3 reasons movies are critical to culture

I’m not a movie buff per se.

But I like recommending books, movies, and TV/Netflix series.

Because I’m a know-it-all? Well, there’s that distinct possibility. I’m chalking up my need to recommend things to being an Enneagram One Reformer. Graduating last year with my Masters in Theology and Culture was more a reflection of who I am than what I intend to accomplish. (Click here to read my last newsletter about what can happen when you try to understand yourself.)

We are what we read. We are what we watch.

What we ingest takes root and grows us into the people we will become. I guess that’s why I’m a writer, parent, teacher, and speaker. I can’t squash the passion of alerting people to who they’re becoming or stop analyzing who I’m becoming. (Click here for “5 Reasons white people should care about Black History Month” and here for “5 Ways to add value to someone’s life.”)

Movies are critical shapers of culture.

  1. Movies reflect current and emerging trends in perspective, faith, morality, and ethics. They tell you, at a minimum, what artists, philosophers, politicians, and movie-makers believe about society.
  2. Movies persuade mainstream culture toward particular trends and beliefs. When you watch something enough times (even if it disgusts you the first time), you begin to accept it.
  3. Movies incentivize resistance toward common beliefs and accepted cultural norms. By capturing the status quo, movies compel reformers to push against an accepted cultural framework. They agitate change, which is often a good and necessary thing. Without television, many necessary social changes would never have happened in our country—the Civil Rights movement, most of all.

So as a last-ditch effort to support Black History Month, I’m recommending my favorite Black-history (not all historical) films. You may disagree with some of my choices, categorically or otherwise. Feel free and recommend your own. Plenty of sites have made suggestions from a wider selection than I have been able to watch personally. My list includes starring roles for Black and white actors, as Black History has been made and remade by people of all colors.

So here we go for the Black History movies you need to see (in alphabetical order because it’s too hard to rank these):

  • 12 Years a Slave
  • 13th
  • 42
  • Amazing Grace
  • Amistad
  • Black Panther
  • Glory
  • Hidden Figures
  • Lean on Me
  • Lincoln
  • Remember the Titans
  • Selma
  • The Butler
  • The Help
  • The Pursuit of Happyness
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

Next is my haven’t-seen list that ranks high on other sites about Black History films. They’re on my to-watch list: Invictus, Loving, Malcolm X, Mandela, The Color Purple, The Great Debaters, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Books, movies, and music don’t just reflect culture. They shape culture.

And culture belongs to all of us, regardless of our race, gender, or faith.

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