Get Out is a taut horror thriller from Jordan Peele, famous as half of Comedy Central’s sketch comedy duo Key & Peele. In Get Out, Peele makes his debut behind the camera, directing fresh-faced Daniel Kaluuya (Black Mirror, Sicario) and Allison Williams (The Mindy Project) with his original script. But rather than comparing it to horror classics, I found it instructive to compare Get Out to another story with a relationship at its center – 2015’s film adaption of the hit musical The Last Five Years, starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. They’re both masterful in the way they use characters to hone a sense of perspective. And Lord knows, when it comes to racial issues, evangelicals could use a healthy dose of the black perspective.
So one of the problems I see in our political discourse, is that we often use the same words but mean different things.
And nowhere is that problem more vexing than in our discussions about race. It’s been a problem for a long time, of course, but ever since the election of Donald Trump, there have been a fresh round of arguments springing up on cable-news pundit panels, message boards and social media feeds. And the typical argument goes something like this:
Progressive: [Insert recent news story] is a clear example of racism! That [incident, action, statement or idea] is racist!
Conservative: No, it isn’t! Why do you make everything about race? That had nothing to do with race. [Insert person at the center of story] is not a racist!
Progressive: You don’t know what you’re talking about! Your denial of racism is racist!
Conservative: You don’t know what you’re talking about! Your accusation of racism makes you the real racist!
Rinse and repeat.
They say that those who don’t know their history are bound to repeat it.
And there’s a less well-known but corollary idea, that people who create realistic fictional content end up pulling their ideas from recent events.
But every once in a while, both ideas converge: a piece of speculative fiction, drawn from elements of real-life, ends up over time looking like a retroactive prediction of real-life events.
Remember how Back to the Future II predicted this year’s Cubs World Series win? I recently stumbled onto a similar phenomenon, with even bigger consequences.
Last night, I posted the following status update to my Facebook account:
Wait, there’s been reports of racial harassment to people of color from Trump supporters? Well, we shouldn’t be surprised.
I mean, when white Republicans send candidates to the White House, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending a candidate with supporters that have lots of problems. They’re bringing crime, and they’re racists, and some of them, I assume, are good people.
It was my tongue-in-cheek way of trying to get conservative Republicans who feel defensive about accusations of racism to see how it feels to be targeted rhetorically, and then to remind them that guess what? Your choice for president said this, and much more.
But satire is always a risky proposition when it comes to making a point, and most of the time it ends up serving as a way to signal congratulations from people who already agree with you. Last night’s post was no exception. A bunch of my Facebook friends who knew what I meant, laughed. (One friend said she laughed so hard, she ran out of capital letters. “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahahaha,” That cracked me up.)
On the other hand, a few of them responded somberly, aghast at the ideological divide that this election has revealed. They wanted to stick up for people they know who voted for Trump who they feel are good people who agonized over a difficult choice and just made it differently than I did.
I get that.
I still think they’re wrong for choosing Trump, but I get it.
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis,
For a variety of reasons, I voted for Hillary Clinton for president.
Like many, many others, I did not get what I wanted.
But I did get something valuable.
I received the gift of pain.
As gifts go, pain is not usually high on anyone’s most-wanted list. It’s the reason why, when people want to exclaim strongly about how much they dislike something, they usually offer up a painful alternative that they would rather choose. I’d rather light myself on fire. I’d rather snuggle with razor blades and bathe in lemon juice. I’d rather have a root canal.
Actually, that last one seems rather apt, because the potential for pain from a root canal stems from the exposure of nerves in our teeth. We hurt because we are getting unfiltered, unadulterated, no-holds-barred pain signals from our bodies’ specialized pain sensors. When you need a root canal, your teeth hurt to remind you that hey, something is REALLY WRONG.
That’s right. Pain is a messenger.
Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is out in theaters, and it dutifully fills all the boxes in the spy thriller checklist. Lifelike masks? Death-defying stunts? Car chases? Gunplay and physical combat? Glamorous locales? Check, check, checkity-pop-zoom-bam-BOOM.
One thing that stuck with me was the title; an interesting development, because action movie titles are often pretty irrelevant. They’re designed to sound intriguing-and-dangerous-but-vague, and too often come across instead as techno-gibberish. (Does anyone remember what “Ghost Protocol” referred to in the fourth M:I installment? Don’t look it up on Wikipedia, that’s cheating.)
On the contrary, a whole nation going rogue? That’s much easier to understand. The phrase picked up steam in the broader consciousness after Sarah Palin entitled her 2009 political memoir Going Rogue, reclaiming a definition of a rogue not simply as “someone who lacks judgment or principle,” but “someone who deviates from the expected norm of behavior.”
(Say what you want about Sarah Palin, but she’s amazing at deviating from expected norms.)
In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the rogues in question take the form of a nefarious collective of foreign agents called The Syndicate, all united in the pursuit of a terrorist agenda.
So with the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) shut down by Congress, super spy Ethan Hunt (Cruise) must rely on his friends, comic relief Simon Pegg as Benji, the steely-eyed Jeremy Renner as chief analyst Brant, Ving Rhames’ muscly perma-smirk as the homie Luther, and Rebecca Ferguson as mysterious femme fatale Ilsa Faust – all working together to defeat The Syndicate, and to a lesser extent, justify the IMF’s existence.
To Whom It May Concern,*
Ladies and gentlemen, the Confederate flag, a symbol of southern pride and heritage for generations, is under attack.
Because of one isolated incident with a mentally ill young man who just happened to be seen with the flag several days before gunning down nine African-Americans at a random church, suddenly everyone wants to pile on and act like the flag is some sort of magic talisman of hate that can instantly turn our children into racist, homicidal maniacs, rather than the piece of historical lore that it is.
As a result, there is a lot of talk, not only of removing the flag from the South Carolina capitol building, but of banning it altogether.
This, to me, is unacceptable. Rather than seeking to ban the Confederate flag, we need to be doing more to protect it.
If you don’t play video games, this hashtag probably hasn’t crossed your social media feed… or if it has, you may not understand what it means or why it exists. Such is the challenge of any kind of hashtag activism — it’s difficult to have meaningful exchanges when limited to 140 characters or less.
Consequently, there is a lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding and misinformation going on with #GamesSoWhite, much like what happened with the incredibly controversial #GamerGate controversy from 2014. Unlike GamerGate, which many video game enthusiasts used as a rallying cry to marshall support toward protecting their turf, #GamesSoWhite has become a target of many of those same gamers, who are doing their best to discredit, disprove or shout down the ideas behind the hashtag.
So here’s the deal.
I’ve been doing comedy for about two years now (actually writing comedy for three years, performing it for two) and the bit that I personally think is my best is one that I like to call “Racist Superheroes.”
Now unfortunately, I don’t perform in venues often where I can get good video, so I don’t have a good recording of this bit yet (though there are plenty of others you can watch — and besides, I can’t give away the whole store, otherwise you have no incentive to come out and see me live).
However, I haven’t done much writing about my comedy yet, and recently a friend was asking me about how I come up with my routines. Given that I’m scheduled to give a talk on this very subject at the Faith & Culture Writer’s Conference in a few weeks, I figured this post would be a good way to get the juices flowing and give you an insider view on what my creative process looks like.
(Editor’s Note: Yes, the title is a bit clickbaitey, but hang with me. I’ll back it up.)
Yesterday, Andraé Crouch slipped into eternity, present in full with the Lord, in perfect peace.
I’ve been half suspecting, half dreading that this day would come for a while now, and yet now that it has, I still feel completely unprepared — probably because it’s hard for me to imagine a musical landscape where Andraé Crouch was not still creating such soul-stirring, inventive, revolutionary music.
Part of the reason why it’s always profoundly bothered me when I hear someone make the blanket declaration that “Christian music sucks” is that it never tracked with my reality.
Because how could it? Sure, my parents played Earth Wind & Fire like any self-respecting Black people did, but my childhood musical diet consisted mostly of Christian music, from luminaries like The Winans, Walter, Edwin & Tramaine Hawkins, The Imperials, and then much later, Commissioned (then eventually as a teen and college student, Fred Hammond). But towering above them all was Andraé Crouch, a man who I would later come to realize was a musician’s musician — that is, the kind of musician that other great musicians consulted, collaborated with, and gathered around.