Last year, it was revealed that actor/director Nate Parker would be starring in and directing The Birth of a Nation, a biopic about Nat Turner’s 1831 rebellion. The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, was such a hit that Fox Searchlight picked it up for $17.5 million, a price no one has ever paid for a film in the history of the festival. That’s a testament to the quality of the film, which is something that Parker had a huge effect on. I’ve seen many a commenter remark about how excited they are to see the movie, which debuts in theaters on 10/7/16. For my part, while I recognize that the film is probably an amazing one, there are three reasons I’m not going to see it.
First, to be honest, I’m sick of the narrow range of movies about black people Hollywood sees fit to create: those like The Birth of a Nation involving the enslavement of black bodies, those involving black people being a source of laughs (think any of the comedic movies by Martin Lawrence), and those involving black people being “the help” (think of the movie of the same name). I want to see black actors offered the same type of diverse roles as white actors. Where are the horror movies with black characters in the leading role? Suspense thrillers? Fantasy movies like Lord of the RIngs (yes, I look forward to Idris Elba in Dark Tower)? Science fiction? Where is Inception with a black character as the main protagonist? No, black characters-by and large-get to be slaves, the help, and the entertainment. For all that it might be a great movie, The Birth of a Nation is one more the long line of “black suffering movies” (which ought to be its own subgenre if it isn’t already) that Hollywood executives are enamored with, and that I am *over*.
Secondly, on the off chance that I *do* want to see black people suffering, all I need to do is turn on the news, or fire up my computer. It happens every day. Whether its police brutality or racism from our fellow citizens, we black people experience a great deal of suffering on a regular basis. That’s not really something I want to go out of my way to watch (and have to pay for). It’s certainly not something I find entertaining.
As for the third, well, if someone had asked me today why I wasn’t going to see the movie, I would only have had two reasons. After today, I have a third (though it’s not about the movie). It’s about the director, Nate Parker. From all indications, he’s a rapist:
Civil unrest has once more broken out in a USAmerican city; this time in Milwaukee, following the execution by police of a 23-year-old armed suspect (who apparently committed the heinous, only-recourse-is-lethal-force crime of fleeing from cops after a traffic stop).
A gas station and an auto-parts store were set on fire.
Bricks were hurled at law enforcement officers (resulting in the injury of one officer).
Police have apparently said that shots were fired (it should be point out that currently, the only firearm-related casualty has been the execution of the suspect at the hands of the police).
As I’ve seen several times when civil unrest engulfs a city in the wake of state sanctioned brutality or extrajudicial execution by cop, it is inevitable that some people will criticize the actions of those involved in the unrest (curiously, these people never aim their criticism at the actions of police that precipitate such events; it’s almost like they don’t take issue with the behavior of law enforcement officials).
Welcome to the social thread at the Progressive Pub. Here at the Speakeasy, you can metaphorically put your feet up, grab a virtual beverage from your resident bartender (me), and socialize with the regulars. Gab, share recipes, share news, rage about your problems or the problems of the world, discuss impending vacations, share book recommendations, talk about your jobs and your families, your hopes and dreams, and pretty much anything else you want. Everyone is welcome, just be kind to one another (and leave bigotry at the door).
Content Note: Racial slurs
I really need more hours in the day, days in the week, and weeks in the year. I am a wee bit behind on reading my ‘saved links’ on Facebook. The sidebar says I currently have 11 saved links, but I think that number might be a wee bit higher.
::goes off to check::
Oooooooooh yeah. Way more than 11. That figure reflects what I’ve saved today and *part* of last week. I just scrolled down and I have at least 84 saved links to be read. I say at least bc I got to the bottom of the page and FB did that loading bit where it says ‘please wait while we load the five gajillion links you have saved and if you read these darn things in a timely manner, it might not take so long to load them all‘ (it really says that on my page; wanna buy a bridge in Brooklyn or some swampland in Florida?).
Amid all those links are a host of articles that I have thoughts and opinions about. In more than a few cases, the content of those articles elicits strong opinions from me (and I’ve shared some brief thoughts about them on FB). Other pieces are logged away in a mental “to write about” file that is so huge it almost eclipses Donald Trump’s ego. While I was going through the links, one really stood out to me-a clip from the May 5 episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert featuring guest W. Kamau Bell: