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RF

"the caging, the force-feeding, the trough-dining, the inverted hanging, the nonchalant sexual harassment of women and sometimes children"

--sounds like what happens to billions of animals every day. Go Vegan!

KH

There's nonchalant sexual harassment of women and sometimes children happening to animals?

grrg

This is interesting. Regarding the point that Goodbye Uncle Tom is a very, let's say, idiosyncratic perspective on slavery, you might be interested in the work of Marie Jenkins Schwartz, a historian at the University of Rhode Island. Her scholarship is motivated by the insight that, while the entire system of slave ownership should obviously be repellent and nauseating to every thinking person, slavery as it was experienced was rarely the chamber of horrors that 19th-century abolitionist tracts and 20th-century anti-racist scholarship had a vested interest in exposing. For her, both the slaves and the slave owners had incentives to maintain loving, nurturing family units and a bare minimum of autonomy. The fact that masters could, at any time, treat their property like sub-human animals, sexual objects, and disposable machines, didn't mean that they did, at ALL times.

Some of this is touched on here, although Schwartz's books are more nuanced. A similar attempt to complicate the cartoonish ways we've come to imaging how slaves actually lived (like, um, this movie) is hinted at in Annette Gordon-Reed's amazing new book on Jefferson and Sally Hemmings.

M

Great entry

Captain Wrong

I had this set and wasn't able to make it to Uncle Tom. Africa Addio really got to me and all this time later, I still haven't made up my mind about it. (I blogged about it ages ago, if you'll allow me to blogwhore: http://tinyurl.com/ctzakv) I think Rich summed up my feelings about Africa Addio in his last section about this film. There's just something about these guys work that you can't help discuss what the hell it all means. Compelling is a good word for it.

The documentary on these two that came with the set is well worth seeking out, btw. It's really interesting to hear them tell their story in their own words. They are either fantastic liars or hopelessly naive. I honestly don't know which it is.

PS, tell Winston I said hi. The wife got me a Team Winston shirt for Xmas and it's one of my prized possessions now.

Cornelius

Spot on entry Rich, two questions:

"Three's Company" theme-ish music during the slave rounding up scene on the breeding farm?? WTF?

Did anyone think when they switched to the modern day setting at the end and there was the panning view from the sky that is was the opening to "Golden Girls"? That would have been a very special episode I imagine, especially if Blanche brought that stud Jason home.

mimo

What about the fact that it was two ITALIAN filmmakers coming to America looking to make a fast buck by exploiting the black/white obsessions that occupy our nation. I'm not saying that only an American should have made this, but to become fascinated by it for its assault on taste feels like you're falling for one of their (the filmmakers) tricks. It doesn't feel like a whole lot of thought was put into the making of or the implications of scenes. So why waste your mental energy?

pingilitis

i get gabe was being facetious when he said "we solved racism, right?" but i kind of think if everyone was capable of articulating their perceptions of race, and the requisite implications (not necessarily in regards to grotesque, italian genre films) like you guys did, it'd be solved. at least, as close to solved as possible (save for human error, like, i don't know, creating the myth of race to begin with).

spazmo

Gabe makes a good point regarding the timing of this film vis-a-vis Kael's "race war" comments.

Shit was hitting the fan from Oakland to Omaha & from Philly to Roxbury in those days. Race riots destroyed entire neighborhoods back then and drove employment and educational opportunities even further out of reach. Huge swaths of real estate were blighted at flashpoint over the span of a weekend, the blink of an eye really.

The senseless executions of MLK and Bobby Kennedy capped a decade of wrenching grief and upheaval for blacks. True misery bore naked hostility on both sides of the nascant "culture war".

A movie like this, viewed in its historical context, must have seemed to Pauline and other critics as being not just exploitative, but obscenely reckless as well.

Once again, good thoughts from both you guys. The "Salo" video post you guys did is still a favorite of mine. (Just a little hint for next time!)

nikki

speaking of racism, has anyone read this article. i'm disgusted by the amount of ignorant, racist comments against black people.

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/basketball/blog/the_dagger/post/Please-note-that-Chase-Budinger-s-face-is-not-a-?urn=ncaab,136602

mighty undies

I'm dying to see a review of you of 'The Spirit'.
It might be one of those that no one gets. It's being trashed everywhere.

Jules

Rich,

I appreciate it when you say "to use slavery as a tool of cinematic arousal is ultimately disrespectful. No matter what you may learn along the way, Goodbye Uncle Tom's primary target is your gut."

I also appreciate your taboos: child abuse, animal abuse, holocaust, etc.

I am genuinely curious (and not coming from a place of defensiveness--because these are questions about cinema I've had to deal with myself)does this sentiment extend to prolonged, exploitive gut-wrenching depictions of rape? Torture porn-ish horror films?

Jackie

Your movie discussions are seriously the best. Please keep them coming.

Riley

I've never seen this film (documentary?) before, but now I'm curious. As for this:

"to use slavery as a tool of cinematic arousal is ultimately disrespectful. No matter what you may learn along the way, Goodbye Uncle Tom's primary target is your gut."

I agree to an extent.

When I was in 9th grade, our history teachers had us watch movies about slavery and the Holocaust - and they were pretty graphic and, I guess, "sensational." (We had to bring parent-signed permission slips to watch). Up to that point, most of us only knew about slavery from a pretty detached, academic standpoint - meaning, we knew facts, dates, names, etc, but not much else.

It was kind of strange, afterwards, to see an entire classroom of 15-year-olds crying when the lights came back on.

I'm not saying that it changed any of our then-present thought on "race", or that we even considered racism in the context of the filmmaking - or our watching the film - but it did educate, in a way.

Note: I'm still in high school, and history is not my best subject (I'm a math girl), so I could definitely be wrong on all the points I made.

Now that I know about some of the most horrific aspects of slavery in greater detail, I probably wouldn't watch any more films that brutally expose those acts... because I don't think I would get any more out of it. (I don't know if that makes sense at all?)

Kind of why I didn't watch The Passion when it came out. I'm not currently religious, but my parents have made me go to church since I was 3, and we learned all about Jesus' death, the stations of the cross, etc. I felt like the only thing I could get from watching The Passion was watching hours of torture that would (obviously) result in a cruel death. So I just didn't bother...

Anyway. Before I go, I had to say I love your blog... I mean, you discuss racism, homophobia, Christian fundamentalism, ANTM, music playlists, Fat Camp, Winston and Rudy, and more - with the sentiment and attention appropriate to each subject. Certainly not an easy thing to do... keep it up :)

RF

"There's nonchalant sexual harassment of women and sometimes children happening to animals?"

forcifully impregnating cows on 'rape racks' and sticking shock prods up animals' vaginas to make them move faster to their deaths i think qualifies.

and yes i have personally seen it. i live in amarillo, tx.

typescript

Terrible, but humans are not animals, and the quick jump (/threadjack) is a little disgusting in itself, in this context.

RF

uh, humans ARE indeed animals. mammals even. primates, in fact.

N

Are you retarded? Stop comparing what happened to PEOPLE to animals and go eat your tofu, damn.

Dutty Bama

I think the stranger fact is that slavery was imposed by humans (animals) who thought themselves superior to another group of humans (animals).

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Shepherd

Re: the first comment...

I was a vegetarian for 5 years. I also raised sheep for many years. I'm sympathetic to animal welfare (not animal rights, a concept which is utter nonsense) as well as experienced with the meat industry, and let me say that nothing irritates me more than people who compare animal suffering to human suffering.

I'm all for humane methods of getting meat. I believe in free-range meat and am willing to spend extra money on those products so that evil corporations like Smithfield and Perdue, who don't give two shits about giving the animals they breed and ultimately kill pleasant, healthy lives, can't fund more inhumane practices, but COME THE FUCK ON.

You cannot even begin to logically argue that stockyards and plantations/concentration camps are comparable.

Why don't you tell a Eli Wiesel and Anne Frank and Harriet Tubman that their lives amounted to nothing more than chickens' lives, and that the hell they went through was nothing more or less than than what happens to a steer going to slaughter?

Do you believe all the bullshit the psychopaths at PETA spew on you?

You are completely insane, RF.

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