That Was Wild

Among the titles from this year’s Sundance that have made it to my Netflix recommendations, Wild Wild Country is the first that I’ve sat down and watched so far.

Now off rip, I wasn’t swayed by the title. Wild Wild Country: I didn’t know what I’d be getting myself into with that. But after reading the description and learning that the Duplas brothers had a hand in producing the series, I reconsidered. The Duplas brothers, Mark and Jay, have been working in film a long time and I’ve been an admirer of theirs for some years now.

So I said, “fuck it, I got some time to kill” and pressed play.

This series has me feeling all kinds of ways.

The doc is about this “cult” of Rajneesh. Baghwan Shree Rajneesh a.k.a Osho. I certainly wasn’t familiar with the title Baghwan, but Osho I was familiar with. People like to quote him a lot on Instagram and Tumblr. Osho was a spiritual teacher who believed that utopian society was possible and developed a whole spiritual teaching based on this belief. He had an ashram in India, but where this series starts is when he and his followers decide to pick up and leave Puna, India and set up shop in Oregon, near the town of Antelope, Oregon.

Already I’m like, “Oregon, tf?”

But it gets crazier. Evidently, the Baghwan had bags and he bought several thousand acres of land – 80,000 to be exact – to build his new utopian city. And oh, did people come out.

These “sannyasins” were out in Oregon deep af. ENTER Ma Amand Sheela. personal secretary to Osho who managed the newly established Rajeeshpuram in Wasco, Co., Oregon.

You can say a lot about her but all I’ll say is that, she was strategic in making sure that her job, as the “spokesperson” for the Baghwan and his ashram, was done efficiently and effectively………. even if those methods were illegal/not entirely ethical.

List of charges against Sheela:

  • Attempted murder
  • Voter fraud
  • Wire tapping
  • Arson
  • Conspiracy
  • Immigration fraud

In a timeline of about four years, Ma Amand Sheela and her “cabinet” of sorts, transforms this sex-positive, peace promoting, truth seeking sannyasin movement into an army, having so much control over those closest to her that she could talk them into murder. MURDER.

It’s truly an enthralling tale and it all went down in little ole’ Wasco County, Oregon.

I don’t know about y’all, but I must have missed this page in my history books. Or maybe it was conveniently left out, who can really say?

Moral of the story: The series raises philosophical questions and grapples with some seemingly contradictory forces: hippies strapping up, Christians being intolerant, the nature of conviction vs. control. Sometimes, in life, there are moments where I’m like “Y’all serious right now?” Real life is often times more fantastical, frightening, and unexpected than what any imagination can conjure. The world is as frightening as it is fascinating. Even if you couldn’t care less about the philosophical implications of this whole Rajneeshpuram debacle, the series is sure to make you think, “What the fuck,” on more than one occasion.

 

 

Screen Time

I didn’t watch much television as a kid. One, my mom wouldn’t let watch it on school nights and the parental controls were such that all I could watch was the Discovery channel, animal planet, travel, history, shit like that. I mean once I got to high school BET and MTV were staples in my life. But I also grew up in the age of trash tv, which never managed to hold my attention long enough for me to become invested in it.

But today’s a new day, a new era. Dare I say it, a renaissance. Television ain’t just for the living room anymore. The majority of the shows I watch are usually on a screen not exceeding 15″.

I don’t watch much tv, but when I do, I really only watch a handful of shows. I like quality, comedy, and drama and when these things are done well, there’s real potential for making some magic.

I recently got into GoT. I’m surprised at how much I like it. I like finding shows that are a few seasons in. Perfect fodder for binging. And I get to develop my own opinion outside of the social media hype.

On the other hand, I lived for the hype for Insecure. Every interview, every press release, every promo. Plus Insecuritea with Crissle and Fran. Bitch I was here for all the coverage. You can’t deny that Insecure is a moment. The show is revolutionary in so many ways.

I’m ready for season three.

Netflix and Justin Simien gave us Dear White People this year. Hot fye, hot fye.

I feel like Chewing Gum was an extremely underrated show. The second season premiered on Netflix at the top of the year and I legitimately cried laughing more than once. It’s witty, provocative, and just fucking good.

The “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None. Just… fucking… yes.giphy

The rest of the show is good too but before this episode, I had never been interested enough to actually watch the whole series. I eventually went back though.

As far as I’m concerned, She’s Gotta Have It is a must watch. I enjoyed Spike’s original film by the same name. I thought the concept was ahead of its time even then and when I heard it was being remade I was excited. When I first heard about the remake I admit I was worried about the execution, but Spike had a true blue team behind him with this one and dammit, I think he struck gold. This show is giving me Do-the-Right-Thing-Spike tease. It’s contemporary, thoughtful, and a great moment for the culture.

I’d be remise if I neglected to mention Blackish. I’m a fan. I really didn’t know where they were going to take the show after the first season. I was honestly scared to watch when it first aired but after it survived its first season and had to see what the hype was. And it didn’t disappoint.

2018’s got a hot line up. After the first season of Atlanta, Donald Glover took a break to film Star Wars or whatever, but Atlanta’s back for season two next year and I’m simply overflowing with anticipation.

History is repeating itself yet again with another (hopefully) iconic spin off.

Everybody knows the first season of A Different World was the worst season, but I actually think Yara Shahidi has what it takes to carry a show. I’m excited to see more from this young lady.

The final season of GoT is set for next year. While I’ve enjoyed the ride, I can’t say I’m too sad to see it go. It was a moment. I lived for all that blood and gore and medieval shit.

I’m sure I missed some stuff and knowingly neglected others. I don’t watch much television but when I do I like it to be good. Fresh faces, fresh voices, and some not-so-new faces that have been consistently out here serving it to you girls with the fierceness. I live for it all.

Prediction: Endless Netflix and Chill-athons 2k18

Life and Laughs

I recently watched The Incredible Jessica James.

It’s one of my favorite movies now.

The story, the plot, the characters (oh the characters) – this movie just stood out to me in so many different ways. Like I was almost surprised at how much I loved it.

The first time I saw Jessica Williams on The Daily Show w John Stewart, I thought she was witty, awkward, smart, funny – just my kind of bitch. I thought, “I can’t wait til she gets poppin.” Then she left the show and I thought

“Oh shit, she’s making moves. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

I follow her on Instagram and I remember when the movie was on the festival circuit making waves.

It got into Sundance, which – kudos.

Then it premiered on Netflix. I must admit, it took me a while to sit down and watch it. It was always on my mental watchlist but I was in the middle of Narcos so… it had to wait a minute.

But I finished Narcos (dope af) and I finally sat down to watch it and I honestly feel like it’s one of the most charming&funny&quirky&lovable movies I’ve seen in a while. Definitely cult classic material. New generation black art house gold. I loved it.

Even though the world seems to be heading for imminent destruction, I can die in peace having witnessed the last hoorah, the raison d’etre, the final bang in this iteration of a true black arts movement – in cinema, and art in general.

It happened in the 20s, 50s 80s and now. When the going gets tough, the tough create.

I mean like

DWP. selma. Insecure. Awkward black Girl. Issa Rae. Justin Simeon. Lena waithe. 20s. Queen Sugar. Oprah. AVA mf’n DUVERNAY. Fences. Hidden Figures. Fruitvale Station. Black Panther.

Not to mention all the talent on the internet. Niggas are getting paid cash money to parody the bullshit we witness ERDAY.

Obviously, trolls gone troll.

Toni, Rachel, Katlyn, Kylie: I’m looking at you…

But have I been getting my life and my laughs despite them?

Hell yes.

Everybody Has a Breaking Point

The Stanford Prison Experiment. Let’s chat.

Not the real thing, but the movie. I watched it for the first time last night and… woah.

First of all I didn’t even know the shit was based on real life before I watched it. But I did my Googles afterwards. Evidently it won a couple awards at Sundance when it premiered there and that was enough to get me interested enough to watch.

Breakdown: So 24 male college students willingly agree to participate in the Stanford Prison Experiment for two weeks, for $15/day. Peanuts, today, but I guess that was a nice chunk of change for a college student in 1971. They were chosen because they were all supposedly mentally and psychologically healthy, they came from similar backgrounds, and were similar ages – young, white boys of privilege.

One could almost say they were equals – until shit got real.

When you’re an English major, like myself, you read a lot of shit. Thematically, the premise of this story was similar something like a Lord of the Flies (by William Golding) or an Animal Farm (by George Orwell).

The thing with having the “guards” in the experiment wear shades at all times was trippy too because as I was sitting there watching it, I thought about Michel Foucault’s Panopticism and the role that seeing/sight plays on the psychology of “guards” and the “prisoners.”

But I won’t bore you with theory.

The acting in this movie was fucking brilliant.

Fucking Michael Angarano – who plays Chris Archer a.k.a the dude that took that guard shit way too serious with his Captain from Cool Hand Luke impersonation – knocked that shit out of the park. All the actors gave some Oscar-worthy performances.

Moral of the story: absolute power [always] corrupts absolutely.

What started out as an experiment turned into a dangerous example of the human psyche and how fragile it is and once again shows us how if any one of us, if given that inch, can take the whole damn mile.

The experiment was supposed to last two weeks but things went to shit much sooner than expected and was terminated after just six days.

Go fucking figure.

 

 

Still Processing…

At the top of this year, I really thought Netflix was starting to find a groove with their original content. That last season of Orange is the New Black aside, they had some nice selections.

I really got into The Get Down. After asking around, I gathered that there weren’t too many people that I knew who enjoyed the show, so I binge watched the first season on my own with a few pints of Talenti. The thing that hooked me was the historical fiction-y aspect of the story.

The gist of the story – the beginning and proliferation of hip hop as a culture – was historically accurate but the characters were amalgamations and variations of people real and made up.

Shaolin Fantastic was a badass character, but to my knowledge there was never a real MC called Shaolin Fantastic.

I get that the budget might’ve been a bit hefty. And evidently, Bas Luhrmann was committed enough to it to keep it going. But damn.

Then they cut Sense 8.

Here y’all go with this insufficient budget excuse. It’s been done before. Commit bitch. There are people counting on knowing what the fuck is going to happen with the Sense 8s now that Whisper’s is creeping up on them again.

How do you cancel the show on a cliff hanger?! – The unmitigated gaul.

I actually tried it with this season of OITNB. Not a fan. That shit’s over.

Now that’s one that Netflix could actually let go.

Cynthia is my Soul Mate

If you haven’t been watching Chewing Gum, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life.

It’s so fucking funny.

I take so much delight in knowing that I was on this shit before it got popping. I was watching season one on YouTube when it was still only on BBC programming. I feel like if someone made Do The Right Thing into a comedy series set in modern London, it would be Chewing Gum. Aesthetically, the show works. So many colors. So many interesting locations. Interesting character. It makes even Tracy’s estate (I assume what we’d call project housing, here) look appealing and vibrant. It makes you want to be in her world, if only for 22 minutes.

Plus, I’ve developed a new appreciation for British slang and comedy. It’s so unique, yet vaguely familiar.

It’s just something about that melanin. Lately I’ve really been exploring the whole idea of this “African diaspora,” the dispersion of melanated people across the globe as a result of centuries of colonization. And it is continuously becoming evident that no matter how far spread across the globe black folks are, it’s just something about that melanin that’s interesting, exciting, and worth exploring.

Chewing Gum gets two thumbs up.