Go Lean Commentary
How much of our past make up who we are and what we will become?
- Are all children of alcoholics condemned to alcoholism themselves?
- Children from homes with domestic violence; will they become abusers themselves?
These questions about individuals can also be extended to whole communities:
- Will the bloody history of European colonialism be revisited in modern times and the future?
This has to do with societal defects – orthodoxy. There is so much we need to learn, and so many corrections we need to make. This is the quest of the movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean, to reform and transform the Caribbean member-states from our dysfunctional past so as to have a prosperous future. There are lots of lessons for us to consider; some from unusual places; consider the art world: comic books, world of film.
The edict of “life imitating art and art imitating life” provides a lot of teaching moments for the world in general and the Caribbean in particular. There is a lot we can learn from the art form of film and this newest blockbuster movie Thor: Ragnarok. (The film has grossed $212.1 million in US box office receipts after the first 2 weekends).
This is a film about comic book hero Thor, the God of Thunder, which is based on Norse mythology; the ancient culture of Nordic Vikings. There are other characters from that mythical homeland of Asgard: Odin, Loki, Hela and Valkyrie. This is all art and fiction, but it does imitate the real life history of colonialism; see here:
The film’s central revelation – that the legend of a benevolent Odin and Asgard ruling realms joined in peace is a lie, and that those realms were conquered by force – reflects British colonialism so perfectly it virtually had to come from a person of colour in the Commonwealth, [New Zealand-born Director Taika Waititi]. Though New Zealand today is markedly fairer in its treatment of its indigenous people than the rest of Britain’s English-speaking colonies, its history is still pockmarked with subjugation, violence, and deception, and it’s hard not to see the difference between the mythical and “true” Asgards as a representation of that.
Source: Retrieved November 15, 2017 from: http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2017/11/05/thor-ragnarok-taika-waititi-very-kiwi-comedy
Shockingly, this is also a Caribbean debate: the historicity of colonialism and British orthodoxy – good or bad?
This debate, considering the foregoing, is bigger than just a consideration of British colonialism; it allows parallels with the Dutch, French, Portuguese and Spanish conquests in the New World; and truthfully, this also applies to the American empire building with the territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
See this news article here that presents this hypothesis; and also see the VIDEO in the Appendix below:
Title: Asgard’s bloody history refuses to stay buried in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’
By: Angie Han
Asgard is a realm removed from Midgard (or as we know it, Earth), but make no mistake: Thor: Ragnarok is as much about us as it is about them.
Specifically, it’s about the bloody history of colonialism, and that history’s refusal to stay buried, no matter how eager we are to whitewash our sins.
In Thor: Ragnarok, we learn exactly how Asgard came to be the wealthy and powerful kingdom it is today. The answer isn’t pretty. Before Odin was known as a wise and benevolent ruler, he was known as a bloodthirsty conquerer, tearing through nations with his daughter, Hela, at his side.
But, Hela explains, her appetite for destruction eventually outmatched his. Odin turned on her, locking her away and essentially writing her out of the history books. He has her literally painted over in the palace mural, replaced by prettier pictures of peace and prosperity. As Hela bitterly remarks, Odin is proud of his power and riches, but ashamed of how he got them.
Centuries later, younger Asgardians like Thor seem to have only the faintest idea of their land’s ugly past. Thor is aware that his father was once a fearsome warrior (it’s explicitly mentioned and demonstrated in his earlier movies), but apparently hasn’t spent much time thinking about whom his father was fighting, or why.
As for Hela, he doesn’t even realize that she exists.
Not that it matters. By burying Hela instead of properly reckoning with her, Odin has ensured that she will, someday, be someone else’s problem – and that that someone else will be woefully unprepared to deal with her when that day comes.
Sound familiar? The story of Asgard has echoes all around our own world: the “free world” built on the subjugation and slaughter of others; the sanitization of our past and current misdeeds; the younger generation raised on patriotic half-truths. Hela serves as a terrifying reminder that the past has a way of catching up to the present, no matter how desperately you’d like to erase old sins.
In Thor: Ragnarok, Thor is the one who rises to the occasion of facing down Asgard’s ugly past. He doesn’t have to – Hela’s already thrown him off-planet, and the simplest and safest thing for him to do would be to stay out of her path – but he feels a duty to protect his people from his sister. Emphasis on “his people”: Thor takes to heart that Asgard is a people, not a place or a thing.
His priority throughout the final battle is Asgard’s population, not its land or its gold or its reputation. In other words, he prioritizes people over patriotism.
By the end, Thor has abandoned the physical realm of Asgard entirely, leaving Hela and Surtur to tear it apart. He and the other surviving Asgardians are huddled together on a spaceship, refugees hoping to make a new home on Midgard.
Thor’s not the only one who has some key decisions to make in Ragnarok. Hela’s right-hand man is Skurge, who goes along with her rule not out of some great passion for her cause, but because it just seems like the easy thing to do. When it becomes clear that the tides are turning, he boards the refugee ship with the other Asgardians.
Then, at the last minute, he does something genuinely heroic: He sacrifices himself to ensure that the ship can get to safety, laying waste to Hela’s forces with two machine guns he picked up on a lark in Texas. (They’re named Des and Troy, because when he puts them together, they destroy. Thor: Ragnarok may have weighty thoughts on its mind, but it’s never one to pass up a good joke.)
With Skurge, Ragnarok shows us that great evil can be enabled by ordinary indifference, that “hero” and “villain” are not fixed states, that it’s never too late to do the right thing, and that even nobodies must decide how to wield whatever power they have. He’s the rare Marvel character who isn’t easily categorized as “good” or “bad.” He’s the undecided voter of Asgard, and he finally steps up.
Meanwhile, back on Sakaar, the Grandmaster has his own problems to deal with. Thor and Hulk’s escape has sparked a rebellion led by Korg (with an assist from the Revengers). Whereas Hela is overtly destructive and dominant, the Grandmaster is a more ingratiating figure.
He’s introduced via a video that reassures his contenders they’ve been found by someone who loves them. Never mind that the Grandmaster holding people captive and forcing them to fight to the death – he fancies himself a benevolent caretaker. In a jab at the modern prison system, the Grandmaster shudders at the word “slaves” and prefers the euphemism “prisoners with jobs.” The message is clear: he’s the same old oppressive bullshit, repackaged to look brighter and gentler.
Key to all of Thor: Ragnarok‘s themes are who’s telling this story. Taika Waititi is the franchise’s first non-white director, and one of its few non-American directors. That unusual-for-Marvel perspective may have something to do with his decision to turn this superhero smash-’em-up into a reflection on the horrors of colonialism. Others more qualified than I am to discuss it have taken also note of Ragnarok‘s uniquely Kiwi and uniquely Maori sensibility.
While Thor: Ragnarok still centers around a white guy, it’s got a meatier role than ever before for Heimdall, leader of the Asgardian resistance and protector of its people in Thor’s absence during Hela’s reign. The film introduces Valkyrie as a former hero of Asgard who steps up again in its time of need, hinting at the trauma she endured in between. Plus, of course, there’s Korg, voiced and mo-capped by Waititi himself in a distinct New Zealand accent. This is a story about oppression that actually makes room for non-white people, unlike so many of the others that hit our theaters.
And, yes, Thor: Ragnarok does all this while delivering jokes about Shake Weights and Hulk dick and introducing something called the Devil’s Anus to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s fizzy and funny and fun in a way that Thor’s earlier movies haven’t been. But don’t mistake its silliness for lack of depth.
Just as there’s more to Thor than his Point Break persona, there’s a lot more to Ragnarok than its gags.
Source: Posted November 8, 2017; retrieved November 15, 2017 from: http://mashable.com/2017/11/08/thor-ragnarok-themes-colonialism/#CZO2PDgfMZqP
There are so many points of consideration from this movie. In a previous blog/commentary regarding Caribbean Diaspora member and Hollywood great, Sidney Poitier, it was declared that …
“Movies are an amazing business model. People give money to spend a couple of hours watching someone else’s creation and then leave the theater with nothing to show for the investment; except perhaps a different perspective”.
Wow, this ‘Thor’ movie does present some different perspectives. The “art” of this movie does imitate the real life of the Caribbean colonial history. It was not benevolence that led to the European conquest; it was malevolence! The subjugation of the indigenous people, the introduction of slave economy, and continued mercantilism, until … just recently.
Some other/different perspectives gleaned from this movie are summarized here; (consider the links to previous blog-commentaries):
- The Good Old Days weren’t always good.
- The European colonizers may assumed a more benevolent stance today but the historicity of their malevolence is still real.
- The legacy of past misdeeds – orthodoxy – have a bearing on community ethos – driving character or spirit – today.
- To the Victor goes the spoils.
- The story of conquests are told by the conquerors.
- There is the need to reconcile past deeds with current attitudes.
- Priority should be on people, not a cultural place or a thing
It is the commonly accepted history that colonialism was bad – even bloody, and yet so many Caribbean citizens “break down the doors to get out” to go to where the colonizers came from – Brain Drain reported at 70 percent – and then live among these former colonizers.
This atrocious societal abandonment rate is so unbelievable … and unacceptable!
The book Go Lean … Caribbean discusses this history of European colonialism and the legacy left behind. Consider this excerpt from Page 241 regarding the Caribbean mainland states of the Guianas (Guyana and Suriname):
The Bottom Line on European Colonialism
The European colonial period was the era from the 1500s to the mid-1900s when several European powers (Spain, Britain, the Netherlands, France and Portugal) established colonies in the Americas, in a Space Race to dominate the New World. The Northern Coast of South America became a typical New World battleground for conflict and pushing between these powers, and many military campaigns and diplomatic initiatives (treaties) ensued. Through the contact period following the 1498 discovery by Christopher Columbus, the term “Guiana” was used to refer to all this area, between the Orinoco, the Rio Negro, and the Amazon rivers; it was seen as a unified, isolated entity that it was often referred to as the “Island of Guiana”. The real interest in the exploration and colonization of the Guianas did not begin until the end of the sixteenth century when the other European powers developed interest in the Guianas. This is depicted in the Timeline in Appendix TE (Page 307). When did this European Colonial “push-shove-match” end? Not until almost 500 years later, after World War II, after the effects of that war left all these European powers drained – of finances and the will to continue.
In the Thor: Ragnarok movie, the hero completed a journey that led him to finally place a higher priority on the people of his homeland rather than the actual land. This is enlightening, but this relevance is questioned for the Caribbean’s priority. In the movie, there was an all encompassing war – Ragnarok refers to the Norse concept of Armageddon – while the Caribbean is experiencing no war at all – we are deemed the greatest address on the planet. It is reasonable to expect that we can place priority on our people and our homeland.
The quest of the Go Lean roadmap is to elevate the societal engines so that Caribbean people can prosper where planted here in the Caribbean. There should be no priority to relocate Caribbean culture as refugees to a foreign land.
Like in the movie where Thor had an interdependence with other heroes – like Hulk, Valkyrie, and Heimdall, (leader of the Asgardian resistance and protector of its people while Thor was absent) – there is the need for our own heroes to work together to help us accomplish our goals as well. The Go Lean movement seeks to engage Caribbean heroes; the book serves as a roadmap to introduce the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) to elevate the region’s societal engines – economics, homeland security and governance – of the 30 Caribbean member-states. In fact, the prime directives of the roadmap includes the following 3 statements:
- Optimize the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
- Establish a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic.
- Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.
The Go Lean book makes the point of the need for heroic actions early in a Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 & 13) that claims:
x. Whereas we are surrounded and allied to nations of larger proportions in land mass, populations, and treasuries, elements in their societies may have ill-intent in their pursuits, at the expense of the safety and security of our citizens. We must therefore appoint “new guards” to ensure our public safety and threats against our society, both domestic and foreign. The Federation must employ the latest advances and best practices … to assuage continuous threats against public safety.
xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.
xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens … of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.
xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes, including piracy and other forms of terrorism, can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.
The Go Lean book describes the need for the Caribbean to appoint “new guards” to effect the necessary empowerments in the Caribbean. Those “old guards” would refer to the tenets of colonialism that the European masters left behind. Those are inadequate and deficient. We need the “new guards” or a regional security pact to engage to better protect our homeland from threats and risks, foreign and domestic. So the published strategies, tactics and implementations of this security pact is to ensure public safety as a comprehensive endeavor, encapsulating the needs of all Caribbean stakeholders: heroes and ordinary citizens alike.
Applying the edict of “life imitating art and art imitating life”, let’s lean-in for our own heroic instincts. Yes, we can … collectively if not individually, be heroes. We can lean-in for the empowerments described here in the book Go Lean…Caribbean. We can make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play. 🙂
Sign the petition to lean-in for the roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.
Appendix VIDEO – Thor: Ragnarok – The Best Reviewed Super Hero Movie – http://mashable.com/2017/11/08/thor-ragnarok-themes-colonialism/#CZO2PDgfMZqP