Racist Movie Theaters

The movie Straight Outta Compton was released on August 14, and it has been causing a lot of controversy in the days following. I have so many thoughts about this movie, and I will definitely share them as I go on, but today I’m going to address something a little bit bigger. Movie theaters.Why would I want to talk about movie theaters? Well, with the release date of Straight Outta Compton, movie theaters have decided to increase security when showing the movie. Reasons given were to protect from gang violence and to protect people in light of the most recent theater shootings, but it seems a little suspect. While the theaters and many people claim that race is not a factor, it appears to play a much bigger role than they think.

Movie theaters have had a history of increasing security when playing movies that show black gang violence. And while the effort to increase safety is a good one, it is certainly misguided. In the past, movie theaters have also taken these same precautions when showing movies like “Boys N The Hood”, for similar reasons, but the logic doesn’t add up. Movies certainly have erupted in fights before and that would be a reason enough to take security measures up a notch for all movies. To only raise security measures for a movie in which the audience will be predominantly people of color, raises people to truly wonder what they are inferring about these people of color, especially since the majority of these people coming to watch this movie are not in a gang.

In addition, gangs are very tied to people of color, despite all races taking part in gang activity. Gangs have a negative connotation, and are criminalized (sometimes appropriately, others not) and it leaves people with a very negative view of gangs. Though, in actuality, gang violence in theaters is not a big phenomenon, whereas cis white straight males make up the majority of movie theater shootings.

In terms of violence, there is movie in so many movies, it brings hypocrisy to the surface. At one of the recent movies that were shot up, The Dark Knight Rises, there was plenty of gang violence. Bane and his gang literally tried to blow up all of Gotham. But there was no increase in security coverage for those movies. And if you were to say the opposite, that nonviolent movies don’t need security, let’s take at the most recent shooting, which took place at a Trainwreck movie showing. That shooting was just as devastating and scary.

So where does that leave us? While I would understand an overall increase in security at the movies, it simply doesn’t do to just amp up security when you’re showing a movie that will attract a majority of people of color, and it definitely shows hypocrisy when it comes to race and violence.

-JW

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