Essential entertainment to watch during the BLM movement

Black+Lives+Matter

Jacob Baker, Columnist

The fight for justice and equality has spawned countless movies and TV shows that have become essential allies in the fight. Now, more than ever, watching movies like “Do the Right Thing,” “BlacKkKlansman” and TV shows like HBO’s “Watchmen” are critical in understanding the state of America right now. 

The death of George Floyd sparked an uprising in America no one could have foreseen. Floyd’s death was the tipping point for America to stand up in unison to police brutality, social injustice and generations of oppression and discrimination toward black people. This fight has been going on for too long. 

‘Watchmen’

Serving as a sequel to the groundbreaking graphic novel in 1987, HBO’s “Watchmen” in 2019 took issues relevant today and takes them head on. The show takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where vigilantes are outlawed due to their violent methods in the past. A new threat has emerged in the form of a white supremacist group named the Seventh Kavalry who adopted their ideologies from the masked vigilante, Rorschach, over 30 years ago. 

The Seventh Kavalry has waged a violent race war against minorities and police due to their enforcement of reparations given to victims of racial injustice. 

That same brilliance shown in the original graphic novel continued with writer Damon Lindelof on HBO’s “Watchmen.” Known as the single worst incident racial violence in American history, the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 occurred when white residents attacked black residents and their businesses in what was the wealthiest black community in the U.S. The Tulsa race massacre serves as the backdrop for several key characters in the show.

Special reparations are given to victims of racial injustice, forgotten acts of evil like the Tulsa race massacre are brought back into the public eye and highlighting America’s long problem of oppression towards minorities make HBO’s “Watchmen” an important and brilliant mini-series that everyone should watch right now. All while being a worthy and well thought out sequel to the graphic novel that set the standard for that respective medium of storytelling. 

Spike Lee Projects

“Do the Right Thing” and “BlacKkKlansman” by Spike Leemay as well take place in 2020. Director and writer Lee, has managed to make films that are still relevant to today’s themes and conflicts. Lee’s filmography may as well go down as one of the most important and remarkable filmographies in cinema. Lee makes films that portray our nation’s terrible track record. The magic is still being able to revisit that film decades later, and feel like it was made for that respective time period.  

‘Do The Right Thing’

Spike Lee at Do the Right Thing premiere
Spike Lee, ‘Do the Right Thing’

“Do the Right Thing” takes place on a block in Brooklyn on the hottest day of the year. Lee stars in the film as a 25-year-old pizza delivery man, Mookie, who works for the neighborhood’s Italian pizzeria. Everyone on the block is on edge because of the intense heat, and that can lead people to make rash decisions. One of the characters in the film, Buggin’ Out, played by Giancarlo Esposito, takes offense that the block’s pizzeria has no black celebrities on its wall of fame in a predominantly black neighborhood.  

Radio Raheem’s, who is played by Bill Nunn, fate is taken by local police in an eerily similar tactic to the death of Eric Garner and Floyd. The aftermath of Raheem’s death even shares a vivid parallel to the events following Floyd’s death. A portion of the block is left in flames, the neighborhood is outraged by unnecessary police brutality and together everyone realizes that a human life is more important to the neighborhood than a piece of property. Lee has so much to say about race relations in the film and it will undoubtedly lead the viewer to believing that the same police brutality that took place in the late 80’s is still taking place today towards black people and black neighborhoods. 

‘BlacKkKlansman’

In 2018, Lee made the movie “BlacKkKlansman,” based on the 2014 memoir “Black Klansman” by Ron Stallworth. The film stars John David Washington as Stallworth as he is hired as the first black man in the Colorado Springs Police Department in the 1970’s. Washington soon joins Adam Driver as Flip, to go undercover to investigate the Ku Klux Klan and their possible motives. 

Stallworth’s love interest, Patrice, played by Laura Harrier, is the head of the black student union and doesn’t believe one man can change a corrupt system from within because of that system’s embedded beliefs. Patrice is verbally and nearly sexually assaulted by a common culprit of excessive force in the Colorado Springs Police Department, Officer Landers, played by Fred Weller. Other cops within the precinct know of his continuous offenses against minorities but are thrown to the side because “they’re a family.”  

Like with “Do the Right Thing,” even though this film takes place in the 70’s, it may as well have taken place in today’s society. Topher Grace has a big role in the film as former Grand Wizard, David Duke. Duke’s plans at the time were to institutionalize the Klan so he could run for political office.

Stallworth and a fellow cop have a conversation mid way through the film that discusses this and Stallworth doesn’t believe such an extreme individual with racist and hateful ideologies would even have a chance at making political office while his fellow officer tells him, “You need to wake up.” 

That scene draws a parallel between Duke and President Donald Trump. What ultimately leaves the viewer on a heart-breaking note is the final minutes of the film in which Lee uses footage from the violent events in Charlottesville in 2017 and the president’s response, or lack thereof. 

All three films and the TV show may show a grim tale, but it’s important to realize and learn from the current state our nation is in.