This short note is filled with praise for the documentary DVD Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train and ideas for Matt Damon and his pals to bankroll a movie for “the next” Spike Lee. Some points about Howard Zinn that the DVD covers:
- Howard Zinn was born into a working class family. He is from the ’hood.
- Howard Zinn lived in the projects—and that was a step higher compared to the places he and his family lived.
- In his childhood home, there were no books.
- Howard Zinn fought in World War II, in the Air Force. He dropped a prototype of napalm on a small village in Europe.
- Howard Zinn taught at Spelman College for a young Alice Walker (who appears in the DVD) among others. He led the first campus-based civil disobedience movements in response to the legalized American apartheid system of the 1950s. The Negroes at Spellman eventually fired him. Zinn blames covert FBI involvement for his departure.
- Howard Zinn was an early protestor against the Vietnam War and went to North Vietnam to look at the carnage and courage first hand. His career as an academic in Boston was under serious threat because of his public activities. It would not surprise me to discover that the Hollywood 1970s image of the recreational-drug-using, promiscuous, near-pedophilic professor was a way for the establishment to get back at professors like Howard Zinn with carefully designed distortions.
So here in the rasx() context it seems like a great idea two drop a couple million bucks on making a small-but-respectable film about Howard Zinn at Spelman. These are few reasons why this is a great idea for my theoretical filmmaker (Spike Lee Version 2.0):
- This filmmaker can still seriously call themselves Black and make a movie with a lead actor of European descent. Even rasx() over here in his “little African world” understands how one needs to ingratiate one to the Hollywood establishment and self-described “white liberals.” So in order to address this sick ritual of proving you are “universal” and “inclusive,” making a movie about Howard Zinn at Spelman seems like a brilliant move.
- This filmmaker can draw parallels of Howard Zinn’s working-class life in the projects with some vignette of a Spelman student who came from the same projects. This is where the poetic license is flashed. This also reveals with images the false racial barriers that govern us to this day.
- This filmmaker can take even more advantage of today’s political climate and still not look like a fucking idiot in the future by slipping back into the political comfort zone of the Hollywood establishment to remind the suits that Spelman is a college for Negro women. You won’t have too many Black male actors strutting around the set thus reducing the potential for a John Amos event on the set of Good Times. Hey, let’s face it ladies, Beah Richards is a hard act to follow.
- This filmmaker can juxtapose the Negro wealth that certainly existed among more than a few at Spelman and break new ground (again) about showing a “poor white guy” surrounded by opulent, well-mannered, middle-class Negroes. This would be the one little area the filmmaker can show rebelliousness against the strict but unspoken Black codes that exist in American mass entertainment.
- This filmmaker can also expose the wicked ways of the Negro collaborators with American apartheid. This option is serious rebellion. However, the filmmaker—most likely a refined Machiavellian—can ‘hide’ behind the relatively acceptable precedent of the Negro revelations in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Always appeal for protection from your ancestors—even those that are not so wise are better than nothing.
- Assuming that the filmmaker is an activist, this person can also tie this fictional work in with the defacto-censored Eyes on the Prize series by reinforcing some of the evident design goals of Henry Hampton’s documentary—one goal is to show “average Americans” talking in a matter-of-fact manner about people with strong African features like they are creatures from another planet on broadcast television. This should be completely shocking when shown to a Viacom-nurtured American born after 1980.
- Assuming that the filmmaker is a hulking genius, this person can elegantly and deftly show how some “people of color” need a “white” role model like Howard Zinn in order to function. This is a very touchy issue and can go wrong in the wrong hands…
So the reason why Spike Lee can’t make this film is that he has had decades to make something like this and has not. Yes, there was 4 Little Girls—so this probably means he’s done. From my distance and in my flippant ignorance, my assumption is that Spike Lee would be too sympathetic to the upper-class establishment of Spelman and Howard to memorialize them—even one of them—in such a manner. Remember, this is the brother who made School Daze—that’s about as deep as he’s going to get.
One of the most important items on the DVD is in the “Audio and Video Extras”—a very vital track called “Human Nature and Aggression.” Howard Zinn, a man who fought in “the great war”—a man of European descent—a professional academic is telling you that this notion of warlike behavior being “human nature” is utterly ridiculous. It should be clear to any person with memories of living with nature that the anteaters have never planned The Final Solution for the ants. What the anthropomorphic, white-supreme fantasies of Disney films suggest to small children is that the anteaters wish they could wage such a war. Too bad they’re not like “us” humans, eh? “We’re” smarter, eh? My prediction is that this and other “human nature” rhetoric will be accepted as more matter-of-fact, alien-from-outer-space talk by “average Americans.” Hey Average Joe, don’t laugh at those Columbians who spoke of the Earth being flat! Wait until you and your speeches go into future history…
It is being archived here on the Internet—as we speak…