Monday, September 8, 2014

"Fort Apache the Bronx"

Thirty-three years after it first came out, the movie "Fort Apache the Bronx" brought itself into my mind yesterday. I wondered how it would hold up over time, this tale of a police precinct, its problems, its corruptions, its cruelties and kindnesses. So I watched a bit and thought that in its way, it was more convincing and on-target than the latter-day approaches to racism and poverty with their sometimes oozing understandings.
The movie is woven with "niggers" and "spics" and bits of random despair and death that seem explicable and yet the neatness of a blog or caring analyst fall flat ... just like real life. The movie was roundly criticized in its time.

Making nice about what is palpably not nice seems to add one more layer of not-niceness to an honestly not-nice mix. Where survival in a racist setting is the game, how helpful is it to wail, "Oh lawsy, lawsy! Racism is on the loose!"

Cops getting by in a cruel environment. Hard-pressed and largely poor residents getting by on the scraps their society made available. When everyone is corrupt by necessity, what happens to the meaning of "corruption?"

The movie may be a bit brittle around the edges, but it also has some gut-level honesty that feels refreshing ... if "refreshing" is exactly the right word.

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