along to get along' and those who protested. The deal is that there is no clear line. Most of those who protested were raised, educated and supported by those 'get along' folks. So really there is no clear line between the two. We have this romanticized notion of the Civil Rights movement. Go talk to those who actually participated while they're still alive. Stop reading books that serve agendas. I plan on seeing the Butler because it tries to represent an aspect of that's not represented; the black folks who didn't flee Jim Crow, those who endures and made changes by educating their children, protecting them and giving them the knowledge and opportunity to try to make changes in their lifetimes. People like my parents.
"Happiness is dancing when the drumming is good."

Offline Battle

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #41 on: August 21, 2013, 01:47:03 pm »
See here's the thing. I grew up in the South. I was born in 1960, so many of the things that occurred during the Civil Rights movement happened just before my time. But I knew people on 'both sides,' those who 'went along to get along' and those who protested. The deal is that there is no clear line. Most of those who protested were raised, educated and supported by those 'get along' folks. So really there is no clear line between the two. We have this romanticized notion of the Civil Rights movement. Go talk to those who actually participated while they're still alive. Stop reading books that serve agendas. I plan on seeing the Butler because it tries to represent an aspect of that's not represented; the black folks who didn't flee Jim Crow, those who endures and made changes by educating their children, protecting them and giving them the knowledge and opportunity to try to make changes in their lifetimes. People like my parents.



"The Butler"  is starting to sound like a story about an African American family that eventually became reluctant heroes during the Civil Rights Movement, as there were (are) many of those kinds of people in real life.

Offline The Griot

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Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #42 on: August 23, 2013, 07:39:39 am »
This movie is stirring things up. I have friends on both sides of this as far as opinion is concerned. Most of the folks I know that have seen it love it, a few of them don't. Most of my friends who hate it haven't seen it; they either hate the concept, hate Lee Daniels, or both. I was getting kind of shaky about going but then I remembered I told my wife I would go with her so that's a done deal. Can't back out on the missus.  :D
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