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Christine Turner's 'Homegoings' Now Available Online But Only Through 1/7/14. Watch It Now!

by Tambay A. Obenson
December 6, 2013 1:04 PM
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After a broadcast TV premiere on PBS' POV series, and a limited theatrical run at the Maysles Cinema in NYC, over the summer, Christine Turner's lauded feature documentary Homegoings, which explores the African American funeral home tradition, told through the eyes of a Harlem funeral director, is now available for viewing online, courtesy of PBS - but for a limited time, through January 7th, 2014.

It's a film I've yet to see, and will likely do so sometime this week, and will share my thoughts afterward.

In the meantime, check it out for yourselves, assuming you haven't already.

The first 20 minutes are embedded below. To see the rest of it, click HERE:


Watch Homegoings on PBS. See more from POV.

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  • Man-Over-Bored | December 6, 2013 4:00 PMReply

    JMac (the agnostic who didn't find the film’s religiosity "extreme") and others are obviously too emotionally involved to critique the film accurately -- citing my cost estimate (in the film) in error, when my estimate was more accurate than the $8.5K you stated. Indeed, it's always difficult to bid goodbye to a loved one, but damn, a well-made documentary is a well-made documentary--and that's what I was expecting! Something fresh and more in-depth than what we already know and are privy to. Again, we’ve seen this before. I’m not saying not to hold it sacred or deem it culturally redeeming.

    Failing to view or critique this simple documentary critically is tantamount to superstitiously believing someone in your family’s gonna soon “be called home” if you bad-mouth it. Ridiculous! It’s just a documentary, not some sacred cow!

    And Carey-Carey, as usual, I don’t know what the phuck you’re nonsensically ranting-on about: “I was born to do just what I’m doing” -- you actually wrote that sh*t down to share with your lady? She as shallow as you are? You both found that statement profound, did you? Damn! “How many of us struggle with doubts on the paths we have taken?” Brother, most of us these days, we’re just trying to find or keep a j-o-b! I guess if you search hard enough, you can find profundity in even the most inanely cliché comments!

    And back to JMac for a few: ignorance be damned, but even $8.5K is a rip-off price for a funeral. That, you would realize, if you watched or read something more informative than the ultimately unprepossessing documentary in question. Ignorance is why members of our community continue to be ripped-off, without realizing we’re being ripped-off! Instead of disparaging someone (as “sour grapes”) who uses critical thinking skills and logic to question things -- and, instead of relying on the traditional overly-emotional approach that has, of late, served us very poorly, why don’t you, like a true agnostic, question critically, ask tougher questions, seek deeper answers, and accept nothing less.

    Now, the lot of you, run along and watch “Baggage Claim” -- I’m certain you’ll all come to consider it 2013’s most poignant and profound piece of cinema!

  • CareyCarey | December 7, 2013 6:00 AM

    Man-Over-Bored, I believe you've missed the point. It's not that I thought the "cliche" was profound, I wrote it down as a reminder of another conversation I intended to have with my lady. See, you appear to be miserable or discontent with your current position in life or your career. However, although you may not understand this, there are many people who are content with their jobs. And if you didn't know (or you're just being silly) there are more people working than those who are not. That said, the conversation I intended to have with my lady focused on being thankful and grateful.

    Now.... can you understand how the words "I was born to do just what I'm doing" ties into that? Or, is that too deep for you? Or, do you not have someone to lay down with and share your thoughts?

    ... and why are you so mad? Please tell me it's because you can't find a job, not anything I said? Phuck dude :-)

  • Man-Over-Bored | December 7, 2013 2:20 AM

    Thanks, JMAC. I respect your well-thought out response, and hear what your're saying. As an agnostic myself, I share your sentiments -- and, based on the earnestness and graciousness of your response, am now forced to reconsider some of mine. Again, much respect.

  • JMac | December 6, 2013 11:31 PM

    I don't have to watch a documentary to know about funeral prices. I've had to arrange 3 funerals this year and $8.5 is still within range... not very high but not very low either. The least expensive was $7200. All three had life insurance to cover the costs so no one's pocket was pinched . I think that would make a better documentary - the neglect of Black Americans to pass on wealth through strategic financial planning - but it's already been done and has been noted on S&A. As indicated in the doc, if you want to spend less on "bodily disposal," get cremated... as I plan to do one day. Have no interest in the preaching and the crying and the eating after burial (wtf?!) - not that I'll be there but still, it's a waste of time and money.

    Again, I think you had unrealistic expectations on this documentary. POV not Frontline, not quite Independent Lens either. Should have tipped you off if you watch a lot of PBS.

    To me, funerals are like weddings. You can't necessarily separate sentimentality and symbolism from these ceremonies. Criticise the cost or their existence/purpose all you want but at the end of the day it is about an individual's choice. I don't think so highly of my beliefs that my opinion should supercede a family's choice on how they wish to deal with something so personal.

  • saadiyah | December 3, 2013 9:17 PMReply

    @MAN-OVER-BORED - What were you expecting?

  • JMac | December 6, 2013 11:49 PM

    Thanks for the condolences, CC. Being so close to Christmas everyone is getting emotional again. I made the most of our relationship while she was alive so I surprisingly feel upbeat. No regrets and no guilt... unlike some other family members, lol.

  • CareyCarey | December 4, 2013 3:06 AM

    JMac, sorry to hear about your mother. Saying goodbye to a loved one, is always a difficult time, especially when it's a parent. I hope you're doing okay.

    I was reading you post nodding my head in agreement. I've buried my wife and my father. Father 1983, wife 2003. The costs were as you mentioned, my father's being less because of the 20 year difference. We've recently planned my mother's funeral with her input. That said, I could definitley relate to the woman who said ""give me my flowers while I'm still alive...". My mother has always been a "planner" who will squeeze the shine off a quarter. Nevertheless her funeral (whenever that happens) will come in at about $11,000 -$12,000 and the burial site is free (military). As you said, it could have been cheaper but my sister needed some things just so.

    My family thinks I am kidding when I say don't spend a lot of money on me. Put me in an old wooden box and let my children and grandchildren (if there's any around) draw smiley faces on the outside. I don't need a sealed air-tight vault (what for?) and I surely don't need a shinny casket with gold handles. Put that money in a college funds. But do have a big party cuz when I'm gone "I'm alright now".

    Anyway, like you and Saadiyah, I don't know what MAN-OVER-BORED was looking for? In fact, when I first viewed this video (yesterday) and heard the funeral director say "I was born to do just what I'm doing" I actually wrote that down to later share with my lady. How many of us struggle with doubts on the paths we've taken?

    Thanks for the insight, JMac.

  • JMac | December 3, 2013 11:29 PM

    Seriously... Did he even watch the trailer or read the description.

    I just finished watching it and thought it was a wonderful, true to life documentary on a traditional black family owned and operated funeral home. All the POV programs are like that - showing you a slice of what is real and helping to preserve the subject matter as it currently exists. If you are African American, then this doc should look and feel very familiar. What "new" information did you expect to see with regards to funerals? A damning expose? Maybe if it was on Frontline, not POV.

    And he didn't charge anyone $10K. The only cost the viewer heard was with regards to "Red" and that was about $8.5 K which is close to the amount I just paid for my mother's funeral - could have been cheaper but I wanted things just so. The woman was not emotionally vulnerable, but very matter-of-fact on how she wanted her funeral to be executed. Only emotional people were those attending/participating at the funeral... understandable since it's a damn funeral. Being agnostic, I didn't find any "religiosity" to the extreme. I actually found it comforting that the funeral director fully engaged and supported his clients with whatever religion or beliefs they practiced [see Yoruba Priestess's funeral procession.]

    Never fails that there is always 1 sour grape and as usual the information provided is inaccurate.

    Funerals are that man's calling - no other way to explain that after watching the whole doc.

  • Man-Over-Bored | December 2, 2013 10:37 PMReply

    Been waiting to see this -- thanks for posting! (What would we do without S&A!)

  • Man-Over-Bored | December 2, 2013 11:34 PM

    My enthusiasm was unwarranted: this doc is nothing most haven't seen before; it's purely for the uninitiated (i.e., non-people of color). In a nutshell, an odd, obsessed-with-death undertaker (he played held mock funerals alone as a child) overcharges emotionally vulnerable members of his community with $10k funeral packages (a better documentary subject), gives the dead bang-up makeup jobs, and claims the work is his life's calling. And cliche's abound: from grandma saying "give me my flowers while I'm still alive..." to high reverence and lots of religiosity to closing out with an obligatory Mahalia Jackson tune. Y'all know how we do when somebody we love dies, so there's nothing new to see here. Amen and lay it to rest.

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