The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

A great documentary I’ve just finished watching about ‘The Black Panthers’ given that it was a warts and all documentary – a large and complex organisation with many different local chapters resulting in a multiplicity of historical narratives that have developed regarding the organisation. The documentary involved interviewing those who were actually involved in the formation of the group and what the original goals of the group were all of them genuinely shocked at the momentum that developed from the original intention of the group. Funny how many of the opinions voiced sound like what I’ve said even though I’ve never actually read too deeply into the Black Panthers ideology. For example, as I’ve said in the past, it is in the ruling class best interest to keep the working class beating each other up over differences which is why namely the Republicans bring out the ‘culture wars’ to convince blue collar working class white folk to vote against their own self interest in the belief that apparently stopping gays from getting married is more important than a fair days reward for an honest days work. In the Reagan presidential campaign he played the  ‘welfare queen’ card ( link ) which sowed animosity between black and white working class which convinced large sways of working class white people into believing that there is a large under class of black people living off their hard work by sitting on welfare and that Reagan’s savage cuts would fix it. The net result? it ended up screwing themselves over just as badly as it screwed black people over but alas the mythology continues which enables Republicans to continue what they do.

It is interesting to hear about John Edgar Hoover (director of the FBI) and the secret plan to undermine the Black Panthers by sowing seeds of distrust within the organisation which would result in it self imploding. The concern was that if the Black Panthers party mobilised the black population there was also a risk that it would mobilise other working class groups especially when one considers the mid 1970’s and the stagflation. I’m not surprised that John Edgar Hoover was involved in the ‘dirty tricks’ campaigns but I was surprised just how elaborate they actually were where as I assumed these sorts of disinformation, diffusion and sowing seeds to cause disunity was a ad-hoc manner created in response to events as they develop rather than an over arching grand plan. What was surpassing was how informants were given weapons and then the local police was manipulated by the FBI to go into Black Panther offices all guns blazing. In New York there was a plot fabricated which enabled the authorities to arrest all the members.

What was interesting was the Chicago chapter Fred Hampton building bridges between as diverse groups such as Porto Ricans and Appalachian ‘hill billies’ on the common message that the powers that be have a vested interest in ensuring that the different groups that make up the working class are at each others throats – that what they fear the most is the development of working class consciousness because the days of divide and conqueror would be over.

When it came to warts they covered the split within the Panthers between Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver along with the base becoming more dissatisfied with how the organisation was being managed. Part of that split also resulted in people simply throwing their hands in the air and walking away as the organisation. Although there was a well orchestrated John Edgar Hoover the biggest enemy to the Black Panthers was the Black Panthers themselves.

It was an interesting documentary and I recommend it to anyone interested in history especially history that isn’t reported on in the mainstream.

Chi-Raq: A powerful movie and why the Oscars don’t matter

Watching the movie now and I’m 45minutes into the film where the priest is giving the funeral eulogy – a powerful speech that I think that every person should watch. It is an amazing movie so far and it is a sad indictment that it hasn’t had the same level of promotion when compared to some of the vapid and pointless movies. I have to admit, this is the first movie I’ve actually been excited about watching in years with the latest movie being Interstellar dating to 2014 with the prior one being ‘Thank you for smoking’ which dates back to 2006, which is a pretty sad indictment on the quality or there lack of when it comes to movie producing these days. Oh, another funny spoiler – not only did the women take the vow but also gay, bisexual men and transgendered women said no to the guys who were on the down low.

Having watched the movie it is amazing when I see people boycotting the Oscars because not enough black people or people or colour are given awards but really who honestly cares about the giant circle jerk that is the Oscars? the lovely people telling each other how wonderful each other are whilst blowing smoke up each others ass’s not to mention the fact that the selection process is entirely subjective and arbitrary so it isn’t as though there is an objective set of criteria that you must meet to obtain x number of points and thus the movie or actor with the most points wins. Just look some of the great movies and how not a single one has one an oscar, Interstellar didn’t win anything, ‘Thank you for smoking’ didn’t win anything, Event Horizon didn’t win anything, Once were Warriors didn’t win anything, The Producers (2005 remake) no award, The Blues Brothers which is a cult classic didn’t win an award, Little Shop of Horrors another cult classic and not an award to be seen – anyone see a pattern emerging here?

After looking at all the films that never receive Oscars maybe those ‘boycotting the Oscars’ would realise that the Oscars don’t mean much in the grand scene of things. The Oscars are nothing other than bunch of self-important narcissists fondling each others balls and telling each other how great they are rather than a reflection on the success or failure which at least would be some sort of objective measurement based on the feedback by the public going to the cinemas to watch movies. Whatever the case maybe the best thing that these activists can do is just ignore the Oscars in future – keep making good content, keep your fans happy and if you win something then just ignore the nomination. Maybe once enough people stop caring about the Oscars then people will stop caring about whether they win an award or not.

Edit: Movie just finished then – if you’ve been thinking about watching it then go ahead, it is definitely worth it.