Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Shaft is also cool because he is a minority being successful in a white man’s field (law enforcement). President Obama is cool because he is a minority that has found extreme success in politics, a white dominated world. President Obama will go down in history as the first African American president, he will always be looked up to and respected for this feat. It doesn’t matter if his presidency is extremely successful or not; he will still be cool because he was the first minority president.
Is Shaft cool because he’s black or because he’s a badass? The answer is both. Shaft is cooler than Obama and McClane because he embodies both types of cool in one man. Being a successful minority badass is twice as cool as just being a successful minority or just being a badass. People or characters that have both these types of cool are used in lots of films because their coolness is so attractive to moviegoers. A modern day Shaft is Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas in American Gangster(2007). Although Lucas is a gangster and definitely not a part of the law enforcement field like Shaft, he shares the same exact same cool as Shaft (minus the cheesy jive lingo).
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
So the question is why Shaft did so well in theaters. The simple answer would be because John Shaft is cool. He’s a private eye and a total badass. He’s a “sex machine” and a bit of a gangster. Shaft never loses his cool from beginning to end. He starts out walking down the street making traffic stop for him. The movie ends with him saving the day, and making Vic Androzzi clean up the rest. Not only can he beat up other gangsters and throw them out windows. He seems to have control over white men too, at least over Vic Androzzi. I think this idea that a black man could be himself, be gangster, and be successful in a white dominated law enforcement industry is why John Shaft has become such an icon.
John Shaft is definitely cool, but is he moral. As the theme song states, “he’s a complicated man.” I think the argument could go either way; there is plenty of evidence supporting both sides. Shaft did execute several mafia members and slept around with lots of prostitutes. His ventures in gangster life make us think that Shaft is an immoral man that’s motivated by money, sex, and his own ego. However, there are several small scenes throughout the movie where we see Shaft as a kind individual. He gives a young boy some money for food, and pays the woman whose door he breaks down. Most importantly, I believe that Shaft is willing to help Bumpy find his daughter because she is innocent. Bumpy is one of Shafts enemies and I don’t think Shaft would be willing to help him just for the money. Overall I think that Shaft is a moral person that is helpful to those who are innocent, but shows no mercy to the gangsters or mafia.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
My favorite scene from the movie was the one where Billy, Wyatt, and George are sitting around the campfire smoking marijuana. They are obviously high because they can’t stop laughing, and enter a discussion about UFOs. There are tons of other movies and television shows with of people passing around marijuana and talking about random things that don’t make a whole lot of since. A good example of this is That 70s Show. In every episode there is a scene where the camera pans around the table to each person as they laugh and make random comments in a smoky room. Another classic film about marijuana use is Reefer Madness. It is an interesting film because it portrays marijuana use under the pretense stated in the forward that it is a menace to society.
My least favorite scene in the whole movie is the acid trip in the cemetery. Rick mentioned that no one is capable of capturing a good acid trip on film much like it is practically impossible to capture the perfect dream sequence on film. I think that dreams and acid trips should be left out of films because they can never relate to everyone. They deal with perceptions of the conscious and/or subconscious, and no two people are alike when it comes to things are perceived and processed. Many people have tried to capture an acid trip from the third person perspective, for example Syd Barrett’s documented acid trip. This documentary form is always boring because everything is occurring within the mind and not much can be seen from an external perspective. Another failure of a trip on film is animated hallucinations, the best example being Alice in Wonderland. The chesire cat, the Queen of Hearts, and army of cards are just a few examples of the ridiculous characters that show up in this fairy tale based off of hallucinations.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The film presents the counterculture movement very accurately because it was filmed during the time period that this movement was taking place. The movie is also interesting because the two main characters Billy and Wyatt portray different aspects of the movement. Billy fills the role of the stereotypical hippie. He smokes marijuana constantly, and is interested only in sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Considering that sex, drugs, and rock and roll are known as the trifecta of cool, you would think that Billy would be the cool character in the movie, but he’s not. Billy is not cool because he is constantly anxious, and never shuts his mouth. Billy’s incessant rambling and his haste make him very obnoxious.
Wyatt, on the other hand, is quiet and removed. I believe that Wyatt represents what is truly cool about the counterculture movement of the 60s. He represents the quest for truth, peace, and freedom. Wyatt does participate in the sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but that is not his purpose and goal. He is tempted to stay at the hippie commune because they are attempting to create a free and peaceful utopia that he is looking for, but he decides to continue onward with Billy to explore America. One of Wyatt’s most famous quotes is “You know Billy, we blew it.” Wyatt realizes that they failed from the beginning because they set out on an adventure that focused on the glory of money and drugs instead of peace. I think that Wyatt embodies the cool that existed in the counterculture of the 60s with his reflective and loving attitude.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The 60s cultural changes first began in the arts such as fashion and music, but then developed into changes in thought and ideals. This movement can be summed up by one word: hippie. The hippies embraced the importance of peace and love. Peace and love are abstract concepts, but hippies still symbolize them. The number of movies and tv shows that reference the movements of the 60s in London and the United States are endless. Blow-up accurately shows that these cultural changes of the 60s were cool and that culture and cultural changes in general are cool.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Dubai has become one of the great centers of technological growth, attracting young entrepreneurs from across the globe. Dubai is a modern city full of skyscrapers and even a hotel that can change shapes with individually moving floors. Whether you’re relaxing on the luxurious man-made islands or attending board meeting at one thee five-star hotels, Dubai is definitely a cool place to be.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam is a city full of young people with a very liberal and carefree attitude. Many people choose to hang out in cafés to discuss the latest art show or newest philosophy. Others choose to spend their time in the red light district enjoying the legal prostitution and marijuana. Amsterdam is also famous for their festivals of which there are over a hundred with various ethnic backgrounds.
Seattle, Washington: Seattle is becoming one of the most popular places in the United States for young people to move. Seattle has the benefits of being a large city, but also has a wide variety of outdoor activities and great weather. Sailing, hiking, skiing, and snowboarding are just a few of the things that you can enjoy. Seattle is also a leader in the movement towards green technologies.
New Delhi, India: New Delhi is a huge city full of every culture imaginable. Different languages can be heard on every street corner. New Delhi is also the home of most Bollywood productions which are becoming more prevalent worldwide. In New Delhi you can enjoy both the rich history and modern cinema.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Although the manic pixie dream girl is an interesting role, I wouldn’t say that it makes for a cool character. After seeing two popular, but very un-cool roles for women in a row (the manic pixie dream girl and the femme fatale), I began to wonder if it was possible for women to ever be cool. I can think of thousands of women characters that aren’t cool, but the best example is probably Meg Griffin from Family Guy. Meg is totally lacking in any form of cool. She fails at pretty much everything she attempts and is left to wallow in her own misery. It extremely pitiful, but it somehow provides entertainment to others.
I started to think that maybe cool was gender dependent and that is was impossible for women to be cool according to the characteristics that we have discussed. Then I thought about Keira Knightley’s role in the Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy. Elizabeth Swann is the coolest female ever. She is competent, confident, and powerful. Elizabeth captures all of these classically cool characteristics without losing her femininity. She can be rescued and rescue someone else a few scenes later. She does not have to try to shatter gender preconceptions to be cool. Elizabeth Swann is the perfect definition of a cool female. So it is possible to be cool and feminine, but it seems to me that this type of role is quite rare. Many women that are portrayed as cool are forced to take on too many masculine characteristics, for example Laura Croft: Tomb Raider. Laura Croft is cool because she kicks ass, but she does not maintain femininity.