Friday, March 3, 2017
This Joyful Season Day 3: Fences
Truly Takafari's incisive review made me recall my graced breakthrough this fall following up on the Black Lives are Sacred series around one of white cis men's most poisonous kyriarchal triumphs: driving white women apart from our black brothers by a prison industrial complex which makes them hidden victims, as well as exaggerated perpetrators, in societal and ecclesial rape culture.
It also inspired me to add the movie to this semester's homeschool seminars in African American Women's Literature and African American Experience in Film. We will joyfully watch it with Grandma, continuing the tradition begun in our Shakespeare and Jane Austen semesters, when we spend Holy Week/spring break with her in our farewell to Southern California trip.
It's Denzel's second marvelous appearance in our curriculum since we watched his elegant and moving Don Pedro in the Branagh/Thompson Much Ado About Nothing on last year's roadschool visit to my Mom. This classic scene recalls one of those "God and I are rocking this homeschool" moments earlier that summer when we were listening to the play on the way to camp. As Don Pedro proposed the plan to trick Benedick and Beatrice into "a mountain of affection" Katie cried out spontaneously: "Best prank ever!" And followed up with a passionate "That's so mean!" at Claudio's public humiliation of Hero at their aborted wedding.
(We totally disagree with Rolling Stone's panning everyone but him and Keanu as Don John in that film, but this article is a fascinating roundup of Washington's work).
Dara writes at TT:
I did not cry during Fences as did so many of my friends and fellow writerly people. I couldn’t. But I should have. In Troy Maxon, August Wilson humanized “trifling” by turning it into “trying.” I never once in all my life felt so much empathy for a character who broke hearts like a bull in a China shop. Troy Maxon was my grandfather. He was the father of people I have known my whole life to struggle with the pebble of bitterness they carry towards their daddies. August Wilson rubbed over a rough place and made that ugliness shine. Made it precious.
When you equate manhood with the ability to earn a living, and then you deny a man the opportunity to make that living fairly and honestly, you’re toying with his mental health. What little living he can eke out eats at him. Patriarchy is both his jail and redemption.
I used to perceive only frailty in “trifling.” I understand Black men were trying now, so hard, at the very same time the world was trying them.
All the pain of that truth compressed into the thin line of Denzel’s mouth when Casey Affleck thanked Denzel for teaching him how to act. A mirthless smile. A knowing look. How do you capture the essence of an entire generation in a fenced backyard and not win an award for that sweat? Troy Maxon knew the answer to that question. Denzel swung for the Fences and he didn’t miss. The Academy did.