2.1 Special Issues
Although many of the texts incorporated in my unit include scenes that may be deemed intense and or explicit, especially in their graphic depictions of violence, one should bear in mind that this unit is designed for use with high school seniors. And how else might one explore such concepts as democracy and oppression in America, especially in light of H Rap Brown’s oft cited remark, “Violence is as American as cherry pie”?
received a PG-13 rating from the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). According to IMDB’s (Internet Movie Data Base) Parent’s Guide, in terms of “Violence and Gore: Overall there’s nothing explicit or gross, just talk.” I am unsure if the author of this post and I viewed the same cut of the film; however, the version which I have seen and own contains the following: a young unionist has his throat cut with a straight razor, depicted in some detail; there are multiple shootouts, the final one begins with the sheriff (who is reported to be a Hatfield of Hatfield and McCoy notoriety) shooting two Felts agents in the head at close range; the mother of the young man whose throat was cut empties a revolver into the corpse of her son’s murderer; Chris Cooper’s character the pacifist Woobly union organizer Joe Kenehan (not quite JC; ever since Jim Conklin in Crane’s
Red Badge of Courage
I am forever on the lookout for Christ symbols) is shot and killed in the crossfire.
also received a PG-13 rating for “a scene of violence, and for drugs and some language.” Additionally, IMDB’s Parents Guide makes the claim that “the entirety of the film’s subject matter is potentially upsetting to some viewers.” One may call into question which “scene of violence” the MPAA cites in its rationale as the film opens with footage of the Rodney King beating and also includes an extremely graphic recreation of X’s assassination. Lee also establishes a recurring motif of violence and terror perpetrated against blacks through a series of flashbacks that include attacks on Malcolm’s family and childhood home by the Ku Klux Klan, as well as his father’s eventual murder. Of note, Lee appears to reference DW Griffiths’ troubling cinematic ‘masterwork’
Birth of a Nation
with the shot of Klansmen riding against the backdrop of the full moon. It has been reported that Lee was nearly cast out of NYU’s film school for questioning Griffiths’ importance and canonical status with student film “The Answer,” the story of a black screenwriter who is hired to work on a remake of
The Birth Of a Nation
with a $50 M budget.
2.2 Aims: Objectives and Goals
By completing this unit of study, students will demonstrate proficiency in the following areas: the writing of a shooting script; the writing and electronic publishing of analyses with appropriate accompanying images; the shooting and editing of raw footage in the service of creating short narratives and persuasive arguments.