This week, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed Rachel Robinson (wife of Jackie Robinson), cast and filmmakers of the new Jackie Robinson biopic “’42” to the White House for a “Film Workshop for Students.” Personally, I wouldn’t call this a workshop when students aren’t holding and operating cameras, writing scripts, or rehearsing/reviewing scenes. So this post will rename it a “Filmmakers Session for Students.” Maybe someone on the “’42″ team will say something that will inspire a future filmmaker, actor, writer, producer, set designer, or even baseball player. I’m placing my bets on Rachel Robinson.
Read between the lines in the First Lady’s
testimonial opening remarks as she hails Rachel Robinson and the story of the film. These two women are in the circle of historical “racial firsts.” And I’m sure Michelle Obama was not just talking about Rachel and Jackie Robinson when she describes the taunts, name calling, and verbal abuse from the stands. Listen carefully. She’s telling US something.
The actor playing Jackie Robinson is Chadwick Boseman. I was introduced to Chad in ’99 when he co-starred in my first full-length play Iola’s Letter about Ida B. Wells and the launch of her anti-lynching crusade in 1892. Ida may not have been a first, but she most definitely joins Michelle and Rachel’s circle of black women who’ve had to take the heat. Ida was taking the heat on her own, and packing it as well. “Iola’s Letter” was written at the request of Vera J. Katz, professor of drama at Howard. She was approved by her department to direct “a reading.” But it turned out to be a performance, fully staged, fully costumed, and a set — the actors memorized the lines and carried the scripts in their hands to stick to the original bargain. Eight
performances readings were scheduled for the black box theater. A ninth had to be added to accomodate audience enthusiasm (the 8 were sold out). ’99 turned out to be a great season. Here’s a clip from Act I, scene 1 from a the fairly damaged VHS recording. I hear you Marty Scorsese (2013 NEH Jefferson Lecture).
’42 opens in theaters April 12.
Note: This post has been updated
No it’s not fair. But it’s the world we live in where a woman can say as much and sometimes more by what she wears as what she says. First Lady Michelle Obama and Republican First Lady hopeful Ann Romney made telling statements in the dresses and designers they chose for their grand appearances on the conventions’ political stage.
Ann Romney chose Oscar de la Renta in signature GOP red. Classic, tasteful and a price tag of approximately $2,000 ($1,900 by the lowest estimates). The dress made a statement about where Mrs. Romney and her husband stand in wealth — on top of it but they’re not aristocrats. It’s the kind of dress that leaves the “wow” factor to the color and accessory choices of the woman who wears it. Mrs. Romney further understated her dress with simple gold jewelry and black pumps. This is the “old money” look for the 21st century. No pearls. And no crass new money diamonds and gems. But a little solid gold bling doesn’t hurt. The dress is made of silk taffeta. It “wrinkles so easily” (Cue Madeline Kahn “Young Frankenstein”). Taffeta makes a statement about status and how close you desire to be to another person including strangers in a big convention hall. The dress was Ann Romney’s choice. It was what she felt comfortable to wear. Oscar de la Renta has designed gowns for First Ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton. For Mrs. Romney, why break with tradition?
First Lady Michelle Obama gave her speech in a dress designed by Tracy Reese. The colors are pink and gray (update: the trim is blue). Price tag: Tracy Reece dresses run between $200 and $500. The pink pumps were from J. Crew (around $245) Mrs. Obama seemed to be less concerned about party colors and more into what works for her including bearing her signature toned arms. The pink dress shimmered and moved as Mrs. Obama moved. Wrinkles look like they’d dissolve on this dress with a few good strides across the stage. Do either women have time to iron before they step out? I remember my mom avoiding at all costs ironing the morning of for fear of potentionally leaving the iron on which could start a fire, not to mention being late for work and school. These are working women’s concerns. Tracy Reese is a young designer compared to de la Renta. Young designers have become the First Lady’s signature fashion statement. Young designers struggle. To be selected by the First Lady is a bump they all dream of. Oscar de la Renta was already an established signature designer at the time he got the calls from the last two First Ladies. Old school vs. New school?
Americans are very uncomfortable talking about class in a serious fashion. Race makes the contrast a lot simpler. Does it matter that one designer is Hispanic and one is African American? What does that signal to voters? Not much. But it could tap into buyers’ decisions. In the 1% vs 99%, haves and have-nots context of this presidential election, both Mrs. Romney’s and Mrs. Obama’s fashion statements can be called “Class acts.”
And now, words in motion.
Transcript from Ann Romney’s speech at the RNC Convention (Tampa, FL)
Transcript from Michelle Obama’s speech at the DNC Convention (Charlotte, NC)
Today the DNC launches their convention in Charlotte, NC. This also marks the 4th anniversary of this blog which was launched at the 2008 DNC convention in Denver. Different kind of convention and energy. Eclectique916.com isn’t boycotting the conventions this year, just taking care of business closer to home. Even the blog has to ask itself, “where do we go from here?” Eclectique916.com is attracting over 1,000 unique readers each month. That’s a real convention bump from where this blog started.
The DNC released their 2012 platform in a tidy online format that you can read in its entirety or just the bits you want. I’ll post some bits from the platform here.
Arts and Culture. Democrats are proud of our support for arts funding and education. We are committed to continuing the policies and programs that have already done so much for our creative arts industry and economy. Investment in the arts strengthens our communities and contributes to our nation’s rich cultural heritage. We will continue to support public funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and for programs providing art and music education in primary and secondary schools. The entire nation prospers when we protect and promote the unique and original artistic and cultural contributions of the women and men who create and preserve our nation’s heritage.
Labor should be pleased. BTW there was a Labor Day parade in Charlotte yesterday.
Democrats believe that the right to organize and collectively bargain is a fundamental American value; every American should have a voice on the job and a chance to negotiate for a fair day’s pay after a hard day’s work.
The platform is built around the
nice ideas goals (including the ones from 2008), lessons (now scripted into goals), and policies of the party’s undisputed and unchallenged candidate, President Barack Obama. If there’s any lesson the DNC has learned over the years is to know when to gather under the big tent. But protest and descension are also part of the party culture in their post-Dixie-crat incarnation. It’s not that Tampa didn’t get their share of protesters and party crashers (The Ron Paul people pulled it off from the inside.) Weather conditions will make it easier in Charlotte for demonstrators and the media. Plus the party who has the power at the top of the chain, has to expect a response to policies enacted, and promises delayed/unkept during President Obama’s first term.
Where is this party going? Who are the party’s new faces? The next generation? We’ll see tonight. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will give the keynote. He is the first Hispanic American to deliver the keynote at a Democratic convention. But you have to ask if being a “first” in 2012 is something to stand up and cheer about.
BTW Julian has an identical twin brother, Joaquin, who is a state Representative. This could get interesting.
Rule #1 for a political convention: kick it off with a diversity theme. The Hispanic vote is a hot topic with non-Hispanic pundits every four years. First Lady Michelle Obama has women and maybe military families (omitted from the RNC convention) covered. Hopefuly, there won’t be any empty chairs inside the convention hall.
*in photo, Julian Castro is on the left (striped tie); Joaquin is on the right (blue tie).
My interest in state dinners are all about details: protocols, attire, guest list, entertainment, menu. I’m collecting a little data from last night’s dinner honoring Chinese President Hu Jintao.
First Lady Michelle Obama looked FABULOUS
This dress outshines everything on the red carpet of the Golden Globes Sunday. (IMO)
House Alexander McQueen produced this stunning gown. The hands on-designer is creative director Sarah Burton. From a cultural perspective, the color was perfect – red, symbol of fire, courage, the south, fortune, success, passion, fertility, happiness. Red is good. Red is great! Red looks fabulous on the First Lady.
Blurb from NY Times Cathy Horyn:
Made for the McQueen’s 2011 resort collection, the style originally came with short sleeves, which Mrs. Obama evidently had altered to suit her taste. Most of all, her choice had a just enough pomp to signal the importance of this state dinner.
UPDATE: This just in from Robin Givhan, now culture and style editor for The Daily Beast/Newsweek. Robin is settling into her new job after 15 years as fashion editor for The Washington Post where she became the first fashion journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize. Robin published her first article for today’s The Daily Beast. And I’ll quote:
In Mrs. Obama’s considered fashion message, her full-skirted dress, from a British design house worn in celebration of a Chinese president, struck a blow for creativity. In grand and sweeping terms, one could argue that it symbolized the ability of a designer’s imagination to cross borders, connect different cultures, and ultimately express itself in a singular moment of beauty.
Yes, those are human rights protesters you hear outside the White House gates. I guess that gave the Chinese president a little taste of our “free speech” customs.
It’s no accident that Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue and designer Vera Wang (who has design houses in China) were on the guest list. Part of the talks included intellectual property issues. Fashion, IT and entertainment have been the commercial victims of China’s casual acquaintance with copyright, especially when the country’s national appetites for designer labels and the latest media gadgets and block busters are on the rise with a growing consumer class.
Two former U.S. Presidents were guests: Jimmy Carter and William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton (the Secretary of State’s date).
But this didn’t deter American business tycoons from attempting to get an audience with President Hu even if the Speaker of the House John Boehner declined attending the state dinner in favor of a meeting with Chinese president on his “Hill turf. Afterwards, President Hu goes to Chicago.
Dinner was in the Blue Room of the White House.
The official menu from the official program (interesting reading):
Surf-and-Turf, pears, spinach. This suspiciously resembles the Food & Folklore menu I posted yesterday. Hmmm.
When our men and women in uniform answer the call to serve, their families serve, too. And they’re proud and glad to do it. But as long as that service keeps the rest of us safe, their sacrifice should also be our own. Even heroes can use a hand, especially during the holidays.
— Michelle Obama, First Lady
America’s brave servicemen and women represent a small fraction of our population. But they and the families who await their safe return carry far more than their fair share of the burden. They’ve done everything they’ve been asked to do. They’ve been everything we’ve asked them to be. And even as we speak, many are fighting halfway around the globe – in hopes that someday, our children and grandchildren won’t have to.
— President Barack Obama
Three Kings Day (Epiphany) is also upon us — January 6. So it’s not to late to post the President’s Weekly that went live yesterday, December 25.
First Lady Michelle Obama joins her husband for the weekly address recorded before she, Malia and Sasha, and finally the President left for their Christmas holiday in Hawaii. The Obamas ask to support troops (our volunteer army) who don’t get a Christmas vacation, and military families who may be in mourning over loses and/or coping with loved ones who can’t be home for the holidays or other special occasions.
The White House invites everyone to visit www.serve.gov to find ideas for what we can do to help our servicemen and women and their families.