Here a copy of an interview with the filmmaker of "Rent a Rasta"
with the Jamaican American Club in Chicago", Nov. 1, 2006
Prior to going to Jamaica, what was your perception of Jamaican culture?
JMS: As for most Caucasian males my basic association with Jamaica was reggae, sun and sand.
How did your perception of Rastafarians change when you began your documentary? Did you think that the majority of the populations were Rastafarians?
JMS: I had no idea that over 95% of Jamaicans did not have dreadlocks and never imagined Rastas would be looked down upon or discriminated against in the birthplace of their movement.
Historically, Africans, African Americans, Afro Hispanics and Afro Caribbean men are stereotyped as being hung studs, which is a carry over from slavery. Why do you feel this myth is still perpetrated?
JMS: In many Third World tourist resorts like Jamaica, female sex tourists find themselves presented with opportunities to attract men, and so to personify the ideal of femininity and heterosexuality that they are taught to aspire to, or more importantly, this way they can find a real man to sex them, thereby publicly affirming their femininity without losing control and being rejected and humiliated. On some occasions I've heard white women playfully warn each other: "Once you go black, you'll never go back". Black bodies are increasingly used as props in advertising and media and younger white North Americans and Europeans, are constantly exposed to eroticizing racisms through the film, music and fashion industries. These industries retain the old- school racist emphasis on blackness as physicality, but repackage and commoditize this "animalism", so that black men and women become the ultimate icons of sporting prowess, 'untamed' rebelliousness, 'raw' musical talent, exotic beauty, sexual power and so on. As a consequence, many young and some old or ugly white Westerners view blackness as a marker of something both 'cool' and 'hot'. In certain contexts the black body is not feared but fetish-ized. Thus some female sex tourists want black boyfriends in order to live out certain fantasies, whether they be 'educating and helping the noble savage', being the focus of 'cool' black men's adoring gaze or wanting to have "sunshine babies".
Marginalized people are often commoditized and are expendable; AIDS is a global problem. Based on your findings, how can economically depressed communities empower themselves and limit this type of abuse?
JMS: As one Rasta in my film put it: "How can you stop a man from being greedy? People make money from bullets and if they're killing Africans it's no problem". I personally find these show-biz charitable campaigns like "Make Poverty History" appalling. Just as the "War on Poverty". If you want to reduce poverty, stop "combating" poverty and start sharing the wealth. It's that simple. It is absurd that Bechtel Corporation for instance should control the tap water in Bolivia or that Mexicans pay as much for gasoline as New Yorkers, who earn many multiples per minute of what most Mexicans earn in a cruel day. "Free stuff" is not a remedy either. People need to learn the value of their labor and get a fair wage for it. Since that is not nearly the case, Nike and JP Morgan for example are posting record profits year after year. Poverty is a perpetual state of crisis. For many years now I have been studying a small community at the very bottom of the food chain in Western Mexico., not far from the glossy world class resort of Cabo San Lucas. Here, craziest and most interesting is the problem of incentive. Many of the people of El Centenario, for instance don't want anything. To talk to a man about tripling his income is to fill him with confusion; he gets nervous; he starts to laugh; he wants to go and get drunk. This poor man from the moment of birth has been so inundated with problems, so deprived since childhood, that to end up wanting things is a sort of insanity. What he wants is to stay alive another day to tell jokes and visit with his friends in the balmy night air. He wants a few pesos from time to time to buy cheap tequila and beer and dance and feel cleansed of life. Ironically, when you ask "Why is there so much poverty in countries of such tremendous wealth", people will say "good question" and maybe even give you the "deep thinker" civic award. And a few years later, if you ask the same people the same question; they will call you a communist.