Culture Feature

Boots Riley Drops Major Truth Bombs in Endorsement for Bernie Sanders

Boots Riley recognizes the need for radical direct action––Because without radical direct action, nobody will listen and nothing will change.

CREDIT: GRIFFIN LIPSON/BFA/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

Boots Riley, the activist, rapper, writer, and director behind Sorry to Bother You–the most underrated movie of 2018 (although that's to be expected from majority white mainstream media when it comes to a biting satire about code switching and capitalist enslavement of black people)–has taken to Twitter with his endorsement of Bernie Sanders.

In a phenomenal thread spanning 33 tweets, Riley lays out his reasoning behind supporting Sanders, despite the fact that he has never previously voted for a presidential candidate. His words speak to the experiences of many Sanders' supporters (especially circa 2016) and reflect the ideological core that sets leftists apart from liberals.

Riley's thread outlines his belief that in order to have actual "democracy," we need to live in "a world in which the people democratically control the wealth that we create with our labor."

Riley recognizes the need for leftist activists, or "radicals," to push us in that direction through direct action––Because without direct action, nobody will listen. Riley traces movements that fall in this vein, from the Anti-Iraq War movement (whereby millions of people took to the streets but were ineffective in convincing anyone with the necessary power to stop the war) to the Occupy Movement (which brought discussions of capitalism and the 1% into the mainstream public conscience) to Black Lives Matter (which spoke out against cops disregarding the lives of black people and ultimately proved that even communal anger rarely results in any action from those in power).

"We must have movements with teeth," Riley says. "Ones that are able to force the hands of power."

To this end, Riley sees value in radical, militant labor movements wherein workers organize to strike in solidarity and in large enough numbers to shut down business. Riley points to Wayfair furniture workers' successful strike to stop the company from working with ICE and 20,000 Google workers rolling work stoppage walkouts to force management into addressing issues including workplace sexual harassment.

In a hyper-capitalist society, collective movements with the power to shut down industries by withholding labor might very well be the only way to ensure representation and effect change.

Ultimately, Riley clarifies that he doesn't necessarily agree with Bernie on every single thing but that Bernie is the only candidate propped up by a movement consisting of millions of actual working class people who are actively banding together to engage in necessary class struggle.

Funnily enough, another Twitter user presumably read through Riley's entire thread and still said, "I like what you're saying here. Will you show up to vote for any of the other candidates if Bernie doesn't win the nomination?"

To which Riley concisely responded, "Nope."

Many, many people, especially working class people who fall along various lines of intersectionality, do not feel represented in American politics. Donald Trump may be an especially rancid embodiment of the racism and corporate greed at America's political core, but we can't pretend that centrist Democrats have the best interest of working class people at heart either, even if their social policies are slightly better.

The truth is that most politicians on both sides of the aisle are bought out by corporate interests, lobbyists, and the uber-wealthy––or, alternatively, fall into the uber-wealthy class themselves, and they aim to use their vast wealth to buy their way into government positions. None of these politicians, with their corporate donors or billions of dollars, give two sh*ts about people who work full-time and can barely afford rent and food.

But that's the beauty of a grassroots movements like the one surrounding Bernie Sanders. His supporters aren't corporations and lobbyists. They're working class people who are sick and tired of not being represented in American government––not just by Trump, but by the entire two-party system. There's a reason that, despite Bernie Sanders leading all other democratic candidates in support from non-white voters (not to mention overall support), mainstream corporate media has continued to bash him at every turn while continually posting op-eds with headlines like, "It's time to give the elites a bigger say in choosing the president."

Don't get tricked into believing that having a common enemy in Trump automatically puts leftists and liberals on the same side. The liberals who support candidates like Biden, Buttigieg, and especially Bloomberg–insisting that everyone must be united to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 while parroting the racist, sexist Bernie Bro myth to erase the women and POC who support Sanders in massive numbers–are the same breed of "white moderate" that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned about:

"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a 'more convenient season.'"

Nobody is obligated to "hold their nose" and vote for a transphobic, racist, sexist like Mike Bloomberg, and doing so isn't such a far cry from all the Trump voters who claimed to dislike the things Trump says but voted for him anyways. Moreover, there's practically a zero percent chance that Bernie won't have a plurality of delegates going into the Democratic National Convention, especially considering his overwhelming support among individual voters. Nominating anyone other than Bernie in this case would prove that the DNC isn't aligned with the American people, so take heed. If the DNC wants to force a choice between oligarchs, they should prepare for a lot of people to abstain.

Culture News

Is Carole Baskin Inheriting a Haunted "Indian" Burial Ground with Tiger King Zoo?

Current owner Jeff Lowe claims there are bodies, including "a young American Indian boy," buried on the property

It was recently reported that Carole Baskin had been awarded the property of the Tiger King Zoo—formerly the G.W. Zoo—in Wynnewood, Oklahoma after a judgment found in her favor.

As fans of the Netflix docuseries Tiger King will know, her long-standing legal feud with Joe Exotic (AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage, né Shreibvogel) over his violation of the Big Cat Rescue trademark resulted in a million dollar settlement in her favor. But for the most part Exotic managed to dodge paying Baskin through a series of illegal property transfers that temporarily protected his animal park from seizure.

Now that Exotic is in prison for attempting to have Baskin murdered—along with illegal animal trafficking and several violations of the Endangered Species Act—a judge has finally ruled that the park is hers, and she will be taking over ownership of the 16-acre property later this year. But Jeff Lowe—the park's current owner and the personification of a mid-life crisis—insists that there are no hard feelings, saying, "She deserves this property."

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TV

The 5 Best TV Tributes to D&D

Including those incredible "Stranger Things" scenes.

With Halloween coming up, I thought it was time to revisit the phenomenon that was the first season of Stranger Things.

Three years ago it took over our entire culture for two weeks, and reintroduced the world to the wonders of Dungeons and Dragons. The first season is perfectly framed by the four young friend's passionate investment in an epic tabletop quest—informing their battle with the Demagorgon, their understanding of the Upside Down, and foreshadowing the events of season two in the finale. It was charming and fun, and many of us were sucked into a love affair with the endless possibilities of D&D. But then, in season three, Stranger Things betrayed us.

Suddenly, D&D wasn't a priority anymore! Just because everyone has girlfriends now, we're not supposed to immerse ourselves in an imaginary world of magic and wonder? Bullshit! Will is the only one who gets it, and he's dressed like a moron.

Will Byers, Dressed Like a Moron in Stranger Things Season 3 What are you wearing, Will?!


Luckily, there are other TV shows that have professed their love for D&D without turning their backs. So let's take a look at the best D&D tribute episodes in TV history.

Community: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

Troy Barnes, extolling the virtues of D&D

Community creator Dan Harmon loves Dungeons & Dragons so much that he has a show dedicated to animating D&D sessions. So when the study group gets together in the second season (the best one…) to help "Fat Neil" by playing the most epic D&D campaign in history, you can expect it to be legit. Everything from the LOTR voice-over opening, to Danny Pudi's earnest devotion to his DM duties, and Donald Glover's basic misunderstanding of the game—"Shouldn't there be a board, or pieces, or something to Jenga?"—is handled perfectly. And when Pierce's narcissism leads to the party splitting, and Neil losing his most prized magical items, the stakes suddenly become real, and the rest of the study group must use all their cunning and skill to save the day.

The episode is so good, Community actually did a follow up in season five—"Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons"—with David Cross reconnecting with Mike from Breaking Bad. Also worth a watch, and notable for not including Ken Jeong in drow-blackface.

Justin Trudeau

Freaks and Geeks: Discos and Dragons

James Franco, Before it Was Too Late

It's fitting that the series finale of the highly underrated Freaks and Geeks ends with one of TVs best tributes to D&D. The titular geeks are strong advocates and the game is helmed by possibly the greatest dungeon master in history, whose low affect air of authority lends necessary gravitas to the scene.

Best. DM. Ever.

The thrust of their session is the transformation of Daniel, played by James Franco, changing his alignment from Freak (effortlessly cool idiot) to geek (enthusiastic nerd). And isn't it fun to imagine a world in which someone interceded in time to prevent James Franco from becoming pure evil?

iZombie: Twenty Sided, Die

Clive Babineaux, Getting Into It

Another entry in the category of underrated shows showing love for D&D, iZombie is the story of Liv Moore (... get it?) a medical examiner who mixes drugs with energy drinks and gains the ability to absorb dead people's personalities and memories by eating their brains. Standard stuff. In Twenty Sided, Die, the corpse in question is a devoted dungeon master, and must play through a campaign with her friends in order to unlock the dead man's memories. Liv's fellow ME, Ravi Chakrabarti, is a reliable nerd, and dives right into the role playing with some solid accent work, but the real fun comes from the stoic Detective Babineaux, who begins the session with an eyeroll, and finishes on the edge of his seat, more invested than anyone. You love to see it, and the resulting fan art is choice.

Earl

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Honorable Mention: Mazes and Monsters

Tom Hanks Beginning His Illustrious Career

While technically not a TV show, 1982's Mazes and Monsters deserves to be on this list both for giving Tom Hanks his first starring role, and for being the only TV movie to ever acknowledge the frightening power of tabletop role playing. Produced at the height of a panic over what D&D was doing to our children, M&M follows Robbie Wheeling, a stressed out student whose first exposure to role playing leads to a total psychotic break from reality. His friends must track his alter ego, Pardue the Holy Man through the bowels of New York City to save his life. The entire film is a masterpiece, available for free on YouTube, but you only need to see one scene, near the end, to know that Tom Hanks deserves at least four more Oscars.