Harry Belafonte on Capitalism, Media Moguls and His Disappointment With Jay-Z and Beyonce

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Harry Belafonte, at 85, is as active and activist as ever. At the Locarno Film Festival, despite walking on a stick, he couldn’t be kept from introducing the films the festival screened in his honor, especially Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones, the film, “which put me most on the map of the world,“ as he said. Belafonte at one point called himself “the greatest actor in the world who always pretended to be a singer.“

THR: Has the world changed for activists like you?

Belafonte: Definitely. Back then, the enemies were very clear, very precise. It is easy to fight oppression if it comes in [the form of] a swastika and a boot and as a dictator, and you can see it and feel it and touch it. It is easy when there is a sign that says “No N——“ or “No Jews.“ Where it becomes the most insidious is when it buries itself and you can no longer touch it, but taste that yet it is there, fully blown, doing insane mischief. That is why I think the period now is the most challenging I’ve ever lived in. The power in many societies has become almost absolute. Those whohave the power in the free enterprise system start to crush societies and create wars that are unholy. What we did during the Bush period, what we still continue to do, even with Barack Obama, is the continuency of not changing the paradigm, of not changing the view. We still have laws that encourage torture, we did not change Guantanamo, we have laws that allow the police to arrest you at any time, not having to tell you why, and take you wherever they want. This kind of capitalism is taking us to the doorstep of [a] Fourth Reich, I think.

THR: Can you pin down what the enemy is nowadays?

Belafonte: Unbridled capitalism. The concentration of money in the hands of a very small group is the most dangerous thing that has ever happened to civilization. We are facing an oligarchy offorce. Just look at who controls the press. We all witnessed how momey and power squeezed out all essense of Rupert Murdoch and [Silvio] Berlusconi. Thank God for social media, which aids transparency, but even that becomes more and more restricted now, with companies like Facebook buying up all the roots of this technology. But I am currently involved with two documentaries, one Lead Belly: Legend, Life, Legacy and the other Another Night in the Free World, which I am shooting now for about five months. It is globally looking at the youth movement during the the Arab Spring, looking at what happened in Kairo and Tunisia, and now in Syria.

THR: Back to the occasion of the award for your acting career. Are you happy with the image of members of minorities in Hollywood today?

Belafonte: Not at all. They have not told the history of our people, nothing of who we are. We are still looking. We are not determinated. We are not driven by some technology that says you can kill Afghanistans, the Iraquis or the Spanish. It is all – excuse my French – shit. It is sad. And I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.

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