In the Blog Shadow & Act in a post by Sergio the question was posed in the title: Why & How 'The Long Ships' w/ Sidney Poitier Should Be Remade. What Old Films Would You Remake?
Readers were asked to comment about what films they might remake if given the opportunity. Among the four films that I mentioned right off the top of my head was "Putney Swope," a 1969 film written & directed by Robert Downey, Sr, starring Arnold Johnson as Putney.
According to IMDB, the film is, "Dark satire in which the token black man on the executive board of an advertising firm is accidentally put in charge. Renaming the business "Truth and Soul, Inc.", he replaces the tight regime of monied white ad men with his militant brothers. Soon afterwards, however, the power that comes with its position takes its toll on Putney."
I once wrote that I hoped that in his second term as president, BHO would become more Putney than puddy. And at this point in time there is no indication that is likely to happen. So if I were to remake Putney Swope I'd move it from Madison Ave. to Pennsylvania Ave. And explore what America might be like under the first "black" Presidency. For although we have America's first African American in The White House, I think we are still waiting for a "revolutionary," black or otherwise in that job.
While many might compare Obama's breaking of the color line that ws the American Presidency up until his election in 2008, that event didn't do the same thing for Politics as with America's other favorite past time, Baseball. When Jackie Robinson broke in with The Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 the "white" game of baseball was changed forever. Not because of his color, but because of the way Jackie played the game. The Negro Leagues played a whole different type of ball, faster, more aggressive, more dynamic, more "athletic," less "cerebral." And everyone knew it, particularly Jackie's "white" competitors. They knew from thence forth once the floodgates were opened, the dam busted, they would have to elevate their game to keep their jobs.
Obama on the other hand to this point in his Presidency is playing "the game" the same as any of the forty-three other men that have come before. Indeed he's Pan-man-like, nibbled a bit around the edges, but for the most part it's been "politics-as-usual." He's been more Nat King Cole, than Nat Turner. We all knew that he couldn't appear to be a bomb thrower, because he would never have gotten elected. That was a given. But many, I think, secretly hoped that if he were fortunate enough to be elected to a second term that like Jackie, he would stop walking on eggshells, and unleash some of that righteous Chicago fire. Kick a little ass, and take names. Interestingly we are being assailed at this very moment with a story not of a black revolutionary figure in The White House, but a Butler.
As Putney says in his speech to the board after his election, "I didn't come here to rock the boat, I came here to sink it." It would be great if POTUS did at the very least some "boat rocking." Maybe Obama might channel The Hues Corporation in his second term as opposed to Stevie Wonder and we can finally have America's first Black Presidency.