I really enjoyed Ava DuVernay’s 13th, an incredible documentary about how black folks in America have been continually oppressed from the moment slavery was abolished. But let me start things off by talking about it’s flaws.
13th is unashamedly partisan. This isn’t to say that the arguments Ava and co make about the animalisation of black people aren’t true – I think there’s no question that’s the case. Shit, I’m not gonna sit here and argue that Nixon and Reagan aren’t evil from a race relations stand point.
But the forcefulness in which the film makes its point, the way it, in most part, lays the blame on Republican politicians and doesn’t say a word about Obama’s role in the whole system will turn off a lot of minds.
Why does this matter? That is the central point I found myself asking throughout this documentary.
Does it matter how partisan this film is? Does it matter that this film is not conciliatory in tone? Does it matter just how black this film is?
There is an air of ‘we tried it one way and that hasn’t worked’-ness to this film. 13th is a historical lecture on why the Black Lives Matter movement exists and why it doesn’t give a damn whether people agree with its sentiments or not. It really doesn’t care and that is why it’s a very powerful film.
I watched it with my very white wife and there were moments when I saw that she was deeply outraged and moved by some of sections in the film.The ALEC scene of the film (you’ll know it when you get to it) felt so bonkers to me, but my wife is smarter than I am and she felt it made perfect sense.
Is this film worth your time? Yes, yes it is. But whether you agree with the self evident mantra that black lives matter or not, you will be angry by the time the credits roll. This is by design.
This film was made by a brilliant, talented, beautiful and angry black woman. And she doesn’t give a damn what you think of her, or this film.