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REVIEW: ‘Nope’ is a Yes! — Peele Delivers with Follow-Up

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Jordan Peele delivers with Nope, a film set on the margins of Hollywood, focusing on the family of the Black jockey captured in the early films of trailblazing photographer and filmmaker Eadweard Muybridge. By incorporating Muybridge’s short film, “The Horse in Motion,” Peele elevates the importance of Black jockeys in the many aspects of American culture and the significance of the Black presence and influence at the beginning of Hollywood.

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By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., NNPA Newswire Culture and Entertainment Editor

Jordan Peele has been compared to horror and psychological thriller giant Alfred Hitchcock and science-fiction legend Steven Spielberg, but Peele is in a league of his own. Peele’s masterful ability to merge two beloved film genres, with social commentary on issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality is unparallel in the current filmic landscape. Initially celebrated for his comedic chops, Peele burst onto the horror scene with his cult-classic horror Get Out (2017) and followed-up with the scary and often meandering Us (2019). Both films used symbolism brilliantly and succeeded as horror films because the monsters were familiar characters, symbolic of society and played by characters who look and feel like us.

There is an otherworldliness about Peele’s films that traffic in the mundane, to highlight the complexity of the precariousness of a world driven by a perverse need for power, influence, and capital. Peele humanizes those who live on the margins or the underbelly of the society and brilliantly recasts their lives into the horror show that is often America and what it means to live on the margins of society while the tokenism and appropriation of your culture is center stage.

Peele delivers with Nope, a film set on the margins of Hollywood, focusing on the family of the Black jockey captured in the early films of trailblazing photographer and filmmaker Eadweard Muybridge. By incorporating Muybridge’s short film, “The Horse in Motion,” Peele elevates the importance of Black jockeys in the many aspects of American culture and the significance of the Black presence and influence at the beginning of Hollywood.

The Haywood family is a Black family that has worked as horse wranglers for Hollywood for over a century. They are the descendants of the Black jockey showcased in the Muybridge film and are still stuck in the same position as their ancestors despite the change in time and ostensibly space. Keith David plays Otis Haywood, Sr., the patriarch of the Haywood clan who is hell bent on maintaining his ancestor’s greatest dream. Daniel Kaluuya stars as Otis, Jr. (OJ), who works with his father and is unimpressed by the movie business or the jackasses who permeate filmmaking culture.

Although OJ, who is Black, is the expert on the movie set, he is belittled and demeaned by all of the White folks on set from the director to the production assistants. Keke Palmer stars as Emerald, the free-spirited daughter who plays to the hostile audience, literally listing all of her skills and abilities as she performs servitude.

The audience knows if Emerald was white, the offspring of Hollywood royalty, and working with all of those skills, Emerald would be the star or director of the film and calling the shots. Such is not the case with the Haywood clan, who is relegated and reminded of their position on the lower rungs of society and Hollywood throughout the film.

Desperate for money and fame after being kicked off set, the Haywood family decides to capture the greatest spectacle ever – unidentified flying objects (UFOs), now called unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs). OJ and Emerald set out to photograph and record the alien life that is omnipresent yet largely ignored by those who live with them on the outskirts of Hollywood.

Instead of engaging scientists or the government, the Haywoods set out to do it themselves so they can reap the financial rewards and adoration of an industry and public that has little to no use for them otherwise.

The Haywoods embody the “find a way or make one,” spirit of Black independent cinema and literally create and capture the story that was always worth telling but undervalued by Hollywood and society. Along the way, they pick up Angel (Brandon Perea), a techie with an obsession with outer space and Antlers (Michael Wincott), a maverick cinematographer who is still chasing cinematic glory in spite of his elite status in the industry.

Antlers, who insists he captures images, but is not part of the story, disposes of his philosophy, deciding to be part of the spectacle and jeopardizes the entire shoot and lives in a harrowing scene.

One of the most interesting parts of the film is the number of Easter Eggs (intertextual references) strewn throughout the narrative. In fact, it is an intertextual reference to 1980s sitcoms that is most harrowing and provides the context and strongest symbolism of tokenism and what that means for people of color pursuing the Hollywood dream. Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun) is a former child star who survived a merciless attack by a chimpanzee named Gordy during the taping of a hit 1980s sitcom.

Jupe now runs Jupiter’s Claim, a Western-themed amusement park, pulling in an audience that would probably be at Disneyland if they could afford it. Instead, Jupiter’s Claim fits the bill, and Jupe who survived the brutality of the attack and the tokenism of Hollywood, clings to his desire to be the star of the show.

While he appears to work with OJ in taking horses off of his hands to keep the horse farm going until OJ can afford to buy them back, Jupe actually works against his closest ally in order to create a spectacle for attendees at the expense of all involved.

Nope is a commentary on so many things – the environment, animal cruelty, racism, sexism, heterosexism, the entertainment industry – and shows how all of those things are interconnected in shaping who we are as a society. It’s the intersectionality for me.

With a storyline told through a historical lens that interrogates society and the people who make up this world and the next, strong performances and a brilliant use of camp and other comedic tools, Peele does it again, making a must-see film that will be talked about in film classes, the barbershop, dinner tables, Hollywood, and the like for many years to come.

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Brittney Griner Sentenced to More than 9 years in Russian Prison

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision. “We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner has been sentenced to more than 9 years in a Russian prison following her conviction on drug charges.

Her lawyers called the verdict a disappointment and vowed to appeal.

The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision.

“We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

“The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea. This contradicts the existing legal practice.

“Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal,” they added.

Russian officials contended that Griner committed the crime on purpose. They also levied a fine totaling about $16,400 American dollars on the basketball star.

Authorities arrested Griner on Feb. 17 at an airport in Moscow after finding less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage.

She has been detained since then.

Recently, American officials revealed that the Biden-Harris administration had offered notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for the release of Griner and Paul Whelan.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” President Biden said.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

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Report: Human Rights Violations in Prisons Throughout Southern United States Cause Disparate and Lasting Harm in Black Communities  

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

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NNPA Newswire

NEW YORK – The Southern Prisons Coalition, a group of civil and human rights organizations, submitted a new report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on the devastating consequences of incarceration on Black people throughout the southern United States.

With the long-term goal of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination in the criminal legal system, including the carceral system, the report describes the widespread, disparate harms resulting from the arrests, harsh prison sentences, and incarceration on Black communities.

The report also cites the devastating impacts of solitary confinement, prison labor, the school to prison pipeline, and incarceration of parents on Black families.

On August 8, 2022, the UN will review the United States’ compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination for the first time since 2014.

Among the ongoing stark racial disparities throughout prisons in the southern United States, Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated in state prisons.

In states like Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, where Black communities comprise 38% of the total population, Black individuals account for as much as 67% of the total incarcerated population.

While incarcerated, Black people are more than eight times more likely to be placed in solitary confinement, and they are 10 times more likely to be held there for exceedingly long periods of time.

By submitting the report to the United Nations, the Southern Prisons Coalition hopes to solicit concrete recommendations from the UN Committee as well as commitments from the United States delegation about their plans to address systemic issues in the United States prison system, particularly in the South.

According to the report, several states in the United States have also failed to meet several of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of incarcerated people, including:

  • Work should help to prepare incarcerated people for their release from prison, including life and job skills;
  • Safety measures and labor protections for incarcerated workers should be the same as those that cover workers who are not incarcerated;
  • Incarcerated workers should receive equitable pay, be able to send money home to their families, and have a portion of their wages set aside to be given to them upon release.

“The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We hope the Committee will help to shine a light on these very dark truths and prompt the U.S. to take its obligation to make significant improvements more seriously.”

“The abuses of forced labor are inextricably tied to racial discrimination in our nation,” said Jamila Johnson, Deputy Director at the Promise of Justice Initiative.

“In Louisiana, for instance, people are still sent into the fields to labor by hand in dangerously high heat indexes, for little to no compensation, and with brutal enforcement reminiscent of slavery and the era of ‘convict leasing’.”

“This report reveals the suffering of Black people in southern U.S. prisons, whose stories of marginalization and discrimination echo the racial subjugation of slavery and convict leasing during our country’s most shameful past,” said Antonio L. Ingram II, Assistant Counsel at the Legal Defense Fund.

“Despite widespread knowledge of the longstanding racial inequalities in the criminal legal and carceral systems, the United States continues to allow egregious human rights violations to persist for Black incarcerated people in violation of international law. This report serves as a sobering reminder of how far we need to go.”

Read the full report here.

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Celebrate your birthday with 10 free items

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

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By Angelina Liu, Entertainment Editor of The Trendsetter / Texas Metro News

Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

1. Chocolate Secrets

At Chocolate Secrets, located at 3926 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219, you can celebrate your birthday by getting one free piece of candy under their candy cases.

2. WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”

Head to WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”, located at 684 W Pioneer Pkwy Suite 100, Grand Prairie, Texas 75051, to claim a free small personal daiquiri on your birthday. Quench your thirst with signature flavors such as “Strawberry Shortcake” or “Bahama Mama.”

3. Sephora

Sign up for a free, Beauty Insider account and receive your choice of 250 bonus points, Laura Mercier, Amika or Tatcha sets on your birthday. The choice of powders, lipsticks and skincare is bound to make you look fabulous for your special day.

4. Starbucks

Need a quick pick-me-up on your birthday? Starbucks has it covered! Join the Starbucks Rewards Program seven days prior to your birthday and make one purchase. Starbucks will then email you a coupon for a free food or beverage item two days before your birthday. The birthday reward qualifies for anything on the menu, including any size handcrafted drink or food item.

5. Jersey Mike’s

In the mood for a sub? Head over to Jersey Mike’s and receive a free sub and drink. Make sure to sign up for the Jersey Mike’s Subs Email Club prior to your birthday to receive this reward. Nothing tastes quite like melted cheese and meat in between a toasted baguette, along with an icy cold drink.

6. The Cheesecake Factory

Celebrating with friends? Tell your server it’s your birthday and receive a free treat as well as a song. It may be mildly embarrassing, but hey, it’s free!

7. Culver’s

Need something cold and sweet to beat the Texas heat? Head to Culver’s for a free sundae when you sign up for their rewards program. The sweet creaminess will surely not disappoint.

8. IHOP

Want to indulge in a sweet breakfast before birthday festivities? Join the International Bank of Pancakes rewards program to receive a free stack of pancakes on your birthday. Pair your pancakes with a choice of chocolate chips, syrup, fresh fruit or a dollop of whipped cream.

9. McDonald’s

Need a snack before embarking on your next birthday adventure? Download the McDonald’s app and join MyMcDonald’s Rewards to receive free large fries. Mmm, the taste and smell of fresh, perfectly salted french fries.

10. Smoothie King

Want to celebrate your birthday with a healthier option? Enjoy a birthday smoothie at Smoothie King. Download the Smoothie King app to receive this offer.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
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