This month at Intelatin, I am featuring the films of Joshua Oppenheimer and Sacha Jenkins. Music for the podcast is performed by Chancha vía Circuito (Remix), Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Emel Mathlouthi, BazilleDx, Dogboy, Immortal Technique, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Public Enemy, Ice Cube and Boo Yaa Tribe.
This show contains very explicit lyrics and dialogues. It also contains spoilers for season Three of House of Cards.
In the span of this show, I am going to touch on two films: The Look of Silence by Joshua Oppenheimer and Fresh Dressed by Sacha Jenkins. I am going to frame both with a clip from the final episode of season 3 of House of Cards.
What you heard in the clip was this:
In the Oval Office are two Anglos: Francis Underwood and Claire Underwood. The President and the First Lady of the United States of America. Over a span of time, they have colluded together in every possible sinister way to gain the presidency. And now they have it and they have never been more miserable than now in the moment when Claire decides to finally confront Francis with what she thinks is the truth. The truth not just between the President and the First Lady but the truth between a husband and a wife, a man and a woman.
In Season Three, Francis raids the FEMA budget to pay for an employment strategy called America Works. Things work out well for him despite the opposition and despite that raiding FEMA for an employment program isn’t why FEMA has a budget in the first place. On the eve of the success of America Works, a hurricane named Faith threatens the eastern seaboard and FEMA freaks out because if the hurricane hits, they do not have the funds to cover the damage. So, they claw back the money and leave Francis without money to operate America Works.
Meanwhile, Claire has been appointed as Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations. In a momentary lapse of logic and reason for the benefit of an imprisoned American in Russia, she publicly humiliates the Russian President and burns Francis along with him. This forces Francis to get aggressive with Claire and sets off a downward spiral that neuters her to the point that her only value is as the woman behind the man on the campaign trail. Claire is not pleased with this role.
As Francis’ Presidency gets more and more complicated, he gets more and more sinister. Claire on the other hand, gets more and more repentant about how sinister they have become. And then, this scene happens and it’s the penultimate scene in season three. The next scene will be the moment when Claire decides to leave Francis alone on the campaign trail.
What is the transition between the sinister Anglo Capitalist Presidency of Francis Underwood and the interview that I am about to relay for you with Josh Oppenheimer about the Indonesian genocide of 1965 as documented in his film, The Look of Silence? Let’s figure it out together:
In 1945, a man named Sukarno came to be the dictator of Indonesia for the next 22 years. Towards 1967, change came and with it a new tension called The Transition to the New Order under the leadership of communist thinkers. A new leader named Suharto seized power and ordered the extermination of the communists in the region. With those communists went the undesirables who were considered too ethnic for the region. I imagine that this was an ethnic cleansing or carefully considered eugenics program.
Indonesia is a collection of islands south of China, south of Vietnam, southwest of the Philippines and north of Australia in the Indian Ocean. It was originally a Hindu kingdom until the Europeans invaded in 1513. With that invasion came centuries of new commercial opportunities and with those opportunities came waves of immigrants and with those waves of immigrants came different cultures, different
religions and thus new tensions. 30 million people live in Jakarta, the capital of the primary island, all 30 million seeking resources within a limited space.
At the core of The Look of Silence for an American audience should be two questions:
- How much do you know about Indonesia?
- How much do you know about the Indonesian genocide of 1965?
If I were in Joshua Oppenheimer’s director’s chair, I would lose sleep at night considering the astronomical ignorance of his audience prior to producing such a subtle videoessay on the Indonesian culture.
With me on Intelatin is Joshua Oppenheimer, director of the film. Joshua is a Stanford and Central Saint Martins graduate and a Marshall Scholar. His previous work is a companion to this film. It is called The Act of Killing.
Fresh Dressed is comprehensive documentary for the niche fashion industry and the rise of brands like Cross Colours, Karl Kani, FUBU, Phat Farm, Sean John, Rocawear and Nike Air Jordan. It is directed by Sacha Jenkins.
In any documentary, when you have characters like Nas, Kanye and Puffy as well as the OGs like Big Daddy Kane, Kurtis Blow and Rakim, it is probable that you will get sidetracked by the glam and not focus on the guts of a culture born of insecurity. Born of a need to show status. Borne of a need to receive external approval of a European gatekeeper selling a Eurocentric dream.
With me on Intelatin is the director Sacha Jenkins.
Join me next month on Intelatin and I thank you for listening to our podcast.
About Intelatin: The radio broadcast for Intelatin was started in 2012 at California State University Long Beach as outreach for their majority Latin@ campus. The broadcast aired on KBeach Global and KKJZ 88.1 FM. It podcasts in 2015 on iTunes and Audioboom. The next Intelatin episode will be released at the end of August. Connect on Twitter: @Intelatin.