The New York Times oped page takes on today’s burning issue:
Kashana Cauley MARCH 8, 2018
On Sunday night, the horror movie “Get Out” won the Oscar for best original screenplay but not for best picture. Voters’ attitudes toward the film reveal what may have contributed to the movie’s best-picture loss: the desire to turn a blind eye to the true, contentious state of black-white relations in this country.
Or, perhaps, “Get Out” didn’t win Best Picture because it wasn’t the, you know, best picture? Guillermo del Toro’s fishcegenation movie was awfully stupid, but he at least put much effort into how it looked and hired some good actors. (This is not to say that “Get Out” is an ineffective film. It’s an efficient little movie. But it’s a very little movie.)
‘Get Out’ made these voters uncomfortable by showing that black people can be silenced, whether ignored, stereotyped or even, as happens in the movie, kidnapped. So those voters’ response was to attempt to silence the movie, which paradoxically proves one of its main points.
Such willful ignorance isn’t unique to the Oscars, however. This kind of attitude is also partly to blame for the lack of progress for African-Americans in rates of homeownership, incarceration and employment over the past 50 years. …
It’s clear that America prefers its black people to remain invisible …
Reading the voluminously unsilenced and uninvisible cultural commentary praising the realism of “Get Out” and “Black Panther” has me concerned that a growing sector of the commentariat is losing touch with basic reality, as happens in Borges’ “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” when an encyclopedia of a fictitious planet is discovered:
Handbooks, anthologies, digests, facsimiles, authorized and pirated reprintings of the Greatest Work of Man flooded and continue to flood the world. Almost at once, the real world gave way in more than one area. The truth is that it was longing to give way. Ten years ago, any symmetrical scheme with an appearance of order – dialectical materialism, anti-Semitism, Nazism – was enough to hold mankind in thrall. Why not submit to Tlön, to the immense, meticulous evidence of an ordered planet? It is useless to reply that the real world too is ordered. Perhaps it is, but in accordance with divine laws – that is, non-human laws – that we shall never comprehend. Tlön may be a labyrinth, but a labyrinth contrived by men, a labyrinth destined to be deciphered by men.
Contact and familiarity with Tlön have brought about the deterioration of our world. Mesmerized by that planet’s discipline, we forget – and go on forgetting – that theirs is the discipline of chess players, not of angels. Tlön’s putative ‘primitive language’ has now found its way into our schools; the teaching of its harmonious history, so full of stirring episodes, has obliterated the history that presided over my childhood; in our memories a fictitious past has now replaced our past, of which we know nothing for certain – not even that it is false.
On the other hand, “Get Out” and “Black Panther” weren’t exactly created by a vast cabal of humanity’s leading geniuses.