Arts & Culture 101

I hope you had a great weekend. 

I did too. The highlight of the weekend for me, was seeing the movie Johnny English with my good friend. The ‘light’ however quickly faded, when Johnny (Rowan Atkinson) also popularly known as Mr. Bean, referred to his side-kick (a dark-skinned guy), Agent Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya), as someone good enough to “carry his bags” on his ‘mission impossible’. In the movie, you see Johnny continuously discounting the guy’s intelligence and his warnings about who the enemy was. By the time Johnny finally realizes his side-kick had been right all along, he says to him, “MY country needs me, and it Needs you too.” 

As a communication scholar, I am trained to read meanings from not what has been said, but what is left ‘unsaid’. It was not established in the movie whether or not Tucker was British. The meaning I decoded (perceived meaning) was that he wasn’t. Those scenes reminded me of my studies on Frantz Fanon.Fanon’s essay, Black Skin, White Masks (1952) is very appropriate to my discussion here. 

Check out the following quotes below:

“There is a fact: White men consider themselves superior to black men. // There is another fact: Black men want to prove to white men, at all costs, the richness of their thought, the equal value of their intellect. // How doe we extricate ourselves?” (10).


“I believe that the fact of the juxtaposition of the white and black races has created a massive psychoexistential complex. I hope by analyzing it to destroy it. . . .


All the while I was enjoying analysing this media text, my friend felt I was missing out of the fun of Johnny’s comic actions. I did have a good laugh though, and I still love Rowan Atkinson – it’s not my fault I picked on those scenes. It’s just how I am wired. I analyse every media text I come across sub-consciously, it is how I make sense of my world. I do not mean this is right or wrong – it is what it is, an analysis.

***

In other news, I had a class today on Cultural Theory and had so much fun. At my table alone were 5 students from 5 different countries (I inclusive). The countries represented were Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, Britain and Nigeria. It was a very active class, and we discussed this topic:

THE “NEGATIVE TRADITION”: THE ARTS & CULTURE AS A SOURCE OF CORRUPTION AND DISTRACTION

We started from dear old Plato (I thought I had escaped this philosopher, but he clearly has an academic thing for me, lol). The class got really interesting when we started discussing whether or not the State (government) should be allowed to censor the release of Art Forms for the sake of vulnerable citizens.

Other questions we discussed were: 

Can arts and culture really be considered harmful to the society?

Does the responsibility for what types of cultural forms get consumed rest always with the individual?

For instance, a boy watches Child’s Play (horror movie) and murders a toddler, who’s responsible – the content, content creator or the consumer?

Just like with all academic and philosophical discussions, there is no absolutely right or wrong answer. The tutor mentioned that we all say the answer is “somewhere in-between”, but that middle-ground is usually so messy and foggy we can’t actually explain it explicitly. Our job in essays is to argue for or against, backed with theories and precedents – i’m looking forward to doing that.

Gimme a teeny-weeny glimpse into your weekend too, and have yourself a fab week ahead. 


Tomexy

P.S. 




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2 thoughts on “Arts & Culture 101

  1. Dudu says:

    I wish I had seen the movie so as to enable me have an opinion on your “sub-conscious cinema date” blooper.
    Nevertheless, the excerpts gave me a good picture. Most movies subtly do this. Black skinned folks are not the only victims (permit the usage) here, I have seen lots of movies where maids were mostly Spanish, Brazilians etc.
    I will watch the movie and come back to comment further.
    And my weekend? it was spent moderating a focus group session with teenagers. Boring did you say?

  2. Tomexy says:

    LOL, Dudu, first of all it wasn’t a date.. it was a girls’ hang-out
    I agree with you about the stereotypes.
    As per Focus Group Session with teenagers, that is such a cute way to spend the weekend, in my books at least 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by, and please return after you watch the movie.

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