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The Army Just Decided That Soldiers Cannot Be Referred To As ‘Negros’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 8th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

The Army Just Decided That Soldiers Cannot Be Referred To As ‘Negros’

What year is it?

The post The Army Just Decided That Soldiers Cannot Be Referred To As ‘Negros’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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CREDIT: Shutterstock

The U.S. Army just removed “Negro” from its command policy, 24 hours after the word was discovered in regulation AR 600-20.

The Army Command Policy issued on October 22 said that “Negro” was an acceptable term to describe troops, under its race and ethnic code definition section. The document stated that “‘Haitian’ or ‘Negro’ can be used in addition to ‘Black” or ‘African American.’” It is unclear how long the word was included in the document.

A new version of the command policy released on Wednesday took out the word altogether.

On Thursday, Army spokeswoman and Lt. Col. Alayne Conway said in an official statement, “The U.S. Army fully recognized, and promptly acted, to remove outdated language in Army Regulation 600-20 as soon as it was brought to our attention. The Army takes pride in sustaining a culture where all personnel are treated with dignity and respect.” The statement also alleges that the definitions were included in an attempt to “provide (equal opportunity) and fair treatment for military personnel and family members without regard to race, color, gender, religion, national origin, and provide an environment free of unlawful discrimination and offensive behavior.”

This was not the first questionable policy targeting African-Americans in the Army. For instance, the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms guidelines discriminate against black women’s natural hairstyles by banning twists, headbands, dreadlocks, or multiple braids longer than a quarter-inch.

The post The Army Just Decided That Soldiers Cannot Be Referred To As ‘Negros’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

The Gory Truth Of ‘Nightcrawler’

Jake Gyllenhaal in his creepiest role yet.

The post The Gory Truth Of ‘Nightcrawler’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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CREDIT: Screenshot, “Nightcrawler” trailer

Nothing stays bloodless for long in Nightcrawler, the debut feature by writer-director Dan Gilroy that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Nightcrawlers are freelance videographers who chase the goriest crimes by night to sell footage of the carnage to newscasts by morning. Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal, who with this performance is putting up a good fight against his ex’s news cycle dominance this week), is an enterprising psycho who wants to become one. He is utterly indifferent to the lives of those around him and he speaks entirely in business jargon. He fakes it until he makes it, selling himself as the president of a non-existent video production news corporation, building the myth on the cocky assumption that reality will follow in due course.

Just the sound of that word, nightcrawler, gives you the feeling of the movie. We’re dealing with some slithering, stealthy predator who only operates in darkness—not only literal, dusk-to-dawn darkness, but an internal darkness. He has a black hole where his soul should be.

Lou pitches himself as a hustling, scrappy hard worker who wants to make his way in the business world, constantly referring to his willingness to start at the bottom and work his way up to management. Lou is never not negotiating; by the time someone insists they aren’t negotiating with him, as multiple people do throughout the film, it’s too late. Gyllenhaal comes off as a cross between American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman—slick, sociopathic, a too-smooth surface with a moral vacuum beneath—and Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks: hyper-precise, chipper in the face of tragedy, with a tendency toward overly formal diction. He is ruthless and cunning and occupies this sort of Uncanny Valley space: just close enough to human to be very, very eerie.

Perhaps the most disturbing element of Nightcrawler is the alarming ethical elasticity of everyone around Lou: their willingness to, in the face of desperation, opportunity, or, as is most often the case, a corruption-ready cocktail of the two, acquiesce to his horrific and unquestionably immoral demands. Lou is a monster, but he looks like Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s gorgeous-grotesque. And knowing how pliable we all are in the face of people we find attractive, it is especially unnerving to see how the people around Lou can be manipulated with what appears to be very little effort on Lou’s part. These are just people who live, as most people do, in an ethical gray area: the kind of people who want to do the right thing when everything is going right but, in the face of things going wrong, are tempted to veer in the other direction.

Everyone who comes in contact with Lou, though, seems like they just met the wrong guy at the wrong time and the wrongness of their choices and situations escalated accordingly. As the news producer who first takes Lou’s bait, Rene Russo masterfully sells the idea that she is simultaneously turned on and repulsed by Lou. She facilitates his rise, even when it means giving him total power over her professional and personal fate. Rick (Riz Ahmed) the broke, homeless high school grad who can’t land a job, is skeptical but too down on his luck to have the luxury of reading the fine print in Lou’s offer of an “internship” at Lou’s fake video news business. He’s naïve but skeptical, jittery as a junky, a teenager in need of a mentor. You want to jump through the screen at him and tell him to run, run away, run anywhere at all, but he doesn’t have anyplace else to go. Everyone gets screwed by Lou, even resident moral compass Frank, played by Kevin Rahm (who you may recognize as Ted, the guy who screwed over Peggy on Mad Men. Fictional karma is real!)

Pulsing through the tense, violent two hours is this broad critique of exploitation. Lou exploits everyone, usually via a one-two punch of corporate platitudes and extortion, and for this he is as detestable as his victims are pitiable. But he is just a link on a chain of exploitation that he didn’t create and probably couldn’t stop, even if he wanted to, which he obviously doesn’t. Everyone’s complicit in the crime, even his on-screen pawns. Even the audience. If nobody tuned in for stories about wealthy, white suburbanites being viciously attacked by assailants of color, for instance, no news station would bother to air them.

Nightcrawler wants us to hate the usual suspects: the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality of news, the way we take other people’s murders with our breakfast cereal as naturally as we take our coffee. Yet the end result of that wide accusation is as slippery as Lou: what is it, exactly, we’re supposed to leave feeling? Vague, unfocused rage? At what? The futility of law enforcement in the face of exceptionally clever criminals? Television news? Some anchorless, faceless system? What could be a wide-ranging satire ends up overreaching. Gyllenhaal’s Lou is powerful and creepy as all get-out, but to what end? Was I supposed to walk away thinking that sociopaths are the worst? Is that supposed to be some kind of earth-shattering thesis?

The movie exists in a heightened reality, satirizing instead of strictly observing, so it is a little to the left of the point to suggest that anything about it isn’t “realistic.” That said, it is a little distracting to think too hard about the way Lou goes about his nightcrawling. Isn’t this whole enterprise a little… analog? Seems like Lou, a self-proclaimed hater of humanity, would be much more likely to post his findings online and get money through clicks and adds, instead of offering his tapes around—this is the most distractingly backwards part—by showing up, in person, at dawn, to the news station he hopes will buy them. And the idea that this is, every single night, actually a thing that happens — that freelancers with video cameras chase the most horrific scenes of carnage, then shill those wares to the highest bidder — is jarring for the same reason (although if so, wow, The Today Show is a WAY more sordid dog-and-pony operation than I ever would have believed).

Nightcrawler‘s cast is killer — it’s worth it for the performances alone — but seeing this neo-noir means settling in for two hours of feeling uneasy and more than a little sick to your stomach. There are sharp jolts of humor, depending on your sensibilities. Did you laugh at the black comic moments in Gone Girl? Do you like Heathers? You’ll probably laugh, sometimes just to release the tension, while watching Nightcrawler.

Just be prepared for some weirdness, an overwhelming sense of despair, and blood. Lots and lots of blood.

The post The Gory Truth Of ‘Nightcrawler’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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