Movies: BlacKkKlansman

Time for me to make an embarrassing confession: the only other Spike Lee "joint" I've ever seen is The 25th Hour. But I did really like that movie. And I really liked this one, too.

For those not in the know, BlacKkKlansman is an adaptation of the true story of Colorado Springs' first black police officer Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington). In the early 70s, Stallworth infiltrated the KKK with the help of a white narcotics officer named "Flip" Zimmerman (portrayed here by Adam Driver). There is, as one might expect, a fair amount of tension in the situation. But it's been well tempered by lighter moments. In all, it's just a really good and engaging movie: well acted and thoughtfully composed.

Lee is a weensy bit heavy handed in the parallels to today's political climate, but the comparisons are justified. Unfortunately, a movie is unlikely to make a difference in people's ways of thinking or behaviors. The kinds of people Lee is preaching against are the kinds that won't be watching BlacKkKlansman anyway.

Then again, the movie also touches on the militancy of the other side, at least at that time. Stallworth attempts to reason with his activist girlfriend who insists all cops are racist pigs (without knowing that her boyfriend is a cop). She rejects his diplomacy with a very "for or against, no middle ground" kind of attitude. So maybe the message here is that neither side is correct, and that the truth and the good in the world lies in the middle, in the gray areas.

Still, the sides are not equivalent. There is a difference between sexual assault, shooting, and bombing and peaceful (if loud) marching and protests.

In all, the movie made me want to read Stallworth's book. And it was a really entertaining film in its own right.

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