[1988] Mississippi Burning

As years progress, I’m continuously uncertain whether the majority of us understands right and wrong. Granted, this distinction is often not as binary as we’d like it to be (and using “objectively” to preface any extremely non-objective statement, e.g. “objectively, billionaire philanthropy is wrong,” is an instant way to open oneself up to semantic argument). But there are objective, ipso facto rights and wrongs, chiefly, slavery and the subjugation of other humans, is objectively wrong. There’s no justification for it. And yet it happened, and is happening by other names, today, still, even though there’s no justification for it. There’s a long treatise on Wait But Why that I won’t rehash here in full, but Tim makes an incredible argument about parametric power and I believe him.

Mississippi Burning, released in 1988, rehashed a still-unsettled incident from 1964. It commented on the maddening fact that the United States has subjugated Black people to non-entity-at-best for over what was then 300 years.  That’s fifteen generations of families first enslaved and then discarded as other. It’s pathetic but powerful that we still have to say this in 2020, over four hundred years—20 generations—later: Black Lives Matter.

The movie splits time between recounting the deaths of three Civil Rights activists, killed for their work in Mississippi in 1964 registering Black citizens to vote, and the relationship between two buddy/FBI agents sent to investigate their murders. These stories work in tandem, with built-in pressure points, perhaps even counter-intuitive ones, like the state government willfully ignoring the Federal directive to integrate at least, tolerate at best. The interplay between Gene Hackman and Willem Defoe is another pressure point, and is a strong analogue for the old adage of “missing the forest for the trees,” which almost allows the bad actors to win. But there are four other pressure points that help craft this story—the timing and our collective memories of MISSBURN—Mississippi Burning.

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[1988] The Accidental Tourist

 

This post will be in two parts within this block of text. I’ve decided to undergo a thought exercise: what can I parse about this movie based on the title? How right/wrong will I be after I watch it? What does it mean if I can or cannot guess at certain plot points before the fact? Does predictability mean anything?

The Accidental Tourist will play as a deterministic expose on what it means for a man to portend a comfortable existence in a stable environment. He will be a man of some importance, either to his place or to his cast of characters and an event – something – will call to attention what it means to stand for something of importance, taking into account the particular nature of this man’s relationship to his place, as I assume “tourist” means someone who is unfamiliar with a particular physical location. He will be “accidental” because this movie will demonstrate, through somewhat obvious technique, that our main character, the Tourist, will in fact be quite familiar with his place or places. The title will become more meaningful as a metaphor and the inexact science of balancing relationships with people and place will help shape the outcome of a man’s fate as he grows emotionally. The unfamiliar situation that constitutes “accidental” will, further, in his life become a representation of wantonness and loose-living that helps him form even stronger bonds.

I assume a love interest will play a huge role. Continue reading