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Kinder, Gentler Rivers

I’ve been inactive for a while. Still moving my limbs, and occasionally exercising my mind, but largely inactive as far as these posts go. Something the Fresh Prince of Bel Air said in his Oscars acceptance speech moved me to move my typing fingers. “I’m being called on .. to be a river to my people.” It’s a deep sentiment and actually originates from Anthony Quinn in “Lawrence of Arabia.” I have to give him both irony and chutzpah points. Leaning into the “self as river” thing minutes after slapping one of his people across the chops takes some serious stones. It’s true, rivers do have twists and turns as well as the occasional rock, twig and snake. The preposition “to” may be the key to everything. “From” or “between” would have been a different river entirely. Will Smith feels he’s being called on to get something down river to his folks. I don’t think it’s more Chris Rock jokes, but nothing is impossible.

Actually his professed calling and river metaphor feels suspiciously like something one says when trying to elicit favor from a largely sympathetic crowd. Apparently it worked. They gave him a standing ovation despite his having just smacked the shit out of a fellow performer. Which goes to show that people will buy any bullshit in the moment as long as they think you’re on the right team. For a Hollywood crowd, that team would be Team Kindness. You hear it everywhere these days; it’s as ubiquitous as a mask icon or Ukrainian flag on one side or Old Glory and an eagle on the other. But what does it mean .. “can’t we just be more kind?” Typically it’s translatable to “why can’t you just think more like me?” Kindness is inextricably linked to outcome, and how to arrive at optimum outcome seems open to debate. Might be something best discussed over a cooler of beers on a warm day floating down the River Smith.

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