The First Thing You Do in the United States of America: An Analysis of the Documentary Elements in “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Paper by Garrett James Wyatt.

“The first thing you do in the United States of America when a white woman is raped is round up a bunch of black youths…”
—Reverend Calvin O. Butts, The New York Times: “In Jogger Case, Once Viewed Starkly, Some Skeptics Side With Defendants”

James Baldwin’s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk tells the story of a young black couple, Tish Rivers and Fonny Hunt, after Fonny has been arrested and falsely accused of rape; following their love for one another and Tish’s family’s fight to prove Fonny’s innocence. Barry Jenkins’ 2018 adaptation of the novel is able to take the fictional story of If Beale Street Could Talk and make it feel real through his usage of montages, narration, and a non-linear format. In this paper, I plan to analyze the montage at minute 37:39 to minute 38:57 that serves as the Act I turning point leading into Act II wherein the protagonist, Tish (KiKi Layne), narrates the details of the crime Fonny (Stephan James) is wrongly accused of. By analyzing this montage, I hope to show how Jenkins’ usage of montages give this

Posted at 8am on 10/15/21 | 16 comments | Filed Under: Academic Papers, Films read on

La La Land and Race in Regards to Jazz Music

Paper by Delaney Rond.

Jazz music originated in the late 19th century in New Orleans, Louisiana within the African American community. It has been a staple of African American culture for as long as it has been alive. In the 2016 film La La Land, directed and written by Damien Chazelle, much of the plot revolves around jazz music. The controversy stems from the actors the filmmakers chose to cast as the characters who play jazz in the film. One of the main characters, Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, is a white male. He is portrayed as the ‘hero’ of the film and the one who wants to spread and preserve jazz music so it lives on forever. Meanwhile, Keith, played by John Legend, is an African American male. The film portrays Keith as the character who wants to help jazz evolve and change it into something new. He ends up becoming the one who the audience does not agree with because he is tampering with Sebastian’s goal of preserving jazz music. The irony here stems from the fact that jazz music was born within the African American community. The

Posted at 8am on 10/15/21 | 51 comments | Filed Under: Academic Papers, Films read on



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