The Infamous Future

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Infamous Future TV Poster Image
Moving docu makes a case for caring schools, education.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Positive messages are frequent and strong, including a respect for education as a way to uplift people out of poverty, the value of fighting for change, the importance of supporting young people and believing in their potential. Themes of perseverance and teamwork are clear, as educators buckle down for the long haul with students and elicit help from families and each other. 

Positive Role Models

Teachers are powerfully supportive of students and dedicated; they talk about social emotional learning, the odds their students face, and the part they can play in preparing students to stand up to difficulties. We don't meet many students but the one we do get to know is proud of his school and of himself as he prepares to leave Eagle for college. His mother is touchingly proud of her son as well, hugging him and crying. 

Violence

Brief references to gangs in a discussion of why they might appeal to at-risk students. 

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Infamous Future is a documentary about Eagle Academy, a group of public charter schools for boys grades 6 through 12 located in some of New York City's toughest neighborhoods. The documentary contains no cursing or iffy language, no drinking or drugs, no sex, and no violence save for a passing reference to gangs. Instead, we meet administrators, teachers, and students, who unanimously champion education as a way to break cycles of poverty. Teachers speak passionately about how much they believe in and support their students; administrators explain the risks Eagle students are up against, and how Eagle schools try to connect them to more hopeful futures. We also meet a student who comes from a challenging background but who is headed for college, to his own evident delight and the support of his proud mother. The perseverance and teamwork required of everyone at Eagle is clear, and positive messages are strong and frequent. 

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What's the story?

In New York City's toughest neighborhoods, schools often fail the young students who ultimately wind up incarcerated or living lives of poverty and risk. But at Eagle Academy, the New York public school for boys grades 6 through 12, students are invited to try for a different future: college, a career, and a comfortable life. As the first crop of Eagle students to have attended the full program graduates, administrators, teachers, and students reflect on why the school and their struggle is important in THE INFAMOUS FUTURE, a 59-minute documentary that takes viewers inside Eagle's world. 

Is it any good?

Tender and moving, this documentary introduces viewers to some of the insiders that make this NYC school special, and demonstrates precisely why it needs to exist. Footage of New York's concrete jungle and grim statistics (the national high school graduation rate for black and Latino males in America is 59%) contrast greatly with scenes shot inside Eagle classrooms and auditoriums, in which students chant uplifting maxims in unison, ritualistically water a school plant, and sling their arms casually and affectionately over each other's shoulders. Teachers hug their students, get weepy when discussing the potential they see in them, and exhort them to bring their best selves to the classroom and to support one another while doing so. 

In The Infamous Future's best moments, we follow student Joshua Perez to his home in the South Bronx. He's graduating this year; the first class of Eagle students who went all the way through the program. He's headed to college on a full ride scholarship in a few months, his mother is overjoyed. She wasn't able to finish school, she says through tears; she didn't have the support. Things are going to be different for her son, despite the fact, as Eagle Foundation president David Banks reminds the graduates, they're making the transition from a place where they're seen and supported into a world that doesn't care about them, that doesn't know their potential and talents, where positive media images of kids like them are rare. The odds are daunting. But The Infamous Future at least provides some hope, from a distance, that the boys and young men we see will be part of things changing. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of school and caring, invested adults in terms of setting students up for a successful future. What do the teachers and administrators of The Infamous Future do that seems successful? Do any of their methodologies or ways of thinking appeal to you in particular? 

  • How are issues of race and class intertwined, especially in America? What insight into those issues does this movie provide?

  • How do the student, teachers, families, and administrators of Eagle Academy demonstrate perseverance and teamwork in The Infamous Future? Why are those important character strengths?

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