Sybil, J. and a bunch of the TJMS/Reach Media staff went to a screening of the new Lee Daniels’ film, “The Butler.” It stars Forest Whitaker, David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard and lots of other supporting characters who you’d recognize portraying Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan.
Even though the title is simply “The Butler,” and the character is brilliantly played by Forest Whitaker, it’s really an entertaining history lesson from a black man who has experienced the worst and best of America. Even though I’m very tempted to tell you a lot about the movie and ruin it for you, I won’t because I really want everyone to see it. You know how I am about supporting black movies…I would urge you to see it on that principal alone. But in this case, I urge you see it because it is important. There shouldn’t be a person in America, or a least a black person, who can’t relate to some part of the struggle, triumph, sadness, joy, indignity, pride, fear and hope that was depicted in the 132 minutes the film ran.
There’s a lot of humor too, humor that black people really get that isn’t slapstick or stereotypical like a lot of movies. The supporting cast included some amazing actors that made a very good movie even better. It was cool to get a look inside the White House from the perspective of the black men and women that served there. There’s a lot of emotional stuff too and yeah, by the end, most of us were wiping away tears.
For every one who doesn’t believe the obstacles black men and women endured and over came, for those who have lived it, for those who never witnessed it and especially for those who have forgotten, it is a very accurate depiction of the segregated South through the Civil Rights Movement, The Black Party Movement, Vietnam, up until now. I know there will always be people, black and white, who would rather not be taken back to some of the ugliest moments of history, especially the parts that haven’t changed that much. The scene where Oprah’s character is talking about Emmett Till was eerily similar to conversations people are having today about the murder of Trayvon Martin.
The movie didn’t try to answer every question, solve every problem or make any of the characters out to be perfect.
All and all, it delivers a great lesson and provides a lot of laughs too: sounds like a “Party with a Purpose,” on the big screen. And there’s nothing wrong with that.