[Marxism] Black America seen through the prism of seven films released this year | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Dec 5 19:17:48 MST 2018

Likely a combination of pressure applied on the Hollywood film industry 
to be more racially inclusive and the street protests led by Black Lives 
Matter, 2018 was marked by a bumper crop of films about Black America. 
Perhaps the most significant evidence of a shift was the long and 
flattering article in the May 22, 2018 Sunday NY Times Magazine section 
titled “How Boots Riley Infiltrated Hollywood” that was unlike any 
article I had seen in the magazine in a long time, maybe ever:

	“Sorry to Bother You” comes out in wide release in July. The film is 
visually ingenious and funny, yet grounded by pointed arguments about 
the obstacles to black success in America, the power of strikes and the 
soul-draining predations of capitalism. A self-described communist since 
his teens, Riley has said he aims “to help build a mass movement that 
can use withholding of labor as a strategy for social change.”

Another such film that opened to universal acclaim was Spike Lee’s 
“BlacKkKlansman”, which some critics viewed as his best work ever. I 
avoided seeing the two films when they first came out partly as a 
reaction to the hype surrounding them. In general, I stay away from 
Hollywood films for most of the year since they hardly seem worth the 
money I would spend to see them. As I expected, I received screeners for 
both films and can say at this point that my skepticism was warranted. 
This has also been the case with just about every other film I have seen 
in this capacity except for the surprisingly great “Can You Ever Forgive 

As it happens, the best in this group of seven under consideration was a 
low-budget neorealist indie film titled “Life and Nothing More” directed 
by a Spaniard who used nonprofessionals exclusively. Except for this 
film, the others were flawed in one way or another. Despite that, I have 
no problem recommending them all since they at least engage with the 
realities of racism that have deepened horrifically under the white 
supremacist administration of Donald Trump.


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