First Impressions of BlacKkKlansman

I finally went back to the theater (instant sticker shock, btw) to see the one movie I’ve been looking forward to for the past several months, BlacKkKlansman. Spike Lee is always an interesting if not controversial filmmaker, and the story of a black detective infiltrating the KKK promised to be entertaining if nothing else. The fact it was based on a true story sealed the deal. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be. Here are some of my initial thoughts, with a full review to follow next week.

  • After doing some research, it turns out “based on a true story” is really “inspired by true events.” Only the basic premise, and a few scenes, actually happened. The rest was made up.
  • This opens a can of worms for me, and not just from a historical perspective. If Spike Lee wanted to make a movie about racism, why fictionalize events from the 1970s, when there are so many other clear cut and dramatic examples of racism in U.S. history?
  • The dialog in BlacKkKlansman is so bad and anachronistic. It’s literally “I’m a racist character so I do nothing but talk about how much I love whiteness and hate minorities,” or “I’m a black activist so I do nothing but talk about black power, blaxploitation references, and how much I hate cops.”
  • The acting among the lead cast was decent. Topher Grace stole the show as race huckster David Duke.
  • What was Spike Lee’s message? Is it just to make parallels between racism in the 1970s and racism in the 2010s? Because he does that. A lot. He beats the audience over the head with it.
  • Or is he criticizing identity politics as a whole by making a side by side comparison of black power activists and white power activists? At one point a jump cut shows both groups shouting their respective slogans. This is contrasted with the main character’s chummy relationship with coworkers of different backgrounds.

That’s all for now. My review is mainly going to focus on the historical accuracy of the film and divining its message. Look for it on Monday!

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