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Always in Season

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Always in Season Movie Poster Image
Lynching docu is chilling but effective; horrifying images.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 89 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

To stop the cycle of hate crimes, do everything you can to make a difference. Courage, perseverance, teamwork are clear themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Black and White people show courage by speaking out, getting creative, organizing to try to shed light on a culture that continues to look the other way at the heinous, racist act of lynching. Black Americans express their frustration and anger eloquently, exert self-control, work within the system to battle prejudice. Descendants of Ku Klux Klan members join forces with anti-lynching groups in an effort to get justice and prevent future acts of racial terrorism.

Violence

The hanging death of a black teen is investigated. Many historical photos of lynching victims, mostly seen dead hanging from a tree; some bodies have been desecrated. Gruesome descriptions of torture, mutilations, burnings, murders of people of color. A reenactment of a lynching that involves a baby being cut out of a woman's womb (they use a doll), with sound of shots fired.

Sex

Sensuality in photos accompanying a conversation about a 17-year-old's romantic relationship with a woman in her 30s.

Language

"N" word is used historically and in a negative light. 

Consumerism

Brands are occasionally seen in the background, without emphasis or influence.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One person in the movie smokes; she's also described as having a drug habit. Description of a grieving person who becomes an alcoholic. Mentions of substance abuse are connected with self-destructive behavior.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Always in Season is an intense documentary about lynching in America. It focuses on the 2014 hanging death of North Carolina teen Lennon Lacy, which authorities deemed a suicide despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The movie is full of important, eye-opening content, but the material, descriptions, and images can be very difficult to watch. Historical photos and descriptions of gruesome, brutal lynchings of people of color include details of being mutilated and burned alive. An anti-lynching organization trying to get justice for the notorious 1946 mass lynching at Moore's Bridge in Georgia reenacts the incident; the "N" word is used in that context. Substance abuse (smoking, drugs, drinking) is described as having negative consequences, and there's visual innuendo that the relationship between a teen and someone in their 30s is sexual. The end message is that it's important to do everything you can to make a difference. Courage, perseverance, and teamwork are clear themes.

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What's the story?

In ALWAYS IN SEASON, the family of 17-year-old Lennon Lacy looks for answers after the high school football player is found dead in 2014, hanging from a swing set near his home in a small North Carolina town. The evolution and psychology of lynching is outlined, while others look for creative solutions to bring an end to racism's most heinous act of hate.

Is it any good?

Jacqueline Olive's piercing documentary about lynching in America is difficult but important to watch, especially because of its modern-day relevance. Many people would probably rather believe that lynching doesn't still exist, but Olive builds her case that it definitely does as she takes us through Lacy's story. While common sense observation indicates he was murdered, police instantly call the death a suicide and go so far as to obstruct their own evidence collection. In fact, the white members of the community generally seem to look the other way, including the town newspaper editor who shrugs that the staff is too busy to do any investigative journalism.

As Olive conducts her own probe into Lacy's death, Always in Season weaves insights into the socioeconomic origins of lynchings as a message crime and the generational trauma it created. A third thread turns the spotlight on a group who stages an annual reenactment of America's last documented, unsolved mass lynching: the 1946 incident at Moore's Bridge that took the life of two World War II veterans and their wives, one of whom was seven months pregnant. The film is more journalism than activism -- but while there's no direct call to action, the presentation of facts screams for itself. The acts of hate captured here are so revolting and inhumane that simply documenting their ongoing existence may be compelling enough to spark change.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about documentary films. How do documentaries like Always in Season delve deeper into controversial topics and incidents than the typical reporting we see in television, print, and digital media? 

  • What is generational trauma? How do hate crimes emotionally affect the descendants of the victims centuries later?

  • Describe the examples of courage, perseverance, and teamwork in the film. Why are these important character strengths? Who in the film is a role model?

  • How is curiosity at the root of this documentary? Why is curiosity an important life skill?

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