Entertainment Binge


By Isaac White.

This week’s edition of Entertainment Binge is quite special for me. No, it’s not because I’m going to regale you with tales of my self-imagined wit and brilliance. I won’t subject you all to that. Again. I have something else to be excited about and that is the focus of the material I am reviewing this week.

An Akwesasronon has created a short documentary film that is going to pull at your heartstrings. I know it did for me and if you’re from Akwesasne, or a human (Of course, I don’t think giraffes read my articles), you will appreciate “Radio Bingo” from Shelby Adams, of Kana:takon.

Before I delve fully into my take on Ms. Adams’ film, I have some housekeeping to do. A couple of issues ago, at least I think it was, time flies when you’re such a highly regarded writer as myself. Ok, I did pat myself on the back again, but I haven’t gotten any more in-person, enthusiasticlly happy views lately. I did get a message however that my weekly ramblings on all things entertainment are receiving rave reviews in faraway lands.

Is that the opening line to my future masterpiece to be etched into the cultural ether? No, but I am a shameless self-promoter, you should all know that by now. But I digress. Now where did I leave off? Oh yeah, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about The Outlaws, a BBC One series that is also carried on Amazon Prime Video.

When I spoke about that series (wrote, whatever, you know I’m just talking to myself and relaying it in print) I gave it very high praise. I know you were all waiting with bated breath for me to write about the second season, and…wait for it…I managed to watch another season of a television show. Congrats to me and the valor I show for sitting on my butt and watching tv.

The truth is that while I truly enjoyed 98 percent of the show there was a flaw that I just can’t seem to get past. That flaw is the conclusion of the season. The final episode left me perturbed and while I continue to stick by my position of not giving too many spoilers, the last episode and how they wrapped it up was not satisfying at all.

In fact, I was a bit confused and had to explore if the second season was the absolute finale. That’s how strange the season finale was. For me anyway. The rest of the second installment was fantastic. I thought the characters were more fully developed and the entirety of the plot and the mysteries that were left from the first season were addressed in a great way.

Seeing the relationship between Ben and Rani blossom really made me happy as I watched it unfold in front of my eyes. Seeing Greg develop a backbone, gangly as it may be, was really something that made me actively cheer for him. If you recall, I mentioned in the first season that John was very unlikeable yet the writers gave an angle to him that made you want to give him a chance.

The second season saw him move more fully into a likable character and that I really enjoyed. The bond that develops between John and Myrna is enormously heartwarming. I don’t know how else to express that, they just go together. Peanut butter and jelly. Tomato sandwich with mayo, pepper, and salt. Right? Right?

I really had a great time seeing Malaki being flipped from a villain into a man on the right side of the characters we wish the best for. It all works. Until the very end of the season. The closing episode left me wondering if there was another season on deck. Now, why do I say that? Because the writers left the viewers with more than a cliffhanger. It was a right hook on the button and I don’t mean they hit the good spot.

The result was unclear and while I’m not one to want everything tied up in a bow, I also don’t want to see these characters I’ve come to truly adore, not just individually but how they mesh together, be thrown into disarray and spread around with no semblance of unity to be left. It was very disappointing because other than that it was a great season.

And to be honest, if a show or movie has a terrible ending, it kind of takes a bit of the shine off the fresh wax job on your car right? That’s what happened to me. Now, I was hoping there would be a third season and from what I read from a Google search (I’m an ace researcher) there is a third season planned. So hopefully the third season will resolve these issues.

Now that I’ve run my mouth for long enough I will get into a short documentary from Akwesasronon Shelby Adams title “Radio Bingo.” Which as you may be able to glean from the title is about Radio Bingo in Akwesasne. My wife and I watch a lot of documentaries, it’s something we find very enjoyable and when I was alerted that someone from Akwesasne had made a film about Radio Bingo I was very excited to view it and include it in my Entertianment Binge edition for the week.

I was not disappointed with the film. On the contrary, I loved it. The spirit of the documentary hit upon so many things that I love about our community. Yes, the film is about Radio Bingo. And if you want to just go surface level you can watch this film and take only that away from it. I didn’t see this as only about Radio Bingo.

What I saw is Akwesasne. What I saw is the shared communal experience via the airwaves of CKON for Radio Bingo. The congregation of family and friends around the table with Reen Cook’s voice calling out the numbers as everyone laughs, cheers, or curses her depending on if she called their numbers or not.

It’s Reen who is the star of the film. And rightly so if you ask me. It’s Reen who makes the game move, with the help of the wonderful staff at CKON of course. And yes, I work in the same building as Reen and when I’m in the office I see her regularly and we talk. But no, I’m not trying to curry favor with Reen. What good would it do anyway? She can’t just read my cards and hook me up with that jackpot. That was a joke, everyone.

But in all seriousness, Reen is the center that the game revolves around, and I think that was intentional on the part of the filmmaker. What is also crucial to the flow and depth of feeling for the film are the people. The film talks directly about the importance of revitalizing our Mohawk language and the role that Radio Bingo can play in that. When Reen calls out those numbers and she does it in Mohawk, it’s comforting to hear.

Keeping the language alive and growing the number of speakers in Akwesasne is clearly important for Adams. The way Radio Bingo can help educate our children in Mohawk was shown. We see Akwesasronon who point out that while children aren’t supposed to play Radio Bingo the voice of Reen calling those numbers in Mohawk really helps our children learn numbers in Mohawk. To be honest, until I watched this documentary, I had never thought of it that way. Perhaps I’m a little dense to not have made that connection prior to seeing the film but I’m glad Adams opened my eyes to that.

Even as an Akwesasronon, you sometimes may not reflect too deeply on what we see around us every day because we’re here. Every day. I’m not saying that seeing our community reflected to us on a screen should be the reason we appreciate our people and our community. The fact is that it made me think more about Akwesasne than just the day-to-day living on the rez. Sometimes we get a little boost from someone trying to give us some perspective. “Radio Bingo” does just that and I’m glad that Shelby Adams made this tribute to our Tuesday tradition. Niawen Kowa to Shelby and all who made this film a reality.


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