Justice for Detroit

Detroit, a movie that sheds light onto the racially driven raid of an Algiers motel room in 1967, has been critically reviewed since its release date on Aug. 4. Before the movie hit theatres, William Bibbiani decided to review it and give his opinion. On Aug. 2. Bibbiani released his review (via ign.com) stating that the Detroit movie did not accurately depict the Algiers motel raid. He gave the movie an overall rating of 6.5/10.

However, I believe his rating is entirely miscalculated.

First and foremost, Detroit is a movie that revolves around racism and police brutality towards African Americans. The movie is set in the summer of 1967 in Detroit, Michigan. Racial tensions were significantly higher than those of the 21st century, especially in the city of Detroit. Bibbiani begins his article with “Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit is a concussive dramatization of a true story, in which corrupt and racist police officers violently detained 10 black men and two white women during the 12th Street Riot of 1967.” Bibbiani claims that Bigelow’s portrayal of the event was “dramatized” yet this event left innocent, unarmed civilians dead. Detroit portrays this tragedy with violence, murder, racism and devastation; and that’s exactly what this historical event was.

The Algiers motel was raided by police and the National Guard on Tuesday, July 25, 1967, with three men unjustly murdered the following day. It was determined that these three men had been killed by a shotgun at close range. The policemen’s alibi was that they had been involved in an explosive gun battle, however, no weapons were found at the scene. Detroit takes this event and gives a universal lesson on racism and violence. Bibbiani focuses on the fact that this movie doesn’t accurately depict the motel raid. Not only does Detroit show the horrors of those men and women inside the hotel, they released it this year as a remembrance that this event occurred exactly 50 years ago. Detroit sheds light on the blood curling raids, riots, murders and corruption that the people of Detroit endured for five consecutive days.

Bibbiani then turns a blind eye to the pain of racism by saying “ But everyone who didn’t need that message crammed down their throat today is going to be in for a very tough sit, and for very iffy reasons.”

Due to the fact that Bibbiani is a 35-year old white male, he may not be as personally in touch with racism as someone like me. My grandmother was born in 1949 and through her I have learned about some of the obstacles that African Americans faced during segregation. I also ,as an African American woman, understand that people of my color were enslaved for 246 years, alienated from society for over 60 years and still face discrimination to this day.

From stories told to me by my elders I feel as though I am as familiar with racism as I ever want to be. Racism is not as bad as it once was but it is still a prominent piece of American history. Bibbiani’s statement comes across as though he’s saying that not everyone needs to know the painful history of racism against minorities. The message of this movie is to connect police brutality and prejudice of the past to the coincidental incidents of today. It is a universal message about discrimination that keeps the stories of injustice alive.

Movies like Detroit are more influential now than many people realize due to unsettling statistics: African Americans are 3x more likely to be killed by police, 69 percent of African Americans killed by police were unarmed and nonviolent, and 99 percent of police brutality cases in 2015 resulted in police officers dodging conviction. The statistics have been authenticated and they validate the point that Detroit is trying to prove: police are not held accountable for their action. For those who do not personally know much about African American history, movies such as Detroit educate them about the tribulations we have overcome. They educate today’s generation about pieces of black history that somehow get skipped in school curriculum, and have been erased throughout time.

“Detroit has a powerful impact but its focus on one specific event during the 1967 Detroit riots, and its emphasis on real-time police brutality over larger historical context, will be divisive to audiences,” Bibbiani said.

How can a movie about an actual piece of history be “divisive” to a nation already divided? From political views to personal morals, the United States of America is divided in innumerable ways. His statement basically says that Detroit will divide its audience because some will understand and agree while others will not. But isn’t that what’s already happening in today’s society? A nation that is divided by views that differ from one another? Although police brutality may not be as brutal as it was in the 60’s, it is still an issue that Americans deal with everyday. Detroit brings awareness to those who don’t understand that nature of police brutality. It gets them up close and personal and allows them to empathize with victims. Bibbiani ,who is primarily a video gaming reviewer, feels as though this movie is divisive but it is clear that his target was missed.

To resolve issues like this, reviewers should not base their reviews on how the movie made them feel. The reviews should be based on the quality and purpose of the movie itself. If Bibbiani had done this, Detroit’s review would have come out a lot differently and certainly more accurate.


Some information gathered courtesy of www.mappingpoliceviolence.com

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