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The Butler

The Butler

The current generation of liberals have clearly reached expiry date when they find themselves—without knowing it, of course—actually favoring Uncle Toms, thereby becoming exactly those whom they in their better days would have been at lead in toppling. The current black situation is that the huge bulk of them are in the dispossessed 99%, with the vast majority, in the worst ghettos of this unlucky group. And liberals look at this group, and see a hopeless situation. They see people who have simply transmogrified, who, having their claim on bourgeois respectability taken from them, have over the last 30 years of taking sustenance from the sort of foul stuff you count as familiar when you're trying to makeshift an accommodating life for yourself in hell—with cock-fight UFC becoming your sport, sadomasochistic Fifty Shades your fiction, heavy whiskey drinking your milk, and hard-core porn and online-betting not even a poke that something has gone wrong—and now stand before them as a people anthropologically different, fixed forever in their degraded status, like brief fresh flesh to stagnant rotten meat. At the same time liberals have stopped believing past-times shared by all are really America's greatest cultural offering, and accoutered themselves in whatever way to make them feel that as if by DNA, every sprout of their lived lives must have behind it years of private-school teaching. The idea that you should want the 99% to be given a loud voice, and dominate American culture, is about as absurd as saying you want to bring down the walls staunching back a zombie hoard. You might assist them a little, agree to minimum wage increases and health care benefits, but you'll turn armaments against whomever would say it is insufficient to let them rest with administrations that still keep them compartmentalized and accountable.

It's not so much right to say that they remember your origins, either, who you were before. Rather, it's a bit as if for an agreed upon extended period of years, they stayed eyes-fixed to their New York Times, and looked up so they could see everything again with fresh eyes; and so so much of the democratic world that was built upon the belief that people are equal, and once had ample evidence for this belief, can look now, with this spread of loonies partaking so much of the population, simply absurd to them. They go to a liberal web site, and look down from the article to the comment section, and cannot believe that people had once thought it worth so much effort to place such a close bridge between writer and audience. They look at the grand numbers of people who can but don't vote, and actually hope they rest content in their apathy: if they all went out to the ballot box, they'd force the unpleasant acknowledgement that one person-one vote, is a fantastical, silly, dangerous proposition, when so many are only one-fifth as human as they themselves are. And they realize that their task is to argue for the reality of the number of unhumans loud enough, that the moral imperative becomes to take down the morays that have made it seem as if larger inclusion is a humane and necessary thing. So courageously they in unison pit their courageous resources, and the crowd of unknowns that hippies once thought you should know, for believing you could be spiritually pure regardless of how anonymous your situation or what-not anonymous no-place you're from, become trolls, unknowns, but dank killers, who from under bridges or out of dark corridors can be relied upon to stank up any good thing the civilized might be forging. And so eventually, pounding this lesson home—trolls! trolls! trolls!, progress begins to be made, and sites that were once open-access begin to require commenters to provide their full name with their posts, a seemingly small request, but really a final nail, considering that coinciding with this request is a society that has made newscast-main-story the fact that individuals caught saying the wrong thing can get 35 years, or a visit from the unimpressed, who've located your address, and who'll show how you can be turfed out of your job or kicked to shit with bats, in a startled, shocked, blink of an eye. And as to the public vote, you can't let it come to your actually denying people it: there's no way this wouldn't cause dissonance that would destroy even you. So what you do is make them feel so apart from a world that would give a shit about them, that in frustration they come to believe their only hope is through violence. And then you make violence, a decision to desist from the public conversation and just stage revolt, something that is goodness gone foul—something wildly excessive and spoiled, for it being completely unnecessary—and something you can destroy like something tolerated gone arrogant, like a weed proclaiming itself a latinized plant, in a truly terrific garden that shudders the thought. For which all, you'll need directors, traitors to the underclass that take your view and makes it incontestable. You'll need Uncle Toms  ... and so enter the butcher, or sorry, Lee Daniels's foul weapon, The Butler, so all that would disquiet the over-class can begin to rest the fuck in peace.

The Butler takes you through black history in America, from cotton-fields to today, and everything Daniels, a black man, shows you concerning black Americans is either exemplary or understandable ... exempting the Black Panther movement. At a time in history when black Americans were buoyed by the huge love and peacefulness of Martin Luther King, and who would eventually find others his equal to relate to and support—first Nelson Mandela, then (ostensibly) Obama—here, according to the film, is where even a very good and righteous population can go foul if it shorns patience for hate. The Black Panthers, we learn, though ostensibly about community service, were really just interested in taking out two of you for every one of them. Their way, is blood on the streets, payback, with anything good that could possibly come from this, really beside the point (the only point they're concerned with, is your head, on the end of a pike). And it is okay, regardless of your color, to hate them.

How do we know this? Because the person who exemplifies membership to the Panther movement that is true to it, rather than based on what it purportedly stands for, is the sole black villain in this film. She is the butler's eldest son's girlfriend, Carol Hammie, who looks down on her boyfriend's family, at just that point in the film when the butler's wife has ceased drinking and cheating on him for her realizing she just can't any longer do this to such a good man. The wife, Oprah Winfrey's Gloria Gaines, identifies Carol as low-life trash; and the occasion of correct naming, sparks momentum in the film to show up how foul she really is, demarcating how even her five-year-long love for her boyfriend was false. She's model gorgeous—the most beautiful woman in the film, by far—and the Black Panthers are fierce in their black attire, but they're lost souls tempting blacks to where chaos—no true love; all hate—reigns.

So you take a film like this where done by a black person, the one thing that a liberal crowd allowed itself to question regarding black empowerment is given huge leverage. When a dispossessed people begin to dress in spooky garb—in this film, Carol's aggressive afro doesn't really jive with her boyfriend's black leather—he still looks an affable Theo Huxtable—and is effectively in affronting Joker garb—and beget violence, then, effectively, the KKK has got company: one ranges more over Southern rural, and the other NorthEast urban, but it's all just more goons on the landscape. Once you've chosen this path, your life circumstances no longer applies, for no amount of previous suffered hate prevents you of your God-given ability to choose the path of love. And so as liberals free their homes of the presence of the dispossessed, by raising rents, and thereby effectively shipping them off to the outskirt ghettos; and in a sense free them from their presence on the way to work, with tax policies that attend to "your" drive but pay less and less attention to their public transport; and keep them seeming contained, at least, as they explore their preferred websites, by construing comment sections so they seem fetid marshes you screen out as you fix on your own haute-bourgeois/aristocratic compartments, at first the dispossessed do nothing as you enjoy how "scum" miraculously seems less present in your everyday life, but later manifest, in a terrible way—with a burnt-down luxury apartment building that had taken the place of something low-rent, scrawled with anarchist hate; with minimum-wage food chains looted across the country—after strikes had gone nowhere—with stolen burgers from them shoved up the arses of uptown gourmets; with private roads laced with fowl killed in oil spills, that leave morning drivers retching—these dispossessed are going to be received with nothing but a merciless hard crackdown—regardless of huge a high percentage of them are black, mentally-ill, and starving. If they had waited, their sufferings would eventually have been noticed—did you not see how the butler eventually had the support of a president to get his raise-hike?—but impertinently, impatiently, greedily, and unnecessarily, they chose the path of hate, and have become vermin. 

Crackdown is to be lead by the likes of Daniels as well. The Butler shows he's got all the right attributes. You don't want them too smart and sophisticated, and he's not. You don't want him thinking an aristocrat, an officer, is anything he can aspire to, but rather contented to himself as a gruff staff-sergeant, and he is. And you want him beguiled to "betters," as if they are gods, harsh as hell on any of the underclass who'd try and rival them, and he—to near a point that should make him look a bit ridiculously stupid to his betters—is. If you're showing cotton-field masters, it's okay to show them as brutal sadists, but if you can't show scenes of them and their black servants/slaves that doesn't spark something outside folk portrayal—all evil, and all innocence—narrative needs are determining what you are seeing in life. If you're showing students being prepped to suffer abuse by forcing other students to play the role of accosters, at a historical time when psychology was becoming famous for its prisoner/guard experiments, where students couldn't help but play their delegated roles for real, and for the Maslow experiments, where people told to shock a victim could find themselves apparently shocking them from pain into unconsciousness, and you do it just straight, then you're not post but pre-Kubrick, and are actually dialing back what we know of people and the world. If you show someone in close proximity to presidents, yet nothing shown looks different from what an ignorant person from afar would project as how these scenes would play, you're pretty much taking the accomplishment of Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing back, and substituting something more dutiful to authority; more respectful of mystique and distance. And if you show every worn president but not the one who currently resides, you make it seem as if they were all leading up to the one so pure and beyond he's most accurately represented as a light that's effused itself over the social landscape, concentrated heavy beyond the door you're about to enter, and about to take you some place as rapturous as heaven. And if you show Jackie O as a natural aristocrat, a true princess, and her rival beauty—but of the dispossessed—as a snake villain, you're the Uncle Tom who's undertaken the tradition of D W Griffith. So fabulously unaware are you, that the lesson you think you know by heart, is one you impertinently cast aside to put a stake though the snake: "guess who's coming to dinner," isn't supposed to favor the traditional-minded family who's shocked by the strange black thing planted down at the dinner table before them, but shown up by him or her.  

And when we've lost that lesson, we no longer believe in democracy, but shown that though it might have taken three centuries to prove it, the whigs were wrong: gates need to be put in place to keep these tempering hordes from bucking up into a revolution. 


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