Talk to Me--Jesse Stapp
Les Back raises an interesting point regarding the race relations in London. This same point can be seen in the film, Talk to Me, dealing with the civil rights movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Back states that, "in the everyday lives of white people, infatuation with black music can exist alongside overt racism with a necessary contradiction" (146). While this may have been true in Back's observations of London society, it is also true of the D.C. region and others throughout America during the civil rights era. In the film, WOL's R & B music (a genre born in Motown and typically associated with blacks) was enjoyed by whites and blacks equally. This mutual interest by whites and blacks was exemplified in the film by the president and upper management staff being predominantly white while the D.J. staff that brought the music to the airwaves was predominantly black. This is not to say that the D.C. region and others in the U.S. was not racist. Throughout the film racism is protested by the black community through images such as rallies and the strong political voice of Petey Green. In contrast to Back's observations of the overt racism in London, Talk to Me presents racism in a more subtle manner. It is not until the scene in which MLK Jr. is assassinated that we see the black community take a strong stance against the whites. This, however, does not come across as a war against whites, but a black-on-black fight. Petey pleads with the black community to stop letting the anger consume them and urges them to return to their homes. I thought that this imagery was a little skewed against the blacks. The film was powerful, but lacked a clear lens to be shot through. At times, especially the looting scenes following the death of MLK Jr., the imagery perpetuated stereotypes of blacks--thieves, animals, and miscreants. It is important for the director to show the response of the black community to the death of MLK Jr., but it hindered the progress made by the blacks throughout the film. The subtle racism found in the film, Talk to Me, is diametrically opposed to the overt racism observed by Les Back in London during several eras.