You Should Be Watching: Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

I’m battling a cold right now, so I hadn’t planned on writing a post tonight. Then I remembered seeing Hidden Figures this weekend and thought to myself “well that will be an easy post”.

Should you go see Hidden Figures? Yes. Yes you should.

Slightly longer version: Hidden Figures was wonderful.  The three lead women were powerful, amazing characters who fought to prove how capable and deserving they were. Even more inspiring is that they were based on real people. It was so frustrating to remember that the 1960s were not that long ago. I’ll be starting a 1960s unit as a prelude to teaching The Watsons Go to Birmingham with my students in the next couple of weeks, and it’s amazing how little my students know about the 60s. From comments I’ve heard, the students don’t think they had electricity in the 1960s (??), and “don’t know anyone who was alive during the 1960s because they would be so old that they would be dead”. No students, the 1960s were not that long ago. Only a few decades ago, white people literally made black people use a separate bathroom. It should be a really good, eye opening unit, and seeing Hidden Figures has really inspired me with how I want to handle it.

Back to the movie. I don’t have a single negative thing to say about the movie except that the kid sitting next to me in the theater had pizza and did not offer me any so I had to sit there the whole time smelling it and getting hungrier. But really, this movie was incredibly well done. It didn’t even feel like an “Important Movie”. You know the ones. They win a bunch of awards, but are way too long and make you really bored and uncomfortable and at the end you’re aware that you watched a movie on an important topic but kind of wished you had stayed home and just eaten donuts instead but you can’t admit that because then you are uncultured. Often they are historical films (WWII is a favorite), but not always. They are almost always depressing. Hidden Figures is an important movie that does not feel like an “Important Movie”. It is genuinely entertaining and funny, and despite the difficult situations the characters face it remains optimistic. The main characters fight the prejudice they face being a) women, b) black, but they rarely feel sorry for themselves. Instead they see the challenges ahead and keep trying to break down the boundaries stopping them from achieving their goals.

One of my favorite scenes came toward the end of the movie. Minor spoilers:

MIC DROP. This was such an important thing to include, because it’s not enough to merely not actively participate in injustice. If you passively go with the status quo, and don’t fight injustice, then you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

Also, one of the actresses, Octavia Spencer, made this face when she met Obama. Same gurl. That’s how I feel about Obama too (Obama, I miss you. Please come back).

By Pete Souza – WhiteHouse.gov, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54490732

Go see Hidden Figures while it’s still in theaters!

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