Trump Inauguration Signals Death of America (Op/Ed)

Donald Trump

 

 

As the day of Donald Trump’s swearing-in looms ever closer, constituents across the country are still firmly divided in their support, or hatred, of the president elect. January 20, 2017 is a date that will go down in infamy as the day that the only snake oil salesman in recorded history was elected to fill the highest office in America.

Electing Trump has managed to roll back the country’s founding fathers’ dreams and aspirations with one blow from an Electoral College vote based on a political party’s rabid quest to get “one of their own” back in the White House.

Republican politicians were so desperate to have the GOP back in charge that they ignored Russian interference with what many consider an almost sacred event; the American election process.

The GOP has always been about the elite, the rich and that small class of American’s who inherited their wealth, quite different from the rich. (Trump, who started with a massive fortune falls somewhere between the rich and the wealthy, he has maintained his lifestyle by refusing to pay for service’s rendered.)

The spoon-fed potential oligarch owes billions and refuses to release his tax returns. All the while telling the gullible what they want to hear, while simultaneously setting the country’s lower and middle classes against one another. He attempts to control the media and lies on camera. This will continue until he and his cronies can rape and plunder their victims like ham-fisted marauders.

America wrenched itself away from Britain because of taxes and, truth be told, a social class system that saw more misery and starving people than ones who were “well off.” The new country was built on the idea that everyone could get a fair slice of the pie.

If there was ever any doubt that the Republican Party was behind the “common” man, this election has removed any question of what and whom the politicians, and their supporters, are looking out for. There is an old saying: The rich get rich while the poor get children. It could have been coined for the GOP.

The political system and ideals have been corrupted. Elected officials, regardless of party affiliations, have all become more concerned with personal wealth than the people who voted them in office. Officials now spend more time on party issues than looking out for the constituents they represent.

The American system has become sour, not for the people, who still respond fervently to a message of hope, but for its politicians. It is time for the two-party system to be dissolved or, at the very least, dismantled and rebuilt.

A system that enables a reality television “star” to take the reins of control over one of the most powerful countries in the world is clearly broken. A man who has illusions of grandeur and who clearly believes that the presidency is an autocratic position, will soon be in charge and sanity, like Elvis, will have left the building.

In England, there was an advert for Orange (a mobile phone company along the lines of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, et al) the company’s tagline was “The future is bright, the future is Orange.” It is beyond tragic to look at the 2016 election results and realize that the future is not bright, but it is certainly orange and full of stubborn belligerence.

The end of America as a superpower has been, as Russia once promised, brought about without one shot being fired.

The election of a man who clearly does not hold his own country’s well being over his narcissistic need for fame and control has killed a once great nation.

Roots (2016): The Problem With Plagiarized History

Kunta KInte Roots

“Roots,” the original television spectacle took a country by storm back in the late ’70s.   Adapted from Alex Haley’s book of the same name, it followed the trials and tribulations of Kunta Kinte a warrior sold into slavery and was a ratings smash in 1977 when it aired on ABC.  But it there was a problem, the history (judged as a true story) was plagiarized.

Haley was charged with plagiarism (accused of borrowing rather liberally from existing works, including Margaret Walker’s “Jubilee”)  and the author apologized for “inadvertently using other writer’s material.”   Ironically Haley won the Pulitzer-prize for his (two) novels and in 1993 Philip Nobile almost single handedly led a crusade to have the prize posthumously taken away from Haley.

Did these charges or Nobile’s “proof” of widespread plagiarism change the power of the television mini-series?

Hardly.

The remake, currently airing on the History Channel, is as moving and epic as the 1977 version. LeVar Burton became a household name because of his portrayal of Kunta Kinte (Toby) and brought the multi-talented Ben Vereen (Chicken George) into the well deserved spotlight.  A plethora of white actors and stars clamored to be in this “ground-breaking” look at the realities of slavery in the early part of America’s history. 

And it was based on a falsehood.  Words taken from other author’s and a myth based upon a fiction that masqueraded as fact. (Although to be fair Haley did refrain from referring to his work as non-fiction.)

Leaving the race card completely out of the equation, ” Roots” was, at its heart, a story of an underdog. A proud warrior plucked from friends and family and sold into slavery.  Transported halfway across the world he is then beaten, has his identity stolen and repeatedly tries to escape only to be caught and maltreated. Punished for trying to keep true to himself.

Slavery, whether it be Spartacus fighting the Romans or Kunta KInte fighting his new captors in the state of Virginia, is a topic sure to touch the viewer. Who does not get behind the man, or woman, who fights against oppression or rebels at being forced to be something they are not?

The first two episodes of “Roots” (2016) have aired on the History Channel. The second on 31 May 2016 and if there is not talk about Emmy gongs already, there should be.  Forest Whitaker  and Malachi Kirby have knocked it out of the park in terms of performance.  Sadly, the slave-owners and their accomplices are two dimensional cardboard cutouts, which was a problem in the original series as well.   

(Which is the problem with the intent of both programs in reality. Snoop Dogg, an entertainer who grafts hard for his living, has slammed the remake as being unnecessary; another backward look while we should all be moving and looking forward.  It is interesting to note that at the start of the story, Kunta Kinte is actually captured and enslaved by another African tribe who then sell the warrior to the British as added punishment.  This is never addressed after the beginning, choosing instead to focus on the horrible slave owners in America.)

But the real point here is not whether the tale is diminished by Haley’s plagiarism or that the story is a fiction based on a borrowed myth of other author’s works. The real issue is that the series moves the viewer. Regardless of skin color or racial heritage.

Everyone, unless they are card carrying racists of the most disgusting sort, gets behind Kunta Kinte as he fights to maintain his identity, his past, his roots.  Striving to be an individual who has a purpose and a will. “Toby” fights for the one thing he can cling to after being stolen from his people and home; his name.

Watching this version of “Roots” I was amazed to find that time had not dulled my reactions to the story.  Rage, disgust, sorrow and other feelings all manifested themselves while watching the remake just as they had back in 1977.

While Snoop Dogg’s displeasure at revisiting a part of American history that many would like to forget (Or at least gloss over, similar to country’s attitude about the murder of Native American’s on a grand scale with the tragic “Trail of Tears.”) it is good that we can see “how we got here.”

Regardless of Haley’s sins of borrowing liberally in his writing of “Roots” the tale is a moving one.  The mini-series still has a number of episodes to go and is well worth watching. (The performances alone make viewing a memorable experience.)  This time of year sees television slow down. Scripted TV takes a backseat to reality competitions (America’s Got Talent for example) and this is drama with a capital D.

“Roots” is well worth the time spent watching it;  each “episode” of this mini-series is a long one but no worse than watching a feature film.  The only note of complaint is that the History Channel is airing the mini-series.  “Roots” is not, by the late Haley’s own admission, history. It is not non-fiction but an amalgamation, or dramatization, of a reality that existed in early America.

Regardless of the problems of plagiarism this is compelling viewing.  Stop by and check it out and if you have the time, check out the original mini-series to see Burton and Vereen and their power.  The power of “Roots” was all about giving a myth to people who needed it. Myth for myth’s sake.  Regardless of the why, it is a powerful tale and worth watching.

George Kennedy Gone at 91: They Don’t Make em Like That Anymore

George Kennedy’s death at 91 means that another one of those iconic legends that I and millions of others grew up watching on television (Saturday Night at the Movies) and later on the big screen is gone.

Still from the film The Dirty Dozen

George Kennedy’s death at 91 means that another one of those iconic legends that I and millions of others grew up watching on television (Saturday Night at the Movies) and later on the big screen is gone.  While it is a trite phrase, often overused, suffice to say that in Kennedy’s case, they really do not make em like that anymore.

The last film George Harris Kennedy worked on was the abysmal Mark Wahlberg remake of The Gambler. Watching the film’s screener for review I was shocked to see how old the Cool Hand Luke actor appeared. In my mind he was ageless.

The first time I ever saw Kennedy on screen was in the film The Sons of Katie Elder. He played the surly gunsel hired to “take care” of John Elder (Duke Wayne) and the huge man first meets Duke’s character as he plunges the town’s undertaker’s head repeatedly into a barrel of water. Curly’s high-pitched “piggy” giggle as he almost drowns the man is interrupted with John Elder’s shouted, “Hey” and an pickaxe handle in the face.

This scene was iconic enough that is has been repeated in other films, even Gremlins has  Zach Galligan’s character re-enact the scene but with a  sword.

The Sons of Katie Elder moment was not an isolated incident. Kennedy played characters whose actions stood out in films, whether they were award winning movies like Cool Hand Luke, or more pedestrian fare like Clint Eastwood’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (where Kennedy’s character rather nastily beats a young Lightfoot (Lloyd Bridges) so badly that the boy dies a lingering death), Kennedy was one of those actors who stood out.

George Kennedy could play comedy, as proven in his turns in the Naked Gun franchise as well as menacing bad men. He was equally at home as bluff good guys, snotty bad guys or  the “last” slave to shout “I am Spartacus,” in the 1960 film, Kennedy brought a truth and believability to all his roles.

The New York born son of a ballet dancer and musician/orchestra leader was equally home in any genre playing any role.  Regardless of the budget or the part, the Oscar winning actor made you believe him.

The cigar chomping airport savior, Patroni,  who clears off the snow in the 1970 film Airport where he shared screen credits with Dean Martin but not screen time.  He worked with Dino before  in Bandolero! as the lovesick sheriff July Johnson who chases Martin through Mexico.

Throughout a career that began in 1956 (The Phil Silvers Show) and ended with the 2014 film The Gambler the actor played cops, soldiers, murderers, heroes, convicts, and all manner of roles across the board.  Watching Kennedy accept his Oscar for Cool Hand Luke, one can see the innate gentleness on his face and in his voice, a trait that caused people to all him the nicest man in Hollywood.

Watching any of Kennedy’s performances is a lesson is acting and reacting. The actor could  convey a myriad of emotions with his eyes and face alone, dialogue was not required for this character actor to convince the viewer of his character’s veracity.

I was actually surprised into tears at the news of Kennedy’s passing. He was a firm favorite, and not just from the many westerns watched all those years ago on Saturday night television,  one who could always be counted upon to stand out and make his performance memorable, regardless of the film’s budget.

George Kennedy (1925 – 2016) a huge man whose six-foot four-inch frame was dwarfed by his ability to make us believe completely in his characters actions on screen big and small. They really do not “make em like that” anymore.

Kathy Griffin Departing Fashion Police: Yawn

Kathy Griffin
Perhaps the most annoying thing about 54 year old Joan Rivers “wanna be” Kathy Griffin departing from the Fashion Police show on E! is that I have had to agree with that pompous and pretentious arse, Piers Morgan about something.

Read the rest of the article by clicking this [link] to Viral Global News.