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Director Theodore Melfi says he had to whitewash a couple of scenes in the Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures because it’s not fair to depict ALL the white characters and the white establishment as racist, even though history says otherwise.

When interviewed by Vice, Melfi defended his decision to add a white savior into the story… because every Black person needs a white savior, right?

“There needs to be white people who do the right thing,” he said. There needs to be Black people who do the right thing and someone does the right thing. And so who cares who does the right thing, as long as the right thing is achieved?”

Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), flanked by fellow mathematicians Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) meet the man they helped send into orbit, John Glenn (Glen Powell). (Hopper Stone Photo)

The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as the Black female mathematicians who helped the U.S. win the 1960s space race. In one scene, Henson, as Katherine Johnson, gets soaked in the rain when she runs across NASA’s campus to use the only “colored” restroom available at Langley Research Center. When her boss, Kevin Costner’s Al Harrison, learns about this, he rushes to the restroom with a crowbar in hand and uses it to hack off the “Colored Ladies Room” sign.

“No more colored restrooms,” he said. “No more white restrooms. Just plain ole toilets. Go where ever you damn well please. … Here at NASA, we all pee the same color.”

Margot Lee Shetterly, who wrote the book upon which the film is based, revealed Johnson “refused to so much as enter the Colored bathrooms.”

The 98-year-old physicist confirmed the real story to Vice, saying. “I just went on in the white one,” she said.

Another fictional scene shows Johnson not being allowed in the control room to deliver her final calculations for John Glenn’s launch until Harrison brought her in to announce the results together.

Johnson told Vice that in truth, she wasn’t allowed to enter mission control and was at her desk when the launch occurred. According to the book, she “sat tight in the office, watching the transmission on a television.”

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22 thoughts on “‘Hidden Figures’ Director Defends Film’s Fictional White Savior

  1. Based on a Jewish writer's hatred of whites. on said:

    Entire movie is PURE FICTIONAL garbage. These blacks did virtually nothing and were most likely cleaning women.

    • discursive_limits on said:

      You DO realize that this movie was based on a book of the same title by Margot Lee Shetterly right? A thoroughly-researched creative nonfiction narrative collected together by that same author from women in her own community of Langley, Virginia. Like, the movie is bad and the ways it was manufactured (from soundtrack to director) clearly show that the messages about the positionality of Black women in NACA/NASA did not translate to the integrity of Black women in Hollywood (as almost no Black women being involved past acting and being permitted to share a track or two with Pharrell Williams), but this story is REAL. Stop discrediting the ways Black women have survived, especially one story that’s been obscured from all except one community.

  2. Alberta on said:

    Strange foreign women was the downfall of Solomon’s kingdom…the same goes for today. White people is the downfall of our people….THEY ARE THE MOMMON the Bible speaks of…We can’t serve 2 masters..we love, hate & hold on to them. Oh yeah this is true

  3. Really on said:

    They always try to diminish our strength determination intelligence creativity our beauty. and put us all In a tiny box . And act like we need them to save us . If we would all stick together and live to our true potential we could really reach some new heights.

    • If by “we all” you mean black people, I’d advise you to just breath, because if you hold your breath waiting for that to happen, you’ll die a long, tortuous death.

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  5. cadamiy on said:

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  6. Alberta on said:

    White folk revealing secrets from the past in order to make more $$$$$…they aught to be sued for lying! What other secrets do they have? I guess we’ll see the revelation of Civil Rights soon..the White man takes credit for that too! Lol can you believe them! Civil Rights reminds white people to act civil not us..they..guess what? They failed to keep their promise..

  7. Alberta on said:

    oops i didn’t finish my sentences…Lol they need a lift off station on earth to get to the moon & they need a lift off station to return..smh

  8. Alberta on said:

    AIN’T NO WAY MAN EVER TRAVELED TO THE MOON…IF YOU A LIFT OFF STATION ON EARTH YOU’LL NEED A LIFT OFF STATION ON THE MOON…THEY ARE BOLD LIARS..DO YOU KNOW HOW I KNOW THEY’RE LYING??? WAS JESUS WHITE WHEN HE WAS ON EARTH? NO! WELL WHITE PEOPLE SAY HE WAS. ENOUGH SAID..THEY ARE BOLD FACED RIGHT IN OUR FACE LIARS.

  9. Virginia on said:

    The scene where Costner tears down the “colored” sign was one of the ones that I questioned. Also, how did Costner’s character NOT notice that there was a “colored” coffee pot and that Johnson wasn’t allowed to use the main pot? I found Costner’s character to be the hardest to believe in that movie. But it wouldn’t be the first time Costner has been cast as the Savior of black people. He seems to SEEK those roles. Remember “Black and White”, and the one with Whitney Houston “Body Guard” (or something like that)? He seems to have a need to “save” black people.

    • specialt757 on said:

      Costner does always seem to play the “good guy” character. I like him okay, but those scenes were unbelievable just because of the time period. Even the white folks that liked black folks didn’t want other white folks to know it, so, most likely they provided a whole lot of “alternative facts” in that movie. I even think the scene where that white woman who gave Taraji’s character the pearl neckless was a lie also, at least the way they showed it happen. You know as well as I, had they showed the true racism these women faced, It would have been Roots all over again. Hate, on top of hate, the country is not ready for that again.

  10. While watching this movie, I knew the scene where he tore down the “colored” sign was a g.d. lie. I don’t even believe the cop in the beginning of the movie gave them an escort to NASA after their car trouble. It was clear they had to play down the obvious racism to make it “comfortable” for all audiences but especially the white audiences because they refuse to believe this country was that bad. IT WAS MUCH WORSE!

      • Really on said:

        I don’t recall president Obama ever promising to save anyone although he did save the country from financial ruin. Just like the people in this movie he will not get credit for the good things he did. We understand whites can’t bring themselves to give him credit for anything nothing mew there. Donald trump is saying he will fix everything don’t worry about anything. That’s not even a rational statement. But no since telling some that . Many people will be disappointed.

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