thedeadparrot: (oracle)
thedeadparrot ([personal profile] thedeadparrot) wrote2017-01-08 08:54 am
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Hidden Figures

So I went to go see it last night, and A+, enjoyed it quite a bit, but I also had a lot of thoughts about it that I figure I might as well articulate here, while I'm trying to be more active on DW.

Things I liked:

- The POV is unabashedly from the perspective of black women. The movie asks us to see the world through their eyes. There are plenty of Nice White People (more on that later), so the movie isn't as confrontational as it could be, but maybe that's okay. It's good to have even that much of a change.

- The way it defuses the One Good One narrative by focusing on three different women with three different personalities and strengths. It's not about lone geniuses! Which is sadly probably more because only white men get to be lone geniuses, but whatever. I will take it for now.

- The support systems the women have in place. I know this is probably more informed because (a) we don't get narratives like this about women often and (b) modern narratives about working women are all about how sad and lonely they are. But no, here, these women have children and husbands and communities who exist to help them and never accuse them of putting work ahead of their families. Plus, they get to love and support each other without some cloying message of the Power of Friendship, which is also really great to see.

- The portrayal of the minor indignities that people face being the first. Having to go to another building to use the bathroom! Telling people they think they're not racist!

- The music is great.

- The acting is even better.

Things I liked less:

- Nice white people who overcome their racism. Ugh, too many to count. I think putting the POV on the women helps a little bit. It shows a little bit of the humiliation of always having to rely on the people in power being nice to you. But I don't think it captures the constant distrust and fear and work that comes with it. It's not just a racist -> not racist conversion. People can do kind not-racist things and do racist things after that.

- This is partially because I saw the trailer of Chris Evans being a single dad of a brilliant math genius, but the way the movie talks about math is kind of headdesk-y at times. THIS MATH DOESN'T EVEN EXIST YET. Gag me with a spoon.

Things I am ambivalent about but of which I have Opinions:

- This is kind of one of the background radiation things in the movie, but the way computing was women's work is shown, but I'm not sure how much of it gets across to a modern audience. Maybe it makes more sense to just leave it as is and let people be smart enough to figure it out, but it doesn't jive with the way math = men's things these days. But no, women used to be the ones who did the calculations of things like this, because calculations are boring! Programming used to be women's work, too, because it was a natural extension of their work as computers. The movie doesn't fully give us this context, but it does show it, so.

- The guy playing John Glenn is a bargain basement version of Chris Evans.
zulu: Karen Gillam from Dr. Who, wearing a saucy top hat (Default)

[personal profile] zulu 2017-01-08 04:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Ooh, I want to go see this. I hope it doesn't leave theatres before I get there!
zulu: Karen Gillam from Dr. Who, wearing a saucy top hat (Default)

[personal profile] zulu 2017-01-14 04:54 am (UTC)(link)
Ahahaha, I kept looking at John Glenn and going "Wait, is that Chris Evans? No. But yes? But no."
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[personal profile] merisunshine36 2017-01-08 10:46 pm (UTC)(link)
I just saw this! The guy playing John Glenn cracked me up for that same reason. He's like a Ken doll made reality.

Re: Nice White People, I was kind of ticked off at the coffee scene at the end since I wanted that character to stay a racist forever. Ironically that was one of the things I enjoyed about it, since it made it more realistic. Kind of like the white lady in the bathroom scene at the end. On the other hand, I was bracing myself because I thought Kevin Costner was going to Bodyguard 2.0 on Katherine and I was really glad he didn't.

Another thing I liked about the movie is that it illustrates a lot of the different ways to achieve equality. Legal means/acting within accepted modes of challenging the norm, sneaking into the IBM room at night, being noticed by a person in power, protest. Most of the time movies focus on one, so I really appreciated how HF worked those all in.

Re: Math, I couldn't follow any of it past the quadratic equation scenes in the beginning, but Mr. P says that he teaches all of those things to his students in his physics class! He also said that he wondered if there was something they were leaving out, because the equations seemed more simple than one would expect to put someone in space. Either way, I think it will be nice from an education angle because it's something teachers can show and then have their students work on in class. I think this is a GREAT story for pushing the "your math homework is relevant in the real world" angle.

Overall I really liked it, and how it was affirming without tilting over into the cheese or white saviour narrative territory. And I agree the female/family/community relationships were great.
Edited (a word) 2017-01-08 22:47 (UTC)
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[personal profile] metonymy 2017-01-10 03:45 am (UTC)(link)
DUDE I HAD THE EXACT SAME THOUGHT ABOUT JOHN GLENN. His bow tie was working overtime.

And I felt the same way about how many of the nice white people Learned Something Important, blech. That moment in the bathroom with Dorothy and Kirsten Dunst was great, though. "I'm sure you believe that." Like, that's it in a nutshell, isn't it.

But man, that main trio. So fucking great. I want to go see it again. I would have seen it immediately again after I saw it on Saturday, but: snowstorm.