The Last King of Scotland

Like katrina12 said in her post,

“Alphabetical Africa” communicates the power of  those who represent or create representation for a people-group or a place.”

I was thinking about this part of the second chapter N in Alphabetical Africa (p 117)

“Every inch the diplomat, he addresses his end…He knows Africans are easily moved by an emotional appeal…French Consul, after all, is a master at conveying his distress by lifting an eyebrow…”

In The Last King of Scotland, the most striking thing in this movie for me was Amin’s power over people through his speech. It did not matter that what he was saying was not true or just.  The way he said it convinced the listeners to think as he would like them to. For example, in the press conference scene, I couldn’t help but smile as Amin spoke. The way he used language, linking Europe’s disdain for him to the apartheid, the way he inserted humour at the right points in his speech, almost made me believe that  what he was saying (that Uganda was in perfect order, that the people “were driving big cars and eating beef”)  was true, despite what I had been shown in the movie. I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between that paragraph and Idi Amin’s press conference. In the book, that scene is even more peculiar: the French consul is able to communicate the same message to the people despite the loss of a common language (and dictionary as the book puts it). Idi Amin successfully secures public opinion for himself (albeit for a short time) through his power to communicate his views to the relevant people. Amin is a “successful” dictator because he indeed dictates to people: what they should feel about his country in relation to others (in the press conference), the decisions they should make (in making Garrigan stay).

I find that communication and the power to communicate are very striking, because of the close link between communication and representation. The power to communicate effectively, and thus give a specific representation of oneself, ultimately gives one power, as Idi Amin proved (in the movie, and in real life).

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Looking back…Abouna…Scolding…Mona Lisa…

I was re-reading Fanon yesterday and thought to add this thought to my previous post about Abouna:

When we look at something, it immediately becomes an object, both literally and grammatically. As subjects, we can pass judgment on or criticize the objects of our gaze, and not expect them to reply. We say “That table is black”, and we do not expect it to change its colour because we have already proclaimed it to be black. We say “That boy is stupid” and we do not expect him to walk up to us and tell us that he is not, because in looking at him and judging him, we now hold a certain power over him, the power somewhat similar to the type of power that a hypnotist has over his patient. Our gazing upon another object forces the object to act a certain way: that way usually being the way we have declared them to be or some other way that restricts what he can do as compared to what he would do if we were not looking.

However, what happens when the object looks back? As Angela noted in class, we felt a discomfort when Amine’s father looks directly back at us in Abouna’s opening scene. That discomfort comes from the fact that our object has now looked back, and in a sense, has now Continue reading