Sunday, May 26, 2013

Out of the Closet Thrift Stores; Cloud Atlas and Yellowface

I don't know who started these stores, but Out of the Closet Thrift Stores have me hooked. I heard about them on social media because we don't have any in the Philadelphia area, and a friend of mine in New Hope who used to live in NYC told me he's been there before. Through a search on their web site I found the closest store to me is in Brooklyn, and I think this is going to be a destination point one weekend this summer.

You can donate and it helps support the AIDS health care foundation.

Each store offers free confidential HIV testing.

And among other features that include shopping, they have pharmacies, too.

At the very bottom of the web site's home page it says this:

"Cutting Edge Medicine and Advocacy Regardless of Ability to Pay"

I have friends who are HIV+ and I'm acting POA for one. HIV meds can run into thousands of dollars each month and many people can't afford them. Obamacare isn't helping them least not yet. So whenever something like this does come along I think it's important to get the information out there.

You can check out the main web site here to find out more, or if there is one in your area. I think they are even in Europe now.

Cloud Atlas and Yellowface

Spoiler alert.

I wrote a post in December about the movie, Cloud Atlas, and how they blatantly used yellowface. At the time I hadn't seen the film, but I did see it last night and I wanted to follow up on the December post.

The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) came out in protest and they only watched the trailer. The Vice-President of MANAA came out with this statement:

"If, in the making of this complex movie, the creators of Cloud Atlas can make creative leaps in time, place, characters, race and gender, why can't they also take a creative leap in the casting?"

I also mentioned a few tactless remarks actor Jim Sturgess made on Twitter about playing yellowface.

You have to wonder what's going on inside HIS head. But I'm not commenting anymore about Sturgess or his tweets, and you can read more at the link I've provided above to my original post.

But I did want to say that after watching the film last night on demand, I'm glad I didn't bother going to see it in a theater where I would have been forced to pay full price. It wasn't the worst film I've ever seen like some critics have suggested, and I did try to find a few redeeming points. But it was one of the longest...I think three hours. I started to fast forward certain scenes around the time I had 70 minutes left, and I didn't have any problems following the story while fast forwarding, which means it could have been edited differently. (When will some people realize the length of a movie or a book doesn't mean it's going to be better? That's why editing is an art form. I'm starting to think this lack of editing both in books and movies is the true sign of a novice.)

I rarely discuss politics anywhere because I don't think it's my job to do that, but I am NOT a right wing conservative, trust me on that. In Cloud Atlas, I think they pretty much covered every single left wing issue Hollywood loves to sensationalize, and they even had two gay characters playing the tired melodramatic suicide storyline in the days of old. In other words, it felt contrived, as if they were pulling issues out of a hat knowing these issues would affect people...or manipulate them. The problem is these things have already been done time and time again. And I would have preferred to watch two gay characters who weren't cliches. At least they didn't use and sensationalize the bully angle.

But, there's really nothing wrong with any cliche if the message is positive throughout the film, however, with all these other things going on in the background...from slavery to gay...for the producers to use yellowface completely blew me away. But more than that, two of Hollywood's biggest loud mouths are in the film, Tom Hanks and Susan Sarandon. Those two have been spewing their politics for years, and they agreed to be in a film with yellowface? Seriously. Did Sarandon lose her picket signs?

Here's a link titled, "Did Cloud Atlas' Yellowface Problem Help to Sink It at the Box Office?"

 It's official: Cloud Atlas is a flop. At least in the United States. Made for a reported $100 million, the book adaptation barely scratched $10 million in its opening weekend — but some observers say the film could make a tidy profit overseas, where most of its funding came from. Still, it's hard not to ask: Did the film's controversial use of "Yellowface" — white actors wearing clumsy makeup to make them Asian — alienate its natural audience Stateside?

Here's another article at Jezebel that says it all better than I can:

Again, it all comes back to representation. Until there are types of humans other than white men who appear as the leads in pretty much every form of entertainment always, shit like this will be A-OK. I remember in Margaret Cho's terrific memoir, I'm the One That I Want, she recounts watching white people on TV when she was a kid and waiting to grow up and become white. (That might not/definitely isn't verbatim as I read the book in 2001 as part of my "Ladies in Comedy" bookclub that lasted for two months.) Reading that was heartbreaking, and it's not the only time I've heard that sentiment. Until more people of color are on our screens playing all the same roles - every lead, every supporting role - now reserved for white people, this shit will continue, and this shit is ugly, lazy, and inexcusable.

The only reason I bothered to watch Cloud Atlas in full was to follow up on the original post. And I waited until it came out on demand. (Tony's still upstairs watching the end...poor thing fell asleep halfway through and he wants to get his money's worth :) The yellowface issue really did bother me's insulting to the point of painful. I would like to think that we've reached a point in our society where these things don't happen anymore. Evidently that's not the case. Of course they gave excuses as to why they used yellowface, and some of those excuses aren't bad at all on the surface. But no matter how you try to twist things around to make them look and sound good the fact remains that it could have been done differently and I wouldn't even be writing this post. This is one instance where I don't think anyone can be too politically or socially correct.

There is one scene in Cloud Atlas I did find amusing. There's a sleazy old publisher who has a rough-neck type of author with a new book out. The book is tanking and the rough-neck author thinks it's because of a bad review a professional book critic gave him. This rough neck author is so bitter about the bad review he actually carries a copy of the review in his pocket everywhere he goes. And when the bitter rough-neck author is at a party and he runs into the critic who gave him the bad review he does something I didn't expect. He grabs the reviewer by the neck, drags the reviewer to a balcony, and tosses him off the side. The book reviewer drops hundreds of feet to his death, and there's even a great scene where the book reviewer's lifeless, ruined body splats on the sidewalk. They even show you his blood.

Now that's what I call a badly behaved author, and I can't help but wonder if the producers were slightly prescient.

If I were a professional film critic I would probably stay away from the producers of Cloud Atlas at parties, especially those parties being held in skyscrapers.

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