Archives for posts with tag: welfare state

Set aboard a melodrama-plagued pleasure cruise, writer-director Je’Caryous Johnson’s soulful examination of love among African-American couples and singles benefits in energy from being a filmed production of a live play as opposed to a conventional film.  Johnson is a talented jokester with a heart and creates compelling characters brought to vibrant life by an emotionally present and engagingly boisterous all-black cast.  Think Neil Simon keepin’ it real.

A neurotic tension and sense of panic constantly inform Love Overboard, with Johnson portraying African-Americans as a people ever prey to the supernatural forces in their lives, their bodies the eternal, intensely contested battleground of spiritual warfare as they navigate between their fear of God and obsession with sexual satisfaction.  Two types of entity, appropriately, are apostrophized in Love Overboard: Jesus Christ and the male sexual organ.  Love Overboard gets so overheated at times, with a man and woman apparently unable to stop themselves from flying into each other’s arms and grinding in public in one instance, that it starts to make Three’s Company look like I Married Joan.  “Y’all think this is a leg I’m standin’ on, dontcha?  I gotta take my shoe off every time I go pee.”

Running the gamut from shockingly crude to genuinely touching, Love Overboard front-loads most of the bawdy humor and concentrates in its second and third acts on depicting in very human terms people fraught with insecurities and struggling seriously with their relationships, their values, and faith.  The subject of marriage especially frightens and frustrates everyone on the ship.  Those who already are married wonder if staying together is worth the trouble; those unmarried fear the commitment.  Can healthy, excitingly black sex thrive within the constraining cage of a monogamous matrimony?

The ensemble cast is consistently praiseworthy in imbuing the various threads of the story with zany life.  Everyone involved in the production is either highly expressive in speech or song or excels at physical comedy.  Zacardi Cortez, who plays Big Daddy, has the most affecting musical moment; while Rhona Bennett and Tammy Townsend are probably most tender among the women as they hold their end of the line in this floating battle of the sexes.  Je’Caryous Johnson’s humor and humanity as it comes across in his writing probably has the best claim to top billing, however.  Recommended without reservation.  4.5 of 5 possible stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Love Overboard is guaranteed fun and:

6. Anti-gay.  An opening monologue mocks San Francisco Christians.

5. Black Uber Alles.  Racial solidarity seems to be of importance.  Oprah’s book recommendations are valued.  “You rollin’ with Obama?” a woman asks, hearing that one of the men works for the Department of Homeland Security.  Women want a man like Obama: “fine”, “intelligent”, and “able to protect me.”  “Chocolate’s out now that Barack is in,” a lighter-skinned man teases a darker one.  Characters enjoy their own and others’ variations of flavor and blackness.

4. Capitalist.  Despite the suggested endorsement of President Obama, the characters give every evidence of not buying into his demagogic desecration of the American dream.  These are people who, rather than playing the victim and begging for coddling by the welfare state, have succeeded or failed according to their own talents and decisions.  One runs a car dealership; another is a stripper; all work for a living or aim to do so.  “Life is what you make it,” Russell (Khalil Kain) observes; or, “Take yo ass to work,” as Johnson puts it bluntly elsewhere in his screenplay.

4. Anti-miscegenation.  Vianessa Castanos warrants special mention for her role as the Latin temptress who threatens black marital stability and wins a unique award from Ideological Content Analysis for displaying the GREATEST CLEAVAGE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE.

3. Traditionalist/pro-family.  “This is a family cruise,” the opening monologue explains, raunchy content notwithstanding.  A pregnant woman refrains from drinking and wants her child to have a good man for a father.  One character does, however, reveal herself to have been horribly wronged by a family member.

2. Christian.  Buck wild though they may long to get, these are people with a fear of God.  “The body according to the Word should be governed by modesty,” pious Lea (Rhona Bennett) reminds herself.

1. Pro-marriage.  Divorce is discouraged.  Couples having troubles should work it out for themselves and for their children’s sake.   The “hit it and quit it” lone wolf mentality loses its appeal with maturity.

Ang Lee’s film of Life of Pi is a special effects spectacle and pantheistic allegory about human diversity and coexistence in a multicultural society.  When Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) escapes from a sinking ship and finds himself alone in a boat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a tiger named Richard Parker, he is horrified to see the animals fight and devour each other until only he and the vicious Parker are left.  He finds himself, in other words, in the unenviable situation of witnessing the symbolized civil strife and disintegration of mutually resentful and belligerent ethnic groups forced to share a cramped piece of real estate.

In George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, a scientist suggests that the hordes of cannibalistic zombies taking over Pittsburgh might be pacified by a food program.  The film’s audience understands that the man is losing his mind, but Life of Pi takes his idea and runs with it.  Presented with the options of either trying to kill Parker, being eaten by him, or attempting to coexist peacefully on the boat, Pi opts for the latter and does his best to domesticate and placate the boat’s savage and carnivorous demographic by feeding it fish.  He has, in short, opted to implement a floating microcosm of the Great Society.

A visit to an island teeming with identical meerkats demonstrates the danger of a racially homogenous society.  Everything appears to be dandy on the utopian island until night falls, when the place itself turns carnivorous and secretes toxic chemicals, so that the whole island constitutes a gigantic Venus flytrap.  Take note, America.  If not for all of the minorities in your midst, you, too, would soon fall prey to a venomous meerkat conformity.  Note that a group of meerkats is, according to Wikipedia, termed a “clan” (i.e., Klan).  Pi indicates the role reserved for racially pure majorities in his Great Society when, on embarking from the island, he takes several meerkats along to feed Richard Parker.

3.5 of 5 possible stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Life of Pi is:

6. Green.  Pi loves animals and apologizes to a dazed fish after he beats it in the head to subdue it, imagining it to be an incarnation of God.  The sinister island of (white) anti-diversity pollutes itself with chemicals as well as intolerant delusion.

5. Anti-Christian.  Pi feeds Parker fish, indicating that Christians are expendable and fair game for processing as Soylent Green in maintaining the multiethnic peace.  They are, if not thrown to the lion, to be thrown to the tiger.

4. Pro-family.  Pi’s family is loving and he is sorry to lose them at sea.

3. Multiculturalist.  The story is framed when a directionless, unshaven white guy (Rafe Spall) comes to enlightened Indian Pi (played as an adult by Irrfan Khan) hoping to be inspired with faith.  Pi, in addition to being spiritually attuned, is a mathematical genius and polyglot.  Mexicans come to Pi’s aid when he washes up on their beach.  The desirability of racial homogeneity, the film suggests, is a poisonous illusion.  Grande Utopie Sovietique et Progressif defector Gerard Depardieu has a cameo as a grumpy and probably racist cook who, disrespectful of the exotic religious and culinary views of Pi’s vegetarian mother (Tabu),  insensitively slops murderous gravy onto her plate.  Meerkats, like fish, are expendable.

2. Egalitarian.  Feeding the tiger gives Pi’s life meaning.

1. New Age.  Pantheist Pi, who considers himself a Christian and a Muslim in addition to (and as a function of) being a Hindu, thanks Vishnu for introducing him to Jesus.  Karma is God’s way, he says.  In his present-day life as a college professor, he teaches a Kabbala class.

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