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BlacKkKlansman – See this movie!

Posted on August 17, 2018

BlacKkKlansman – See this movie!

So, there is a good chance there is a recording of the President of the United States saying the “N-word.” The one-year anniversary of one of the most disgusting race moments in our country’s recent history in Charlottesville. Not to forget, the more than 700 children of color still in government custody after our country forcefully separated them from their parents at the border.  The nation needs the BlacKkKlansman movie, or at least I needed Spike Lee to put my outrage on the big screen so that I could watch it with other likeminded, pissed off people!

Besides knowing it was an incredibly well reviewed Spike Lee movie about race based on a true story, I didn’t know much about the movie walking into the theater. I saw it on Sunday knowing the Unite the Right 2 Rally was happening in Washington D.C. and worried about a repeat of last year (if anyone reading this went to the counter-protest in D.C. – Thank You!). As the movie opens one of the first things you see is a beautiful mountain shot and the words Colorado Springs, Colorado 1972 comes up on the screen. There was an audible gasp in the sold-out theater.

Aren’t Klan movies supposed to happen in the South? You don’t need to dig too far into Colorado history to find out that the KKK controlled the State House and Senate as well as the mayor of Denver and Governorship. I would guess that many Coloradoans would not be too surprised to learn about a strong Klan presence in the state in the 1970s, but on a day that I fear for violence in D.C., knowing this all happened a few miles down I-25 from my house turned up the intensity in the entire theater.

Besides the beautiful mountain shots of the Springs, it quickly became apparent that the movie was not shot in the Springs. This fact was my only disappointment as Ossining, New York, where it was shot, failed to capture the feeling of Colorado Springs. With that one thing, my criticism of the movie ends!

Leave it to Spike Lee to put a genuine face on the Klan. Most movies seem to turn the Klan into cartoon “red-necks” with strong accents and IQ’s around 60. By humanizing racists, the stupidity of their beliefs speaks on their own merits. You don’t need to make a racist, artificially moronic to show the utter absurdity of “white power.” Lee contrasts the Klan with the “Black Power” movement based at Colorado College. While it was clear who were the “good guys & gals” and who were bad, the passion of both groups was presented by Lee without the judgment you might expect.

Lee’s neutrality helped show the connection between thought and language, connecting Klan ideology to the current “Alt-Right” movement. At times, there were audible gasps in the theater. Lee let the audience discover these insights on their own without putting “Make American Great Again” hats on his racist characters.

Lee played his steady hand until the final movement when we were yanked out of 1970’s Colorado Springs and into 2017 Charlottesville with news footage of the riots and President Trump’s famous “You also had some very fine people on both sides” comment. Lee did not need this modern flashforward to make the movie great. However, his ending left everyone in the theater speechless, and no one wanted to be the first to stand up as it would somehow end a powerful moment that, as strangers, we shared without saying a word or even seeing one another.

See this movie and see it in a theater. BlacKkKlansman is one of those rare movies that you see in a theater not because things blow up in spectacular ways. You go to the theater to share a powerful experience with others in your community.

8 responses to “BlacKkKlansman – See this movie!”

  1. Susan says:

    My husband and I saw the movie this week, encouraged by a friend from Iowa who has already seen it. Having lived in this city and state for the past 4 years, I was surprised by the 1972 Colorado Springs! Finding out about this past history gave me a new insight to this place I now call home. Being a minority, I am very conscious of how people act and what their biases are. So, when we moved here, we knew of the perception of Colorado Springs as being a conservative city. For now, I have not seen much evidence of what was portrayed in the movie about Colorado College or the KKK. So, hopefully our community has progressed from the 1972 C Spgs!
    And yes, the relevance of the movie to what is happening right now in our nation struck a chord with me, too! Talking about the movie is one way that I can give action to the frustration that I feel. Hopefully, those of us who see the movie will do the same. Let’s keep the conversation going…

    • Matthew Bennett says:

      Thanks Susan! I love the Springs and the fact it wasn’t shot there made the movie seem more like someplace else entirely from the city I know today. Colorado is such an interesting place as so many people have (and still are) moving here. It really does my heart good to know you experience the Springs and its people like I do! Thanks for reading and your thoughts.

  2. Stephanie says:

    I cannot wait to see this movie. As soon as I saw the trailer, it looked like a must see. I’m not sure if you have seen the new movie Blindspotting at all with Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, but it was the best movie I have EVER seen. So glad there’s great films out that are thought provoking and real.
    Have a great weekend!

    • Matthew Bennett says:

      See it! Funny thing is I was in Colorado Springs staying at a hotel next to a movie theater where Blindspotting was playing. I about hit purchase for the tickets when a hail storm hit, my training got canceled, and I decided to get out of town asap to avoid the other storms coming that direction! It is on my list!!

  3. Jay S. Levy says:

    A very powerful movie indeed!

    Throughout the movie- the black police officer who infiltrates the Klan is repeatedly asked to ‘wake up’ to the reality of black oppression and what needs to be done.

    This posed a critical question on how to respond to entrenched systemic bias/prejudices that continue to perpetuate the status quo in terms of power relationships/dynamics of oppression. Can reform really take place in an effective manner from the inside out? The Black Power movement appears to be an important and necessary response to systemic racism, yet do we believe that the march to justice necessitates a violent form of protest or revolution. Much has been written Re: MLK’s vs. Malcolm X’s leadership for civil rights.

    Or as John Lennon captures his own ambivalence about peace vs. violence in the song ‘Revolution’- “…When you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out/in…”

    Jay

    • Matthew Bennett says:

      Thanks Jay! As a white male, I feel I must hold back judgment on violent responses to oppression. The “fight” response is a natural reaction to threat especially when there is no way to escape, I totally agree with MLK, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Instead of judging a violent reaction to oppression, I sit in awe of those that suppress this natural instinct and choose nonviolence. The Freedom Riders provide us such a great example of this type of courage. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, got my brain thinking on a Monday morning!

  4. Steve Jackson says:

    Matt,

    Thanks for sharing. I didn’t want to see the movie because I feared a post traumatic stress reaction related to my personal experiences and those related to generational trauma regarding racism. Rick (hubby) went with one of our grandkids and he encouraged me to go see it. I am glad that I did. You are correct in that it needs to be seen and it needed to be presented to the world about the current outrage Thanks for shaaring!

    Steve

    • Matthew Bennett says:

      Thanks for sharing this Steve. Sometimes art provides a catharsis, especially when the good guys win! At least I left the theater with a renewed resolution to keep fighting! Matt

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