Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Blind Side.

Off to read for a Fox Sports NFL thingee with Troy Aikman today.  Could be worse, I guess.  Could be with Clay Aiken.  But then again, I can't imagine why Clay Aiken would be doing a spot for NFL.  The audition was secured by my new Commercial Agent, Pinnacle Talent.  Love that.  Keep 'em comin'.

Got the big Garbo Talks final reading coming up next week.  Got the music I need to learn via MP3 from my legit agent over at Schiowitz and Connor, et al.  The day after that a song for the producers of ANNIE at Music Theatre West in Long Beach.  Strangely, I'm looking forward to both.  I love the competition.

The Bell, Book and Candle role went non-Equity, apparently.  Oh, well, these things happen.  It was a good read, though, and I was relatively content with it, which doesn't happen often.

Angie and I watched a movie last night with Sandra Bullock called The Blind Side.  Bullock won an Oscar for it.  I have to say I really liked it.  And yet part of me is sort of ashamed that I liked it.  It is allegedly based on a 'true story' and the filmmakers even include snapshots of the real family portrayed in the movie during the end credits.  First, I'm always dubious when I see that opening disclaimer, "Based on a true story."  To me, that's a phrase that reads in my mind's eye as saying, "Get ready for a load of shit."

The family, as portrayed in the film, are a pack of conservative, republican, Christian saints.  Oxymoron written all over THAT sentence.

Sandra Bullock sees a huge, ghetto, black guy walking around on the streets in shorts and a t-shirt on a cold night, turns the Lexus around, picks him up and adopts him thus changing his life forever.  Okay.

Some years ago I gave up theatre, gave up teaching, gave up writing, gave up auditioning, gave up my life's work to pursue a new career as a drug and alcohol counselor for inner-city men plagued with alcohol and drug abuse problems.  Went back to school and got my CADC.  Was hired by the ultra-conservative, unimaginably evil organization known as The Salvation Army.  Had visions of helping people day to day.  Get my hands dirty.  Do some real work instead of this make-believe nonsense called acting and writing.

I came, over the next few years, to know more about the urban, black experience than I ever wanted to.  And yes, it's as mind-bogglingly horrible as one might imagine.  I learned first hand that the way out of the ghetto through education, drive, passion and ambition is about as common as winning the lottery.  I suppose it happens.  I suppose things like The Blind Side have taken place in the world.  I suppose there are, in fact, people like Sandra Bullock's character in the world.  But if there are, I never met them, saw them or heard of them during my stint as a counselor.

The inner-city, gang-ridden, violent, anarchistic, hate-filled black culture in Chicago (and I'm guessing elsewhere) is as terrible as anyone can possibly imagine.  The race divide is not a symbolic creek we can hope to someday leap over, it's a raging, miles-deep river that may be impossible to cross now or ever.  As a middle-class white guy pursuing his altruistic instincts, I quickly learned I didn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of making any sort of discernible difference in the lives of these men.  They were taught from birth to hate white people.  All white people.  My liberal bent refused to accept this at first.  But I soon learned it was simply a fact.  And nothing I could ever do or say would ever change that.

I remember being a bit amused at the country's reaction to Obama's "renegade" pastor, Jeremiah Wright back in the presidential campaign.  The liberals were horrified.  The white conservatives vindicated.  Me?  I was amused that anyone would ever think otherwise.  In my capacity as a counselor in Chicago, I attended many self-help meetings, black church spiritual meetings, black community gatherings, church services, etc.  Every single time I was met with a deep-seated hatred of the perceived white community's concerted effort to keep the black man down.  This is no small problem.  This is not something the government can fix.  This hatred is deeper and more complicated than one can ever conceive.  There are spots, neighborhoods, in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta and other cities that are virtually unrecognizable as having anything to do with the United States of America.  They are more violent, more hate-filled, more frightening than I can begin to convey.  I have been there.  I have seen these places.  And I have counseled the men who lived there.  This massive hole in our racial infrastructure cannot be fixed by simply electing a black president.  It can't be fixed with liberal optimism.  It can't be fixed with any magic, governmental waving of a wand.  This seething, nefarious, dark underbelly hidden in plain sight in our country is the true threat to our civilization.  Just ask any cop in any of these cities.  They'll tell you.  And as far as I can see, the racial gap is only widening.  It may be too wide to cross already.  There is too much fear on one side and hatred on the other.

All of that was running through my mind as I watched the cartoon version of how love conquers all in The Blind Side.  Late at night, your kids are in the car, HUGE black guy walking alone in a tree-laden area, murky atmosphere.  Stop and pick him up and offer to change his life.  Stop and take him home to your labeled spice racks, your photo albums of Yosemite, your new IKEA gazebo, your prized collection of 2,400 CDs. Do that.

There are no easy answers to this problem that I suspect someday will reach a pressure-cooker level of anxiety in our society.

Nonetheless, I really liked the movie because it would be really neat if that's how it could work.  Every well-to-do white family in America could adopt a troubled, angry, broken, emotionally-scarred black youth and make it all okay.  Obama could even make a it a national observance: adopt a gang-banger day.

At the end of the day the liberals are blind and the conservatives are scared.  I have been both.  I am both.  Maybe that's why I liked the movie so much.


See you tomorrow.