Identity and Culture in Film watches “Selma”
By: Kelly Celeste Ramirez
|Poster for "Selma"|
There have been many media outbreaks this past year regarding freedom of speech ranging from “The Interview” to “Charlie Hebdo.” However, there is a very clear systemic issue when the voices of one group are held to a higher regard than the oppressed. Through the “Identity and Culture in Film” course, we critically analyze contemporary films and break down our synthesis into three major categories: the political economy, critical textual analysis, and audience reception.
In light of the recent controversy among the lack of diversity in a predominantly White nomination list for this year’s Academy Awards, our class headed out to the Picture Show to watch “Selma” for ourselves. It was our third day of class, yet we managed to carpool to the movie theater. With snacks and a notebook on hand, we slipped into the reclining leather seats and braced ourselves for a powerful 127 minutes.
Oh, powerful it was. With an intelligent Black cast, empowering speeches, and raw police brutality scenes, how could it not be? The parallels to the activists in Ferguson, Missouri is uncanny. The tear gas, the senseless beating, and the murders by the police with no repercussions. It’s unsettling and it made me highly emotional to the point where I was speechless for a long while after the film ended.
Yet, this type of material was never covered in high school. We weren’t taught about Selma, Alabama. We weren’t taught that the Civil Rights Movement took 13 years. We were told it was ugly, but we never knew how ugly. In fact, one of my classmates commented that her high school history teacher had called Lyndon B. Johnson a Civil Rights hero. Really? I’m ready to tackle this paper. I’m ready to research for myself all that wasn’t taught in an education system that sweeps under the rug White privilege and systemic violence.If you haven’t watched “Selma” yet, then take a moment to go out and buy yourself a ticket to the movie theater. Ava Duvernay deserves every view she can get in an industry that doesn’t value the voices of Black female directors.