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This is about celebrating film, not petty historic grudges. [Oct. 15th, 2007|12:26 pm]
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I was reading the New York Times Magazine and I saw an a large 2 column ad for the 80th Anniversary, special restoration edition of The Jazz Singer.

It seems to be missing something. A bit of photoshopping. My copy is a bit smaller, but can you tell what it is?


To be fair, a three DVD set can only contain so much so not everyone can address every issue:
Among the voluminous extras - a commentary track, a documentary on the dawn of ''talking picture'' technology, a huge, nearly four-hour sampling of early sound short films - you'll find only passing, borderline-apologetic references to racial politics, and no one speaking from an African-American perspective.
In Warner Brother's defense, I'm sure all minority film scholars were busy that day.

Extra cringeworthy detail:
Giordano plays the apologist. Jolson was merely highlighting his facial features by "blacking up," he explains, so that he could be better seen in the rear of the theaters; unlike other white vaudeville performers of the day, who indulged in caricature, Jolson was doing his songs "straight," minus affectation or accent.

But that explanation proves disingenuous as we watch "A Plantation Act," an accompanying Vitaphone short which would be Jolson's audition piece for "The Jazz Singer." Jolson appears before a slave-shack set, blacked up and dressed down in straw hat and overalls. He sings three numbers, interspersed with patter spoken in an unmistakably slurry drawl.
Next up: all those Charlie Chan actors were merely squinting under bright studio lights!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: birds_hum
2007-10-17 08:47 pm (UTC)

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If you'd like to know, I believe that the public in general is both moderately educated and moderately intelligent. I believe they have the capacity to make choices in what they do or do not wish to study, to believe and to follow. I don't believe that people in general are racist because of an utter lack of knowledge, but out of the choice to believe in such a view. We build our own filters in which to view the world, out of what choices we make for ourselves. Environment, upbringing, education, intelligence all influence our views, but there has to be the point where you either believe people have the capacity to take responsibility for them, or that people are by nature sheep.

I actually mostly agree with you here. A main problem for me is the decision in the producers' minds (who made the three DVD set) to exclude important information about the film that is historically relevant and currently salient. Sorry for a link, but in case you missed this one. Seriously, this stuff does still happen...

I don't want people to be sheep, and I understand your point about personal choice. Is it too rigid of me (srsly, I'm asking) to want as many people as possible to recognize the -isms that are unfair and demeaning, both in the system at large and in/to individuals? Like, I am always striving to face ways in which I may act or speak or think in -ist ways, because I value being able to see and understand another person based on his/her merit, not based on -ist factors (race, gender, class, ability, age, whathaveyou). I believe in that self-education and I strive to tell others about it and open dialogues about other people's experiences...I continue to meet people of all ages and races and sexual orientations and etc. who are always learning/being pushed beyond their assumptions. Even my grandmother, who is a complete and utter racist -- she and I have had numerous conversations in which I think both hers and my mind have been broadened... I hope to always be learning and be pushed beyond my assumptions or what I thought I knew. And I think it's apathetic to not reach out to others in an empathic, desire-to-connect way (rather than as an Elite Educator On High, of course). Not so that I resemble other people in my views or other people resemble me, but so that I can continue to act and speak in ways that represent - to the best of my abilities - awareness. Like, I think having this discussion with you is bringing more awareness in me, too. You know?