Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What Would You Do?

Short film: “Video”

from Randy YangPlus10 months ago

Video Cast:

Shantell:  Mars Williams
Brianna:   Reilly Brooke Stith
Woman:  Alyson Schacherer
Homeless Man: Ron Scott

Students:  Don Dash, Monika Rivera

Producers: Pamela Rook, Randy Yang
Writer / Director: Randy Yang

Watch it HERE

Casting Director: Lois Drabkin
Script Consultant: Yvette Heyliger
Cinematographer: Henrik A. Meyer
Assistant Cameraman: Yousuke Kiname
DIT: Bela Atila Kovacs
Stunt Coordinator: Ben Rezendes
Assistant Stunt Coordinator: Bryce Bermingham
Sound Mixer: Rob Ellenberg
Production Assistants: Daniel Langenbucher, John Valenti
Sound Re-recordist: Chad Birmingham
Colorist: Mishel Hassidim

Spoiler alert!  Please don't read the words below until you have watched the film.

I think this is an excellent film because of the talking points it provides.  

I found the long silence as the two girls walk away from the first encounter with the lawyer woman to be especially poignant.  

The lawyer was wrong, both in her treatment of the homeless man and in trying to buy off the girls.  Respect is not something which can be bought.  If that video had gone on You Tube the lawyer may have had to pay a heavy price.  But what about the cost to the girls if  they choose not to stand up to the racism of the woman?  And what about the homeless man?  Though I'm sure it was nothing new for him, there is a cost in dignity, respect and human rights each time he is subjected to such ignorant, hateful words.  

Added to which - the two black girls were high-school kids.  The more volatile response of the taller girl, Brianne, was something I would expect from a youngster.  I can sympathize with her eagerness to get that video online ASAP.  Her friend, Shantell, was less reactive, even though she saw the wrong in the lawyer's treatment of the homeless man.  Shantell was more of a thinker - or perhaps she had simply experienced less harm from racism than Brianne.

Watching the exchange between the homeless man and the lawyer, both girls would certainly have felt reverberations of injustices they had suffered in their lives.  How could they not?  We live in a society that is racist (and class-ist) on every level.  

As a white person I must admit this.  Even though I abhor racism in all its hateful and destructive forms - and all its forms are hateful and destructive - I don't believe there is a white person alive, certainly not in this country, that does not have racist tendencies.  We get it from the moment we are born, from our families, our media, and our society.  And the hate and fear generated by these tendencies cause us to inflict it on "those others" around us, and it in turn is mirrored back by those who are subject to it.  Unfortunately, those victims of racism - people of color - who do mirror that fear, anger and hate, are often cruelly punished or even killed for their justifiable reactions.  So the cycle goes on.

While watching the film, I was frozen during the scenes where Brianne's anger flamed out in angry words, and when her anger was reflected back on Shantell, causing Brianne to attack her.  I was frozen because I expected a policeman to materialize and arrest, harm or kill her and/or her friend.  In the real world that we live in, that would be all too probable.    

One of the saddest ironies of the film was the lawyer's indignant assertion that she was not a racist.  Sad, because she probably believed it - in spite of the recent evidence to the contrary.  How I wish that Shantell had insisted that the lawyer return to the homeless man to apologize and ask his forgiveness.  

There is power in forgiveness, and healing.  For both the forgiver and the forgiven.  And he deserved it.

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