Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Did you watch HBO last night?

Did you watch HBO last night? Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke part I and II debuted. I must say before it even began I was sure it would be racially slanted and have one theme through out it. It mainly focused on New Orleans and not other areas hit by Hurricane Katrina although they were briefly shown and talked about. There was a diverse selection of people interviewed from female, male, white, black, rich and poor. There were local officials and other news casters interviewed. I was truly surprised that he did try to show both sides as best he could. Of course they have the people who think this was intentionally done to them but then there were the people who knew it was a very unfortunate event happening around them. Given that New Orleans is primarily black this is what you see most of the time in the documentary. This should not be a surprise. This is demographics. The Rev. Al Sharpton did not even appear until at least an hour and a half into the show and only for seconds. It was sad to see all the tragedy and heartbreak and to hear the stories of people who sat and suffered through this. It does help you to understand why they are so mad and so angry. I personally could not even image being stuck in that mess and even more so with my child. I would have had a mental breakdown of reality also. I know I would have without question. Hell, I had a breakdown and I wasn't even here. I left that Saturday before and didn't return until October, I think. I was fortunate enough to get out and had some place to stay. I watch it all unfold on CNN. You can't realistically blame one person/agency or say it should have been done this way. You never know what you would do in an extreme case and how you would react. Of course things should have been done different and they say hindsight is always 20/20. Hopefully lessons were learned to ensure this doesn't happen again. Overall I thought it was a good documentary. I must warn you towards the end there were graphic images of death and they were very hard to watch and not react. Lets see what part III and IV will be like tonight.


Raspootin said...

I wish that I had HBO!

I really felt like I was missing out last night.

Maybe I can get it installed before next Tuesday.

Good post!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Raspootin; I continue to have difficulty signing up for this blog. Maybe I'll come by this weekend and get you to try. Until then I will have to remain Anonymous.
I haven't seen the documentatary and probably won't. Nevertheless, I do have a few comments. First, even though N.O. was 66% black pre-Katrina, the mortality rate for blacks & whites in N.O. was nearly equal. I bet one would never guess that after viewing this movie. In addition, since thousands of upper middle class whites lost their homes in Lakeview, it can be argued that on a $ basis they lost much more than anyone in the 9th ward. So why is it this movie mostly ignores their suffering? Why do the uninformed masses conclude that this was mostly a "black catastrophe" in N.O.? The media & Spike Lee have focused entirely on the suffering of blacks.
The irony is the media & Lee could have acomplished more for the black population by being more even-handed. The reason is simply that prejudice will always exist and there are many who will shrug their shoulders and say "that's too bad, but it was just a bunch of poor, shiftless blacks". If those people had realized that many whites had been affected, perhaps the government and the nation would have been more sympathetic to N.O.'s plight.
From what I have read, this movie utterly fails to inform the nation that Katrina was an equal-oportunity hurricane. For this reason, Spike Lee is guilty of that which he so often accuses whites - racism!

wishin said...

Please don't be offended by this, but how can you give an opinion on a documentary that you haven't seen nor do you plan to see? I don't believe that you can base your opinion on what you've read about the documentary. I went in the same way thinking that is would be so bias based on the reviews I read and after watching it formed my own opinion of it. Yes, there were a lot of black people in it, but if you watch it you will see others in it also. You will see government officials talking about their part in it and they are speaking about the coastal area in general not just the poor black areas. You should watch it if you can and then see what you think. You must have an open mind before watching it.

Anonymous said...

I’m not offended at all, and I expected someone to object to my not actually seeing it. It’s not out of stubbornness or obstinacy that I haven’t seen it. It is simply that I don’t subscribe to HBO and don’t feel a need for it.

Perhaps viewing it would alter my perception, but I doubt it. Throughout life we make judgments on issues that we have not actually viewed or experienced. On a jury we are asked to judge and evaluate information from events that we did not actually witness. Keeping in mind that most people exhibit certain biases, we read books and research articles in order to make judgments regarding historical events and characters that occurred centuries ago. Should we discount all information that is not first-hand? By the same token, just because I haven’t seen a movie doesn’t mean I can’t be objective or have a rational opinion regarding it.

Since its inception, cinema has been a propaganda tool used effectively by various interest groups and governments. It often manipulates our emotions and colors our opinions. The Germans and Russians were notorious for using it to advance their evil causes. I cannot accept that Spike Lee, a man whose entire career has been based on advancing a certain agenda now espouses complete objectivity anymore than I would expect logic and fairness from Reverend Jackson or Farrakhan. From what I have read, it seems the sparse white presence in the movie is represented to the nation in embarrassing caricatures of "trailer trash". Were there any interviews with prosperous, educated and well-spoken victims? This is not accidental. To parts north of the Mason -Dixon line and west of Arkansas the South is mostly a hell-hole of poor blacks and uneducated racist white hicks. Depictions such as these only help to confirm their superior and conceited attitudes regarding all things southern.

Why didn’t he name the movie “When the Levee Broke In The 9th Ward” since the main focus is on one levee in one neighborhood? Also, there is nothing wrong with airing claims by some that the levee was bombed to rid the city of its black population. But it is irresponsible journalism to not challenge these absurd charges. If this charge had even a kernel of truth, there would be a helluva lot of white people pissed off at the bombers for doing such a half-assed job of it that they destroyed all those white folks’ homes too!
In my opinion, allowing this inflamatory, unsubstantiated charge to go unchallenged, is reason enough to avoid the entire movie.

Raspootin said...


I actually agree with a lot of what you just wrote. However, without seeing the documentary I think it is hard to say that Spike Lee is taking a racial slant.

However, as food for thought, let’s say Spike did take a racial slant. What’s wrong with that? He is black and he is focusing his documentary on the plight of what happened to Black people in New Orleans. If a white person has a problem with this, why not engage Michael Moore to do his white Katrina version? He has no problem taking his “slant” on things as depicted in Fahrenheit 9/11. I really liked Fahrenheit 9/11.As you well know I am not a fan of George W.

I think that we all make judgments daily based on an outward first impression. This is human nature. It would be nice to think that we all are always being judged on the basis of knowledge not bias.

I do not have HBO either and I am not willing to subscribe for this one thing. When it comes out for sale, I will buy it and invite you over to watch it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the invitation. I'll bring the wine.

Well Let's switch the story around.
Suppose the Canal Street ferry sank in the river, and 100 people drowned. The next year, Ken Burns comes along and produces a documentary describing many of the victims in detail- their occupations,their relatives, education, and acomplishments. In short, a mini biography for 54 victims who all happen to be white.
After this in-depth, emotional description of the 54 victims, the documentary closes with this comment: "In addition to the previously mentioned victims, 46 black men and women died. We mourn their passing.The End"
You'd think that was horribly callous and insensitive, wouldn't you? Well, that is how I believe Spike treats the white Katrina experience - a brief afterthought, designed to thwart any criticism of unequal treatment of victims in his movie.