Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rewind #19

Invincible: Shapeshifters (2008)

Over the past few years I have been trying to shift my perspective about this American Culture that raised me and molded me with clay fingers. One of the most profound inequities in our culture (and in life for that matter) is the way that women are treated. Long perceived as the inferior sex who need a man to protect them(wasn't Eve actually created from the rib of Adam?), we imagine that everything has changed in our enlightened land of prosperity. But did you know that the way that the Constitution is worded doesn't actually allow women the same rights as men in this country. Sure, they have the Nineteenth Amendment and the right to vote, but there is no amendment that gives all rights to people regardless sex, race or creed. In fact, the Declaration of Independence doesn't even include women in its glorious vision of freedom (We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness). So it isn't hardly surprising to notice that the majority of musical acts out there getting big play just happen to be male dominated. For every Feist that busts the scene there are ten Ryan Adams getting just as much airtime. Because of this I have made it my mission to create a more balanced listening experience for myself and with this countdown, for you, as well. It makes for great discoveries, like Invincible, who may have slipped below the radar otherwise and because of a focused drive mixed with incredible talent, Ilana Weaver, who is Invincible in more ways than one, is making it work despite the oppressive culture around her. Turning down record contracts from major labels and clashing with studios, Invincible pushes back against mainstream culture with a discordant rush that refuses to recognize the status quo. Until the world makes a seismic shift regarding the most savage inequality ever known to the human community, voices like Weaver's must continue in their fight for truth. But the most profound truth to come from all of it, is that the creative spirit is always more powerful when it comes from an independent part of the artist, free from the culture of money that corrupts everything that it touches. There's a reason we still refer to certain music as independent or underground (even though that moniker has also been co-opted too), it's something that feels genuine, feels like it actually came from the heart.

Salt Of The Earth: Herbert J. Biberman (1954)

Salt Of The Earth was a movie made by blacklisted film-makers who wanted to create a vision of a better America. In a way, they may have been allowed to make a much more real movie because of their banishment from the studio system. Addressing issues like worker's rights, racism, sexism all in one motion picture in 1954 would have been impossible in Hollywood. But Biberman and company accomplished an amazing feat and it has now become a cherished iconic landmark in American film. The movie follows the plight of a group of zinc miners as they go on strike and shows how they and their family react to the ordeal. Amazingly, many of the themes in the film are absolutely relevant to the modern life of today. When Esperanza, the narrator of the film, must have a new radio bought on credit, her husband bemoans credit as the downfall of the working man. Over fifty years later our economy is crumbling under the weight of extensive credit and financial industries the world over, built entirely on credit, are crashing. Not surprisingly, the working class is suffering the most. Another moment in the film, the wives of the miners must stand up and demand an equal voice in the direction of the strike and when it looks like the strike is going to be silenced because of a court injunction, the women step into the picket line to carry on the fight. A powerful feminist image during a time when the movement was trying to regain its footing in American culture, a similar problem for the feminist agenda today as the Supreme Court gradually removes the basic fundamental right of a woman to own her own person. Salt Of The Earth was a powerful film back in the fifties when nobody saw it and it's even more powerful today because people now have the opportunity to learn something about our culture and hopefully do something about changing it.

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