As a sign of appreciation for the inspiration, producers of the docudrama Selma, are offering a free screening in its Alabaman namesake next week. It’s a sweet gesture, but one I can’t help but wonder if the people of Selma may not wince at.
Set in the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the town of Selma is presented as a place rife with racists, and thereby the perfect battleground for Martin Luther King Jr. and his colleagues to take a stand against laws that were repressing the African-American vote. I mean, it’s not as outlandish as offering a free screening of The Interview in North Korea, but it’s still awkward.
Already in limited release, the film is doing well, having earned $1.2 million playing at just 19 theaters. But with the Oscars coming, so too is Selma’s big push for attention and acclaim. And with racial tensions and lingering racism within our culture and institutions being a major topic of the past year, Selma’s narrative of protest and activism is sadly all too relevant. Basically: see it. And bring tissues.