BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman

If Tarantino reduced the Klan to pinheaded cartoons when he had them squabble over their poorly-knit hoods in Django Unchained, Lee’s treatment of these cretins as flesh-and-blood people renders them even stupider and more ignorant. Tarantino included that scene, in part, to publicly discuss that Hollywood titan John Ford had donned a hood for D.W. Griffith in The Birth of a Nation. Here, Lee repurposes that film and Gone with the Wind as perpetrators of white supremacy and the illusion that slavery was a benign institution. He risks getting cute with a lot of on-the-nose dialogue about Trump and the alt-right but where other filmmakers attempt blunt topicality, Spike Lee is simply in dialogue with the present. When John David Washington’s Ron Stallworth reacts incredulously to a white coworker’s claims of a future president whose ideals would align with white supremacy, it’s not winking self-congratulation for sticking it to Trump but a condemnation of the U.S. for failing to shut that shit down in the intervening 46 years. I found this intensely moving.

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