Blog, Point of View // 09.17.2013

Something about The Butler

Article by Abena

Something about the movie The Butler is rubbing me the wrong way.  I haven’t seen it yet, but from this side of the viewing, I’m feeling a much milder version of what I felt for Django: an aversion to ever watching Q. Tarantino disseminate his love for violence and gore in the context of the historical  plight and brutal, inhuman treatment of African people endured for hundreds of years while enslaved.   No thanks.

There’s something about the stream of slavery and civil rights struggles movies that bothers me. Why so many of them? Rather, why are these the films that I’m seeing previews for and not more like this: Next up is 12 years a Slave.  These movies tell important stories of injustice, courage and love amidst it all. Most importantly, they speak of history hopefully so that the ugly parts of it are learned from and not repeated.  However for me, the fact that there are so many of these movies being promoted creates a repetitive overarching story of: Blacks in America started as slaves,  suffered terribly but with courage, perseverance, and  the help of  good white friends, they overcame.  This overarching story is very feel-good and it feels like these are the stories that are allowed. These are the stories that people are okay with telling because it demonstrates unimaginable strength in the face of unimaginable adversity and for some it perhaps relieves guilty consciences.

Unlike Django, I will watch the movie if the opportunity arises though I may not go out of my way to do so. I want to know the story of this man and his family. It can’t have been easy living through the times he did in the position he was in.  I want to see the love between him and his wife that many have said is not often shown between the Black protagonists in such movies. Perhaps we are entering a time when the stories of Black struggle can be told with honesty and to a large audience because these stories matter. On the other hand I want to see movies that show the other side of reality; that we are more than oppressed and former slaves.

Have you seen The Butler? Does it rub you the right or wrong way?

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