So I finally got around to seeing Ghosts of Mississippi. What can I say, I’ve been busy.
I had a pretty good idea that this was going to be a movie about Wonderful White People (WWP). There are a lot of them (movies, that is). But I watched it anyway.
Throughout the movie, I couldn’t help but think what if the movie were centered on Myrlie Evers. But it’s not. The main character and the hero in this movie is the prosecuting attorney, Bobby DeLaughter. Myrlie Evers is inserted as an afterthought. She’s given the stereotypical role of the Old Wise Black Woman Sage.
(By the way, I really think Alec Baldwin is a lousy actor.)
I’ve seen a number of movies of this sort (Amistad comes to mind). And while I am often glad that some of these issues are gaining some attention, why are the stories always told from a white-centric perspective? Obviously Rob Reiner took some interest in Medgar Evers’ story. But did Evers only become interesting when a white man became involved?
The movie begins with the graphic killing of Evers as he walks from his car to his driveway. And yet throughout the movie, I couldn’t shake the feeling that his death was less important than the struggle undergone by the prosecutor. Yes, I understand that DeLaughter was harassed throughout the trial. But he isn’t dead.
After the verdict is announced, the camera goes outside to the courthouse steps and we see cheering many, many cheering white people. I’d be really curious to know if that was an accurate representation of the scene from 1995.
I thought about the stark contrast in the treatment of Evers’ death and the harassment of the prosecutor during the scene immediately following the reading of the verdict. And I think that if I had been somebody who loved Medgar Evers, my first words would have been “He’s still dead.”