Holiday 99:Back Talk

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Rob Reiner during an interview said he was fascinated by the idea of doing a Civil Rights story. He came upon the Myrlie Evers Story and thought this was the one he wanted to tell. Except, he, according to his own words, could only relate to the story through the white prosecutor who finally won the case, Bobby Delaughter. He felt he couldn't tell (or felt he didn't have the right to tell) the story from an "African-American" perspective.

So what's the end result? First, black people are reduced to bit characters in their own history, because that is the only way the filmmaker can connect to it, by placing our history in his/her context. The story Mr. Reiner made isn't a Civil Rights story but the "Bobby Delaughter Story" and should've been labeled as such. I think there would be great disappointment if I announced I was going to do a film about the Holocaust, but focused the story on the trial and tribulations of a black G.I. who at the very end, helps to liberate Dachau. An interesting story? Yes. One about the Holocaust? Not really. That's what happened with "Amistad".

Secondly, by refusing to attempt to tell Myrlie Evers' incredible story, Mr. Reiner is refusing to acknowledge the universal elements of her life. Her love for her husband, the pain of his assassination and the struggle for justice are just shrugged off. He reduced her to abstract Black History and magnified his own limitations. She becomes a side bar, a foot note in her own struggle, and the actual foot note got elevated to the text. It is this constant abuse of power by filmmakers from the white mainstream that maintains the idea of colored marginality.

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  • October 1999
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