Hidden Figures: Uncomfortable, feel good and important

A lot of black folks hate Quentin Tarantino because he is far too comfortable using the word nigger in his films. I get why many distrust him, but for me his films have always shown an unpolished truth to race relations in the west.

I’ll never forget being in the cinema watching Django Unchained in a room full of white people, laughing at a group of haphazard Klu Klux Klang members preparing an attack. Yes, the room was laughing, but the sound was all wrong… it was uncomfortable. The whole room had an off atmosphere – almost sinister. That is the same feeling I had watching Hidden Figures.

Hidden Figures is a remarkable film and no one on the planet will convince me otherwise. What makes it special is not the relatively unknown story it tells (a trio of black women breaking prejudices at NASA) or the uplifting nature of the film – it’s how the evil of racism seeps through everything in the movie.

Every joyful scene, every joke, every piece of the film that is filled with love is also tainted by racism. One of the earliest scenes features a white policeman and it’s an amazing piece of filmmaking. That scene is laugh-out-loud funny but throughout it all there is dread. That dread, that dark cloud runs throughout this film.

In hindsight, it was going to be tough for me to hate a film that features Janelle Monae. She, along with Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer just outstanding. The white folks are great as well and shout out to Jim Parsons, who is actually great as a racist engineer. Yes, the guy who’s best known for playing Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory plays a racist engineer.

You can watch this film in a post-Obama context and celebrate the very obvious progress America and the world has made – that shouldn’t be ignored. What also shouldn’t be forgotten is the fact that the events depicted in this film took place just over 50 years ago. The film took place in my mother’s lifetime. If that isn’t reason enough to make sure we are all vigilant, then I don’t know what will do the trick.


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