Friday, December 3, 2010

Guest Post: To Kill a Mockingbird 50 Years Later

Today I have a guest post from My Dog Ate My Blog: An Almost Educational College Blog. The posts are informative and fun and I highly recommend you check them out. They talk about topics that I might not normally think about it, but I feel a tiny bit smarter after reading them ;) It's a group run blog and each perspective is unique.

To Kill a Mockingbird: 50 Years Later

Edward Stern is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on Online Schooling for Guide to Online Schools.

To Kill a Mockingbird can easily be considered one of the few films that can rival a classic source novel in terms of power. The film, which stays true to Harper Lee's literary classic, tackles racism and prejudice in the deep American South head on. It features the greatest hero in film history according to the American Film Institute, the resolute and just lawyer Atticus Finch, as well as a young Robert Duvall as Boo Radley. The film is so renowned that AFI again recognized it, this time as their pick 25th best film all-time and the #1 courtroom film in history. Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, it is truly a testament to the film that it is still shown in classrooms today as required viewing and is still so greatly appreciated by film buffs and casual movie-goers alike everywhere.

But with all the accolades, does To Kill a Mockingbird still ring true today? So much has changed since the film's premiere in 1962, at the very start of the Civil Rights Movement. Since then, the United States has seen a legal end to the discriminatory Jim Crow laws of the time; has seen the Black Power movement of the 70s, one in which African-Americans sought equality "by any means necessary;" has seen the inner cities decimated by drugs and gang violence; and has seen the election of the nation's first black president, an amazing and previously unthinkable milestone.

Set in the 1930s in Alabama, To Kill a Mockingbird is absolutely a product of its time. The injustice and prejudice that suppresses the African-American community of the film is blatant and a cultural norm, one of the "separate but equal" doctrine that was level only in name. The close-knit small town of Maycomb County has a wholesome exterior only tainted by racist social constructs that override all forms of justice, including those in a courtroom setting. The hero of the film is white, a white man fighting for an African-American out of a belief of what is right and what needs to be changed in Maycomb County.

If the film were shot today, it would have to incorporate all those aspects of current life as we know it. The Maycomb County of the movie is rather idyllic compared to the often harsh realities of the present. Plus, racism is not state-sanctioned anymore. It more frequently shows itself in much subtler ways, ways that can be less obvious to the untrained eye but are still hurtful and impede social progress.

Still, racism and prejudice persist today. This kind of ignorant intolerance is ingrained in many, and still rears its ugly head. As such, the message of the video, to stand up against these ills and fight for what is right, is still as relevant as ever. It always will be, and society will always need the Atticus Finches of the world to show that injustice will not go unchecked.

Thank you so much Mr. Stern! I love To Kill a Mockingbird but I have yet to see the movie :( It would be really interesting to see the film shot in the present day because racism is so subtle. It would even be cool to see a documentary of the modern-day Atticus Finches.