reblogging this in full (sorry for clogging the dash) because I accidentally posted this to the wrong blog when I responded last time.
^^^^ so much of this, yes. and i feel the same way about how homegirl is being received in all of this. she’s so brilliant and all these white folks fawning over her makes me…….uneasy.
and there’s something there about New Orleans and Louisiana being held up as these precious magic places……….that are abandoned when disaster strikes. or really, disaster is guided to these places. Katrina and the BP spill were man-made disasters. magical, but not too magic that they can’t be shat on or abandoned.
there’s also something about how Zeitlan is setting up southern louisiana as “it’s ramshackle and isolated because they want to be that way!!!!!” which, yes, self-sufficiency is a cultural thing in that area, but the rhetoric sounds an awful lot like “they’re poor because they want to be!” which needs to ignore things like history and structural inequality to make it’s argument stick.
i’ve said this before, but if you want an example of “magic realism”/fantasy and blackness/black people done right, you really need to check out Jeremy Love’s Bayou. it doesn’t sidestep the ugly.
btw boldness added.
It’s definitely on my must watch list, now.
But yeah, I think…definitely the part about how disasters are guided to these places, like along the gulf, and other rural (or places that are on the limn between rural and suburban) sites. Add to that the forced rhetoric of self-sufficiency as choice, rather than necessity. Because, no matter how much we talk about places (West Virginia and Appalachia also get this treatment, among other places) having a rugged self-sufficiency, to talk about that without talking about the denial of infrastructure and services is negligent at best.
If we’re going to bring up the romance of clinging to remote places or survival, we need to talk about the how and why. Why are there isolated communities just hours from major cities? Hell, why are there isolated communities within major cities?
And I don’t mean those questions in the sense of everyone must be present and accounted for, or even assimilation in any sense. So much as I mean them to complicate the assumption that people who are self-sufficient want to be self-sufficient to the degree that has been romanticized.
In the most circular of fashions, this goes back to Jefferson and the vision of the plantation as how farms are, rather than say, the tenant farmer being the common image. That practice was/is the most common form of non-corporate farming. And certainly was more present in non-white rural histories (if only because of ownership laws, though just as often because of plantation owners trying to recover economically after the Civil War).
Unfortunately, I get a growing sense of Zeitlan (who is from Queens) being another carpetbagger who “fell in love with the magic of the South.” :/
Before I get myself too confused, I had to bold that second paragraph, because that is, really, so much the heart of it.
While it is very physically and specifically applicable, it’s also a grander metaphor/analogy for the ever-present “Everyone wants to be black, but no one wants to be Black.”
And it’s not like New Orleans ever wasn’t a cultural hot spot, a place to be seen and see people. It’s also been, because of it’s geographic location, a confluence of so many nations and cultures. Both willing and unwilling participants. I would argue that there is a particular fluidity to how it manifested itself, too. And it is that which outsiders are enamored with. But because it’s the reverence of something on a pedestal (i.e., the image of it, rather than the reality of it), those who are so enamored are able to walk away.
In the end, it’s not their reality.
And that’s why they can call it fantasy.
That’s why there are academic and non-academic conversations about treating narratives of enslavement (including, but not limited to contemporaneous, fictionalized, and historic models) as the birth of a US horror sensibility. Which, really, isn’t that far off. Especially when we think about the after effects.
If we treat these things (forced self-reliance, enslavement, economic and social deprivation, isolation, early loss of parental figures) as fantasy, we don’t have to confront just how pervasive they are/were.
I can’t even begin to touch the amazing truth that is this conversation, but I wanted to add a couple notes that crossed my mind when reading sections of this.
The director moved into the area in 2004 and can thus be seen as a part of the earliest of the white in-flight movement into the area.
The fawning over this little girl also rubs me wrong. I saw some pictures earlier when she was on this white block, with the director and (I think) the actor that played her father (admittedly, I was too disturbed by something in the images to even know who the two others were). Anyway they was she was posed when she was alone, the way they were lifting her up, the way the were reaching toward her all felt off, like some sort of men controlling her body, or her body, herself not being herself vibe was hitting me.
Also, I first learned about this through afropunk.com before their was a trailer. The only videos I could find were of the director discussing the film, and casting process. While it was awhile ago that I watched these I distinctly remember hearing him say directly or hinting to how strong and tough Quvenzhane was, and how those traits were what made him select her as the lead for the piece. It bugged me to have these things already tossed onto a five now eight year old.
All of this is still making me a bit wary, although I am definitely watching this film.