Wednesday Afternoon Open Thread

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I stayed up into the wee hours binge-watching the latest season of “Orange Is the New Black,” and now I’m almost as cranky and depressed as an elderly socialist from Vermont who just got an ass-kicking from an erstwhile Goldwater Girl.

I know we must have “Orange” watchers in the group…anyone else all caught up and dying to discuss the show? If so, maybe use Google Translate to render your thoughts in Croatian before posting a comment to prevent spoilers?

Otherwise, open thread — discuss whatever!








Late Night Open Thread: John Oliver on Brexit

Local knowledge is invaluable. As might be expected, refugee from Little Britain Oliver has STRONG OPINIONS.



BET Awards and GoT Open Thread

Hodor.








OJ: Made in America

I’m currently on episode two of the five part series, and it really is spectacular and should win all the awards. All of them.

Even thought I was in my twenties and remember precisely where I was during the OJ chase, but I didn’t know who OJ really was other than a retired football player and sometime actor. This documentary really does an amazing job of filling in the pieces of why so many black activists didn’t like him, and ties it in with the history of racism in the LAPD.

Mark it down as a must watch.








Guest Post: lamh36’s Final Reflections on Roots 2016

Balloon Juice commenter lamh36 posted her final thoughts on the recently aired remake of Roots as a comment last night. I asked her if we could put it up as a guest post because I think it deserves to be seen by more than those who happened to be commenting on one particular post on Friday night. She graciously said yes and sent me the link to where she’d posted it on her own blog. She also has a very interesting post about the Roots remake that she posted before it had aired, so make sure to click through and check that one out too. Lamh36’s post viewing remarks on Roots are below.

So, yesterday I watched the finale of the Roots tv reboot.

Here are my final final reflections.

So, you may already know, I wasn’t gonna watch…then thanks to blogger Awesomely Luvvie ( On ROOTS Reimagined and Retelling This Classic Story) and other folk I respect I decided to give it a chance. I never saw the original. Usually, I shy away from this type of drama because unless you are a heartless bastard it sticks with you and unless you are a ditzy absentminded sort of person it lingers in your mind even after watching…but I disregarded my usual aversion and I watched episode one.

So first of all, History channel did a GREAT job of filling in some of the holes in the story, that folks expressed about Haley’s original book with facts, figures and real life events of the time. In fact, even though it was based on Haley’s book and ancestors, they stuck to the story Haley told, but interspersed the personal family story, with a History channel style reenactments of real life events and happenings of the time in which the story was set (if you followed them on twitter, they also sent out factoids about the time and the people during the commercial breaks, and also with blurbs at the end of scenes with significant historical impact).

Another thing I applauded, was that unlike with the orignal mini-series, they didn’t go for ANY stunt casting (no white sitcom stars or black pro-athletes in this one). Instead, other than for a couple of the iconic roles (i.e. Fiddler, Kizzy, Tom Lea…) the cast was made up of new, and hopefully, up and coming young actresses and actors of color, including some  for whom the show was their very first real acting job (US or otherwise).  The standouts including Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte, Regé-Jean Page as Chicken George, Erica Tazel as Matilda, and a number of other younger actresses and actors.  The casting for the series was really good.

As I expected, each and every scene lingered. but as I watched the first ep and the second ep…I began to see this NOT as a story of victim hood, or airing grievances against white people (though to be fair from this family’s saga standpoint and millions of others who were slaves…the grievances against white folks were valid and should NOT be forgotten or erased from conversation). Anyway, I began to see it as the story of SURVIVORS! From Africa to the Americas…these people SURVIVED all this brutality and came out of it on the other side yes bloodied but ALIVE and in many cases unbowed. So even with the painful acts and lingering anger at the entire institution of slavery in America, I feel blessed to know that I come from generations of these Survivors and I’d like to hope that their stories are told and heard by as many folks as can see or hear them, Black or white.



New ‘Roots’, Old Pain

Melena Ryzik, in the NYTimes, “‘Roots,’ Remade for a New Era”:

ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA. — Cannons boomed, shaking the leaves off 50-foot trees. “Ready, I need fire on that hill!” an urgent voice yelled. Weapons were reloaded. Exhausted infantrymen — black, white, young, old — were splayed around a muddy pit. “Watch your muzzles, gentlemen,” their leader called. “Don’t blow your friend’s face off!”

In a wooded grove in this town near Baton Rouge, La., a television crew was meticulously recreating the brutal Civil War battle of Fort Pillow, for a remake of “Roots,” the seminal mini-series about slavery. The carnage in the fight was significant: After Union soldiers surrendered, the Confederates disproportionately took white soldiers hostage as prisoners of war and slaughtered hundreds of black soldiers, sending survivors into the slave trade. This massacre was not in the original “Roots,” broadcast in 1977, which is exactly why the producers of the new one chose to include it.

It is one of many unexpected historical details put onscreen in “Roots,” which will air over four nights starting on Memorial Day. It will be simulcast on the History, Lifetime and A&E channels, with a sprawling cast that includes Laurence Fishburne; Forest Whitaker; Anika Noni Rose; Anna Paquin; the rapper T.I.; and the English newcomer Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte, the central character. The revival aims to deliver a visceral punch of the past to a younger demographic, consumed anew by questions of race, inequality and heritage. With a crew of contemporary influencers — Will Packer (“Straight Outta Compton”) is a producer; Questlove oversaw the music — the hope is to recontextualize “Roots” for the Black Lives Matter era, a solemn and exacting feat.

“I’d be lying if I said I had zero trepidation and nervousness,” said LeVar Burton, who began his career, indelibly, as the slave Kunta Kinte, and who serves as a producer on the modern version. “But I do believe that we have a lot to contribute to the very important conversation of race in America, and how it continues to hold us back as a society.”…

From NYMag‘s culture blog:

Vulture sat down with producers Mark Wolper — whose father, David L. Wolper, produced the original Roots — and Packer (Straight Outta Compton), and cast members Kirby, Regé-Jean Page (who plays Kunta Kinte’s son, Chicken George), and Erica Tazel (Chicken George’s wife Matilda), to discuss the urgency of revisiting this story

The reboot comes in a year with a number of other notable projects about slavery, including Underground on WGN, and Fox Searchlight’s forthcoming Oscar contender, The Birth of a Nation. How is your retelling of Roots distinct among these narratives? And why tell this particular story again now?

Mark Wolper: I wasn’t sure there was any right time to reboot a project that was so monumental for the TV business and for its social ramifications, not to mention a project that my own father had produced. It was a triple whammy in that respect for me. People had been saying for years, “Let’s do Roots again. Can we do Roots again?” And my answer was always, “No.” But it was when I sat my 16-year-old son down to watch it and he said, “I understand why Roots is so important, but it’s kind of like your music — it doesn’t speak to me” that realized I had to overcome my fears. There is an entire generation of young people that needs to hear and see this story. The problems we have with race in America right now are enormous, but we can’t fix the future or understand the present unless we understand where we all came from…

Regé-Jean Page: Contrary to what many people think, our history did not start with slavery. So this project for me is very much about about filling in a history that has been mistold, or in some cases, even erased. It’s about upgrading a lot of misinformation that we’ve been told for generations. And that’s a task that doesn’t ever really end…

Tragically related, also in the NYTimes, “‘A Million Questions’ From Descendants of Slaves Sold to Aid Georgetown”, and Carl Zimmer’s “Tales of African-American History Found in DNA”:

The history of African-Americans has been shaped in part by two great journeys. The first brought hundreds of thousands of Africans to the southern United States as slaves. The second, the Great Migration, began around 1910 and sent six million African-Americans from the South to New York, Chicago and other cities across the country.

In a study published on Friday, a team of geneticists sought evidence for this history in the DNA of living African-Americans. The findings, published in PLOS Genetics, provide a map of African-American genetic diversity, shedding light on both their history and their health…



The Wages of Apathy

Absurd “potty prefect” laws, eroded reproductive rights, increased voter suppression, etc. — Samantha Bee explains yet again why it’s not enough to elect good presidents:

In last night’s show, Bee also did an exposé (emceed by Patton Oswalt as Alfred Hitchcock!) on crisis pregnancy centers, the anti-choice propaganda outlets that masquerade as abortion clinics, luring young women in so religious nutjob charlatans can dispense heaping helpings phony statistics and guilt — at taxpayer expense in Georgia.

If you’re dialed into politics enough to hang out at this blog, chances are you vote in every single election. But as you lean on your more loosely affiliated friends, relatives and neighbors to get their asses to the polls this year to prevent the Trumpocalypse, maybe spare a moment to emphasize the importance of state, local and midterm elections too?