As part of my mission this month to write every day, part of this project has also entailed finding and discovering new writers whom I really like as well as further reading up on other writers that I’ve admired over the years. One writer in particular, whom I’ve followed and greatly respected from afar, is Wesley Morris– formerly of The Boston Globe and the 2012 Pulitzer Prize recipient in Criticism. Man, this guy can really write.
Morris first caught my eye back in 2011 with his piece, “Fast Forward”– a celebration of The Fast and Furious franchise. Morris wrote (emphasis, mine):
…the most progressive force in Hollywood today is the “Fast and Furious” movies. They’re loud, ludicrous, and visually incoherent. They’re also the last bunch of movies you’d expect to see in the same sentence as “incredibly important.” But they are—if only because they feature race as a fact of life as opposed to a social problem or an occasion for self-congratulation.Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe (April 24, 2011)
In the piece, Morris cites F&F as “the most progressive force in American cinema.” Finally. I’d been saying that for years (well, maybe something more like “F&F is the (second) greatest cinematic achievement in the history of American filmmaking,” but close enough) so it was enormously satisfying to see an actual professional critic, someone who gets paid to have opinions and write, opine similar sentiments.
To Morris’s point, I honestly feel that there should be a sort of “Bechdel Test” for race in books or movies. (Edit: Oh wait. There is!) The Blind Side and 12 Years a Slave are great but to get past racism, we need to ultimately stop making such a big deal of racial differences. We need to all be more like Dom and the family in the F&F franchise. Others, like Joss Whedon and Morgan Freeman, have made similar points and I think they’re valid. The Utopian dream is in the future we no longer need to have “International Women’s Day” or “Black History Month.” When that glorious day at last arrives, then we’ll finally have achieved equality and moved into a post-race, post-sex society!
Morris has a number of other terrific pieces and I always enjoy his takes because they combine a sharp insight, rich vocabulary (I never fail to learn a new word when I read him), and penetrating horizontal intellect with mass commercial fare. Wesley Morris, my goal is to one day write like you!