Archive for Will Smith

So just what is Swagger?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2010 by prekosifa

New words are forming all the time and one which has really got me confused is the word ‘swagger’. I’d say it has impressed me because I was told by a girl my eldest daughter’s age that I had ‘swagger’, and it was definitely a good thing. I took the compliment on the chin and wore a smile for the rest of the day. But the more I thought about it the more I realised that I didn’t know just what this swagger was or what qualities I had that enabled me to get it in the first place. Was it something you were born with or grew into? And did all of my friends have it? Can girls have it? Or is it called something different for the female of the species. So many questions…so little time to find out, but a good starting point is always the dictionary, and I m not talking Oxford or Collins, I am talking etymology. You see to understand a word, you have to really know where it came from, what made up its root. So it was with the internet at my fingertips that I embarked on my epic journey of discovery.

Conjuring up images of a drunken pirates illicit booty, (that’s ‘swag’ by the way),  it would appear that its origins are not too far away.
swag•ger (sw g r) v. swag•gered, swag•ger•ing, swag•gers v.intr.
1. To walk or conduct oneself with an insolent or arrogant air; strut.2. To brag; boast.
v.tr.To browbeat or bully (someone).n 1. A swaggering movement or gait. 2. Boastful or conceited expression; braggadocio.
All the ways that you would describe a pirate, meaning both Capt Jack Sparrow and Johnny Depp have swagger.

But these definitions are a little dated even if they are basically correct because ‘Swagger’ in today’s language has turned into something good, something to aspire to having, something that all the heads on the street think they have though many come up short and it is more than being arrogant and boastful. The Urban dictionary, which allows people to illicit there own definitions and opinions had over 50 definitions for the term had the following to say

‘How one presents him or herself to the world. Swagger is shown from how the person handles a situation. It can also be shown in the person’s walk’.

‘A person’s style- they way they walk, talk, dress’.

‘Poised, sassiness that can’t be touched. It may be in the walk or it may be in the talk, but there is no doubt it means you own the room and you have that natural charisma. Basically, one with swagger dominates at life’

‘A way of walking, normally showing authority. To swagger is to walk with presence. There are several different kinds of swagger…
The Tesco Bag Swagger – to walk with clenched fists at waist height while swaying as though carrying heavy grocery bags in each hand.

The Terminator – To walk as though rigid, with no swaying whatsoever and as though an android on a mission.

DnGaf – ¨Do not give a fuck¨ swagger – To walk without a care in the world, people get in your way… not a problem!’

And the list goes on and on and on, perhaps because this is a relatively new take on an old expression. With the many different definitions that exist, there appears to be certain things that hold true throughout all of them. so we could say that a combination of things need to be present to have swagger?

Attitude – And not just any attitude. Its a ‘I don’t give a fuck’ kind of thing. It’s not attached, it’s not concerned but it is passionate and it is unforgiving. Its the kind of attitude that makes you succeed in any scenario but best of all, it doesn’t even matter if you fail.

Style – more than just the clothes you wear, it is more about how you wear, the clothes you wear. When i was younger my older bro always use to tell me to ‘wear the clothes – don’t let them wear you’. This problem explains why 2 people can rock teh same outfit and have totally different results

Presence – Being able to walk in the room and be noticed by everyone before you say a word. Gives the suggestion that you exude some kind of magnetism, some energy or force that people react positively to.

Confidence – With confidence, the very essence of your being becomes someone who is cocksure, cool, calm and collected. But more importantly, in control even when they appear not to be

So who do we see as having swagger? Can women have it? And can anyone get it?
Well in the celebrity realm the list is endless, Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Jamie Foxx, Tom Cruise, Tyrese, Harry Connick Jr, and even Johnny Vaughan the radio presenter, Women like Angelina Jolie, Thandie Newton, J-Lo, Madonna and that girl from 90210, (although feminine swagger may present with a mix of diva-ness).

You see the more I looked into it, the more I realised that swagger isn’t just one thing, and because it is a combination and what works for one guy may not work for another. So in addition tot he 3 elements above, there are two more things that should be included,

Self Belief and Ownership
The person with swagger appears to have a huge amount of self belief that is the backbone to the above qualities and more importantly perhaps the indidual takes ownership of this and all of the other qualities.

So can anyone get it?

I would love to say yes but then that wouldn’t make me one of the special few and in truth I don’t know if it is that simple

So what do i think?
I think swagger is something else entirely. I think it is an unseen energy, a electromagnetic field that surrounds the individual and from which great things can happen. And this energy field protects the occupant giving him the feeling of invincibility, perhaps. Or maybe that is the stuff of dreams and science fiction. It works for me though and would explain why it is so hard to pinpoint but so easy to recognise.

And when all of these qualities are put together it gives us the ‘special’ walk, the unmissable smile and the likeability factor that makes us recognise this quality even in people we may dislike. The fact that now it is seen as a good thing whereas in the past it originally wasn’t does make me think though. Then again swagger conjures up this image of being your own boss and not taking orders from anyone. Something that a pirate definitely as and something that, in today’s world of Govt control and powerless populations, is an attractive and extremely desirable quality.

Nollywood…anyone?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , on January 24, 2010 by prekosifa

I have been reading about the history of black people in cinema recently and it came as no surprise that black people in film have always been unfairly represented.

Originally, blacks were played by white people in early films. When we started playing ourselves, these first images were as water melon eatin’, big lipped having, always smiling subservient caricatures, who would do anything for their ‘Masser!’. Men were often seen as being cowardly bug eyed buffoons always ready to run away from trouble.

Black women were portrayed as ‘mammies’, non sexual, overweight and adorning a napkin on top of their heads or as oversexed and scantily clad harlots. The stories were even more ridiculous with the zenith of this stupidity perhaps being a film where the black ‘mammie’ maidservant gave up a huge inheritance, (and the chance of true freedom), from her invention, to stay faithfully with her white ‘owners’. The reasons for these images according to Hollywood, was that the American South would only pay to watch films where the image of a black person was what they were used to!

Even when blacks started making their own films they still continued producing the same comical characters. The era of self ridiculing had begun brought on by the fact that positive black role models in film would not be shown by mainstream American film studios. If you look at the portrayal of blacks in film today you could argue that things haven’t changed that much.

So where are we at today? Will Smith is the hottest actor on the planet, and he’s black! Surely that has to be good news right? Not necessarily because Will just fits into that other stereotype of blackness, the Superspade!, made popular in the 70’s. Will can do no wrong and earns more than the golden child Tom Cruise per picture and we see him in a huge number of different roles, mostly as a hero. It is a different kind of ridiculing, one that appears to be saying ‘all blacks can do this’, when in truth they are really saying ‘only the blacks that we create, can do this, and they don’t really exist’. From a character point of view, Will Smith is a kind of Richard Rowntree/Sidney Poitier hybrid, love child type…thing!

At first I was angered by this poor treatment of my people. I love watching films and want only to see a fair representation of my race. Then it hit me that the film industry in the first place was not created by blacks. It was and is very much a white phenomenon. And with this came the fact that white people can only show the images of blacks that they know and from their viewpoint. In short, the film industry is a white place that for years blacks have been knocking on the doors of in the hope to be accepted on equal terms. Unless you have control over all the areas of production from creation to distribution, you cannot hope to compete fairly in this arena.

Considering we are a very small part of the overall game, I think we are doing pretty well. Look, it is never going to be a level playing field because it is never going to be a level playing field, and instead of focussing our energies fighting for the scraps in this industry and in effect bolstering its profits, we need to be bold and start our very own.

Black film makers for years, have been looking for a way out through this white mans world, rather than start their own shit! The only way we can have a fair reflection of our race is by running our own studios. The Jewish built Hollywood, India has Bollywood and the Japanese have their film industry. Nigeria’s Nollywood is our guiding light.

Admittedly when I first watched these films I thought they were terrible. Bad plots, terrible acting and crappy technical work seemed to be a staple. But a year later I am beginning to see changes, better scripts, better acting, in fact, better everything. It is only a matter of time before they can compete on bigger terms, and this is how it should be. Old Hollywood films were not much cop either, (and some stuff that comes out now is truly shite!). But isn’t this just a part of the learning curve?

Now when I watch films and begin to get pissed off at the racial stereotyping, I just remind myself that it doesn’t matter and what I am viewing is just someone else’s image of me.

It will only really matter if we don’t now realise that there is something we can do about it.

A dilemma you don’t need

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2009 by prekosifa

Last week I saw an interview about a man in New Zealand who had to make the ultimate choice. The car that was carrying his wife and 13 year old son crashed into a river and began to sink, the man, unable to save both of them had to make a choice as to who to save. He opted for his wife and had to watch as the car, which was trapping his son, began to sink. He prayed for a miracle but sadly his son perished.

The interviewee asked him why he chose his wife, and he couldn’t answer. He didn’t know why. All he knew was he could only get to one of them and he did what he did. The first thing that the host said to her colleagues afterwards was that her natural reaction would be to save her child, in fact, she implied that that would be the logical choice of any rational parent faced with the same dilemma. Then, I think realising that she was in fact judging this man, she quickly rounded off the story, concluding that it was an impossible horrible choice to have to make in the first place.

But I saw that she didn’t agree with his choice.

This led me to start thinking about it in more depth. Who would I honestly choose to save?, My son, No doubt in my mind. Friends and family I have asked have all said they would do the same. But then, that is making this decision from the comfort of my own home, safely dry and nowhere near a river. The reality of course must be different, so either the people I am asking are all liars, or there is something else going on here.

Is it fair to say that a mother will always opt for saving her child, no matter what?. The mothering instinct is incredibly strong afterall and the child is often seen as being being more important to a mother than her own life. That is not to say that men do not feel the same way about their offspring, but I can understand why a man would save his wife instead. It may be his soul mate, his whole reason for being, someone he cannot live without. But what if its more than that, more scientific. Freud says that everything we do, we ultimately do for ourselves and our own benefit.

This is almost an identical premise to what happened in the film, I Robot, with Will Smith. In that instance a robot made the logical choice to save the hero instead of a child. Maybe unknowingly, this man made a purely logical choice based on a number of factors like, the time in the river, the age of the victims and the chances of survival. The brain can do some amazing things and it’s not until we are tested that we see evidence of it in action, maybe at that moment the part of the brain that we do not fully understand did a calculation and this was the result. In addition, given the fact that you can have more children, he perhaps logically made the correct overall decision.

Truth is we can never really know the answer and it is unfair to judge this man based on what he did, but judge him many people will do, unable to get past the fact that, in their eyes, he let his child die.

But going forward what will life be like for this couple?

Watching the interview, with the husband and wife side by side in grief, I suddenly realised that they may never get over this. I can envisage a time in the future that the wife blames the husband for the choice he made. I can see questions arising about whether he felt the same love for his son as she did. I can see hatred rearing its ugly head and dividing this couple straight down the middle. She may not see that in saving her he made the ultimate sacrifice for her, one that he believed and hoped he could live with. In a way I suppose it is the ultimate compliment, someone risking their own life to save you, dragging you out of a car and knowing that his son lay dying feet away. This man had to live with the absolute moment of realisation, when he saw that he couldn’t get to his boy, when he realised he couldn’t save him.

When the arguments start, I fear all of these factors will be forgotten. It will simply come down to one basic fact – ‘you let our child die, a child who had so much more to live for than me’.

I hope this couple get through what they are about to go through. I hope that they can reach a level of understanding and not make the tragedy mean anything in particular. It doesn’t mean he didn’t love his son, it didn’t mean he loved his wife more. It didn’t mean anything. At that moment, when the car went into the lake he went into automatic, his brain studied the situation and made the choice for him. His body followed the instructions sent and he saved a life.

And that is what is important

Asking this man why he did what he did isn’t.

In the same situation, what would you honestly do?