Recommendations: We Are Legion, 12 Years a Slave, and Starbuck

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Interesting films I’ve watched as of late: ‘We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists‘ (Amazon Video), ‘12 Years a Slave‘ (select theaters), and ‘Starbuck‘ (Netflix) of which an American remake, Delivery Man, is coming out later this month.

We are Legion

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (2012)

Explores the formation of the internet activist group ‘Anonymous’ and provides an interesting perspective with regards to online activism, ‘legal’ ways to suppress various populaces from critiquing or having their criticisms heard about big businesses, institutions, and governments, etc. It’s an interesting watch and is food-for-thought in terms of information / suppression of information for the purposes of the subjugation, monopolization, & manipulation of various peoples, as well as the role of the internets moving forward. I watched it on Amazon Instant Video. Currently, it isn’t available on Netflix.

12 years a slave, slave auction

12 Years a Slave (2013)

When I left the theatre, the person at the ticketing desk asked me, ‘So what’d you think?’ and all I could do was shake my head and say, ‘SHIT maaaan!’

It’s based on the true story of writer Soloman Northap, a free African-American who was kidnapped and brought from the North to various plantations in the South and enslaved for 12 years. I can’t wait to read the book.

The film prompted a fiery discussion between my friend and I, one in which I was stressing them out with my pissed-off rhetorical questions, ‘WHY AREN’T THEY TEACHING THIS IN SCHOOLS INSTEAD? WHY DON’T WE GET TAUGHT ABOUT THIS AT A YOUNGER AGE?’ and more.

I think films like this really highlight how ‘whitewashed’ our education on slavery really is, and how far removed we are from understanding the true depth of the legalized horrors, twisted darkness of psychology for all those involved, and just the truthfully horrifying nature of enslavement. I think if we were more in touch with these things, we would not take the history of American racism as lightly and easily as we do, as is easy for a non-black and middle-class person to do. I’m in that ‘fun,’ ‘comfortable’ place where my socio-economic status allows me to benefit from the status-quo rather than be on the shitty end of it, and where my non-white identities only hold me back so much because I can make a legal fuss out of something if I want to.

I loved and greatly benefited from reading ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ when I was in high school, but I wish I had known about ’12 Years a Slave’ where I could have been told a truthful story of enslavement from the perspective of the enslaved in addition to hearing the perspective of a white family defending blacks in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. I’m glad that I had been shown the series ‘Roots’ at my Muslim private school, Orange Crescent School, in 8th grade, but that’s not nearly enough of a beginning of an education on these matters.

This was an extremely uncomfortable film for me to watch. About 45 minutes into it, the combination of me needing to use the restroom and experiencing the emotional depth of the storytelling made me turn to my friend and say, “I don’t think I can keep watching this,” to which they responded, “Don’t worry, there’s only like half an hour left.” This persuaded me to stay, even though I 90% knew they were lying.

I know that that I need to see these types of stories and understand the horror, but it did become difficult to witness, and even thinking, ‘Well imagine the horror of actually experiencing this and knowing that your ancestors experienced this and experiencing first-hand the results and reverberations of institutional racism,’ wasn’t enough – I needed the ‘only-a-half-hour-left’ lie to keep me in my seat.

Please watch this film in theaters / rent / buy it to both experience the storytelling and to support the film. If you need to, go with  friend that will lie to you and help you stay in your seat. I hope this film receives the merits, recognition, and viewings that it deserves.

starbuck, movie, review, one mans journey to become a reproductive member of society

Starbuck (2011)

Oh man, what a heartwarming film. Don’t be fooled by the awkwardness of the film’s plot, or the first few minutes of the film. It’s a beautiful ode to the human desire to be important, needed, valued, appreciated as you are and for who you are, and the love of a parent or ‘guardian angel.’ It’s a feel-good film that definitely simplifies an absurd situation and everyone’s reaction to it, but I don’t think its really meant to be watched with your brain, rather with your heart. It’s available on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

The tagline of the film,’One Man’s Journey to Become A Reproductive Member of Society,’ is cheeky and made me giggle. The original film is in French with subtitles, but I highly recommend on watching the original. I plan on watching the American remake, too, which so far seems to have used the original script.

Any interesting films you’ve seen lately that you’d like to recommend?

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