You might not have picked it from the batshit insanity that is the BlacKkKlansman trailer but the entire narrative of the film’s main protagonist, Ron Stallworth (played by Ballers‘ John David Washington), is based on a true-blue ‘Murican story. If you’re still unfamiliar with Ron Stallworth’s story, first off, how dare you? Secondly, how dare you?
During the late ’70s, Stallworth was an absolute boss of a cop who noticed a newspaper ad which called for any neighbourhood chums who potentially wanted to join the Ku Klux Klan – nothing suss. Considering it was still the ’70s when racism was very much alive and well (not much has changed since then but more on that later), Stallworth pounced on the opportunity to infiltrate and ultimately expose KKK members through the use of smooth talking, police know-how and a white body double. Oh, yes, my mistake, the use of a white body double was a necessity because Stallworth was an African-American – not exactly the KKK’s desired audience, per se.
Anywho, the eight-month-or-so investigation resulted in the outing of high-profile military personnel who dabbled in the world of morally devoid and abhorrent white supremacy, however, rather than being fired or publically shamed for the rest of their lives, they were discreetly relegated to the most Northern part of America to continue being absolute dregs of society with highly sensitive jobs. Again, it was the ’70s so authority figures hadn’t quite wrapped their heads around the appropriate punishment for A-grade human indecency.
So why, 40 years later, is a movie like this necessary? Well, if you actually think racism is on its way out and the colourless light at the end of the minority-trashing tunnel draws near, that’s exactly why this movie is necessary – crucial, even. You see, I’m not too sure if you’re aware but America is currently experiencing somewhat of a regressive blizzard in the form of its chief hot air blower.
Thanks to the sitting US leader, being a fucking asshole has experienced something of a renaissance, if you will. Emboldened by their highest ranking cheerleader, neo-nazis and like-minded cumquats have flocked to every crevice of the world; from social media and the streets of Charlottesville to the United States Congress (fucking hell) to spread their words of substantial bullshit.
You see, in 2018, the world barely bats an eyelid when the American fucking president calls actual, self-proclaimed white supremacists “fine people” and regularly vomits out unfathomably damaging rhetoric, most of which is based on absolutely zero merit and backed up by alternative facts drip-fed to him through his die-hard supporters dressed in journalists’ clothing. That’s what we’re used to now, and because it’s one bloody car crash after another, we’ve desensitised ourselves to what would have been considered incomprehensible just a few years ago.
Sidebar: active racists can never be fine people. Sure, they may occasionally do thoughtful things like bringing in their neighbour’s bins when they’re away on holiday, but decent actions are not the makings of a decent person.
Now look, this wasn’t meant to be an opinion piece on Donald Trump. Unfortunately, it’s just impossible to talk about a movie like BlacKkKlansman without the 45th President once again inserting himself into a narrative that shouldn’t be about him. There are just far too many parallels between America circa 1979 and present-day America to avoid comparisons.
It’s a gutwrenching shame that in this day and age, it’s considered somewhat ‘bold’ or ‘polarising’ to release a movie that challenges the intelligence of white supremacists. The intelligence of white supremacists should be challenged. The actions of white supremacists should be challenged. The actions of the fucking American president should be challenged.
There’s a particularly striking moment of Stallworth’s recount of his KKK investigation. Namely, when Stallworth’s sergeant ordered him to be the bodyguard for David Duke, the then-Grand Wizard of the KKK.
Just to recap: Stallworth was ordered by his superior officer to ensure the safety of a man who had spent his entire life trying to rid the world of people like Stallworth. That’s what you want, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, Stallworth being ordered to protect the backward ideologies of a group that hates him for his race sounds all too familiar to what’s happening now. Specifically, the most powerful person in the US regularly lashing out over Twitter at peaceful protesters (who are protesting discrimination against minorities might I add) to stand for a flag which represents a country that, historically, has treated those same exact protesters as second-class citizens.
Look, if anything, the release of BlacKkKlansman will undoubtedly be a shocking reminder of how far we haven’t come.
BlacKkKlansman hits cinemas on August 16th. Check out the trailer below: