Well, I didn’t want to trivialize the passing of Nelson Mandela by having my dumbass post about it on my websight where I write about Van Damme movies and shit. And right in the middle of a GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS DTV sequel series. Doesn’t seem respectful. But then I started to feel like kind of an asshole for not acknowledging it at all. As much as we all liked Paul Walker, in my opinion Mandela is a more important historical figure. Not to be controversial.
I’m no expert on the topic, I’m sure I know more about the legend of Mandela than the specific historical facts. But living in the world at the same time as him was inspiring and amazing. Going through life for so many years taking for granted the story of the revolutionary jailed for opposing an unjust regime, just knowing him as a cause more than a person, then seeing him not only freed, and the wicked system he fought against ended, but seeing him become their democratically elected leader? Incredible. And then he lived to 95 and died naturally. Not bad.
It’s weird to me to think of younger people, even adults now, who don’t really remember Apartheid existing, maybe even don’t know exactly what it was. Do they teach about it in schools? I hope they learn about it but also it’s nice that it’s fading off into the past. I’m sure its legacy lives on in a million ways that still need to be dealt with, but we keep progressing, we keep trying to learn and make things better, and in general that’s the direction the world is always moving, even though it doesn’t always seem that way. So oppressors, you’re on notice. Some day your number’s gotta come up. Fuckers.
I made fun of the infamous Nikki Finke for her tastelessly tunnel vision tweet on Mandela’s passing. She made it sound like the only thing about him that mattered to her, or the only way she knew how to explain his importance, was through some bullshit about Oscar race gossip. Hilarious. I hope I’m not guilty of the same crime when I say that since this is outlawvern.com and I’m not knowledgeable enough to write a worthy tribute to the man I thought I would open up the conversation to the few areas where Mandela and the problem of Apartheid overlap with the type of movies we like to discuss here.
Spoiler for upcoming reviews, but it was weird that I had been watching LETHAL WEAPON 2 when I found out the news. In that one the bad guys are racist white South Africans, and it had me wondering why that didn’t ever become a thing in ’80s movies. We were so worried about communists we never thought to make them go-to bad guys. More on this topic in the near future.
Finke used Mandela’s death to plug that new movie where Idris Elba plays a young revolutionary Mandela. Of course I’m fond of INVICTUS, Clint’s movie with Morgan Freeman playing old leader Mandela. It’s not Clint’s masterpiece or nothin but it’s a real enjoyable movie, a solid crowdpleasing sports movie that also says some things about Mandela and leadership in general. I know Clint didn’t give a shit that it got ignored by the Oscars and everything but I honestly think it didn’t get the respect it deserved. Also I continue to be befuddled by the mystery of the guy in the comments who claimed it was a whitewash and that Mandela had the opposing team poisoned. As far as I could tell it was a conspiracy theory for fans of the other rugby team in the story, but I don’t know.
Actually the first thing that comes to mind when I think about movies and Mandela is his appearance at the end of MALCOLM X. I guess if we had the internet at the time everybody would’ve known all about it, but when I first saw him in the movie I remember thinking “holy shit, how did they…!?”
Another amazing Mandela pop culture moment was the intro he recorded for Talib Kweli’s first Reflection Eternal album.
(okay, actually it’s Dave Chappelle. That would be pretty amazing if he really got Mandela on his album though. Which is why that intro still makes me laugh.)
Of course, the best badass movie I know that has to do with the Apartheid era is the still underrated STANDER. Loosely based on a true story, Tom Jane plays a white cop (I gotta specify that so you know it’s not Tom Jane in blackface, that would be weird) who starts robbing banks and justifying it to himself as a protest against the system. The movie doesn’t portray him as a genuine revolutionary, but it has him struggling with guilt over his part in the system and haunted by horrible, legal acts he committed as a police officer. It’s a really badass movie, sometimes fun, sometimes deeply sad, and Jane is great in it.
Maybe you guys know of some other good ones I don’t know about. Anyway, R.I.P. to one of the most important figures of my lifetime.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.