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Fri Jan 23, 2015, 01:17 PM


Selma: Black History According to Oprah

Like all historical dramatic films, Selma is a political work, reflecting the political views of the producers. Oprah Winfrey is one of those producers, in addition to playing one of the characters in this version of the Selma story. Her handwriting – that is, her conservative Black political worldview – is all over the film, which demands and deserves a political response.

Number One: the film is a crude insult to SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee workers who, along with a small minority of Black preachers like Dr. Martin Luther King, comprised the infrastructure of the civil rights movement in the Deep South.

These hundreds of heroic young people, who had been organizing communities in Mississippi and Georgia and, yes, Lowndes County, Alabama for years, and who invited Dr. King to come to Selma, are personified in the film by one confused sounding, infantile behaving youth who we are supposed to believe is James Forman, the SNCC executive secretary who was, in real life, a Korean War veteran and former teacher and ground-breaking organizer about the same age as Dr. King. In the film, the James Forman character comes across as petty-minded, while Dr. King is made to seem like the only adult in town. Veterans of SNCC have a right to be hurt at being consigned to the dustbin of history by the likes of Oprah Winfrey.

Some people are missing from the film that absolutely should be in there. No, I’m not talking about Stokely Carmichael, although yes, he is quite relevant to the story. I mean the Kennedy brothers, John and Bobby, who were the ones who authorized the bugging of Dr. King’s phones and office and hotel rooms. But Oprah loves the Kennedys, and so the movie leads the audience to believe that J. Edgar Hoover and President Lyndon Johnson set out to surveil and destroy King because of his push for voting rights. But Attorney General Robert Kennedy signed the order, while his brother, who was then president, was still alive. Oprah insults Black SNCC civil rights heroes, but she protects the white, rich Kennedys.

Finally, near the end of the film, Dr. King is depicted as yearning for an end to mass protests, so that Black people could achieve real political power – quite clearly meaning the election of more Black people to office. As if that’s what the mass movement was all about, in King’s mind. We know that’s not true, because Dr. King said the opposite in countless sermons, speeches, books and essays; that he was seeking social transformation, a new system of living. Three years after Selma, King died, still seeking to revive the mass movement.


I haven't seen the film, but I thought this was interesting. Comments from those who have?

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Reply Selma: Black History According to Oprah (Original post)
ND-Dem Jan 2015 OP
vi5 Jan 2015 #1
bravenak Jan 2015 #2
Politicalboi Jan 2015 #3

Response to ND-Dem (Original post)

Fri Jan 23, 2015, 01:35 PM

1. I haven't seen it yet, but I have that issue with everything Oprah does....


She has a very narrow, personal lens through which she views, creates, and presents things. Which is not at all a bad thing or something that is unique to her. But my issue is that it always feels to me like she also presents these things as some sort of universal view and shared experience and as though it should be the final word on the subject.

This is however admittedly just my perception of her and her work. I've felt this way with everything she's done since she botched the Beloved movie.

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Response to vi5 (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 23, 2015, 01:41 PM

2. I did not like Beloved either.


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Response to ND-Dem (Original post)

Fri Jan 23, 2015, 01:55 PM

3. IMO this is Oprah's finest moment


Love me some Dave. "it's not what's gotten into me, it's what's gotten into Oprah".

I'm rich bitch!

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