Civil Rights and the violence that perused around the 1960’s used to be and still are a major problem for people of The United States. Romano noticed that there were generally three themes that came with the new modernizing idea of reversing segregation. These three recurring themes in Romano’s article of the presence of a white savior, acts of individual racism, and opportunities for these racist people to become redeemed fall into place nicely and can be seen in Mississippi Burning and The Help.
It appears that the civil rights movement was diluted by white supremacist trying to redeem their names through bringing individuals to trial and serving justice. Romano’s Interpretation In Rene Romano’s Narrative of Redemption, the author has noticed that there are three recurring themes in the civil rights movies and is upset about which areas of the civil rights movements have received attention. The first of the three themes that Romano says stand out is that whites stand out as saviors. She is upset that movies and stories make whites look like heroes while ignore other civil rights movements and making it look like there is no racism.
Second, Rene says that the trials on the racist acts put the white heroes in a fight against the individual racist. This struggle makes the individual racist look like they are responsible for all other acts of racism. Third, Rene sees that these dramas have the recurring theme of trying to redeem society. The dramas create this theme by trying to paint an image into the current generations that our society has changed when it has not. This is not all that Romano writes about though. Rene does not only focus on these three themes, but also stays on the topic of how she is upset about what areas of the civil rights movements are focused on.
Rene is upset that it takes so long for justice to be served for these racists’ acts people took action in. She is glad justice is being served, but wished that people would want to know why these acts are happening. Another area that she thinks needs to be focused on heavily is why where these individual people were not brought to trial earlier when the actions were done. With time people forget details and our generations have become desegregated. Due to the change in time, the jury had to be always reminded of the conditions and this could affect the verdicts. Mississippi Burning
Mississippi Burning aligns perfectly and does support Rene Romano’s three-theme narrative of the white hero, individual racism and redemption. The first of these themes, people being white saviors, can be seen in many areas. To start out there are three men in a car two of them are white and one black. This sets up the first example of the white savior theme. These two FBI agents come into the town, Agent Ward and Agent Anderson, to solve the mystery of the missing boys. This set up puts the FBI agents as the main characters and this is what aligns with Romano’s words. This focus on the FBI agents is what Rene says is wrong.
Romano wishes the black people being treated wrongly would be the main characters and the ones being focused on. Another scene that is an example is when one of the black churches was on fire burning down and the FBI agents come to the scene to investigate. The movie and the scene are centered on the white FBI agents solving the case and not directly on the black people holding the burden. In this scene, the only focus on the black people is when a little black boy tells the FBI agents that they should start their investigation at the sheriff’s office further showing Rene’s argument.
A third scene of a white woman talking to a black woman and holding her son demonstrates another white savior scene. It sets up a mood that whites are not mean and puts the focus on whites again. Lastly, the scene where Agent Anderson goes into the Sheriffs private bar to talk about the investigation is another example. Anderson states that no matter how twisted the sheriff’s office is that they will solve the investigation. There are many examples of white saviors as well as the individual racism that these heroes are trying to stop. Second of Romano’s themes, individual racism, is also displayed throughout the film.
Rene wishes that the film focused the roots of this racism and not the individual acts. For example, in the beginning scene where the kids are shot the sheriff does not care that his force murdered them. Rene would like if the film focused on the reasons why the department doesn’t care and the behind the scene causes than the solving of the mystery. An additional scene of individual racism is when three white men attack a black man at his house for talking to agents Ward and Anderson. This scene displays blacks as passive victims, which is another part Romano’s argument.
A last act of racism is when a group of white men raid a black families house and this results in the father being hung. Rene wishes that scenes like this were explained and looked into more at the roots of why the actions were taken. Though there were many acts of racism whites still tried to redeem themselves. The third of the themes, redemption, is also displayed in Mississippi burning. For example, agent Anderson used to be in charge of a little town like the one they are currently investigating. Now that Anderson is a detective, he is trying to stop the corruption in the city and he is redeeming himself of his previous actions in life.
Rene wishes that the film would not have it appear as if Anderson is redeeming himself. However, she wants the focus to be on the betterment of civil rights and not glorifying the white people. A last example of redemption is when one of the sheriff’s deputy’s wives gives away the location of the bodies of the missing boys. The wife is redeeming herself after all the bad things her husband has done to the African community in her city. This again glorifies whites and does not look at big picture of civil rights as Rene wishes the film did. The Help
The Help as well aligns with Rene Romano’s three-theme narrative of the white savior, individual racist and redemption. From the start of the movie Skeeter is painted as a white savior. Skeeter is the only white person that is seen being nice at all to the African Americans. Skeeter is the perfect example of the white savior because of this. Rene does not like the attention Skeeter gets and shows her point that African Americans are passive victims. Specifically, Skeeter’s writings opened up many opportunities for the maids through exposing the things that the black community was going through.
Romano would like it more if this focus again was not on Skeeter and if it was on the struggles of the black community. More importantly, there were many individual acts of racism throughout the film. The second of Rene Romano’s themes, individual acts of racism, is more prevalent throughout. One of the individual acts of racism that stands out the most is when Yule is struck in the head by a police officer that was arresting her. She was arrested for attempting to pawn one of Hilly’s rings to pay for her kids’ college tuition. No white person would have been struck in the head like Yule did.
In this situation, Rene would want to look at the why the police acted the way they did, and not go on with the movie how it did. Another act of racism in The Help is that the there are separate bathrooms outside for the black people. Minnie was fired for not following this rule. Romano again would like to look at the larger picture of why whites acted like this and not the individual action that is taken against the African Americans. Lastly, Hilly wants Abileen in jail but has no reason. For this, Hilly says she will blame Abileen for stealing silverware.
In this act of racism, Rene would want to look at why Hilly would want to fabricate a story to put another human being in jail. Even though there are individual acts of racism there are also acts of redemption. The third theme of redemption has examples in The Help as well. First, an example of redemption is when the blonde white woman makes chicken for Minnie. After being rude the whole film and not showing any compassion for African Americans she finally shows kindness. Romano would like it more if there were more focus on the black community once again, rather than focusing on white people doing good deeds.
Another redemption example is when Skeeters mom fires Constantine and reads Skeeters book. She realizes how badly she has acted and has learned from her mistakes. Romano once again wishes that the focus of white people would not be portrayed here. She wants a focus on the black community and the roots of the problems. Although there were acts of redemption in the white community, Rene wishes that there were a harder focus on the root problems of the society. Conclusion There have been many problems in the area of civil rights throughout the history of The United States.
Rene Romano has noticed that in the films and stories covering the civil rights movement have had the three recurring themes of a white savior, individual acts of racism that take away focus on the root causes, and acts of redemption for these racist people. These three themes coincide with the racist nature of the films Mississippi Burning and The Help. Racism is a part of American culture and Rene thinks to end it we have to look at the roots and look at black people, not glorify the whites that are creating this racism and fixing the problems as well.