Wednesday 11 January 2023

I'm gonna be forty soon, Prescilla - Forty, and nobody's gonna remember me. I never did anything lasting.

In BEAST (2022), Idris Elba and his kids get mugged while visiting The Old Country, and I can't decide if this tale about Africa being a dangerous place for black people even without whitey coming around to ruin things like we do (and we do this at least once during the course of the film) has an inherently chauvinistic central conceit or not, as obviously only a white male is qualified to make that judgement.  No I am not attempting to set up a self-aware joke about how white people can only view media products featuring black people through the lens of race, I really am this shallow and stupid - there's literally hundreds of posts below (and soon, above) this one that prove what a terrible media critic I am, but if anything you're the problem for reading this far and encouraging me to keep going.

Thematically, Beast is an exploration of how black men are conditioned to isolate themselves from their heritage in order to become successful within Western patriarchy, and how the false sense of masculine identity that comes from this ultimately alienates them from emotional connection with their wives and daughters.  I mean, it's probably about that, but I just liked the bits where stuff blew up and that part near the end where Dris turns back to face a lion that's been hunting him just like the action hero he often plays elsewhere and gets completely mauled in a scene that goes on too long to not be funny.  It feels like a remake of that 90s movie The Ghost And The Darkness but with some clumsy modernisations including the usual "teens and dads not getting along" character arcs that never really go anywhere and make me wonder the point was beyond the obvious: that everything has to have a teenage girl in it now because modern writers think this is a shortcut to attracting a younger and/or female audience to things that might not usually attract such a demographic, like a movie about a middle aged man returning to his recently-deceased wife's rural hometown and encountering adversity when he runs afoul of the perils of the local environment.  It was actually while watching the Walker: Texas Ranger reboot - simply titled "Walker", because modern audiences might not stick around for the whole title if it has too many syllables in it - that it first occurred to me that every show on the CW is essentially the same thing regardless of what the originating premise or hook of the show might actually be, and always ends up being about the sex life of a teenage girl played by a twentysomething actress, even if the originating premise of the show was "six time world karate champion kicks latino men in the head for 42 minutes, also sings the theme tune" or "African-American vigilante rejects violence in favor of teaching children how to survive the systemic racism and unjust hierarchies which bring injustices into their lives more than the actions of individual criminals do".  No matter where these shows start off, by the time the credits roll we've had to sit through the dull lovelife dramas of the supposed lead of the show's boring-ass kids instead of watching him punch a bear or something.  This ill-considered and misplaced rant about the CW's output is really making this paragraph drag out.

I guess Beast was okay, but I wouldn't specifically seek it out or anything.  It kept me from looking at social media apps on my phone and wondering how long I have left, so it's not like it was a total waste of 90 minutes.

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