Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cool Relations

It isn’t always fun to be the person stuck between two groups, but John Shaft seems to do this with ease.  He minimizes any problems he can between his African-American neighbors and his white police counterparts.  The coolness of Shaft is mainly dependent on the time period, the 1970’s but there are themes in Shaft’s cool that can still be seen today.  His ability to maneuver around the tough issue of friction between races is his coolest attribute.  

There is another character that comes to mind that also has this great ability, Atticus Finch.  In the book and film To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch is a lawyer in a small town in segregated Alabama.  He represents a black man, Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping a white woman.  Though all evidence points to his innocence the town sides with the white woman only because Tom is black.  Atticus is full devoted to his job and is able to keep his chin high while defending Tom.  Though he and his family face many forms of ridicule for representing Tom, he always is respectable and conducts himself in the most gentleman-like way possible.  He does not fit the type of cool that John Shaft portrays in any other ways except how he fights for justice and deals with race relations.  He is not the ladies man like Shaft and chooses not to show his children violence (such as not revealing to them that he was the best shot in the county).  Maybe Shaft could have taken a lesson from Atticus, but maybe Shaft had to have more violence to get his way.

Maybe Shaft is hinting towards the black version of James Bond.  They have many similarities, but I would prefer not to discuss them right now since our final paper will discuss James Bond.  Mainly his way with women, his since of justice, and his use of violence are incredibly similar to that of Bond.

I hope that the type of cool that Shaft maintains through his position in working with his own race and the majority race will soon die out.  I do not mean that I hope we no longer can cooperate, but I think it has been well past time to move on from focusing on race and work together for the betterment of society.  I know that sounds so idealistic, it is, but it is something that should not even cross our minds any longer, the race of another person.  Luckily we are making strides and one day maybe we will get there, together.


  1. Your last paragraph strikes at a debate that has been going on for a long time - post-race society vs. race-conscious society. Our president when he was elected was calling for post-race society, yet commentators on Inauguration Day could do little else but point out his blackness.

    Do you think there is no value in talking about race? Or do you think talking about it keeps it in the conversation, thus in mind, thus as an issue?

  2. W.E.B asks some questions that I want to hear the answers to as well.

  3. I liked your post! I ADORE Atticus Finch!

    Atticus Finch fought racism on a legal, more realistic playing field while James Bond fights crimes in a grand, explosive, sexy women-laden arena.

    Between the two, where do you think Shaft fits, exactly? What are his more Atticus-like traits in relation to his more Bond-like traits? Who is he more like?

  4. I am not sure what the best way to address race really is. I do think that when we keep talking about it, it remains in the mind and then thoughts of race and division are present. My main thought is that it is still an issue and maybe we need to take a slightly different approach.

  5. I have to say that I honestly think that Shaft is more Bond-like. He just seems to lack something of the quality of Atticus Finch, he isn't noble enough in his deeds to be more like Atticus. But he also is missing something in the Bond area, the swagger it seems.