Thursday, March 18, 2010

FLICK PICK: "Watermelon Man" -- Racier Than I Thought

Last night I finally made it to the end of "Watermelon Man." This 1970's flick is about a 30-something bigoted obnoxious white guy who wakes up in the middle of the night to discover he is now black. This is by far not one of my favorite movies, but it does has some good socially provokative moments, and I was delighted that it did not have a neatly-tied-with-a-bow Hollywood ending.

Mr. Gerber, played by Godfrey Cambridge, never goes back to being white (which is a relief because he looks totally weird made up to look white and is a much better looking black man).

His initial shock, leads to denial, which leads to dispair, which leads to a sort of acceptance, rebirth and strength. His white family practitioner confirms, "Jeff you are a Negro," and then suggests he consult with a doctor of his own race from here on out. Though Mr. Gerber loses his family, job, and house, he gains humility, dignity, a new community after his neighbors tell him, "We feel your presence can undermine the value of our homes." Mr. Gerber, in fact plays it smart, and drives up a $100,000 buyout that enables him to start over and open up his own business.

Women reacted to his blackness differently. His wife, who once begged for Wednesday night nookie, suddenly stops asking. She offers some sympathy, suggesting that his sunlamp malfunctioned and everything will be alright. When she realizes that he will remain black forever, she withdraws completely. "I'm liberal to a point," she explains, adding, "I never thought marriage was going to be interracial."

A sexy secretary with a German accent, however, has become newly curious about her transformed office mate. She comes onto him, and finally after, getting rejected repeatedly from his wife, Mr. Gerber makes the call. We know what she's thinking even though Mr. Gerber, after looking down his pajama pants, lets the viewer know that "It's just an old wives tale." There is a brief scene with some nudity. The girl is apparently insatiable. When he gets out of bed to go home she gets angry, goes to the open window, and screams "Rape." Nice!

If you haven't seen this strange, comedic, sometimes painful cringe-worthy fictional depiction of racial issues, and like to glimpse sets staged with mediocre vintage suburban decor, then you might like "Watermelon Man." Not for the kids however. Besides a super close up of bare buttocks and a few minutes of boobs (i think they were fake), there are too many politically and socially incorrect slurs that you don't want your kids repeating.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Newspaper

I get the paper everyday. I read it about once a week. It piles up on the chair and eventually I weed through it. The Sports section gets tossed, as do most of the advertisements, and am left with the headlines, the local features, the special weekly sections, and the entertainment.

I used to get the Sun Sentinel. I used to write for them too. Hmmmm. Now I subscribe to the Miami Herald. Not because I have a grudge. Simply because they offered me a $11/month deal.

When I read it, I remember how much I like it. Reading the actual paper is a luxury. The information is a mental treat. I get inspired, pissed, and educated. I am moved, and I take notes and clip articles.

Sammi, who is 9, has been upset lately over the underwhelming response to the Chilean earthquake. She said it wasn't fair. She was saddened by the Haiti disaster, assisted in a shoe collection drive, and witnessed the world and familiar faces from her world -- Justin Bieber, Nick Jonas, and Lady Gaga -- coming together to help. She asked, "Why are we ignoring Chile?"

I didn't answer her question, but just kind of put on a pouty face that let her know I felt a little sad about it too. But then I read Tuesday's paper, and I found out why the world wasn't all over Chile like we were Haiti. I was empowered, and I was excited to educate her with fact rather than just pure feeling.

Keeping it simple for both of our benefits, I told her that though the Chilean quake was stronger, so is Chile. And since the damage occurred outside of the big city, Santiago, fewer lives were lost. I told her that the roads and buildings were built stronger and that the government had saved enough money to fix them back up. And that Chile can make money again by selling things like wine, copper, steel, and paper.

She asked me several times if Florida would have an earthquake. I said, "probably not." My response is close to the answer she wanted to hear which was "No, never ever ever," and i hope not that far from the truth. I didn't find that answer in the newspaper. It was just in my heart.