Monday, August 30, 2010

Lakeview Terrace (2008)

Lakeview Terrace (2008)

This was on Starz or one of those movie channels when I got up this morning. I had seen a few scenes from the middle of it before, but never had a chance to view the whole picture. The writing was above par, so I stayed tuned, but it ended in a predictable way based on mainstream American beliefs about race relations.

As one would expect, the picture, though dealing with the race problem, was made by a white guy, Neil LaBute, who has done commercial pictures for fifteen years.

The premise is enough to spawn a mixed reaction: Samuel L. Jackson plays an older police officer who soon grows jealous, or rather hostile, to the interracial couple next door, played by Kerry Washington, who is in fact, in an interracial marriage with a Jewish man, I believe, and the stud-looking guy from Little Children, Patrick Wilson.

Within about thirty minutes, Sammy tells the couple that he doesn't feel right with them "doing whatever they feel like" in his neighborhood. Meaning that he doesn't want to see a seemingly happy black/white couple just prancing around his ville.

Now, right here, at this moment, lie all the film's deficiencies. We are basically witnessing the postmodern miracle: reverse racism. Something, which really doesn't exist in this country, as all the chips are still in the same hands as they were before the Civil War.

Throughout the film, the director posited that Jackson was the main source of the conflict in the film, and I agree that he is, but through its duration, LaBute had no interest in broadening his character to help understand his impetus. He did what is normal for a modern thinker: to make an individual out of his actions. Samuel L. Jackson's actions are seen as having no connection to the world around him, or the world that was around him. He is just seen as someone having crazy ideas that seemingly came from no place. This is what America does to flush out its critics. It calls them madmen, pushes them out by exclusion, and of course, the system remains in tact, but behind the walls, the invaders multiply.

To have a wider understanding of America, one must know that a large reason why the upper class is so successful in keeping power is that they keep us ignorant. The main concealment of knowledge is in the field of history. As long as Americans are encouraged to forget, and "get over it," then the populace can be more easy to control. And this urge to forget has been pushed upon the blacks with the most force. The very race that built this country, literally from the ground up, since before independence, has been told that it has to let go of its grievances, and join into the white system which was basically constructed based upon their degradation. So, still America is doing what it has always done, and can revert to so easily: pointing the finger at the black man, while holding the black woman in the other arm.

Samuel L. Jackson is seen as the bad guy, but his feelings are really part of a specific, generational ideology. Black people his age lived through segregation as children and young adults. They were the last generation to witness America's violent policy of division. And their anger is even more intensified as we moved out of the age of segregation in the 60's, and now are in the era of nationwide, de-facto discrimination. Now, racism is a private matter. The government has left it up to Wall Street and the Fortune 500. It no longer enforces it.

So, a director who is Neil LaBute's age, now about 47, is actually young enough to be uninformed about the past. He is, and I may trademark this, part of the Obama generation. The rise of Barack Obama marked an era of a new rewrite on racial ideology, but it is still one that leaves the blacks out, but only this time it is willing to absorb more of the good ones into its net. Though this term and this theory were being cooked up long before Obama came on television, he preached the message for the layman, and it made it understandable. Today, we are in an era of color-blindness, but the standards that apply to this new, blind judge don't really take black history into account. For instance, if a black person, like Jackson in this movie, still had grievances about the very history that drives social life today, then he would be considered a reverse racist, or called childish (what they've always been calling us), and told to get over it. So how is it possible that such an ideology could have been created but by the very people who have sought to dominate since the Shot Heard Round the World?

But the movie ends, unsurprisingly, with Jackson, the Bad Negro, being taken away, and the otherwise happy, status symbol-seeking mixed couple can be left to their good, productive lives. It may be an improvement that at least a movie can be made about race and still be mainstream, but I think this one points us in the wrong direction (which is really, in the end, a direction that evades criticism and makes it so that whites can still stay on top... of many things), but of course, by saying this, this means that I myself, am a black racist. :P

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