Having accepted to be a grandma when it comes down to social activities, you most probably won’t see me at a bar, going out or anything. This rarely happens, because once the clock hits midnight, this granny needs to sleep. So my weekends are usually packed with working out, coffee, lunch and dinner dates, reading, and…Well, that’s basically it. But recently I found myself going to the cinema more than usual. And on a random Saturday evening pretty last-minute I went to see Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman – never knowing I would be writing a blog about it.
The true-based story takes place in the 70s where an African-American policeman Ron Stallworth, working for Colorado Springs police force, finds a creative way to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. And in that process of acquiring trust, manages to successfully trick KKK Grand Wizard: David Duke. The trick is that Ron communicates with the KKK over the phone and during actual meet-ups his white and Jewish colleague Flip Zimmerman. The latter detail (Jewish) is noteworthy, since the KKK have attacked and/or have been against Jews, Catholics, gay, lesbians – and primarily without a doubt people of color. Thus, the golden duo of (i) Ron acquiring trust from the KKK Grand Wizard over the phone and (ii) Flip building a relationship with the local KKK community during the meet-ups, both resulting in some hilarious and absurdly contemporary confronting scenes at the same time.
‘The United States would never elect someone like David Duke’ says Ron in an attempt of prompting an accusation of naivety from his colleague.
Throughout the entire movie multiple similarities are drawn between the 1970s and today, including footage of 2017’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. With the KKK Grand Wizard, David Duke, quoting Trump’s campaign one-liner ‘’America first’’ made the connection pretty scary and confronting. Especially because David Duke had both a role in expanding the KKK and having a political ambition with the same goal as Trump did: making America great again.
Now, as a consumer, I did not perceive the comparisons in such a way that the director intended to show that Trump and the KKK are identical. However, there are parallels between the bigotry and racism in the 70s era and the sociopolitical context today. Therefore, I think that the main message of the movie is that it is highly essential to be critical in contemporary times and to look at history in order to not condemn and repeat it. The scary part of it is that, with the administration of Trump, we do see history repeating itself by endorsing police brutality and an increase resentment, populism and hatred.
The creators of this movie did, in my opinion, a tremendous job in making a movie with an extremely serious and relevant message, with satire and a humorous undertone that makes you crack up every few minutes. It makes you leave the cinema while thinking: ‘’what changed since then?!’’. And exactly this is why we need to keep educating ourselves, question the status quo and keep connecting with one another – within and outside our own ideological bubbles. Thus, I would highly recommend this movie and to keep the conversation going.
Ps. hereby a must watch interview with director Spike Lee, by Trevor Noah: