WHFS: Candyman Film Appreciation part 1

Long story short:

[pulls up conversation between WHFS founders] 

“B: Honest take – is CandyMan worth seeing?

G: I liked it, but I felt like it had about twenty minutes cut out that should have been thereI dug the central thesis of the movie though It just felt a little undercooked

E: Honestly— I thought it was fun despite there being some kind of “social commentary” about police brutality and making monsters out of people

It was fun in the way that the previous version was fun to watch as a kid

What do you mean undercooked 

G: Story wasnt fully fleshed out and they had to jam a shitload of exposition into one scene when it should have breathed more” 

Short story long, what do I think of Candyman? Well…

[holds flashlight up to face. Ominous music plays] One school year in Denver I was substituting in various schools—typically middle schools. I spent a curious amount of time as an art teacher working with students making zines. As a lover of comics, this was fun because zines are a traditionally underground style that made before comic books were mainstream. Like any school subject, some students got into the assignment more then others, all of them at least tried. Some of their zine content was silly and others were serious. Two topics cropped up at every school I taught: climate change and police brutality.

The latter topic the most covered topic. This was somewhere between the murder of Elijah McCain in nearby Aurora and the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. The students’ zines communicated that they were not confident in adults’ ability to address their fears of being harassed by police on their way to and from school.

At the time, my degree in school was more towards the topic of climate change and the more I conversed with Denver’s students the more they brought me to the realization that climate change and police brutality are not far removed. Because of those students I don’t think climate change just involves weather, energy, waste management, construction materials, and distribution companies—climate change includes our cultural climate. The atmosphere of our spaces isn’t just the temperature, it’s how we interact within and between communities.

It is no coincidence that BIPOC communities feel the impacts of climate crisis more deeply then their non-BIPOC counterparts. The brutality of the police, the atmosphere of colonialist supremacy is what is ruining our environments. Toxicity on this planet is stemming from the greed, control and brutality from supremacist mentalities (this is, in part, the mentality of having authority and control over every aspect of this world and space while oppressing or denying others the right to sovereignty) and it’s driving us all further into one climate catastrophe after another.

When we can change our culture- to-culture atmosphere for the better—more compassionate, more loving, more equitable —we will finally see a difference in humanity’s environmental impact. This is all what I learned from middle schoolers and it’s somewhat terrifying because many of us have lost hope in supremacist finding their lost souls.

[turns off flashlight. Ominous music turns into woodsy oboes]

Beyond zines and Comics this newest version of an old myth, Candyman, gives us a piece of art that is not only entertainment it’s a conversation piece that reflects humanities past and present conditions of ethnocentrism and xenophobia.

So let’s get into the film then—

The further I get into the horror genre the deeper it gets. Horror may be niche but it’s a vast genre because each culture and each person has fears that are particular to them.

What scares white supremacist deeply to their core? 

Having to face and reckon with their past. 

Sure not every supremacist is white and not all white people are supremacist but I’m talking about the spot on the venn diagram where they are. White supremacist are afraid that what they’ve done to others is going to be done to them, that they’ll have to pay for the sins of their foremothers and forefathers. They’re so afraid of it they’ve tried to rewrite history, deny genocide, skew media coverage, hide war records, create their own definitions of Just War that suit their missions, and play victim whenever anyone retaliates against their atrocities overseas or domestically by calling it terrorism (and then create Gitmo to act out their rage whilst pretending lady justice doesn’t know their names and doesn’t follow them to their graves). White supremacist culture is so afraid of real justice they’ll do anything to stop it and say anything to make whatever they’re doing seem just in their own eyes. This recent act of domestic terrorism on Jan 6th is a fine example of their cowardly delusions. For more information about delusions of supremacy see Children of the Corn (Kiersch, Franz 1984)

That’s why this film, Candyman, is so brilliant. It’s a fun campy movie for everyone and yet it pokes at what white supremacists can’t control no matter how badly they want to— the afterlife.

This film is not about scaring supremacist. That’s just a fringe benefit. This film is about a lot (that we’ll explore in part II). The spooky element of this film is myth of Candyman and how it evolves over time. There are so many kinds of ghosts that exist in story lore. Ghosts with unfinished business, those who are reluctant to let life go, those who are angry, ghosts who seek revenge, ghosts of suicide (To explore this topic more look to Hungry Ghosts by Anthony Bourdain. And of course If you’re having suicidal thoughts definitely reach out to someone you trust, a therapist, or a hotline to gather perspective on why those ghosts are haunting you so you can makes moves to free yourself from those ghosts). Candyman, what kind of ghost is he? What residual energy is left when a man is abused unnecessarily by his enemy. What kind of ghost manifests when a person has no enemy but another person sees him as the enemy? Is there a name for that kind of ghost?

I see Candyman 

as less of a story of a revengeful ghost and more of a story of who is left when someone is murdered by an abusive, oppressive system.

Candyman is a not just a story 

about racism and hate it is a story about love, forbidden love.

Love of people we’re not supposed to love 

Love of places we’re “not supposed to be”.

Love of fame gained by selling our trauma and pain in our art.

Candyman is not just a story though, he’s a myth, which is much more powerful then a story. And This concludes part I of this FA. In part II we look more deeply about the myth behind the man. how this film is characterized by love, we’ll also explore some interviews with director Nia Decosta, and maybe even come to some conclusions about what the writers are trying to say about turning trauma into art. I hope this gives you more time to see the film.

Thanks for reading with your eyes, ears and hands. Raise hell peacefully

Anne Arkhane

P.s. also on my film list this week is Tigers Are Not Afraid directed by Issa Lopez (2016)

P.s.s. I apologize for typos I know they can grind peoples’ nerves but I’m literally trying to type these on an iPhone and just like you’re not paid to read them I’m not laid to write them. That being said this months drink of choice is a cheers tho this film and also a cheers to the upcoming and long awaited release of Antlers

When your choice is only as good as your options choose Akademia’s Death Ripper. Remember, alcohol isn’t the only option but when you’re old enough and choose that option Akademia is a good choice amongst good choices.

Picture still from Nia DeCosta’s Little Woods

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