March 07, 2014

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Damn, damn, damn! It has to be me, and here all these years I thought it was Hollywood. By the time you read this the Oscars will all be over (like the Olympics), but I had someone play 12 Years a Slave on my television set—it’s called Apple TV, but I’m incapable of making it work on my own—and could only watch for ten minutes. Then I had the nice woman who assists me change the film. To me it was like watching a cartoon, as one scene jumped into another without continuity, just clips of horrible whites torturing an innocent black man. Yet it won Best Picture in El Lay, and of course it would, wouldn’t it? Slavery makes Hollywood go weak at its knees, as it’s a moneymaker like no other. Brutal white American Southerners plus black victims of American greed equals lotsa moolah at the box office.

Now, don’t for a minute think I’m defending slavery. We Greeks didn’t have slaves in modern times, just 2,500 years ago. We stopped after Jesus Christ told us we were all equals in the eyes of God. The fact that Arabs and Africans did not, however, is something Hollywood sharks have chosen to ignore.

“The fact that slavery is still practiced in Africa seems to have escaped the film industry.”

Anyway, had I lived in the American South back then, I would have freed my slaves had I inherited any. Free men work better, as do well-paid domestic servants. I don’t mistreat or fire people, except the odd Frog captain of my boat who was so busy impregnating women he was always with below decks while I spent my time unsuccessfully screaming for him to surface. (He then got a job with an English gent, who asked me for a reference and got a good one. When I eventually met the Englishman, he told me that the captain to whom I gave a great reference had tried to murder him and was at that moment residing in a St. Tropez jail.) Still, it could have been worse; Bushido could have ended up like the Marie Céleste, the ghost ship discovered in the mid-Atlantic without anyone onboard.

But back to Hollywood and its moneymaking scheme that insists we “never forget” whites are the baddies. The fact that slavery is still practiced in Africa seems to have escaped the film industry. A lot of American blacks take Arab names and become Muslims, an irony in view of the fact that Arabs in cahoots with African tribal leaders were the ones that enslaved the poor souls that ended up in slave ships. The Brits, too, made a quick buck transporting them to the New World, where the Americans put them to work in chains. Slavery was the most horrendous of institutions, but it has been over since 1865—at least in America. It’s still thriving in Africa, and—I know, I know—blacks in America need a sort of helping hand, but as the great James Burnham wrote, “Human differences are so profound, it is neither possible nor desirable to eliminate all inequalities, hierarchies and distinctions.”


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