Weekly round-up: Black stock characters, Opportunity Agenda, Fiction over Fact
BALLAD OF THE MAGICAL NEGRO: Eisa Davis performs her “Ballad of the Magical Negro,” about Black supporting stock characters on film and in fiction. (The term “Magical Negro” was coined by Spike Lee when discussing characters in “The Green Mile” and “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”)
NEW “OPPORTUNITY SURVEY” REPORT: The Opportunity Agenda said last week, “Every couple of generations, interests and attitudes converge to create the potential for transformative social change, and right now the stage is set. Our nation can and should be a place where everyone enjoys full opportunity. Yet 6 in 10 Americans report experiencing unfair treatment because of what they look like, their life history, or their income level. We’re in a unique moment to turn that tide, with an overwhelming number of Americans hungry for change, according to findings in the Opportunity Survey.”
THE NY TIMES ON “WHY MOVIE ‘FACTS’ PREVAIL”: An opinion piece in the New York Times last week points out that four of this year’s Oscar best-picture nominees are based on historical events: “American Sniper,” “The Imitation Game,” “Selma,” and “The Theory of Everything.” All four of these films have been criticized for historical inaccuracies. The article asks: “You might think: Does it really matter? Can’t we keep the film world separate from the real world? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Studies show that if you watch a film — even one concerning historical events about which you are informed — your beliefs may be reshaped by ‘facts’ that are not factual.” So what do we do about it? The research cited in the article says that it helps to have misinformation identified and “corrected at the time it was encountered.” Easier said than done. Should you have a historian join you at the movies? Of these four films, I’ve seen only “Selma.” The supposed inaccuracies in that film — regarding Pres. Johnson’s view on mass protests for a voting rights law — are debatable.