Sunday, September 14, 2014


Wish I'd seen this on the big screen when it came out last year and was getting all kinds of Oscar buzz. The story still works well on a TV or computer screen, making me uncomfortable in ways only a powerfully told story can while I watched it on a cable channel on my TV. But the shots were so exquisitely framed and filmed I wanted to see the details even bigger and get lost in them. (And the acting is mostly excellent as well.)

There are some aspects of the story that manipulate the truth it's based on—and the audience as a result, just for narrative or explication reasons—but the basic truth is intact and the point of telling this story more relevant than ever after Ferguson and Trayvon Martin et. al. Because, as I'm sure you know—and the reason I was squirming from the first shot, because I knew the inevitable was inevitable—its about another young "black" man executed by another "white" policeman for behavior that a "white" college kid probably would have been merely reprimanded for.

My first thought after it ended and I wiped away some tears was that every police officer in the USA should have to watch this to see how not to overreact to fellow human beings no matter what they look or act like.

But then I read some of the commentary and stories about the shooting the movie's based on, and about the movie maker's few additions to that story that I must admit do come across as deliberately manipulative (like the main character's trying to rescue a loose pit bull hit by a car, an incident that occurred in real life but to the subject's younger brother, and meant as a metaphor for the way many "whites" react to and treat young "black" men, as always dangerous and ill intentioned etc. so the movie's lead character identifies with the dog etc.)...

...and I realized that even if every cop in the country was forced to watch this flick and discuss it, there'd still be plenty of rightwing Internet sites they could go to that would manipulate the facts in a way to misdirect the reality of young "black" men facing much greater odds in this society often because of policing tactics and attitudes toward incidental aspects of individual cases (a la Michael Brown's supposed "thug" behavior in Ferguson etc).

It isn't like all "white" cops are evil, or racist, or inherently murderous, I still have cops in my clan and grew up with them in my home, and they were and are all good people who truly do want to help and serve others. It's that the training both the cops get or don't get, and the training that many young "black" males get or don't get makes for an explosive mix when they clash...

But like I said, just as a creative endeavor, especially the filming itself, FRUITVALE STATION is worth watching.

No comments: