Watching Birth of a Nation While Black

A Critical Review: “What is ultimately important about this film? What makes it indispensable? It isn’t good enough to resonate. It isn’t historically accurate enough to educate. It mutes – literally and figuratively – the subject of rape. Slavery is already well-worn territory (it is seemingly the only subject of modern black films critics seem able to praise), and Birth does nothing new with the subject, unless one counts a feeding torture I don’t recall seeing in any other slavery film. Everything else you’ve probably seen; it just wasn’t attributed to a character called “Nat Turner” before. What does this film offer the conversation of racism and the legacy of slavery besides being able to check the Nat Turner box on the black movie bucket list? There are better movies about slavery – more nuanced, better made, less self-aware and self-important – than this. Birth of a Nation is important in name only.” – Scott Woods

Scott Woods Makes Lists

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I cannot recall when I have ever dreaded viewing a film. I’ve attended numerous 24-hour horror film marathons during which I knew I would be subjected to films handpicked to twist the knife of political sensibilities, films so graphic and nihilistic I cannot give their titles in unguarded company. The guilt from even accidentally convincing anyone to watch such fare would be too great, and yet I did not shudder in anticipation of their rape scenes or their violence. I have been anxious about films as they spooled out, but never before one started.

And then, attending a screening of Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation last night, I spent much of my day cycling through every life decision that brought me to that place.

I have an abnormally high tolerance for offensive things: police abuse videos, bad films, racist microaggressions, Howard Stern, the average person on the internet. It…

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