02 January 2015

Selma: The Movie About The People

Kudos to @AVAETC, Ms. Ava DuVernay, on making Selma: The Movie  ... a film about the PEOPLE of Selma, SNCC, SCLC, and insidious sinister government officials.

Yet, for the life of me, I cannot understand how some critics of the film didn't see that beautifully complex simplicity. Like, the writer of this salty article with it's misleading headline superimposed upon one of the era-best black and white photos of the Movement: How 'Selma' Diminishes Dr. King. By the headline, one would think the writer would be poised to reprimand Ms. DuVernay for actually diminishing Dr. King. Instead, he waxes incessantly about what the film was not, who Dr. King was not, and who the hero of the film is not.

There are a few problems with this article. This few I will point out:
  1. The writer tells the filmmaker what motivates her instead of asking her her motivation for script-writing a good story into a phenomenal film. Black women do not need white men to speak for us, speak up for us, or clarify what we think, say, or do.  Ms. DuVernay made the film she wanted. Those who can't, criticize. She who can, makes the the film she intended to make.
  2. History is not whole until it is told by ALL involved, impacted, and still alive. To paraphrase Roland Martin, this is not a documentary nor is it about chronology.  Selma is a film about the PEOPLE.  All of them. Not one of them. The aggregate of the people who's names are not listed although their tears watered paths of the slaughtered and their blood would be luminol evident still on the Pettus bridge over four decades later.
  3. Selma, the Movie, isn't about Dr. King as a demi-god; but it is Via Dolorosa-esque.  Not the whole road.  Just one station on the road to the right to vote.  And, just as King was not the sole leader of the series of marches in the Movement (e.g., it would be hard to miss that Rev. Hosea Williams, the young John Lewis, and Ms. Amelia Boynton took a beatdown on the bridge like a boss; and that the real life Ms. Annie Lee Cooper embodied the fictitious Ms. Sophia in the Color Purple!), the movie just isn't about Dr. King as a singular saint with sinner predilections. No, Selma, the Movie, is a film about the people of Selma, SNCC, SCLC, and insidious sinister government officials. 
There are other problems with this article and even more problems with other critics of the film who are focusing on making a white man the hero of a movement. And, these problems are not going unchallenged, uncontested, or ignored.  Tune in to Roland Martin on Monday.  Follow Oprah on OWNTV.  Read Matthew Yglecias and Clarence Page.  And then, listen to Glory by John Legend featuring Common.

You come for Selma, we come with truth.


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