Blindspotting

Blindspotting ★★★★

In his review on Roger Ebert's site, Odie Henderson mentions a quote from African-American crime fiction writer Chester Himes who remarks on his work with this:

"I thought I was writing realism. It never occurred to me that I was writing absurdity. Realism and absurdity are so similar in the lives of American blacks one cannot tell the difference."

That's kind of the feeling I got watching Blindspotting, a film that delves into the silly and jovial most of the time and thus creating a sense of the comfortable, the friendly neighborhood, when this is directly challenged by the prevailing gentrification and appropriation of Oakland. It's a topic that is admittedly touched upon in many movies, but in here there's a great nuance found that made me realize I wasn't just watching a messy-but-creative commentary but rather a work that truly wrestles with it in all aspects.

It feels weird to highlight Miles, the friend to the main character Collin, but his arc is one that weaves together the issues of growing up in poor neighborhoods with white privilege and finding your identity challenged when wealthier whites move in. Suddenly you become associated with them, all your mannerisms and behaviors assumed to be appropriated. Who are you anymore? What separates you from those moving in? Are you as "real" as the blacks who grew up with you or does your newfound fluidity bring newfound advantages too?

"Why 'blindspotting?'"

"'Cause it's all about how you can look at something and there can be another thing there that you aren't seeing so you got a blind spot."

And while Miles has to face this while confronting his masculinity, Collin deals with this along with being a black man in this neighborhood. This neighborhood that suddenly becomes patrolled by more cops as it becomes more and more gentrified and the newcomers are prioritized over those who have lived here the longest. This is where Blindspotting delves into absurdity, but how could it not considering this is just reality?

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