I am often the LAST to watch a movie and offer an opinion. Thus, I give you my latest dribble regarding a movie that I sat and watched without falling asleep (fairly rare). Obviously, I will preface my official review with a bit of background. I am outspoken. I don’t put much weight in rather or not you agree with me. Instead, I place a significant amount of weight on rather or not you can discuss the issue with me. That being said, I’ve encountered law enforcement at all levels, from both sides of the cuffs. I am neither pro-assumed guilty or pro-law enforcement. What I am is reasonable, and able to step back and take a look at an issue from all perspectives. And sometimes, there will still remain a perspective and moment in time that I, nor anyone else but the individuals involved, will ever understand.
Here is a link to the trailer for the film if you haven’t seen it or need a refresher: https://binged.it/2NcdarY
The breakdown: Star middle child in a group of 3 siblings living in a rough part of town. Her parents, one whose parents got out of that environment and the other who was raised in the thick of it, agree to send the children to a school in the suburbs. Star lives two lives, the private school life of proper English and behavior, and then another life that represents the streets and where she is from. Suddenly, these two lives are thrust together with the shooting of a childhood friend by a police officer during a routine traffic stop. The friend was unarmed, and had reached into the vehicle to grab his hair brush. He had been told by the officer to keep his hands on the hood and wait while he ran his license.
The shooting insights protest and people taking sides. Star attempts to balance her two lives while also coping with the sudden death of a friend and the crossroads of standing up or being sat down by the oppression around her and against her. In the end, Star realizes through great turmoil, loss, and revelation that she has a place and a purpose. That the uprising and protests are not about one single incident; they are about society as a whole. Her late friend quoted 2Pac moments before he was shot:
“Pac said Thug Life stood for ‘The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody’.” – Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
I didn’t alter the language on purpose. It’s a direct quote and it really messed with me for a while until I did some research and applied it to life and the purpose of this film. Angie Thomas, the author of the book that lead to the movie, explained that when our younger generations are treated without care, they grow into a leading generation with even less care about the world and their surroundings. If we don’t rise up and raise children to understand more than one side of the story, they will grow to only live the side dictated to them.
This was a phenomenal movie. Watch it. Watch it with you kids. Watch it with your friends. Use this movie as a talking point for discussion about real life. What are we teaching our children? What is the point of our words? Our actions? These are the questions that began to rattle me last night as I lie in bed rehashing this movie. What is Angie Thomas trying to imprint on our society?
I truly believe you can not watch this movie without being affected. The screenwriters and original author take care to introduce both sides of the issue. Time and time again in our society we are seeing police involved shootings that result in violent riots, increased aggression, misunderstandings, vilification, distancing from the community and law enforcement, disconnect between family, friends, and co-workers, and mostly mass confusion on where we go from here.
I attempted to include a list of police officer involved shootings in the last 5 years. But my research led me to lists so long I’d have to employ a second web domain. The hard truth is that it happens everyday. Officers face deadly decisions EVERY DAY. If I put myself in their shoes, I couldn’t do it. Every time they flash their lights to pull over a car, hop out to check in with a suspicious person walking down the highway, or begin their beat in a notoriously rough neighborhood they put their lives, their families, their partners lives on the line with them. Ask yourself this: Are you perfect in your career? Nobody is. Sure, we expect perfection from others, but that doesn’t make it right.
Oh, I hear the noise, but they are supposed to protect us. Well, they actually do. But no one is perfect. Perception, angle, perceived threat, lack of training, lack of equipment are all factors in making a decision. The other factors we don’t hear or see are verbally combative, physically aggressive, disrespectful, non-compliant individuals that raise suspicion. See . . . their are two sides to every situation. We are only capable of seeing one side during the event, and sometimes its not the side that offers enough information to justify the actions.
I’d like to end with my favorite part of the film. The dad. This character has raised his children with the tenants of the Black Panthers. He does not do this to rise up a personal army of fighters, but instead to rise up a family based on how you react and how you allow your reactions to affect others. He goes even farther by realizing in himself and his children that everyone has a purpose, and for some it is to entertain, for others it is to educate, and for a select few, it is to shine. Star, the lead of the movie, takes the stage in the end with a single reminder for the masses. It is not about THIS. It is about everything. Use your voice. Be heard. But in the middle of the fight, don’t lose sight of what you want. A protest with no goal serves no purpose.
So, what are fighting for? I believe every action has a reaction. Where do we go from here? For me I will cry with and mourn loss. I will also support and encourage the men and women that protect my family from harm, even when their reaction, their decision in a split second, may not be the most popular or the “right” one. But it doesn’t have to destroy them.
Who will speak up?
Who will shine?