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Very well done.

[Via Africa is a Country. h/t Winslow.]

49 thoughts on “Impasse.

  1. NinaG August 13, 2009 at 6:59 pm Reply


  2. ladyfresh August 13, 2009 at 10:07 pm Reply


  3. Didi August 14, 2009 at 4:28 am Reply

    Mind completely blown…but I kinda guessed.

  4. Nigressence August 14, 2009 at 10:48 am Reply

    That was loaded with all kinds of subjectification of a woman of color and a clean-cut white male. Race, definitely an issue. But joint that with some real gender issues, objectification of woman, over/tly sexualized woman of color phenomenon and the fact that this muthaphucka couldn’t move his lips to speak, yet completely undressed her with his eyes???

    This is a joke and the fact that so many institutions sponsored and endorsed this, leads me to believe I won’t seen significant change in how we view the world… in our minds… in my lifetime.

    Not surprised, but still appalled!

    • quadmoniker August 14, 2009 at 11:49 am Reply

      I’m not sure I’m appalled, but I tend to agree. I suspected the man was supposed to be a skinhead, and appreciated the subtlety of the shot at the end. It was a well-done little piece, but I kind of have a problem with it in that it met some of the same problems Malcolm Gladwell brought up in his recent piece on the limits of Southern liberalism. It’s the idea that a small, personal interaction can overcome systemic racism. That’s nice, but what would the extension mean? A beautiful black woman for every skinhead, and racism is cured!

      • G.D. August 14, 2009 at 11:53 am Reply

        i’m trying to get to the gym, but quickly…

        we don’t know if he’s a skinhead currently, or if he’s reformed or whatever, you know?

        • quadmoniker August 14, 2009 at 11:55 am Reply

          That’s true.

        • R. August 14, 2009 at 2:31 pm Reply

          Do reformed skinheads normally keep their shaved head after being reformed?

          • shani-o August 14, 2009 at 2:37 pm Reply

            Right. That’s what I was thinking. Also, in a short film with not much else to go on, the first assumption (that he’s a practicing skinhead) is probably the best.

            • G.D. August 14, 2009 at 2:59 pm Reply

              why is that first assumption the best?

              • shani-o August 14, 2009 at 3:14 pm Reply

                From the video description: “Without words, we’re left to consider whether love and attraction can break through the impasse of human intolerance.”

                Him = intolerant (practicing skinhead)

                • G.D. August 14, 2009 at 3:19 pm Reply

                  intolerant does not = ‘practicing skinhead’.

                  • shani-o August 14, 2009 at 3:27 pm Reply

                    In the context of the film, what does ‘intolerant’ mean to you?

              • quadmoniker August 14, 2009 at 4:49 pm Reply

                I’m with Shani on this one. We’re given so little in the film to work with, I think they want you to believe what’s right in front of your face.

          • ladyfresh August 14, 2009 at 3:08 pm Reply

            they would if they were going bald…he was going bald…

          • G.D. August 14, 2009 at 3:10 pm Reply

            well, i could think of any number of reasons why a person might shave their head. maybe he’s balding?

  5. shani-o August 14, 2009 at 11:08 am Reply


    • shani-o August 14, 2009 at 11:10 am Reply

      I’ll add that yes, it was well done. But I have some of the same issues with it that Nigressence did.

      • G.D. August 14, 2009 at 11:16 am Reply

        do those issues matter before or after the little twist at the end? if that shot doesn’t happen, do you read it differently?

        • shani-o August 14, 2009 at 11:50 am Reply

          Well, the way he was looking at her up until that point was basic, run-of-the-mill, you’re-a-woman-who’s-in-my-line-of-sight sexism. And while she seemed to also be attracted to him, her agency was limited because she said nothing — not even ‘sorry’ to break the ice.

          The sexism gets compounded by the ‘twist,’ because all it tells us is that a racist can be sexually attracted to a person of another race. But, so what? We knew that already. It has no larger implications, and actually seems kind of regressive to me. And like N said above, he wouldn’t even open his mouth to speak.

          I guess it could be read as him being bound by his own prejudices, but that’s still coming from a place of white male privilege.

          At best, this gets a ‘meh’ from me. But I think it’s pretty problematic.

          • G.D. August 14, 2009 at 11:54 am Reply

            Well, the way he was looking at her up until that point was basic, run-of-the-mill, you’re-a-woman-who’s-in-my-line-of-sight sexism.

            you’re saying it’s sexist for him to look at her?

            • shani-o August 14, 2009 at 11:55 am Reply

              The way he was looking at her.

              • G.D. August 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm Reply

                wow. okay.

                • ladyfresh August 14, 2009 at 3:10 pm Reply

                  well there were two crotch glances
                  which were uncomfortable

                • shani-o August 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm Reply

                  Dude, he was staring at her body as she put her stuff up. Yes, that might be ‘normal’ or expected, but that doesn’t mean it’s not sexist.

                  • G.D. August 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm Reply

                    wow. alright.

                  • -k- August 15, 2009 at 10:12 am Reply

                    Was that sexist on his part, or the filmmakers’?

                    As male stares go, I found his to be relatively low-key. They were stolen glances- repeated stolen glances, but glances nonetheless. Had that gone on for a long time without signs of reciprocation, it would’ve moved into creepier territory, but I think this comes off worse than it normally would because as the audience of this film we’re primed to look for something offensive.

  6. toan August 14, 2009 at 2:33 pm Reply

    I really like this piece. It affectively showed the pointless and illogical nature of the hate – you can see the conflict between the attraction and his beliefs in his eyes during the scene. It was very sad to me and I could not get the image of Little Red Riding Hood out of my mind.

    I do believe that he is still a skinhead, although a conflicted one, because if he was no longer one I think he would have gotten the tat covered by something else, much like most of these famous people due when going through a breakup or divorce or whatever.

    The way he was looking at her, to me, was sexual in nature but not in an over powering way, because he was not obviously and unapologetically ogling her while she was looking – I think he might have diverted his eyes when she was looking, but more like a general attraction way.

    The silence, IMO, was necessary. That way the only thing you had to draw on was your interpretation of the actors’ portrayal of emotion. Everything is left up to personal interpretation.

    The swastika could also be symbolic of how a person presents himself verses who he really is, maybe not even knowing the difference (I guess this would go back to the idea in my head of Little Red Riding Hood).

    At any rate, the piece did what they probably wanted it to do, which was start conversation.

  7. R. August 14, 2009 at 2:57 pm Reply

    I thought there was something odd about the guy when he chose to remain silent after the perfume poured on his head with all that tension that had been building up.

    Very nice piece indeed.

  8. Leigh August 14, 2009 at 4:17 pm Reply

    I liked the piece. I assumed he must be a skinhead, given it was an HR short film featuring a white bald dude in Europe. It was tense, I kept wondering if there would be speaking or violence.

    I see the points others’ have raised above about the objectification of the woman in the film, and I wonder how the film could have been done differently. Because the audience seems to be clearly people who’d share some level of his bigotry – i.e., it’s meant to be eye-opening to them all that they’re missing out on due to their prejudice. Could it have been done w/a man where maybe they were both soccer fans of the same team and sharing a seat after a big game but couldn’t talk about it due to the skinhead’s bias? Or something…

    I too see the male p.o.v./privilege in the film, but I’m less bothered by it given the movie is meant to change that framework – at least some part of it.

    @G.D. – certainly if he wasn’t a practicing skinhead, wouldn’t he have talked to her?

    • G.D. August 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm Reply

      lol. that’s a really big assumption, Leigh. I’ve had more moments like that than i care to remember, and I still kick myself for not saying something.

      (on the other hand, one of those encounters, on the A train to Brooklyn after a loooooong day at work, led to one of my longest relationships.)

      • Leigh August 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm Reply

        Sure, in real life, but in the context of an educ film abt HR, don’t you think you’re stretching the realm of possibility?

        (Yes, the train does appear to be a good spot for picking people up!)

  9. bitchphd August 14, 2009 at 5:51 pm Reply

    I didn’t find his looking at her sexist. I found the whole thing sweet, up until the perfume moment when I wanted to smack them both for not taking advantage of the chance to break the ice. And then at the end, I had the “wow” shock reaction, but also, there was a kind of sadness to it; I found myself wondering if the tattoo was why he was too shy to speak (along the lines of GD’s saying he could be a reformed skinhead), and thinking about it as the huge elephant in the room, and the difference between her not-knowing and his knowing in terms of their mutual silence.

    • R. August 14, 2009 at 6:31 pm Reply

      I hadn’t even considered ‘if the tattoo was why he was too shy to speak,’ which is an interesting angle but I assume that if he was a reformed skinhead, he would not walk around with his head shaved and that he’d done a better job at covering up the tattoo.

      The way I saw it, I thought he wanted to say something after the perfume poured down on his head but didn’t, even going to the lengths of suppressing his body language, as if he was trying to hide behind his blank visage.

      As far as the girl, a simple sorry from her part would have at least gotten a direct acknowledgment from him, you’d think. But she didn’t even try that.

      • -k- August 15, 2009 at 10:02 am Reply

        Isn’t there kind of a long road between the intense feelings that would lead someone to get into that lifestyle in the first place, and ‘reform’? I feel like he’s modeling doubt, appealing to the part of those audience members for whom this might resonate that whispers to the wrongheadedness of it all.

        Really his best move was not to speak- there was obviously no hope of a relationship, but beyond that as I see it there was nowhere positive that could’ve gone, period, because had they even had a brief, friendly chat, that tattoo would’ve been hurtful and shocking afterwards (I think everyone has had a conversation with a stranger that went well until the other person unveiled some abhorrent belief, right? The one that makes you feel kind of gross afterwards when you think about having made a connection with someone like that?).

        • R. August 15, 2009 at 1:43 pm Reply

          I agree with your first point but not with him having the option of making a move. She thought dude was at an impasse after the perfume moment, not knowing that he was at an one from the start. His extremist beliefs precluded that sort of amiable interaction with her.

          • -k- August 15, 2009 at 2:12 pm Reply

            I wasn’t speaking to her perspective, and I don’t really think it’s the focus of the piece; I said that he did not have the option of making a move because of his very visible ties to a hate group. But that those ties are part of his personal history is really the only conclusion that can fairly be drawn- to say that he held the same beliefs, or held them to the same degree that he did when he got the tattoo, at the moment this all takes place is to assume more than we’re told.

            • G.D. August 15, 2009 at 2:27 pm Reply

              this is what i’m thinking.

  10. bitchphd August 14, 2009 at 6:38 pm Reply

    Interesting companion piece.

  11. Jeremy August 14, 2009 at 8:34 pm Reply

    Hmmm, maybe this is all ex post facto, but I didn’t really see him as being *attracted* to her the way that some of the comments here suggest. Whereas Shani feels uneasy re: the sexism, I actually took his “gaze” as more malicious. Like, his *attraction* really creeped me out, and that smile started to make me think he had some violent intentions. It was weird; watching it a second time, every single interaction from the guy could be interpreted as a sweet crush or a really scary disregard for her humanity–like he’s thinking “She has no idea the ways I want to hurt her.” I don’t know…I’m a bit torn.

    • Leigh August 15, 2009 at 10:16 am Reply

      Your interpretation presents an odd choice, to say the least, for a human rights film!

  12. MoreAndAgain August 15, 2009 at 10:56 pm Reply

    Am I the only person who didn’t know the guy was a skinhead before the tattoo was shown? I have known a lot of White men who shaved their heads completely bald, and they weren’t skinheads. Now maybe Europe is different. So, if I see a White man from Manchester who is bald, I should run like the wind?

    Also, I have to ask why it’s sexist for a man to look at a woman? Is it also sexist for a woman to look at a man? I could understand why the look would be inappropriate in a professional setting, but this is not a professional setting. I also don’t understand how she was “over sexualized.” It’s not like she had on one of Beyonce’s get-ups, a la “Single Ladies.” She looked like she was dressed normally. I think even the sexual attraction was very mild. I may be taking this the wrong way, but it seems like a lot of the time people are offended unless Black women are portrayed as nuns. Can we agree that on a normal day a significant amount of Black women (maybe even the majority of Black women) might find themselves dressed like the woman in the video? And, can we agree that if you’re on the train and someone starts putting bags over your head, you’re going to look at them?

    With all of that being said, I do have to agree that the message, which seems to be “you can be attracted to someone regardless of your prejudices,” isn’t earth shattering. But, as someone already pointed out, it has started a conversation. And, I wouldn’t be surprised if the idea presented in it is actually new to someone.

    • G.D. August 15, 2009 at 11:34 pm Reply

      Am I the only person who didn’t know the guy was a skinhead before the tattoo was shown? I have known a lot of White men who shaved their heads completely bald, and they weren’t skinheads. Now maybe Europe is different. So, if I see a White man from Manchester who is bald, I should run like the wind?

      um. huh?

      No one knew he was a skinhead until they showed the tat.

    • ladyfresh August 17, 2009 at 10:41 am Reply

      i did not know

    • ladyfresh August 17, 2009 at 10:48 am Reply

      Also, I have to ask why it’s sexist for a man to look at a woman?

      It isn’t but there are definitely layers and levels to looks. I was disturbed by the specific crotch gazing that happened twice. The rest seemed normal.

      And, can we agree that if you’re on the train and someone starts putting bags over your head, you’re going to look at them?

      and this is where we differ. No you don’t have to look at them and there are different ways to look at a person. His was not the ‘you are encroaching upon my body space gaze’ i read that as an opportunistic ‘her crotch is right by my face and i’m going to look ‘look”. The second time he did it was a bit much for me.

  13. MoreAndAgain August 16, 2009 at 12:20 am Reply

    Ok, maybe I was misunderstanding quadmoniker, and the people who responded after, who said they suspected that the man was a skinhead. I thought maybe everyone had read something that I missed prior to watching the video.

    • Leigh August 16, 2009 at 10:07 am Reply

      Based on the social context of the video (HR, foreign film, etc.), I assumed he was a skinhead from the opening shot. I mentioned this upthread, so you’re not misunderstanding me.

      I didn’t know he was, but I was like, oh, I bet he turns out to be a skinhead…. as the movie unfolded.

  14. Amanda525 August 19, 2009 at 11:26 pm Reply

    I agree with MoreAndAgain. I really don’t think there is an unreasonable amount of ogling. He’s a man, she’s a woman. It would be almost unreal if he ignored a beautiful lady. In real life, we all (of course, I’m generalizing) “check out” people we’re attracted to physically. I don’t see how this is different aside from the fact that it is on film. No man thinks “I’m going to not look at this woman’s body because I don’t want to objectify her”. It’s perfectly natural. The woman happened to be black in this situation because that was the only way to get the point across. So, I also don’t think it’s another tired case of objectifying a black woman.

  15. slg August 20, 2009 at 1:41 pm Reply

    Wow, I think I took this a bit differently. At first, I assumed it was romance as well, but then it became just a tiny bit creepy when they didn’t speak. As a whole, it really made me think about the similarity of physical codes of “romantic attraction” and “scientific observation.” It made think of the Hottenhot venus, and how he may have been looking at her as scientific specimen. Is that really so different? For that reason, it made me reflect on the very different individual perspectives each of these people had in a simple public interaction – for him, it’s hey, do i make a move….for her, it’s can i assume he’s a decent human being, is he going to kill me, way before getting to ‘hey, is he cute’?

    And then I also ask myself, why is it all about _looking at her_? Am I falling into that immediate consumption of woc as sexual object as well?

    terrific film,

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