BlacKkKlansman is Spike Lee’s 2018 comedy based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, a Black rookie policeman in Colorado Springs, Colorado who worked with a body double to infiltrate, take over, and take down the local chapter of the Klu Klux Klan.
The KKK is not funny, but the stupidity of people in the KKK is. It reminds you of the stupidity of another klan, the DTK. You can guess who they are. They are not funny either, but they are stupid. The whole thing points out the stupidity of us Americans for giving idiots like this any kind of power at all. SAD. DUMB.
But the movie is great. Brooklyn director Spike Lee is in his finest form. There is a lot that is said, and a lot that is not said. Lee intersperses historical footage from Civil War movie Gone with the Wind (1939), KKK film Birth of a Nation (1915), DT speeches, and the murder at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina, almost exactly one year ago.
Its the 1970s. Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) was the first Black officer on the Colorado Springs police force. They put their “Jackie Robinson” cop to work in record keeping.
The police chief gives him a chance to do some “real police work” by spying on the local Black Student Union. There he becomes enamored with Union president Patrice (Laura Harrier). She doesn’t like the way Black policemen are portrayed in 1970s blaxploitation films like Shaft. Ironically, Lee styles Ron like a blaxploitation hero.
On a spur of the moment, Ron answers a newspaper KKK recruitment ad using his white voice. He strikes up a phone friendship with David Duke, grand wizard of the KKK (and an endorser of Donald Trump). It’s hilarious to hear Ron talk white supremacist crap.
When it’s time to meet, Jewish cop Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) goes in his place. Together they discover a violent plot, with lots of guns of course, and work to keep it from happening.
The movie shows both the best and the worst of humanity. Looking back on the way we were in the 1970s will make most people cringe. Many of us will wonder why things haven’t changed more than they have. That was fifty years ago (two generations), but in spite of some gains, we really haven’t progressed very much. That’s not someone else’s fault. It’s on us.
The rise of the DTK was based on white supremacy as demographics turn our country brown. The demographics are unavoidable, but racism is. You can’t help but wonder what we will accomplish when our country is truly for all Americans.
Spike Lee spoke to this in an interview with CNN’s Chloe Melas:
We have never honestly dealt with slavery. Once we start to have an honest discussion on slavery, then we can move forward.
Lee is right. What will happen when we stop using so much energy to hold down so many of our people in the most heinous and socially destructive ways? Together, Black and Latin are one third of Americans (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015).
“All power to all the people.”
Washington and Driver’s performances carry the show. By the way, John David Washington is the son of another great actor, Denzel Washington.
BlacKkKlansman is a Focus Features picture.
BlacKkKlansman in New York City
BlacKkKlansman opens officially citywide on Friday, August 10, 2018.
August 11 is the anniversary of the Charlottesville Riot in which white supremacists killed Heather Heyer and injured almost fifty people.
“You had people that were very fine people on both sides.”
Go see the movie and see what you think.
- Best Picture
- Supporting Actor ~ Adam Driver
- Director ~ Spike Lee
- Adapted Screenplay ~ Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
- Film Editing ~ Barry Alexander Brown
- Original Score ~ Terence Blanchard
Cannes ~ Grand Prix (the second highest award at Cannes)