Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’ Shows The Two Faces of Black America.

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August 19, 2013


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Lee Daniels' The Butler starring Forest Whittaker and Oprah Winfrey opened in theaters this weekend. Photo courtesy of ijreview.com

Lee Daniels’ The Butler starring Forest Whittaker and Oprah Winfrey opened in theaters this weekend. Photo courtesy of ijreview.com

Lee Daniels’new movie The Butler premiered this weekend and is a must see hit. The Butler’s all-star cast included Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr and more. The movie was centered on the Civil Rights movement through eight presidents from Truman to Reagan. During such a crucial time in history where you have Trayvon Martin’s death and court case that has sparked a new generation of African Americans to march: “The Butler” is a history lesson for today’s generation in a contemporary format. “The Butler” also touched on the different perspectives of African Americans during the Civil Right Movement that is relevant today.

Historically, there are always been the contrast of two different African Americans: The “Uncle Tom” and the “Militant” Negro. The father Cecil Gaines played by Forrest Whittaker is looked upon as a subservient to white people with his job as a butler, while his son Louis Gaines played by David Oyelowo goes on journey to fight against segregation in the South. The movie used historical references of the Freedom Riders, Bus boycotts, Nashville sit-ins, Vietnam War, and Voting Rights Act of 1965, as a driving force for the film. Oprah Winfrey played Gloria Gaines, the housewife who has a knack for cigarettes and scotch, longed for the attention of her husband.

The reference of the “two faces” that African Americans portrayed throughout the movie that is still relevant today. The “two faces” is described as one face for the white people and a different face in the presence of black people. The generational gap and the “two faces” of contrast showed how African Americans were conflicted psychological. There is a sense that both “faces: wanted the same things” equal rights, and opportunities but in different form one by conforming the other by fighting conformism by rebelling against the Jim Crow laws. With an all-star cast and compelling historical drama Lee Daniel’s The Butler is a great way to show today’s millennial generation a visual aspect of the Civil Rights Movement. This is a great family movie that will educate and allow an open dialogue for discussion on race in the United States. It’s an emotional film that will make you cry, laugh, and reflect on American History. Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” is definitely Oscar worthy and worth taking the whole family. Great job Lee Daniels’ this film was needed to open up society’s blind eye to how far we have come as a nation, and how far we still have to go.

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