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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Non-violent direct action as a means to overcome prejudice. However, there are also some historical cases that show the limits of the judicial system not punishing those who are guilty of violent crimes.
Positive Role Models
Martin Luther King Jr. and other historical figures are shown standing up to racism, often in the face of violence and even death.
The main interviewees and subjects are Black Americans. Central to the narrative are discussions and examples of how racism hinders equality, diversity, and conclusion. Other ethnicities feature among the talking heads and protestors in historical footage.
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Violence & Scariness
News footage and live streaming of fatal shootings and beatings. Dead bodies with bloody injuries and disfigurement as the result of fatal beatings. Images of mob violence including punching and kicking. Reports of graphic beatings and murders. News footage of people being doused with high-pressure water hoses and tear gas, threatened with and bitten by police dogs, as well being beaten with night sticks.
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Language used includes "boy" in a racist context.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hope & Fury: MLK, the Movement and the Media is a powerful documentary about the history of the U.S.'s civil rights movement with archive footage of brutal racist violence. The violent real-life footage can be very graphic and shows actual dead bodies. For example, live-streamed footage originally broadcast on Facebook immediately after the fatal shooting of an African-American man in 2016 is shown. Despite this harrowing violence, the film also has many positive examples of how the civil rights movement -- and Martin Luther King Jr. in particular -- found a way to interest newspapers, magazines, and television broadcasters in a way that helped their cause. King is shown to be a leading role model -- who refused to accept both societal and institutional racism -- and helped bring together and inspire a diverse range of people. There is no swearing, but historical print articles do quote Emmett Louis Till being referred to as "boy" in a racist context. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A solid examination of the role that the media plays in advancing and suppressing racism, this documentary broadens its scope beyond the iconic work of Martin Luther King Jr. while keeping him at its center. First broadcast by NBC in 2018, Hope & Fury: MLK, the Movement and the Media was one of several programs that marked the 50th anniversary of King's assassination. An opening sequence that replays the graphic images streamed online shortly after the shooting of Philando Castile by police officers in 2016 is typical of the unflinching look this documentary takes at the way in which racial tensions continue to cause problems in U.S. society. The inclusion of modern-day Black Lives Matters activists such as Brittany Packnett Cunningham help contextualize this further, citing numerous examples of controversial deaths of many Black American citizens and how these have been amplified by both traditional press coverage and social media.
Because of the lengthy historical period that the documentary covers -- stretching back to the 1955 murder of Emmett Louis Till -- there is a lot of ground to cover in its 85-minute runtime, so it's best to view this as both a primer and a reminder of several important incidents. There's also a question of whether this documentary could've explored how ownership of different press outlets can affect coverage. Instead, it prefers to hit the same point repeatedly about how mass media can help but also polarize views about civil rights issues. But this is still a well-crafted explainer of why the media and societal change are indivisible, and how in his handling of the media, King was a pioneering figure in more ways than many people might realize.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.