I am sick in my seat.

ifiltrate

BlacKkKlansman

Oh, oh, oh,  the horror of it all.

(this is not a movie review . There’s plenty of those out there to peruse if you’re looking for analysis.  This is not of that ilk, this is not a rational “critique.”)

I actually felt sick . Still, I was completely glued to the screen.

During some of the scenes, I worried that I might have to sneak out of the movie theater, running out into the fresh air to settle my stomach… have I ever been thrust into such intimacy with this kind of horror?  This is not naivete people, believe me, it’s something else.

When “Felix” and his wife snuggled in bed, relishing the possibilities of killing “n,” I felt the contents of my stomach inch up a few notches.  Their pasty complexions sent sinking blue fear in my veins.  I asked myself, “is this real?”  Maybe it is time to shut my eyes and say out loud, “this is a just a movie, Rachel, it’s just a movie.”

When I heard all that vitriol, all those horrible slurs, even all that profanity (I am no prude, believe me)  over and over and over… cutting off limbs, slicing up hearts,  I could  taste the blood in their mouths, smell their violence.   This is Hate.  This is Fear.

Why didn’t I respond this way to seeing the footage of Charlottesvile last year?  I was appalled, worried, sad, and angry.  But I didn’t feel sick to my stomach.

I know we have cults, fanatics, soldiers all over the world who are trained and brainwashed to see the world as black and white, and while this strengthens military might, I’ve always held this view as distorted and untrue.  I am turned off by melodrama, I see it as short-sighted and often shallow.  I hear myself often cry, “the world is more complicated than that!  Why are we so bent on dividing the world between us and them, between ‘other’  and ‘ourselves?'”

But maybe I’m wrong.

Sure,  I try to see and feel  the psychological  underpinnings of misguided, unhinged fanaticism,  I try to see all of us in our frail humanity.  “There but for the grace of god…”

But maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe there are villains after all.

Movies with zombies and blood-spurting body parts don’t really scare me at all.  But Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman … I shiver.  I am nauseated.  I am sick.

Sure, it’s got humor, it has amazing artistry—the acting is superb, Spike Lee’s direction is sublime in all its glory, 2018 Chanel Tribeca Film Festival Artists Dinner, New York, USA - 23 Apr 2018and perhaps it is his mastery of craft, his soaring ability to make art…that delivers the final blow:

 

 

This is a scary movie.

It is us.  It is themIt is all of us“Power to the people. All the people.” (Blackkklansman,  2018)

I am still (a little bit less now) sick today.

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “I am sick in my seat.

  1. Paul T Thompson says:

    A recent TED talk claimed that there *is* a conservative impulse in the human design, and it is literally that: to conserve or preserve, to crystallize and defend. Liberals are enthusiastic about the kind of self – destruction that comes from identity exploration. The conservative impulse gathers close, it seeks to protect what “is.” This theoretically serves to maintain a center while liberals furiously mutate the periphery. But I seem to so firmly belong to one of these camps that a holistic appreciation is truly challenging. In trying to wrestle with this challenge, I keep revisiting the thought, “maybe when we all lived in caves…?” Or the corollary you implied : *someone* has to be soldiers…?” But I fear I’m missing the mark. I think the overall *project* to create, say, a national center of identity is a good one. It helps isolated strangers melt. It is only the hate – tools employed in this project which are shameful. Now I’ll think about what American conservativism looks like if I ignore its dark side… This will take some thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rachellepell says:

    I love this — just how far do we have to go to preserve/conserve this “center” you refer to? The beauty and horror of a “national identity.” History teaches us a lot about this, and not just written history, but the larger timeline as well. I, too, have such mixed thoughts on identity politics. I believe we have to go through a stage of “this is NOT me” in order to say, “this IS me.”–that perhaps identity has to be built in reverse somehow. All political activism gathers strength by creating firm boundaries between “us and them.” I get this… I believe it’s true for the individual’s own growth toward self actualization…not a word I love, but I’m using it in the Maslowe context here to refer to a kind of transcendence of “self” after the “self” is established.
    I was just thinking about Preserve and Conserve this very morning, so it was a delight to see it in writing on your comments.
    Thanks so much for reading…let’s continue the dialogue, it’s so worthwhile.

    Like

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