Friday, January 15, 2016

The Man The Myth The King

Today would've been the 87th birthday of civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr -- Monday marks the federal holiday here in the US, which has been celebrated ever since 1983 when it got signed into law. Since I was only five when that happened as far as my brain is concerned it has been a holiday since time immemorial, especially since it's was always so close to President's Day - MLK was mixed right in with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington in my development, which is why such recognition matters so much; in the words of Mr. King, "The time is always right to do what is right."

Which is why it seemed so insane when Selma came out in 2014 that a proper movie had never been made about the man... and then a bunch of white people freaked out that the movie wasn't nice to them. Sigh, white people. Sigh. Specifically it was the film's treatment of President Johnson that was deemed "problematic." Which was a ripe pile of horseshit, but whatever, it probably affected the film's Oscar chances - an easy escape-hatch for the under-the-radar racist impulses in Hollywood.

Am I sounding irritable a bit? Could this year's second batch of 100% Color-Free Acting Oscar Nominees possibly be on my mind? Hmm, I wonder. (As an aside you should read my pal Joe Reid's amazing Alternate Universe Oscar Nominations, which give us a spate of 100% Of-Color Acting Oscar Nominations - you go, Joe.)

Anyway as if to right Selma's so-called "wrong" we will very soon have an HBO movie version of Bryan Cranston's Broadway vehicle All the Way, which tells the story of the same moment in Civil Rights history but from the white dude's perspective because god forbid we not have that point of view in the world one time. Sigh, white people. Sigh.

I never went and saw Cranston in the play and I am sure, knowing what I do of Cranston, that it's liberal and well-intentioned, and I will probably nod my head at it. The fact that it took 50 years for a movie about the Selma march from the point of view of the Selma marchers to be made and then just like 50 weeks for the White Person Version to get green-lighted for a movie after that, well, that's what summons my side-eye, is all.

Anyway to under-cut all of my highfalutin political jibber-jabber and self-seriousness, let's have some fun with MLK today. The beautiful and talented David Oyelowo played the man in Selma, and gave a shoulda-been-nominated performance for the ages. Next up, the beautiful and talented Anthony Mackie is playing King in HBO's All the Way adaptation. Sexiness Contest!



Bill Carter said...

OK, but here's the hard part: Which white actors should be bumped from this year's nominees, and which actors of color should replace them? Only restriction: Charlotte Rampling is untouchable.

JA said...

Of course Rampling is untouchable!!! ;)

I think Joe's suggested Supporting Actor line-up that I linked to is pretty stellar compared to the garbage heap that are the actual nominees - the only one I'd keep of the real world nominees as they stand is Hardy, and I'd bring in Elba and Benicio Del Toro and Oscar Isaac and Samuel L Jackson over any and all of them.

I also loved everybody in Spike Lee's Chi-Raq and would nominate half that cast.

Anonymous said...

This is an insanely appropriate (for this site) tribute to Martin Luther King. JA you are a genius for making this the toughest vote of the year - I love BOTH those men!

Bill Carter said...

Fair enough. I don't agree entirely, but that's definitely a very defendable trade-off.