01 September 2006

American History 101

Spike Lee's newest documentary: Requiem - When the Levees Broke is required viewing for every American citizen. I didn't say "should," I said "IS".

I began watching it with trepidation. I had kept an eye on the news throughout this whole disaster and I am bitter about the failures, all of them. I had reservations that Lee was going to take a "White Man's trying to hold us down" approach. And in some respects, he did. Rather, the people that he chose to include did. Nevertheless, with that, it was filmed with an open mind that represented basic humanity.

Requiem is four hours long. It is A LOT to take in, especially in one viewing. He edited it in a way that literally immerses you in the crisis then brings you out just in time. The music is appropriate, it is cultural, and it is mournful. The footage is all real footage. It shows the bodies, which makes a person wince but you have to see the bodies in order to get it. In order to understand, it has to be shown. It is not gratuitous, it is necessary.

He made sure that all parties were represented: African Americans, Whites, poor, wealthy, middle class, educated & uneducated, powerful and powerless. He offers all of the Big Players their perspectives in person or in the news clips and interviews that they gave at the time.

I think everyone should have to watch this for a few reasons:
We need to understand how badly our government failed an entire region of the United States.
We need to remember these people when it comes to vote in November 2006 and November 2008. There has to be wide sweeping changes. Has to be.

One last reason: because, as it is mentioned in the documentary, this could have just as easily been any of the major US cities. It just happened to be in Louisiana. We have to ensure that it never happens again.

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