Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is on the list of 1001 Books to Read before You Die, and The Rabbit Proof Fence is one of the 1001 Movies. This blog has never been about reviewing a text, but more about a discussion into the emotion they inspire. That’s what this is.
In the past few years of blogging, in particular the more recent 2015/2016 effort towards completing the 1001 lists, I’ve accepted few reasons to write seriously about what I’ve been experiencing. As my natural preference is towards positive or comedic creations, I tend to figure that life gives you enough lemons as it is, why delve further into the things that make you upset? No one wants to read a post on a lifestyle blog about racism, segregation or the Stolen Generation – they want to see photos of beaches and pancakes, while reading about the time I watched Fantasia with the audio out of sync.
I’m also not often a social warrior – if you want to make me cry about human failures, show me the photo of a koala sitting in a logged field, or remind me that I may get to see the Great Barrier Reef, but I will never see the Great Barrier Reef as it was in its prime. Human struggles don’t often rate on my emotional scale, and it isn’t because I’m not a genuinely kind or feeling person, and it’s not because I don’t feel for, or cry for human misfortune, it’s just because if I’m completely honest, I like to imagine Earth as it would be without us. We’re kind of the worst.
There’s only one memory I have of a serious post in relation to #the1001project, and it’s from last year when I watched Within Our Gates, the 1920s Oscar Micheaux film about slavery and racism in America. I remember at the time thinking “wow, the context of my watching this is so poignant! There are so many horrible things happening lately”, with tasering and shooting of innocent people, and several mass murders, I was upset and I’ll always remember ending that post with:
“It’s not change that we need to be afraid of, though I know there’s a lot of that going around at the moment – we need to be terrified of the ways in which we are still the same.”
I want to write poetically, or eloquently, about how I feel when I see films like Rabbit Proof Fence and read novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin but more often than not, the reactions are more emotional and forceful. Admittedly I’m not reading as many tales as I was last year, but the aftershocks still exist, and there are still videos of police stopping noticeably shaken African American ladies, convincing them they’ve broken a law and then saying “nahhh it’s a joke! I wanna give you an ice-cream”. I can’t decide which I hate more, that this lady had the fear of law enforcement ingrained in her, or that the police played on that insecurity to pull a blatant stunt. As ever, the phrase “Check Your Privilege” really needs to be reiterated, and yet again: