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Thread: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Icon12 The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

    Never mind the looming threat of the Soviet Union in the Space Race, or the problems of sexism in NASA and society in general in the 1960s, or relationship issues, or education and career paths, no! The real theme of Hidden Figures, as demonstrated in ubiquitous scenes that dominate the film, is all about seeing black women going to the bathroom to go pee pee...and poo poo. Some people are into that. Hey, I don't judge.

    For those who haven't seen the film, SPOILERS! This is where it gets smelly. Actually, flippancy aside, there is a pivotal moment halfway through the film where a speech is given by actress Taraji P. Henson about bathrooms and Kevin Costner takes action like a man by destroying stuff with a crowbar. Confused? Well, watch the film, or spoil it for yourself:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Basically, Henson, playing NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (who looks like a sweet old great grandmother now at age 99) reveals to her white boss Al Harrison, played by Kevin Costner, that the reason she is gone from her desk for such long periods during the day is because she has to walk half a mile just to use the nearest "Colored" restroom. Only "Whites only" restrooms exist in the building where she works, because this was Virginia back in the early 1960s, when Segregation was still a reality. Kevin Costner regrets grilling her for being away from her desk, peeling the "colored" label off the coffee kettle that she was being forced to use, and takes his white male privileged aggression out on the "Colored ladies room" bathroom sign by tearing it down with a crowbar. This was Costner's next big if you build it, they will come moment in film, or at least his most memorable performance since Robin Hood...or Waterworld, take your pick.

    In reality, it was Mary Jackson who used a "colored" restroom, while Katherine Johnson (then Katherine Goble) actually used the non-labeled but basically "whites only" rest room for years until a formal complaint was lodged. She dismissed the complaint and no one made a big fuss out of it. The whole crowbar thing was invented for the film, basically, which disappointed me, because I wanted to imagine Al Harrison actually going around smashing signs with crowbars.




    So, now that the spoiler is out of the way, what do you guys think? Am I right, or am I right? It's a shame that Peter Rosenthal of the Onion Film Standard on Youtube hasn't done a proper "review" of the film yet, so my flippant one will have to do for now. Am I not merciful?

    EDIT: in case it's not clear to some readers, I actually enjoyed the film and the actors/actresses' performances; I'd encourage others to go and see it. This is just me being a smart ass and pointing out something that I couldn't resist finding funny.

  2. #2

    Default Re: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

    I have not seen that movie but yes it is a pity when movies with honorable objectives fail dismally.
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    Halie Satanus's Avatar Emperor of ice cream
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    Default Re: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

    Hmm. Recently saw a review of 'Three signs outside Ebbing.....' Apparently the 'internet' is miffed that the overt racism in the movie isn't addressed in any meaningful way. The movie isn't actually about racism, if you've seen it. It's about a mother seeking justice for her daughter who was brutally raped and murdered. There does seem to be a need for Hollywood to correct historical racism in movies. Which is an oxymoron because it's kind of doing the opposite of what it intends. As you point out the crowbar applied to a sign never happened, yet few people watching that movie would know that and assume NASA were at the forefront of the civil rights movement. It also seems something Costner would have written in himself. I like Costner, he's a great actor, but a piss poor historian with a track record of adding in feel good moments.

    I haven't seen 'Hidden Figures.' Has a sense of being a movie that didn't need to be made until Hollywood was called out over the lack of black people in movies (unless gang related) or winning awards (a pause for the CGI work of Andy Serkis here - CGI lives matter).. Perhaps I'm being too cynical...

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

    Quote Originally Posted by mishkin View Post
    I have not seen that movie but yes it is a pity when movies with honorable objectives fail dismally.
    I wouldn't go that far. The movie does have a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, perhaps deservedly so. It is a good movie and it had its moments of levity. I just thought it was funny how much taking a crap and having to go pee was a major theme of the film, right down to shots of Henson (playing Katherine Johnson) tapping her heel anxiously against the floor beneath her desk.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halie Satanus View Post
    Hmm. Recently saw a review of 'Three signs outside Ebbing.....' Apparently the 'internet' is miffed that the overt racism in the movie isn't addressed in any meaningful way. The movie isn't actually about racism, if you've seen it. It's about a mother seeking justice for her daughter who was brutally raped and murdered. There does seem to be a need for Hollywood to correct historical racism in movies. Which is an oxymoron because it's kind of doing the opposite of what it intends. As you point out the crowbar applied to a sign never happened, yet few people watching that movie would know that and assume NASA were at the forefront of the civil rights movement. It also seems something Costner would have written in himself. I like Costner, he's a great actor, but a piss poor historian with a track record of adding in feel good moments.

    I haven't seen 'Hidden Figures.' Has a sense of being a movie that didn't need to be made until Hollywood was called out over the lack of black people in movies (unless gang related) or winning awards (a pause for the CGI work of Andy Serkis here - CGI lives matter).. Perhaps I'm being too cynical...
    Movies usually play fast and loose with history, so this one isn't extraordinary in that regard. But yes, it does depict NASA as such. They don't go overboard with the concept, though. What they do is show moments of racism that perhaps didn't happen to these women personally, but are more of a general experience of black women back then.

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    HannibalExMachina's Avatar Just a sausage
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    Default Re: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

    congrats, you both realized what the movie is about, and still completely missed the point, thats impressive. i guess bathrooms make for a funny joke, if you never had to think twice about were to take a dump.

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

    Quote Originally Posted by HannibalExMachina View Post
    congrats, you both realized what the movie is about, and still completely missed the point, thats impressive. i guess bathrooms make for a funny joke, if you never had to think twice about were to take a dump.
    No, I think you missed the point, in that the beginning of the OP is entirely facetious, and the actual content is in the spoiler. The whole thing about how it was a pain in the ass (literally, figuratively) for blacks to go out of their way to use "colored" restrooms a million miles away is beaten into the audience's head, as demonstrated by the clip that I shared. The part I actually found funny, if you continued to read the spoiler, was the whole insertion into the film of Kevin Costner's non-historical crowbar moment (the real Al Harrison wasn't nearly as dramatic, although he clearly helped to advance the careers of African American women at NASA).

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    Default Re: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

    i think beating it into the audiences head is the point, peoples heads are thick like that.

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    Default Re: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

    Quote Originally Posted by HannibalExMachina View Post
    i think beating it into the audiences head is the point, peoples heads are thick like that.
    The whole patterned sequence of it and montages of her running to the bathroom almost reminded me of that scene in Game of Thrones where poor Sam Tarley is forced to mind the latrine and poop buckets at the library of the maesters in Old Town.



    I mean, come on, that's comical, even though it sucks for him. Even Hidden Figures, despite pointing out the total unfairness of "colored" restrooms and how it affected Johnson's work performance, deliberately added goofy music to the some of the scenes of her running to make it a point of levity (and, in almost a slapstick fashion, showed how crappy it was that she had to run through the rain in high heels). Because bathroom jokes are inherently funny, even if they involve something as insidious as racial segregation.

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    Default Re: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

    First thing Samwell Tarly has to learn is that in spite of his birth and knowledge, he's learning to be a Maester, and he's learning that he's now learning to serve and take care of people. Humility and humbleness is a key thing. It is no longer about him. When he ran from his lessons back to Jon Snow to give Jon the information he basically failed up.
    One thing is for certain: the more profoundly baffled you have been in your life, the more open your mind becomes to new ideas.
    -Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Let's think the unthinkable, let's do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaidin View Post
    First thing Samwell Tarly has to learn is that in spite of his birth and knowledge, he's learning to be a Maester, and he's learning that he's now learning to serve and take care of people. Humility and humbleness is a key thing. It is no longer about him. When he ran from his lessons back to Jon Snow to give Jon the information he basically failed up.
    Right. I wouldn't argue against that. I just wanted to compare his character to Johnson's in Hidden Figures because they are both put into crappy situations (literally and figuratively, hehe), in a way that you sympathize with their characters but also cannot help but laugh at the comical nature of their woes. I'm not sure if you call that dark humor or not, but it is what it is.

    What Game of Thrones doesn't have, however, is a crowbar-wielding guy like Kevin Costner to stand up for Sam Tarley or others like him. At least not yet. The Hound could fill that niche.

  11. #11

    Default Re: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels

    Well, Samwell Tarly is basically playing Nurse where Johnson is in a racist situation. If you've ever been in a hospital for any time period longer than 24 hours you have a greater appreciation for the nurses than you do the doctors. It's the nurses that actually take care of you. But nurses have to go through exactly what Samwell Tarly went through and I have literally no sympathy for Samwell Tarly as that's a part of his training. That's why there's no crowbar-wielding Kevin Costner standing up for him. There shouldn't be. He's either going to be a Maester or he's not.

    Samwell Tarly is a totally analogy for this thread.
    One thing is for certain: the more profoundly baffled you have been in your life, the more open your mind becomes to new ideas.
    -Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Let's think the unthinkable, let's do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.

  12. #12

    Default Re: The real theme of Hidden Figures: black women forced to use segregated bathrooms in distant places while running in uncomfortable high heels


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