Sunday, March 23, 2014

"A long time me look for the I"

Rockers, made in 1978, it's a fairly authentic portrait of Jamaican musician life at the time, from wikipedia: "The main rocker Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, for example, is shown living with his actual wife and kids and in his own home. The recording studios shown are the famous Harry J Studios where many roots reggae artists recorded during the 1970s including Bob Marley." The film features a lot of musical talent, for example the better known Gregory Issac, Big Youth, and Jacob Miller, would die 2 years later in a car accident at the age of 27*. It's worth watching for the 70s style and it's musical moments. It also feels artistically constructed in a way films rarely are anymore. From Horsemouth's hat to records themselves, circles are a reoccurring element in the film. *(here's Horsemouth in 2012 talking about Jacob Miller and claiming a policeman who tasked with taking Jacob to the hospital post car crash, first stopped for a beer, in part because he was a Rasta).

If you know much about Jamaica, you're probably familiar with the trope of the rich "society" people and or the police being corrupt and predative. It's a common theme seen in a lot of Jamaica's cultural output, even today. Rockers is one part the bicycle thief and one part Robin Hood, and is driven (all be it slowly) by this trope. In this case a well to do Jamaican who runs a resort catering to white tourists is also stealing all manner of goods and storing them in a big warehouse, presumably to be turned around resold on the street.

The fact that Rastafarians are marginalized and occasionally run into discrimination is touched upon too. At one point in the middle of the film, Horsemouth is pushed to the ground, only to get up an turn to the address the camera about how as a Rasta he would never resort to violence. However, later when getting his robin hood like revenge, he and others can be seen beating people up. It seems to suggest at a bit of hypocrisy, or at least question whether it's possibly to stay so virtuous in a corrupt environment.

When the robin hood quest is complete, the hot items are re-stolen out of the warehouse and put on the street for free. Even though it's a victory, there's a sense that there is one more circular element for us to discover, and that's the tit-for-tat viscous cycle of injury and retribution, one that has the ability to lead to greater violence, like in the 1976 and later 1980 elections when Jamaica had it's share division and tit for tat (serious) gun violence. Up next for me is the earlier [and probably stronger] film "The Harder They Come" starring Jimmy Cliff.

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