Was The Hate U Give, given enough love?

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****SPOILER ALERT*****.

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.

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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.

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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.

BH xx

 

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.

http://uffcampaign.org/

 

 

 

THUG LIFE X

 

Black Panther vs Django Black Pain Vs Black Joy

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I remember having to revisit the local cinema three times before being able to purchase Django Unchained tickets. The story of a slave fighting for his freedom in Southern America by white director Quintin Tarantino was sold out for weeks.

Rave reviews and the Guardian ‘comments section’ had packed out my local cinema with white, middle class movie goers – keen to say they’d seen Quentin Tarintino’s latest controversial smash.

Jump forward six years, again I visit my local cinema to watch the latest ‘controversial’ box office smash with rave reviews… Black Panther.

The audience couldn’t have been more identical but their reactions so different.

I sat through Django feeling perplexed, angered and confused. My experience was in stark contrast to the general excitement and buzz in the dimly lit room filled with the predominately white audience.

Laughter came freely at jokes (even at times when there were none .. use of the N word for example). It was easy for the audience to dislike the villian, the dastardely “house slave” and cheer as Django achieved his freedom helped of course of course by the selfless sacrifice of his German ally.

Compare this experience to watching Black Panther.

I sat through Black Panther in a state of utter joy. My heart was full with the imagery and my brain busy noting all the references and nods to African history, culture, archeticture, religion and brilliance. The complete opposite from watching Django with it’s playground like plantations, dogs ripping men to death, fights to the death (with hammers) and the inconceivable idea that someone would want/be able to have sex with someone after spending a day in a “sweatbox“.

Back in Wakanda however, the political relevance beautifully became an irrelevant normality as the plot hooked me in and I simply enjoyed watching an awesome action movie.

I watched elated. Cheering, laughing and gasping as the plot dictated.

But I was very much an island in a cold and awkard sea.

My reactions (similiar to when I watched the “good” Avengers film) were alone.

The discomfort of the audience was palable. I imagine these were the same people cheering, laughing and gasping as the plot dictated during The Avengers (The good one).

Yet, the crowd was uncomfortable.

My guess is that simply: they were not used to seeing blackness in such a positive light and on it’s own terms.

Our society has created a world where some are more comfortable watching POC being abused or violently fighting to the death in “mandingo” fights than watching a black superhero save the world.

And if that isn’t a wake up call for the desperate need for better representation and diversity in the media and arts… I don’t know what is.

And it seems I am not in my opinion…

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/03/young-brixton-activists-recreate-film-posters-with-black-leads?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Shout out to these young people creating a change, not just talking about it. #legallyblackuk

So I ask you, what have you done today to create the change you wish to see?

BH xx