Spike Lee’s powerful new film “BlackKkKlansman” opened to audiences in select theaters nationwide on Aug. 10, 2018. The movie received rave reviews, including getting a lofty score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. It premiered at the world renowned Cannes Film Festival, where it got an astounding 10 minute standing ovation from attendees.
Many have called the film a comeback for director Spike Lee, who created many equally powerful and critically-acclaimed pictures in the late ’80s and early ’90s. These would include such films as “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X,” which starred legendary actor Denzel Washington as the title role, who also happens to be the father of John David Washington, who plays the main character in “BlacKkKlansman”. If the movie has garnered this much attention, then why did it initially open up to only a few theaters?
The motion picture is based on a true story about a Black cop, Ron Stallworth, who manages to successfully infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in 1970s Colorado Springs. The film makes use of many references that allude to the political climate that is happening in our modern day society. It also premiered around the one year anniversary of the infamous Charlottesville attack last August, that started when a group of white nationalists rallied together to protest the removal of a confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. The rally ended up resulting in a deadly riot that killed civil rights activist, Heather Heyer. The Charlottesville attack was brought up at the end of the film, showing news clips and images of the infamous riot, alongside a symbol of the American flag turned upside down, signaling the sign of distress.
Films like “BlacKkKlansman” are no stranger to limited release. A documentary based off the book by acclaimed author and activist, James Baldwin called “I Am Not Your Negro” was released in a limited amount of theaters early last year. According to movie website, filmschoolrejects.com, this tactic is used to give “award worthy” films a chance to qualify for the Academy Awards. Unfortunately it causes independent films or political films like “BlacKkKlansman’s” pre-release hype and desirability to diminish by the time it is given wide release.
“I don’t think our society wants to give people of color a chance,” said a Black student here at Timber Creek. “Maybe people don’t want to open up themselves to new things. I [believe] it’s a narrow-minded thing. I think it’s important to show these type of movies because it can explain to those people…what we stand for.”
Limiting the availability of movies such as “BlacKkKlansman” pushes the issues of minority communities further into the background, not letting their voices be heard when having a voice is essential in this tumultuous climate. “It’s important…to show the struggles [minorities] go through, instead of just focusing on your own personal struggles,” said Emma Shields, a senior who also writes for the Timber Creek Talon. In order for this country to progress, we must stop the narrative of pushing aside the difficulties people of color and other marginalized communities face and let them have a voice.