Friday, November 15, 2013
Just got back from the movie "12 Years A Slave" director by Steve McQueen, staring Chiwetel Ejoifor as the lead character named "Solomon Northrup".
The plot of this movie is partly based on a true story about "Solomon Northrup" who was duped, trapped and sold back into slavery in Mississppi to two plantations for 12 years. Later he wrote about his experiences and the writings still stand today.
In the movie, it goes through various images of what "freedom" looks like and what enslavement looks like, and manumission looks like. The main character encounters other slaves who often say they have accepted their lot in life, as if they deserve the inhumane treatment because God has turned His back on them.
There were big name, A-list actors in this movie: Chiwetel Ejoifor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyang'O, Alfre Woodard, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti. An excellent cast.
The starkness of outlook was apparent with the cinematography. The only colorful displays were shown when strength returned to individuals. Or when mirth occurs in the plot.
In mental illness, a traumatic experience can cause one's brain to adapt to survive. When that trauma does not cease, the anger of suffering turns in on itself to a clinical depression. This clinical depression could not be acted upon by slaves until the last dying breath. The inhumane and demeaning nature of enslavement, by its very nature is mental anguish and there a paucity of modern health studies to understand its impact on African Americans, and the resiliency of their ancestors in the United States.
There were two women who dealt with their trauma in the only way they could and were forced to deny their pain because it was a nuisance to others. Not just the slave masters and their families, but others slaves. The callus nature that slaves developed was out of fear. A hollow look. This movie captured like a time machine of the faces of slaves just enduring it, like the mosses on the trees in Mississippi.
But what makes this movie bring to light that it is okay to be mentally ill as a slave and afterward, is treatment options were suicide or homicide. Death lead to freedom when people believed they had none.
It explains why many persons of African descent still hold onto a faith from a god not theirs. All that is left is the vaporous body that courses the blood to innervate the muscles to move. That is not freedom. That is barely survival. Whatever it is, it is crazy. No sane person could logically aspire to endure that and yet they did.
This movie captured it.
Some of the terms were colloquial and great use of the "N-word" in a period piece. Images to demean women using sexual prowess and rape. The viciousness of the Southern white woman who was the mistress of the house having to hold it together when they could not. Many typical things.
But in this movie, it showed life as it once was and how it all can be taken away, like the biblical "Benjamin".
To survive enslavement, Black women had to go crazy. In this movie Black women were beaten and humiliated equally to Black men during slavery. While this movie was about a man, it showed it was more about the women and how the brutality of enslavement essentially emasculated the males, and dehumanized the women - it left Black women as hollow shells of their former selves -- as voids -- waiting to be filled. Unfortunately, the filling was with more cruelty and seeking righteousness either get one killed, wanton to be killed, and sacrificing her body sexually.
In my opinion, Black Women were not blamed as a theme of this movie. It did show of Black men were ripped to shreds unable to act on anything to help Black Women. But this movie was not about physical or mental weaknesses. It was about mental instability and forcing oneself to be unstable in order to survive.
Did I like this movie. No. But I feel drawn to it. I cried in this movie in two parts. The one part where I cried had something to do with a fan fiction Iwrote with many similarities to the scene, and my writing group partners told me it was too violent. I didn't think what I wrote was violent, I felt it was truth. Those things did happen. But the issue is, one has to be crazy to accept a watered down, pansy version for white people to accept it and not be hurt by the facts...
The second part I cried in this movie was after a traumatic experience, the victim feels sorry for the actions that have happened to them. A similarity would be "Stockholm Syndrome". This individual would even defend the abuser justifying his or her torture as correct. This behavior is often seen in rape victims - the if I had not been wearing... When it is the rapist who has a power and control issue to dominate over a perceived victim, who is always powerless. Sadly, when it is done to children, the understanding of right from wrong is skewed.
Trauma such as these can affect the sexual organs, therefore these behaviors can be inherited and passed down the generations. As such, after 150 years the abolition of slavery and ~50 years of ending Jim Crow, it seems too much to expect that being mentally stable in a supremacist society this country was built upon would just dissipate in Black women, and Black men.
What "Solomon Northrup" would be called is "drapetomania". For any slave NOT to desire freedom and stay with brutality requires a certain level of craziness to occur and this movie captures it.
The question is, will this movie gain Oscar nods? It will get nominated. I want it to win. But I am not sure it will because, White America refuses this movie, and then Black America does, too but for different reasons. White America refuses it because there is no way it was that bad to slaves... It's not "Gone With The Wind" in the antebellum South. Black America does not like it due to "Slavery Movie Fatigue" and seeing what we already know, that racist White people are the worst.
at 12:32 AM