Wednesday, November 08, 2006

To Serve Black Man.

The Last King Of Scotland
2006, UK
Kevin Macdonald
35mm

Despite their yellow coloring, the Chinese do not taste like lemon. Caucasians aren't vanilla, and Red Indians are neither cinnamon flavored nor candy-apple. Black people, however, do taste like liquorish root, unless you're lucky enough to get a southerner flavored like bacon fat and fryer oil, which is why I hate eating them. Well, that, and I don't want to get AIDS. And if that kind of attitude offends you, then you just might enjoy the scathing commentary on Western arrogance found in The Last King Of Scotland, a film that takes place during Idi Amin’s cannibalistic reign over Uganda.

The film follows Nicholas Garrigan, a Scottish doctor fresh out of med school, yearning to live the jet-setting life of a family practitioner, speeding from old woman with rheumatoid arthritis to infant with colic. He begins his adventurous life by traveling to Uganda, sort of like a 19th century nobleman's Grand Tour, except instead of smoking opium in a Shanghai basement while a scabby prostitute teases his dope-sickened genitals, he's patching up some 10 year-old's spear wound. Once in Africa, he tries to sleep with Scully from The X-Files, apparently forgetting that her skepticism runs so deep she no longer believes in the myth of the female orgasm. However, a chance encounter with General Idi Amin, having just recently seized power, leads Garrigan to take a job as Amin's personal physician. The film revolves around the doctor, and his stubborn insistence on remaining oblivious to the atrocities and human rights abuses surrounding Amin's regime. Caught up in Amin's infectious affability, his own sense of power, and the separation of cultural tourism, Garrigan refuses to believe the whispers of mass murder and torture that invade his cocoon of detachment. Until, that is, Amin has his girlfriend's legs put where her arms should go. It's like modern art, only with dismemberment. Once the horrors have hit home, Garrigan trades in his white indifference for white guilt, taking on the requisite droopy-faced countenance, long wavy hair, and perpetual odor of last night’s hash familiar to all liberal arts students, and the movie proceeds from there.



Any creative writing class, anywhere.

The Last King of Scotland is a personal story, one that focuses on the doctor instead of the regime, which is interesting if you're looking for an affecting character study, disappointing if you're trying to grill up some coon steak and need tips on seasoning. Normally, I'd feel guilty about making such an off color remark, but that sort of attitude, be it explicit, as in everything I've ever written on this site, or implicit, as in anything any one British has ever written, anywhere, is what’s being engaged here. Africa has long been seen by the Western world as a land of savage children pretending to be adults, taking the occasional break to snort brown-brown and play cowboys and Indians with real guns and no cowboys. The Last King Of Scotland both criticizes and reinforces that paradigm, exploring the complexity of the situation through a microscopic character study. It's neither a condemnation of the attitude, nor an endorsement of it, merely an explanation of why it exists, and the harm that it does. So, despite the fact that it's yet another movie about Africa told through the eyes of a white person, the film does attempt to at least bring attention to the way in which Africa is viewed, if not change that view entirely. Not that that sort of change would be possible, anyway, because this is Africa were talking about here. If I were trying to show the Western world that I was a civilized continent capable of self-rule, I would probably try not to chop people up with machetes and eat them. But perhaps that's just my Western arrogance talking.

9 Comments:

Anonymous broadzilla said...

I don't think the West's opinion is of much consequence to the majority of choppers and choppees - I'd be willing to bet that most of them have other things on their mind.

Self-rule is an illusion anyway. Colonialism might be dead, but the departure of those civilised Brits, French and Belgians left a sink hole effortlessly plugged by neo-colonialism and debt-bondage via the IMF and World Bank - and anyone (Black, White, Asian, whatever) with the ambition and influence to further their personal empires at the expense of the savage hordes who are perceived as too dumb, too lazy, and too busy dying, to notice anyway. But that's probably just my (lily-white) African ignorance/paranoia talking.

4:17 AM  
Blogger nijaz said...

Arriving from Tanzania the other day, this was a coincidence.

Other than the fact that everybody with a car is a taxi driver, and African music does have something trippy about them, I guess no other perception changed. The fact that everybodys bigger, got a ton of ass and looks menacing without a smile doesn't change the bias. But it's really about surviving, I think. And is that wrong?

6:05 AM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

I'm waiting for "The Last Queen Of Sctland: The Barbzilla Story" to come out so I can watch them back to back.

Red Indians taste like nutmeg by the way. I dated one for awhile.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Really? I find it's more like brown sugar. Plus, you don't have to pay taxes on stuff if you live with one, which almost makes up for being a race traitor. Almost.

Broad - that's a little grimmer than we're used to from you. Plus too many big words. What's that make of Mercedes all you white people drive instead of feeding the poor over there?

Ninjaz - Yes, what's most important is they survive to eat someone else another day.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Broadzilla said...

The Last Queen of Scotland, Jerk? Just because men wear skirts over there, doesn't mean they're all gay. I've always wanted to be an Evil African Despot, though. I just can't decide who I'd most like to oppress.

Ash, It's hard to have a sense of humour about living here sometimes - even when you drive a Mercedes. Perhaps I shouldn't have read Heart of Darkness quite so many times.

('Got a ton of ass' - Nijaz, that's one stereotype I won't dispute.)

5:00 AM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

I thought you WERE an Evil African Despot.

How disappointing.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Glad to have you blogging again, Ash! It was tough going without my main source of jokes about raping young Jewish boys and mistreating Asians.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous the murderously homo-phobic lover of little girls arses said...

i prefer to hear jokes about raping young jewish "GIRLS" because i`m rampantly heterosexual and murderously homo-phobic, (and exceedingly proud of both), where-as you and ash karreau are obviously both dirty pansy queer bastards, there-fore i am totally contemptuous of both of you, you bloody disgusting faggots. Actually i like to watch 8 year old "GIRLS" from every cunt-tree in the world being raped and sodomised and guzzling down those massive wads of spunk, but most of all i like to see those 8 year old "GIRLS" being buggered without mercy and with murderous violence !!!. Now then with regards to mistreating asians, well i`m afraid i cant go along with this, (unless of course they are 8 year "GIRLS"), because astonishing as it may sound i`m not in the least bit racist, i think everybody in the world is a human being, (especially all the 8 year old "GIRLS" with big knobs stuck up their bums).

3:46 PM  
Anonymous the man who worships little girls arses said...

i wholeheartedly agree with everything in the previous comment, (because i`m murderously homo-phobic as well, and i love little girls arses), however he did neglect to mention that the film in question, "the last king of scotland" is a pile of unwatchable british made shit, (like all british films), i just thought i`d clarify that.

4:02 PM  

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