A reflection of America’s past holds pertinence to what we embark on in the present. This Spike Lee joint is hilarious, enticing and has some serious political relevance.
I might be late to the cookout with this review, but is it ever really late to discuss race in America? Not quite.
Politically and socially charged films are Spike Lee’s bread and butter. BlacKkKlansman, which is a memoir based on the bizarre exploits of Colorado Springs’s first black undercover detective’s, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), mission to expose and infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan, as well as their “grand wizard” David Duke (Topher Grace), for their attempt to start a race war between whites and blacks. The young white detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), to join the undercover investigation and take down the extremist hate group. Set in the ’70s, this film has a way of bringing you current with parallels of our present day political climate. The movie has cynical humor mixed with some serious true life events between minorities and white people. While Lee does so well with blending the crippling effects of institutional racism and pointing out the obvious reminder that “racism is bad,” the idea of this movement does not go unnoticed.
I laughed, I cried, but most importantly I listened. I listened as the dialogue from David Duke’s character mirrored a disturbing resemblance of the current presidency. I listened as the foreshadowing moments crept into the movie from before my era to November 2016. I received intense attention as Harry Belafonte, an elderly black activist and survivor of a lynching, recounts for a group of black students the torture and murder by a Klan-affiliated group of a mentally disabled black man. All while the “klan” chanted and cheered at old movie clips based on the tormenting of African Americans. The movie’s tone is queasy but with huge laughs at the cretinousness of Klan members.
What is most enticing about the film is the lack of evolution we’ve seen today. Lee does so well at highlighting covert racism into a political agenda with mainstream appeal when he shows the white supremacists expressing feeling disenfranchised by America. The group of men state they no longer feel prioritized by their country, that Jews control Hollywood, and that all they see on their screens are non-white, non-male faces. Mirroring the current US President, David Duke is determined to enter politics. Now, white supremacists can have a figure in the White House who embodies their racial ideologies, with promises to “make America great again” in favor of white people.
I don’t want to give away the entire film, frame by frame, so I’ll take a shot at my final critiques. There’s so many conversations to be had after the many, many details of the film. But the overall storytelling and comic relief made the film an A+ in my book. The end result is a film that deftly melds wit and social commentary, fused by horrifying acts that stays with you long after you’ve left the theater. I highly recommend this film and the impactful conversations you’re going to have afterwards.
BlacKkKlanman released in theaters n the one-ear anniversary of the violent events in Charlottesville, VA. Stay for the end of the movie where you’ll witness the transitioning from a 70’s white supremacists rally into the present day footage of the Unite the rally.