Hidden Figures is CULTURALLY IMPERATIVE. I cannot stress that enough.
Hidden Figures is a “MUST SEE” movie for all Americans. However, I say it is culturally and emotionally mandatory for Black Americans who are direct descendants of Chattel Slavery. It is an absolute mandatory viewing for any Black American child from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Taraji P. Henson shines as Katherine G. Johnson. I was really impressed with how she commanded the character. Even in softer moments, her portrayl of Ms. Katherine was intoxicating. It was an award worthy performance. One of the surprising stars of this film was Janelle Monae. I really enjoyed her on the screen. She gave her character a lot of “pop” and “wow”. Yet, she wielded the character into showing you the amazing amount of moxie needed to garner upward mobility in the Jim Crow South. Last but never least, Octavia Spencer gives us another complex, multi-layered, dignified and slightly comical performance as Ms. Vaughan. You felt as though you were sitting on eggshells with anxiety and hope as her character moved into action.
Kevin Costner gave a real interesting performance. He navigated being a part of the Jim Crow institution but not wearing racism on his sleeve, very well. His character never came off as a racist villian but more of a rare jewel of kindness and authenticity in Katherine’s story. You never felt a strong racist affront from Costner’s character like you did from the characters played by Claire Danes and Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory”. They all gave good performances, but I felt Costner dug deep to balance his character. The on-screen balance between Costner and Henson was quite enjoyable. I do hope to see them work together in the future.
The movie gives you a superlative view into six points of Black American life circa Jim Crow:
- White American racism
- The existence and national denial of Black American excellence
- Empowerment through Black Feminism
- The importance of community support in Black American life
- Healthy and realistic Black Love
- Racism being diminished, if not moot when excellence is present and properly acknowledged
White American Racism was and is real.
The pretext to this amazing and wonderful story is that it is steeped in the Jim Crow South. The racism in the movie is very palatable and you feel it on your skin like humidity in Miami. It felt real, because Black Americans regardless of class have experienced it at one time or another. The director was honest in his projection of the “separate but never equal” reality of the Jim Crow South. As a Gen-X’er and someone who’s parents picked cotton as children in the South, the authenticty and honesty was refreshing. Such honesty in cinema helps to stop the white washing of history via Hollywood, it stops the marginalization of the Black American experience and ultimately it helps to stop having our story told from a point that trivializes the inhumanity and indignity Black Americans endured during the Jim Crow era.
You cannot deny Black American Excellence. Excellence has no color. Period.
Black American excellence was narrated in a perfect way with this film. Instead of creating an implausible vacuum of extraordinary singularity of Katherine Johnson, we see that the quest for knowledge, the desire for higher aspirations is a Black American norm. [as it always has been from day 1…] It redirects the outlandish false narrative that the Black intelligentsia does not exist as the norm. The main character was not shown as an outlier in her community, but rather she was a gifted mathematical genius in a community of educated, hard working and ingenius Black Americans.
Empowerment through Black Feminism is very necessary.
What feels so right and so comforting is how this movie shows you the importance of empowerment through Black Feminism. It quietly but powerfully demonstrates how critical it is for Black American females to have a support system of cultural, social and intellectual allies. Black female empowerment through friendship is critical to Black women being socially, mentally and emotionally healthy.
Your social community is powerful. It is pertinent to your success or your failure in your Black American life.
The movie outlines how communal Black Americans needed to be during that time period. The community played a huge role in the educational success, the mainstay of your career, a person’s love life and the pervasiveness of how you were aligned to organized religion.
Healthy and Realistic Black Love exists.
[My opinion…. ] I don’t think since “Love Jones” have I truly enjoyed a realistic, healthy and heart-warming show of Black Love, on screen. In today’s society where Black American women are objectified to oblivion, demonized by Black American men for the further de-construction of the Black American community and when both Black men and women have their humanity degraded via meme(s) and racist caricatures for the vile masses… seeing healthy, happy and touching Black Love on screen seems almost like a dream. Yet we know that Black Love like this exist. I appreciate this movie for showing us the complexity of Black love in such a time period. To be able to feel, want, enjoy and engage in love in spite of racial discrimination, being intellectually marginalized and having your spirit broken by the many nuances of Jim Crow… to be able to love under those conditions seems like almost like a radical and heroic act of humanity.
Racism is dismantled in the presence of excellence.
What we do see in this story of Katherine Johnson and the Black American She-roes of NASA is that racism becomes severely diminished and almost moot when excellence is properly acknowledged. My father always told me you can surmount any “-ism” when you display unwavering excelllence of your craft.
This story shows us that excellence commands respect from the core of anyone’s humanity. A person’s skin color is irrelevant when they are intellectually superior and when they are pushing intellectual boundaries.
This movie gave you multiple moments where Katherine Johnson’s excellence, her humanity and her intellectual prowess humbled those around her and revealed her and all of the Black American women of NASA to be wonderful, courageous and ingenius human beings.
I sound like a broken record, but I’m going to say it again… this is a must-see for our fellow Americans – all races, all colors, all cultures and all creeds. This movie demonstrates that the Black Intelligentsia is pertinent to the triumph of America as a country and as society. Non Black Americans can use this film as a way to socially divest in the falsehood that Black Americans are not intellectual equals and accept that in all facets of life, we are indeed peers. This story and other HIDDEN stories of Black American ingenuity break down the white supremacist narrative of Black inferiority.
It is a feel good movie. It made me very proud to be a Black American woman, proud to be a Black Female Nerd du Jour and it helped me remember that in this political and social climate, there still exists an America where we [both Black Americans and Non Black Americans] are unified and working towards a truly diverse and cohesive United States.
GO SEE THIS MOVIE.
Hidden Figures opens on December 25, 2016 in the USA. If you want to learn more about the movie, visit the official movie sight at: http://www.foxmovies.com/mobile/movies/hidden-figures