Thursday, February 14, 2008

Are all Arcadia High School graduates such asshats?!?!

OK, Spielberg didn't actually graduate from Arcadia, but he went there for a while, so it's close enough. Besides, ' Are all Arcadia High School ex-attendees such asshats?!' lacks panache. But it struck me today that his recent pull-out of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China is a bit, shall we say, douchebaggy?

My initial reaction to this story was that Spielberg was not going to get the skrilla that he expected for this gig, and made up this Darfur story as a cover. Then, after a little searching around, I found that this whole Darfur escapade is somewhat of a cause célèbre among the Hollywood attentionati. I'm sure that just about everyone who reads this blog (especially SheHawks Anonymous) is as familiar or more with the history and current sit-rep in the Sudan, but just to be clear, my understanding of the issue is as follows:

- There is an ongoing, bloody civil war between the Arab ruling class (associated with the government) and the black, Christian working class (often referred to as the rebels) in the large, sparsely populated, and oil-soaked western region of Darfur. A group known as the Janjaweed are involved somehow.

- The Arabs, depending on who you ask (UN says no, Clinton said yes), are essentially trying to eradicate the black African Christians. GENOCIDE. This conflict has been on and off for many years. Millions dead. Bad times.

- Sudan has some of the largest oil, natural gas, and mineral deposits in the world. The place is practically a goldmine for industrialists. Many, many industrialized nations want this shit, so they, with the government's blessing, have moved in and displaced a lot of people.

- Peeps (black African Christians) got pissed when told to get the fuck off of their land, and fight back. Arab-ruled government decides that they have to choke a bitch.

- The People's Republic China, which accounts for 40% of the Sudan's oil sales (more on this later), has gone against the grain of western politics and chosen to do business with a country whose government is incompetent at best, and absolutely corrupt at worst. President Clinton prohibited American companies from dealings with the Sudan, despite the fact that some American businessmen (i.e Friedhelm Eronat) have done so, anyway.

- Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, and a whole host of other celebrities decide that this is an issue for them to tackle. China is becomes the object of scorn, while the Sudanese government itself plays the 'See no evil, hear no evil' game and manages to largely avoid critique.

- Spielberg, who had previously been involved in some way, decides that he's going to take his ball and go home because a 6-billion-person nation will not drastically alter its foreign policy for a fucking movie director.

That's basically the broadstroke as I gather it. I'm sure there is more to this, but I doubt that it will be of much consequence to the central debate here, which is: Just who the hell is Spielberg, or anyone else, to expand the topic, to play the self-righteous fiddle here? As a nation who benefits from Iraqi and Venezualan oil, where does all of this holier-than-thou posturing come from? If China accounts for only 40% (some reports say more) of Sudan's oil output, where's the outrage over the nations that contribute to the other 60%? Why isn't the Sudanese government at the center of the ring here?

I'm pretty sure that this will generate at least a little discussion. And to make things short, I'll briefly expound my conclusion: Let's focus on our own country's foreign policy, and leave the rest to the U.N. babysitters. Unless the U.S is willing to take unilateral supercop tact, citizens of the good ol' US of A should direct their fame-seeking and perfunctory ire at either the Sudanese or American governments. If you are so upset by the China's Rick Neuheisel-esque approach to Sudan's transgressions, boycott Chinese goods. While your at it, boycott Great Britain, Sweden (no more IKEA, bitch), Germany (Volkswagens aren't so trendy now, eh?), France (that one my not be so hard for the Diesel), Austria, Canada (but, hockey rules!), Malaysia and Russia (mmmmmm.....pierogies).

The subtextual proposal that China - and China alone - is to blame for the killing of Sudanese by Sudanese is tragically ignorant. The conflict was quite active when Spielberg took the job to begin with; his snotty, hypocritical, and just outright perplexing actions surrounding this 'genocide'* will only force China inward, and that is the last thing that I believe any fair-minded American wants. I'm not China's biggest fan, but I realize that, for better or worse, our future in this country is immutably intertwined with the Middle Empire. I miss the "Free Tibet" people, at least the Chinese army was directly involved. Oh well, looks like China will have to opt for Señor Spielbergo.

* It is my opinion that the incendiary term 'genocide' is being misused in the case concerning Darfur. It seems that money and religion have more to do with the killing than race.

P.S. - I was going to post about how much of a waste Arlen Specter is but, well, too easy. Happy $7,830.00 in federal income tax to me.


Pepe said...

Wait, so you googled for an hour and now you have the opinion that it's not genocide? Come on. It's a bunch of Arabs killing a bunch of blacks over land and oil -- let's not split hairs by trying to ascertain their inner motives from halfway around the world.

In that article, Spielberg says the Sudanese government is primarily to blame. He just chose not to continue his employment with China because they support them. Everybody's putting the Sudanese government at the center of the ring, but, since that government doesn't give a rat's ass about what anybody else in the world thinks (and since this year's highly publicized Olympics aren't being held in Sudan), China's taking a lot of heat, too. This whole idea that anybody is blaming China more than Sudan is conjured from thin air. There is no "subtextual proposal" that China alone is to blame.

On an unrelated note, I agree that our future and China's are inextricably intertwined, but that doesn't mean we want them to prosper. The stronger China gets, the worse it is for us, and at this rate -- with China the owner of so much of our debt, as well as the benificiary of a truly enormous trade deficit, and, oh yeah, the last Communist superpower -- China's the biggest threat to us. Not that you'd ever hear that in all the radical Islam hysteria that dominates our hyper-Christian nation's discourse ...

Anyway, I'm rambling.

Big C said...

Steven Spielberg took a job just to quit it. I'm sorry, that is just the epitome of assholishness and self-agrandization (I probably just made up a word), especially when he hails from a country with more blood on its hands than a California abortion doctor.

Good point about China's role vis-a-vis our collective futures. They are by far our biggest threat, and it is only a matter of time before many of our financial woes come to a head w/r/t the Big Red East. I only hope that Barack Obama (he will be the next president, like it or not [I don't know how I feel about him, yet]) begins the long, arduous process of amending this crisis before it is too late.

I stand firm on the genocide issue. You said it yourself; Arabs are killing blacks for money and oil. That's murder, not genocide. Also, Islam is a religious affiliation, not a race, so it has to be either Muslims killing Christians or blacks killing blacks of a different variety to qualify as genocide. Hutus killing Tutsies is genocide. Aryans killing Jews (they have a racial distinction, in addition to the religious aspect, so, like double genocide) is genocide. Japan's systematic extermination of the Chinese during WWII was genocide. Genocide is killing for the sake of race, nationality, religion, or ethnicity alone. Just for the fuck of it.

Although I am certain that tensions exist between the Sudanese Arabs and non-Arab Sudanese, the root cause of the killing/displacement is money. That would technically not make it genocide. That's not splitting hairs; that's being accurate with language. Referring to it as genocide obfuscates the real cause of the violence.

What is obvious is that people are dying for oil: I'm not trying to get into their heads by saying that it is genocide.

I'm guessing that we'll have to agree to disagree on this one, but I will say this; leaning on China through Hollywood is going to get us nowhere. If China will not move on this through diplomatic pressure, there is no way that Hollywood and the court of public opinion is going to convince them. The public finger-waving is only going to drive them deeper into themselves, which is the exact opposite of what needs to happen in China if we are to avert a total global calamity, economically. If it is the policy of the U.S diplomacy agents/military to end the bloodshed in Darfur, then more power to them (although I think that direct intervention is a no-no). Let self-serving fucks like Spielberg direct their ire at the U.S diplomats, or movies about unrealistic-looking aliens.