Monday, February 15, 2010

Black History Month Heroes: Terence Mann from "Field of Dreams"

We have stated that the day will come when movies from Pre-Obama America that showcase the close correlation between harmony, peace and happiness with a homogeneous population will result in the banning of thousands of films.

One of those movies will be Field of Dreams, a movie that glorifies baseball and the era of segregation as few films have ever attempted and yet, remains a beloved classic in spite of this faux pas.

Made in 1989, the film centers around Ray Kinsella's quest to find out the meaning of the voices he is hearing that persuade him to erect a baseball field in the middle of his Iowa farm. Played by Kevin Costner, Kinsella displays the "awe-shucks" qualities of Middle American Radicals that are constantly being derided by Disingenuous White Liberals.

Funny, Kinsella is actually a radical flower-child, a byproduct of the 1960s revolutionary movement that saw its true culmination with the coronation of Mein Obama. It could be stated that Kinsella is a DWL, for he was influenced heavily by the writings of Black radical Terence Mann:
The author Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) is fictional but inspired by the life of reclusive author J.D. Salinger. Salinger is the author sought by the main character in the original novel. In 1947, Salinger wrote a story called "A Young Girl In 1941 With No Waist At All", featuring a character named Ray Kinsella. Later, Salinger's most famous work, The Catcher in the Rye, features a minor character named Richard Kinsella, a classmate of the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, who digresses a lot in an "Oral Composition" class. (Richard Kinsella is the name of Ray's twin brother in the original novel.)
Terence Mann - played by the formidable, inimitable James Earl Jones - is a writer of profound importance in the film, for his work was vital to the cultural movement of the 1960s that helped overthrow the boring, WASP establishment and he helped cultivate a a disgust of all things traditional.

His book "The Boat Rocker" was important enough to (seemingly) forever erode the bond of the father-son relationship between the Kinsella's, although that bond would deemed immutable at the films stunning climax:
Ray Kinsella: By the time I was ten, playing baseball got to be like eating vegetables or taking out the garbage. So when I was 14, I started to refuse. Could you believe that? An American boy refusing to play catch with his father.
Terence Mann: Why 14?
Ray Kinsella: That's when I read "The Boat Rocker" by Terence Mann.
Terence Mann: [rolling his eyes] Oh, God.
Ray Kinsella: Never played catch with him again.
Terence Mann: You see? That's the sort of crap people are always trying to lay on me. It's not my fault you wouldn't play catch with your father.
After the movie, credulous people searched in vain for this book, unaware of its fictional status. More importantly, Ray's wife was instrumental in keeping the lily-white Parent Teacher Association (PTA) from banning Mann's work from the curriculum:
Annie Kinsella: Terence Mann was a voice of reason during a time of great madness. Where others were chanting, "Burn, baby burn", he was talking about love and peace and prosperity. He coined the phrase, "Make love, not war". I cherished every one of his books, and I dearly wish he had written some more. And if you experienced even a little bit of the sixties, you would feel the same way, too.
Beulah: [indignantly] I *experienced* the sixties.
Annie Kinsella: No, I think you had two fifties and moved right into the seventies.
Terence Mann was a writer of vast importance. His work transcended race, class and created a revolutionary mindset that paved the way for the dismantling of Pre-Obama America. However, if genius is truly - as F. Scott Fitzgerald stated - the ability to hold to differing opinions at the simultaneously, then Mann is an intellectual giant.

Field of Dreams ends up being a film about ghosts returning to play baseball and these ghost(s) are all of the same race as Patrick Swayze from the film of the same name, hearkening back to the time when baseball was played only by white players. Not one baseball player who plays on the field in Iowa is Black, but when Mann arrives he is overwhelmed by the grandeur he views.

Though he is a radical and he distanced himself from his past and became a computer programmer, Mann still has a fondness for baseball that can only be personified by the white players that come to Iowa:
[Ray explains Terence Mann's "pain" to Annie]
Ray Kinsella: The man wrote the best books of his generation. And he was a pioneer of the Civil Rights and the anti-war movement. I mean, he made the cover of Newsweek. He knew everybody. He did everything. And he helped shape his time. I mean, the guy hung out with The Beatles! But in the end, it wasn't enough. What he missed was baseball.
[Annie looks at Ray's notes]
Annie Kinsella: Oh, my God!
Ray Kinsella: What?
Annie Kinsella: As a small boy, he had a bat named Rosebud.
Mann hated the world of Pre-Obama America, so he worked overtime to defeat it and bring a revolution where the mere thought of the United States of the 1950s would induce throat spasms and be a revolting task. His writing helped bring about the debilitating and fatal virus known as white guilt, that leaves its victims in a state of mental paralysis.

Yet, Mann simultaneously loves baseball and in Field of Dreams, that sport is played by a plethora of white males only. He even gets to explain the close connection that baseball plays with America in one of the films more poignant scenes:
Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon.

They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
Mann is included in our look at fictional Black History Month, although begrudgingly. Though he is an icon of the Civil Rights movement and appears to be a Black writer of infinitely more esteem and notoriety - albeit in fiction - than a solid majority of real Black authors, he displays a pronounced admiration and love for baseball. And that baseball is only played by white people.

If, as he states of the game, "It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again," then he is most assuredly talking about Pre-Obama America.

Stuff Black People Don't Like lauds Terence Mann as a hero, a Black writer of unquestioned significance, but he displays an uncanny love of baseball in which only white athletes participate. Obviously, he is a genius.


Anonymous said...

In my opinion, this is a very flimsy and loose interpretation of the film.

Anonymous said...

At least you got Billy Dee in Star Wars...