This post is really for anyone who has seen the film, read the book or is not planning to do either.
The Hate U Give is a powerful film but has the book’s original message been scarificed for commercial backing. For me, it was the incredible performances, rather than the writing and direction of the adaptation that stole the show.
I left the cinema teary eyed but with a distinct Pepsi Max after taste and a thirst to read the book.
After a couple of chapters, it was clear that the plot had been dramatically simplified and the core theme of racial injustice played down making gang influence the predominate malfactor to the storyline.
Poverty, race, family and love are not simply black or white, good vs bad affairs. Even with a teen audience in mind, the simplistic retelling is a missed opportunity to explore the issues that are killing our society. Considering the choice of screen writer, best known for writing George of the Jungle, production and distribution companies- I question how deliberate that choice was.
There are always ommissions and changes in film adaptations, but changes should be made for artistic not political reasons.
In the book for example, Uncle Carlos (A black police detective) concludes that HE WOULDN’T have shot the victim, but in the film, he said he WOULD.
I can’t see how this change, which undermines the #blacklivesmatters cause, could ever be justified. Especially thinking about Thomas’s motivation behind writing the book.
In the story, the officer murdered a 17 year old boy based on his perceived fear of a young black man. These fears have been deliberately cultivated by society to criminalise black identity and are maintained and reinforced by systematic racism.
By editing out the uglier side of our boys in blue, it’s not just an injustice to the fictional characters of Garden Heights, but the lives of the thousands of innocent people who have had their life stolen by an officer’s foot, fist or barrel.
Many people do hate the police. But the hate that killed the victim was the hatred and misrepresentation of black people in our society. A point that I think the film underplayed, particulary with a speech given by the main character.
“…It’s us, we are the ones full of hate!..”
And that’s where the story ends. The community comes together, “snitching” on the gang leader to see him incarcerated.
Apparently, not wanting to “snitch” is the reason for gangs in communities – not the lack of employment opportunities, education, access to healthcare or substandard social housing.
The end has no mention of the continued police brutality either. Another deviation from the book.
This film is being lauded as a bold, policital statement about the Black Lives Matter movement- but that better describes the book than the film.
Joyfully, the film is a beautiful depiction of a black family and at the very least, a great starting place for discussion about the more complex issues.
If you would like to challenge police brutality in the UK, the United Friends and Family Campaign work to challenge, hold to account and end deaths in custody.
THUG LIFE X