By: Youeal Abera, Staff Writer
Editor’s note: Spoilers included!
If a film has the ability to exceed the methodical expiry date of trend-propelled plots, then chances are, its value in society is imperative.
Blackkklansman, directed by Spike Lee and produced by Jordan Peele, is the story of an African-American undercover cop who fakes his identity as a white supremacist to infiltrate the KKK. From this plot alone, Blackkklansman is one of the most incredible and thought-provoking autobiographical stories in cinematic history.
The film begins with Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) being interviewed for a position on the Colorado Springs Police Department. Initially, Stallworth is warned that if he were to become the first Black policeman in Colorado, he would experience a tremendous amount of racism. After being hired, this warning comes to fruition as Stallworth experiences a substantial amount of implicit and explicit racism, even from those on his own force.
By far, what serves as the most exciting element of Blackkklansman is Stallworth’s courage, particularly in his effort to dismantle the KKK from the inside. With the help of his partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), Stallworth uses a concocted identity to ascertain the plans of the KKK by attending each meeting and function. On a number of occasions, Stallworth and Zimmerman’s façade is almost found out, stealing the breath of audience members each time. However, with Stallworth’s name and Zimmerman’s face, the protagonists of the story manage to fool the group of terrorists long enough that the KKK’s plans of death and destruction are foiled.
The most intriguing aspect of Blackkklansman, however, is its relevance to today’s political climate. Although Lee’s film takes place in the 1970s, much of the social and systemic debacle present in the film is mirrored in real life today, most notably in Trump’s presidency.
For instance, former grand wizard of the KKK, David Duke (Topher Grace), tells Stallworth in their correspondences that he plans to transfer his views on terrorism, supremacy, and racism into the world of politics. Now, four decades later, the real-life David Duke has proudly cemented himself as an avid fan and supporter of Donald Trump, tweeting things like, “Today Trump is a Hero! Trump is no Jesus but they hate him as much!!!!!!”.
In addition to being an entertaining movie, this film intelligently exposes to audiences the deep history of America’s racist structures, and how they exists both in the criminal justice and political system. This is especially exemplified at the end of the movie, as Lee completed the film with footage of the chaos white supremacists enacted within Charlottesville in the summer of 2017.
If you want a movie that will make you laugh and keep you on the edge of your seat, then Blackkklansman is the perfect choice for you. However, when watching the film, be sure to critically observe not only how racism and white supremacy operates, but also how these agents aren’t merely “things of the past.”