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Thanks to Slate for answering this question about recycling 3D glasses!

I’ve been speaking out a lot on overpaid executives this week and commenting on the pay cuts imposed by the Obama adminstration’s on the top executives of seven of the bailout companies. I appeared on Bloomberg, the Nightly Business Report, and the NBC Nightly News, and in the New York Times. The Oregonian was nice enough to quote me as a leading expert in its editorial. And I am in the midst of a debate with University of Chicago professor Steve Kaplan on whether executives are fairly paid. I’m arguing that they are overpaid. If you agree, you can vote on my side.

Now, back to the movies!

“Where do you draw the line between influence and appropriation?” “When is it admiration and when is it mockery?”

Blacking Up: Hip-Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity is a thought-provoking film by documentarian Robert Clift is a sympathetic look at the tensions that surround white identification with hip-hop. Popularly referred to by derogatory terms such as “wannabe” or “wigger,” the white person who identifies with hip-hop often invokes heated responses. For some, it is an example of cultural progress — a movement toward a color-blind America. For others, it is just another case of cultural theft and mockery — a repetition of a racist past. From this perspective, the appropriation of this mode of expression is inauthentic and disrespectful, another in a centuries-long series of takings. And yes, Vanilla Ice is interviewed, along with cultural commentators like Amiri Baraka and Paul Mooney and performers like Chuck D and Power.

For me, the most poignant moment in the film when a girl says she is not trying to be black — she is just trying to be cool. There is nothing more essentially American than the blending of cultures — except perhaps the struggle over the blending or appropriation of cultures. This film perfectly captures and illuminates the central issues of identity and the way it is shaped and shapes the arts, with arrestingly provocative insights into race and American culture and the path from fringe to center. It is very important viewing for teenagers, their teachers, and their parents. (NOTE: Some very strong language including the n-word and other epithets)

I love this short film based on Bill Morrison’s book about the little boy who tried to get a job without knowing how to read.