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Gene “GD” Demby @GeeDee215
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Y'all remember this scene from Crash? (tw: it depicts a sexual assault.)
this cop, played by Matt Dillon, stopped this black couple, antagonized them and sexually assaulted one of them. at another point in the movie, he calls a black office worker (played by Loretta Divine) an affirmative action hire. So, yeah, he's a racist. And a violent one.
later on in the movie, we also learn that this racist-rapist cop is sad bc his father is ailing. oh, and since Crash is a movie about how Everything Happens For A Reason, that cop later saves the black woman he'd earlier sexually assaulted from her burning car.
it's deeply stupid: his sick daddy + his moment of valor don't offset his predation or bigotry, and the idea that ppl who are predators or bigots are *not monsters* 24/7 is only "nuanced" or novel for people who are fortunate enough to have not been on the receiving end of either
this is laughable + frustrating in this v dumb movie, but is an actual IRL thing, especially when it comes to police officers involved in violence. the way we process police violence, the way we adjudicate it, the way it's defended... centered on the feelings + inner lives of the cops in question.

"It's a tough job, and at the end of the day, officers just want to get home to their families."
It's a clean shoot if it's determined that the officer had a reasonable fear for his life. and departments decide when they keep ppl on the force that those fears are reasonable. and prosecutors decide when they decline to bring charges that those fears are reasonable.
juries do the same when they decide to acquit police officers that those fears are reasonable.

Americans routinely demonstrate a hypertrophied capacity for empathy when it comes to the police who engage in violence, but can never muster much for the victims of it.
(that Crash clip is a fascinating trifecta in a way: we only extend that grace, those benefits of the doubt, to people accused of racism and accused rapists and accused violent cops; Dillon's cop is all three.)
i always think about something the dude @WesleyLowery said in an interview with @npraudie last year. "That's the social contract we ventured into: The police are allowed to kill you. If they get scared, they're allowed to kill you."
Americans think those fears are valid bc they share them, and they're scared of the same people, and so they can see humanity in those people even when there's irrefutable evidence that those fears and those feelings are bullshit or irrelevant.

It's an old habit, a reflex.
Which brings us to #ThreeBillboards.
There are a LOT of things wrong with that movie, which could be there own thread.

But the thing that i keep coming back to is the thinness of Sam Rockwell's character — a violent racist cop, and a moron to boot — and how the movie basically spends its entire back half w/ him
one of the first scenes in the movie establishes that a black dude in the town had some shitty encounter with Rockwell's racist cop. (Rockwell's character doesn't remember it, of course.)
we also find out shortly after that he's been accused of torturing a black person in his custody.

This dude is a monster. And his racism is the way the movie establishes that the police dept in fictional Ebbing, MO, isn't just incompetent but rotten.
And that incompetence and moral rot is, ostensibly, why Frances McDormand's Mildred can't get her daughter's rape and murder solved.

that official antiblack racism is necessarily to establish that the film's protagonist, a white lady, is righteous.
Aside: I read a lot of pearl-clutching re: the scene when Frances McDormand's Mildred trolls Rockwell by asking him if he's "still in the nigger-torturing business." The moral problem w/ that scene for me was less her saying "nigger" than Woody Harrelson's laugh line after.
Harrelson, the police chief, says: well, if i get rid of all the racist cops, i'll have hardly anyone left and they'll just hate the fags.
The movie later contrives to make THIS guy, who will countenance the torture of black people for headcount reasons, Its Moral Conscience From Beyond The Grave.

It's all very, very dumb.
Anyway. Sam Rockwell, the racist buffoonish cop, gets big mad bc his friend died. And so in the movie's big, arty set piece he flies into a rage and beats the shit out of some dude in broad daylight. the whole town sees it.
And why is he so mad? Where does all his rage come from?

His daddy died.

Seriously, that' His daddy died and he's sad. there's nothing else.
And it's on that toilet-paper-thin foundation of character development — Very Sad White Guy — upon which the entire back half of this movie rests. In short order, he is told that he is a good person deep down. Then the man he nearly beat to death offers him some orange juice.
A lot of people have argued that this movie doesn't redeem Rockwell's character. I strongly disagree, but here's what not's really debatable: the latter part of this movie requires you, the viewer, to want to spend time in this guy's space and brain and feelings...
...and to find his brokenness compelling.

That so many people have found it so, despite the movie barely bothering to offer up even the most perfunctory reason to do so, is incredibly telling.
even if there's virtually nothing in the text upon which to hang the argument of depth or nuance of this person, ppl will conjure it out of whole cloth. That's how strong this broad impulse is, to always try to affirm the humanity of certain kinds of people as if by compulsion.
but there are some of us who are exhausted by this reflex, who don't find any of these supposedly novel insights about the nuanced interiority of people who do terrible things all that interesting, bc we live with the possibility that those terrible things can happen to us.
we live in a world where a violent cop being sad about his daddy are not the actual stakes.
In real life, a police officer used his badge and authority to rape and sexually assault 13 black women — only to have a major sports site run a sympathetic 12000 word profile of how he was once a model football teammate.
in real life, Abner Louima was sodomized with a plunger by police officers so violently that he had internal bleeding. During the trial of the cop who carried it out, the NY Post published a story about how much that cop's daddy loved him.
what's that saying from ol' dude?

"Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others."
Anyway. Crash was an embarrassing movie about white people having feelings while brown people got put in mortal danger and that somehow posited that those conditions carried equal weight. It won Best Picture at the Oscars.
i guess twe're about to see if there will be even more unfortunate parallels between it and #ThreeBillboards, huh?
sorry for the rant and the typos.
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