We’re all about to be super fucked in four days’ time when reality hits on Inauguration Day. There is no more suspension of belief. President Barack Obama has already said farewell. It’s a wrap and the jig is up. That doesn’t mean that we’re just going to let you sit there and feel sorry for yourself.
If you’re looking for answers on dealing with unenlightened acquaintances or bigoted, prejudiced family members, then this list is for you. If you’re an activist–whether your first protest is on Anti-Inauguration Day or you’re a seasoned vet, this list is also for you because it will energize you. I know each one of these books, articles, and films motivated and energized me when I was at my lowest point.
Without further ado… Let’s get it!
Watch: Look Who’s Back (2015) – Netflix
Oliver Masucci as Adolph Hitler in 2015’s Look Who’s Back? via IndieWire
I knew I had to watch David Wnendt’s Look Who’s Back ever since I saw a GIF from the movie. I finally hunted down the name of the film. After sitting on my Netflix “My List” queue for months, I started watching after Donald Trump was elected Reichsf–err, I mean, President of the United States.
Whether you support Donald Trump or not, you need to watch this film. It’s important. Don’t get me wrong, you’re going to laugh your ass off. I never really thought of Germans as a funny people. I’ve always admired their cold gravitas in the German language movies I’ve watched. Look Who’s Back changed all of that.
In a way, this is a story about a fish out of water and friendship gone terribly, awfully wrong. Hitler (Oliver Masucci) wakes up in the middle of present-day Germany as if the Devil just dropped him there. He looks like he’s been in a fire. This was a nice touch by the filmmakers. He might have gone on to do nothing, but a down on his luck cameraman, Fabian Sawatzki (Fabian Busch), discovers him. With Sawatzki at his side to guide him, Hitler embarks on a journey to make a name for himself again.
Look Who’s Back is a mockumentary that is both scripted and unscripted. From the very beginning, Wnendt makes it clear that humanity ain’t shit if it doesn’t learn from its past mistakes; if it doesn’t actively guard against making them again. Watch to see how average people get suckered into falling for the okey-doke. Oh, and to laugh your ass off, too.
Read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood via Anopinionortwo.wordpress.com
Some of you may have read this book in school. I didn’t, unfortunately, so it made it to my annual Christmas book list for 2016. I’m so very glad it did because I was missing out on a lot. If you’ve heard a lot about The Handmaid’s Tale lately it’s because it’s been adapted into a series for Hulu starring Elisabeth Moss.
The Handmaid’s Tale is not only a story about its main character Offred, a former mistress/baby mama, picked to be a professional breeder for married couples. It’s a story about women in general. It’s about the sides they take, their loyalty to each other, and the consequences for the choices they made, both before and after the world changed. It is a powerful tale in that it covers race, sexuality, gender, and class. It’s pretty intersectional. I would have liked to learn more about what happened to women of color. That’s my only gripe. As you’ll see, things turned out quite differently for them.
It will be hard not to question your relationships after reading this book. It successfully lays out how average people can get swept up in the tide of hysteria. Most importantly, The Handmaid’s Tale highlights how the world could change for the worst right up under our noses, and we’d be too distracted and late to notice.
Watch: Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) – Netflix
Forever Bae Gregory Peck and Dean Stockwell (!) in Gentleman’s Agreement. Via Overdue Review
Most people remember Gregory Peck for his portrayal of Atticus Finch in the film adaptation of Harper Lee‘s To Kill a Mockingbird, but it was his portrayal as Schuyler Green in Elia Kazan‘s Gentleman’s Agreement that people really sleep on. Green is what a decent human being looks like, and we need to see more of that. We’re going to see less and less of those walking around here very shortly.
Green is a journalist who has been hired by a progressive magazine to write a piece exposing anti-Semitism in the lives of average, polite folks. Of course, if you’re a person of color watching this, you’re under no such ideas that most of these people are decent. It never came as a surprise to me that these people were anti-Semitists. Of course, they are! Theoretically, they turned their backs on the lynchings going down in the darkest recesses of their swampy backyard. This is quite difficult for Green to parse, however, as he’s regularly subjected to anti-Semitism for his piece.
Gentleman’s Agreement is a must for anyone who feels like their convictions are being tested at the moment. It’s also a great film for allies to see what allyship really means, entails, and looks like. John Garfield‘s portrayal of Green’s Jewish friend Dave Goldman is also brilliant. Look for his scene with Dorothy McGuire at the end. It’s impeccable.
Quote from Son of Baldwin’s essay “Geese and Ganders” via Medium
Son of Baldwin is one of my favorite writers on Medium. I consistently look for a level of disdain for people’s hypocrisy in SoB’s work that other writers are afraid to exhibit. Son of Baldwin doesn’t care about anyone’s feelings. When it comes to the truth, he is unwavering in his insistence that we look at racism, sexism, and homophobia in this country. And when we don’t? He’s there to remind us how and why we fucked up.
In Geese and Ganders, Baldwin takes four Chicago teens to task for attacking and torturing a mentally ill white man. He doesn’t make excuses for the kids responsible. He also doesn’t just see it as some random attack, but as par for the course. If we, as a nation, insist on killing our most disenfranchised citizens, then we shouldn’t be surprised when barbarity is met with barbarity.
Watch: The Man in the High Castle (Seasons 1 & 2) – Amazon
Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle just debuted its second season last month and it is criminally underrated. It is a sin before the cinema gods that more people aren’t extolling the awesomeness of this show. Based on the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name, the series follows the entangled lives of Americans living in the Greater Nazi Reich and the Japanese Pacific States. I refuse to spoil this for you, but I’ll say this: There is a sci-fi element to this series that will blow your mind.
That said, it’s a must see because it shows how ordinary Americans find ways to be defiant; to fight back. The unfortunate thing is it also shows how ordinary Americans would fall to the fascism. You will truly wonder if you have the courage to sacrifice it all for freedom.
Read: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi Book Cover via Penguin Random House
If you’re one of those people who is always stumped by what slavery has to do with anything, then this book is for you. Yes, you too can grasp the effects of brutal chattel slavery thanks to Yaa Gyasi’s 2016 debut masterpiece, Homegoing.
Let me start off by saying that Homegoing is an ambitious novel. How Gyasi was able to, not only start but finish so brilliant a novel is a testament to her talent. It could not have been easy telling the stories of these families from slavery to today.
Homegoing begins with a tale of two half-sisters who are separated by cruel fate before they’ve even had a chance to meet. One sister stays in Africa, while the other is kidnapped to America. The book follows the lives of both branches of the family across time and oceans. There is some magical realism in the book as well which was an added bonus to an already amazing story.
It’s important to read because it’s a tale of family, loss, addiction, betrayal, class, and race. These are the tales of people who were ignored and left in neighborhoods unworthy of the lowliest animals. If you want to understand how we got here today, you should read this book. The hype is well-deserved.
Watch: 13TH (2016) – Netflix
You don’t need to be black or another person of color to watch 13TH. In fact, it should be mandatory viewing for every American. The Ava DuVernay-directed documentary focuses on the Thirteenth Amendment (Amendment XIII), but it also covers the prison industrial complex, the War on Drugs’ failures, and racism in America.
What I liked about 13th was DuVernay’s inclusion of professional neocon bloviator Newt Gingrich and conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist. They presented dissenting opinions to activists like Van Jones and other community organizers, but also acknowledged the system is broken… Kinda. So, now you have no excuse not to watch it.
Read: Bitch Planet Vols. 1 & 2
Bitch Planet #2 via Image Comics
I believe Bitch Planet is one of the most important comics of the last decade. No other comic that I’ve read has touched me quite the way this comic has. My reaction to the dystopian hellhole these women were living in was surprising. I knew that I was going to be irritated at the brutality within, but I did not expect to be enraged. Honestly, I was frightened as hell.
Created by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Bitch Planet features the stories of women from all walks of life who have found themselves imprisoned for being gay, black, fat… Nonconforming and noncompliant. In fact, they are branded with a stylized “NC” tattoo to indicate just that. Bitch Planet takes place in a future where men’s resentment grew so much that women became their number one enemy. No one is safe. Not even little girls are safe. Imagine living in a world that hates its own mothers and daughters.
Watch: Rich Hill (2014) – Netflix
“God has to be busy with everyone else.”
These are the words uttered by a teenaged boy named Andrew in a documentary chronicling his life in a decaying rural town. He still boasts boyish good looks and his voice has just barely started to change. Yet, his cold pragmatism is disarming and sad.
Rich Hill is a documentary about three boys in a small Missouri town. The irony is not lost on us either, by the way. The boys–Appachey, Andrew, and Harley–take viewers on a walk in their shoes as they try to survive a life of poverty.
All those buzzwords you’ve heard lately–white working class, Rust Belt, rural America–will make sense after you watch this award-winning documentary. You may feel resentment towards these people because they represent Donald Trump’s victory. Believe me, I understand. Still, if you understand how class warfare works, you’ll feel more pity and sadness than anything. There are no winners here. Not within our (proletariat) ranks, anyway.
Anyway, check these out and be sure to tell us which one’s you loved (or didn’t love). Instead of watching Trump take over as POTUS on Inauguration Day, just watch these instead.