Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Couple Of Mixed Reactions To The Movie Queen And Slim

‪I just watched Queen And Slim and as I watched it I was loving it. ‬

The one small qualm I had was the opening scene with the insanely aggressive cop and the situation escalating as quickly as it did. It seemed to me somewhat contrived rather than organically credible. But regardless I accepted it and went on, as I say, to love the movie, specifically the evolving relationship between Queen and Slim as they went on the run.‬

‪My feeling took a hit though at the final scene when the army of cops massacres them. I simply didn’t find that credible; and this wasn’t a small qualm. There is no way, I thought, that an army of cops are going homicidally to drop two people like that even if they don’t get on the ground as commanded. After all, they shoot Slim carrying Queen in his arms when holding her so prevents him physically from posing them any immediate danger.‬

‪Still the beauty of their growing relationship continued to engross me even as I did have a niggle about the subsequent mythologizing of them. ‬

‪Then, movie over, I started thinking a bit and one big thing struck me on reflection: the dash cam footage had the entire incident covered. Slim’s self defence was made patent by it. And so while it makes arguable sense for Slim and Queen to run not knowing of the footage, it doesn’t make sense after they find out about it when getting their car fixed. ‬

‪You’d think Queen as an apparently excellent criminal defence lawyer would readily understand their position as eminently legally redeemable. And a nuance of that is that she played no part in the shooting of the cop; she was but evident victim of his insane aggression. ‬

‪For them to keep running knowing of the dash cam footage is a major and problematic incongruity. The implication is that regardless of the dash cam proof of self defence there is no defence to be had for any black person accused of killing a white cop no matter the circumstances.  Nor is there any defence for anyone in the company of that person, here Queen. 

Actually, the dash cam itself heightens the incongruity. Dash cams represent a progressive policy in wanting to keep cops accountable by providing proof of cop civilian interactions. Their existence cuts against a justice system so racist that a black person killing a white cop will be found guilty every time even in the face of dash cam proof otherwise. 

That view is paranoid but that’s what Queen And Slim is suggesting.‬ And by encircling the criminal justice system within its ideological purview, Queen And Slim presses its ideology of racism in America to include her institutions. So, in a nutshell, the film suggests the existence of American systemic racism. 

‪My initial small qualm, this incongruity, the paranoid implication and the over the top final massacre of passive Queen and then Slim carrying her by the army of cops all add up to make a highly ideological point that, at minimum, pits white cops in eternal racist enmity with blacks. And in a certain sense Queen And Slim is an argument for that point.  Reinforcing it is the nearly universal support the black communities give the fugitive couple every step of their way, including the black cop who waves them on in the face of being dissed by his racist white partner. ‬It’s enmity, Queen And Slim wants us to understand, between whites and blacks in America.

‪In the result, I have a bifurcated view of this movie: I love, as I say, the evolving relationship between Queen and Slim as their picaresque road trip proceeds; but I reject the movie’s ideological push, the distorted view, it seems to me, of black white relations, as though wanting to be a film version of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ paranoid vision of race in America. ‬

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