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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Experiencing hatred and racism through the big screen

We live in an era where movies influence the general mind subconsciously through themes

The Birth of a Nation Poster
Movie poster advertises ‘The Birth of a Nation’ directed by D.W. Griffith, 1915. Photo credit:

of romance, comedy, and family features. Those are the films that may make for great small talk and an update on one’s weekend at the movies.

Because films create such an impression in society, our minds deeply absorb movies that exhibit social justice, racism, and hate.

Scandalous topics of racism and discrimination are so often reflected in our real lives that it’s no longer a surprise when audiences watch a film that takes them all the way back into the depths of history in regards to hate and discrimination.

Films such as 1915’s “The Birth of a Nation,” is subtly credited for the creation of the ‘second era’ of the Ku Klux Klan. The film marks a the controversy of racism in the Civil War era but is noted to be an American film masterpiece. The extreme portrayal of African Americans made it clear that white people’s perspective expressed focus on the importance and the justice in supporting what was then brute slave labor.

Roots Movie Poster
Roots was an American television miniseries that was derived from Alex Haley’s 1976 novel. Photo credit:

It was then that a counter-narrative mini-series such as “Roots,” bore the representation of slavery in the African-American perspective in 1977. With the Europeans taking African-Americans and selling them into slavery for labor in the Americas, it showed an angle of the cruelty that white people brought about during this era.

The idea was simple: white people made movies about their struggles and idea of justified slavery; black people in return made movies about the struggles of black people due to slavery.

Although racism and hatred is not brand new information in typical classroom settings and history textbooks, the visuals that are in the context of a film can break through boundaries that the audience’s mind never thought to imagine. However, the bigger the controversy is in a film, the more it lures the general audience and creates news in the entertainment industry.

12 Years A Slave
A scene from the film, “12 Years A Slave” depicts an African-American named Solomon Northrup being sent to labor as a slave despite being a free citizen in 1853. Photo credit:

With differing perspectives of racism having had its spotlight in individual films over the years, more current films such as “12 Years a Slave” became a major hit in 2013 when it first released.

It showed a a bit of considerably moral values in some white slave owners in the relationships they had with some black slaves. A connection in these perspectives can be considered enlightening, in a way.

12 Years a Slave Scene
This scene from “12 Years a Slave” portrays a white man allowing a slave to play the violin, which goes to show that some relationships were peaceful between some white elites and the slaves, and they saw a sense of equality between each other. Photo credit:


However, the film portrays the slave master being immensely cruel and believes he does the slaves justice through the suffering he puts them through. In this, hatred is born and the irony of using the Bible as a form of guidance in his action leads audiences to wonder how such abominable acts were tolerated back then, much less could be brought in a form that affects us till present-day.

Nowadays, in order to really understand the details of hate crimes and racism, watching a film such as the ones mentioned above is the best source of reliving how such events could possibly have been real. Whether or not it’s painful for one to watch, the truth of the matter is that these events in history occurred, and perhaps these films are educating us subconsciously while we are lost in the idea of it being simply a form of entertainment.

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