back arrowView show

Black Film, White Voice

Episode description

A new wave of black arts has surfaced in the mainstream of American popular culture. It’s not your standard entertainment, and not “art for art’s sake” either. On big screens and tiny ones, in music and poetry, the new black art takes aim – hilariously sometimes – at white supremacy and the color line in capitalism. But this is not race and class revisited: it’s attempting to reimagine a society from the bottom up.

We’re going to remember this blossoming of black expression – in music videos, television, and cinema, in poetry and in aesthetic theory with pan-African and neo-Marxist political vibrations. “Afro Futurism” was a thread in Hollywood’s super-hero blockbuster Black Panther. “Afro Surrealism” is one tag on the movie you can’t escape this summer: Sorry to Bother You. The word “movement” links it all – from Arthur Jafa’s ambition to make black cinema just as moving, as danceable as black music… to the dream of a workers’ movement to change the face of the country, maybe save the planet.

We get started with Boots Riley, sometime  rapper, sometime comic, always a hard-core anti-capitalist who finally broke through in Hollywood with the script he’d been shopping around for 15 years: Sorry to Bother You. It’s the adventures of an beguiling young hustler in Oakland, California and his rocket rise in Telemarketing — after he learns how to use his “white voice” to become a Super Caller.  

Doreen St. Felix is a 26-year-old Brooklyn native. She grew up bookish in the Canarsie section, without any ambition to be a professional writer, then got hot in the African American cultural blogosphere.  And now she’s writing incisive commentary for The New Yorker magazine on such matters as Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and Donald Glover’s “This is America.”

Fred Moten is the poet, critical theorist and voice that many others cite as their guide to what’s suddenly emerged. Now in his mid-fifties, Fred Moten traces his taste for surrealism to growing up among Arkansas country people transplanted to Las Vegas in the 60s and 70s. He wrote his undergraduate thesis at Harvard on Harold Bloom, the literary critic we love. The thread through Fred Moten’s writing is something else: it’s his idea that collectives produce art, not stars; it’s the false worship of individuals, he’s saying, that endangers the whole planet.

The post Black Film, White Voice appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

episodes iconMore Episodes

Midterm Scorecard

November 9th, 2018


A conversation with David Bromwich, Jill Lepore, David Bosworth, Briahna Gray, and Mark Blyth.

The political armies, red and blue, both won tough …

Whitey, We Hardly Knew Ye

November 1st, 2018


A conversation with Howie Carr, David Boeri, and Richard Marinick.

Jimmy Bulger, known as Whitey, was a nasty curse on the old Irish urban village of …

Trouble in the House of Saud

October 26th, 2018


A conversation with Stephen Kinzer, Sarah Leah Whitson, Steve Simon, Chas Freeman, and Shireen Al-Adeimi.

Speaking of Saudi Arabia, in the ghastly light of Jamal Kashoggi’s dismemberment: what more do we care to know, …

Behind the “Leonine Gaze” of Frederick Douglass

October 18th, 2018


Historian David Blight on his new biography of Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass, scarred and tormented seeing men made slaves, set the course of his life to show how a slave became a man. In the cadences of the …

Hothouse Earth

October 12th, 2018


A conversation with Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, environmental policy expert Adil Najam, and social and political theorist Ajay Singh Chaudhary.

Farewell Tour

October 4th, 2018


TDS is the acronym. Trump Derangement Syndrome is the full name: a distaste for Donald Trump so severe that sufferers abandon all logic and reason, …

A Less Perfect Union

September 28th, 2018


“What’s past is prologue,” Shakespeare’s phrase from “The Tempest,” is carved in stone in front of the National Archive in Washington. Ronald Reagan …

Original Sin

September 21st, 2018


The Roman Catholic Church is staring transfixed at a cascading scandal of crime and non-punishment. Sex crimes by priests against children are …

Game, Set, Match!

September 14th, 2018


It’s only a game, we used to say, but this season, between the US Open in tennis and pro-football’s opening games, our wide world of sports is an …

A New Labor Movement

September 7th, 2018


It’s Labor Day week 2018, and “The American Worker” doesn’t fit any single poster shot. Is it the Uber driver – working flex time in the ‘gig’ economy, for a magic dispatcher of taxis around the world? Is it the …

Loading ...

Download the RadioPublic app for
 FREE and never miss an episode.

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store