Haven’t had much enthusiasm for writing on any film in particular this week (even after recently seeing the astonishing new Michael Haneke and Neil Jordan films), as the only images that have burrowed their way into my brain with any lasting effect have been those videos hailing from New Orleans. Yes, the devastation is unimaginable, the portraits of desperation stinging and sobering, the thought that my roommate and close friend’s family home is buried under all that death-contaminated water in the St. Bernard Parish is unimaginable.
Yet most distressing of all about the images on the nightly news, even more than that the rescue efforts seem to be doing only so much, leaving the citizens stranded in overgrowing, unwashed piles with overflowing toilets in the Superdome, is the unspoken class divide. New Orleans is a great percentage African-American, yet it seems as though almost everyone left behind is black. This picture is painting a thousand words: here are those who couldn’t afford quick transportation out of the city to stay in family members’ abodes elsewhere, who have been living below poverty level and are now left to scurry around their fallen city like rats on the hull of a sinking ship. I can think of no imagery in my lifetime that so naturally provides swift and ample evidence of the social indignities inherent in our American way of life, now exploding to the forefront due to natural intervention. Newspaper articles have been largely color blind, but the images cannot lie.