Thursday, March 29, 2012

Short Film Review: Make a Choice (War or Peace) Trayvon Martin

A young brother heads out to a march in honor of Trayvon Martin.  He invites his roommate to join him.  Thinking the march a futile jester, the roommate refuses, and an emotionally charged debate results.  One side believes that peaceful protest is the answer, while the other side prefers street justice.  It’s a complex question that has plagued Black America for centuries, and the Trayvon Martin shooting has only intensified such sentiments on both sides.

The Trayvon Martin murder has both galvanized and polarized the Black community.  Surely, anyone with a heart (and even a rudimentary sense of justice) wants blood on some level.  George Zimmerman should be made to pay dearly for what he has done.  The question is, what exactly should his punishment be, and how should that pound of flesh be exacted?  There seems to be no easy answer, and only the most eloquent among us seem able to articulate what we are all feeling.  As always, a voice of reason has emerged from a very unlikely place: comedian Kain Carter.

Kain Carters latest, Make a Choice (War or Peace) Trayvon Martin is far from his usual fare.  Though just as foul mouthed as any of his comedy sketches, it comes from a very different place.  It’s simple in both concept and execution, but resonates on a much deeper level than any of the so-called serious discourse that has taken place thus far regarding this issue.

Many of Kain Carters films feature him in dual roles.  Brotherly Love portrayed a conflict between the super Mario brothers.  It dealt with issues of jealousy and sibling rivalry.  Though an inherently silly concept, Carter went took it to hilarious and unexpected places.  Likewise, Make a Choice (War or Peace) has Carter engaged in what is essentially an argument with himself.  It could just as well be taking place in his subconscious.  It resembles the junkyard scrap between Clark Kent and Superman in Superman III, which was basically the id vs. the superego.  Carter uses such imagery to dramatize the battle likely going in the hearts of many Black Americans right now.

The drama plays out with very basic filmmaking language.  The camera remains in a stationary, very slight Dutch angle when focused his militant self. Meanwhile, his more peaceful hooded self seems to be outfitted with an invisible helmet cam.  The technique works to distinguish the opposing points of view: One rigid, the other relatively fluid.  A somber selection from Set it Off’s musical score is used.  It brings the underlying sadness to the surface, and makes the verbal and emotional pyrotechnics all the more unsettling.

I imagine that many people may be turned off by Carter’s saucy language, as well as his liberal use of the N-Word.  I feel sorry for those people, as they will miss out on a thought provoking and emotionally stirring experience.  Kain Carter has managed to cut through the bullshit regarding Trayvon’s murder and get to the heart of the matter.  Some of us want blood.  Some of us want change.  Some of us want both, yet very few of us seem to know exactly to go about it.  Kain Carter doesn’t propose to have the answers, but he seems to be asking us to think before we act.  Anyone with a brain should be able to acknowledge and respect that.     

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