“I was born…a poor black child.”
Of course, Thomas is way too dignified to have started his movie like that, but he really was born into abject rural poverty at a time when racism was still a real, institutionalized thing. Even so, his memories of those times are pretty positive, until he was sent off to live with his mother in Atlanta. (Urban poverty being a wholly different thing from rural poverty.) When her place burns down, he ends up moving in with his grandmother and grandfather, who end up shaping his life.
His path from there is a fascinating one: Working hard and keeping his nose clean to stay on grandpa’s good side, having a calling to the seminary which ends when his fellow priests cheer and gloat over Martin Luther King’s assassination—which departure alienates him from his grandfather—falling in with radicals and realizing the horribleness of the mob mentality from the joiner’s side, success in law school followed by an inability to get a job as a black man, ending up in the D.A.’s office, marriage, child, divorce, then re-marriage and of course all culminating in a high-tech lynching.
One thing I think is very important in these days of SJW grievance mongering is remembering that racism used to be routinely more than casting the wrong ethnicity character in a Disney movie, and institutionally speaking, racism among Democrat politicians was an issue into the confirmation hearings of the ’90s—and how much has changed since then? Destroy someone insufficiently woke for making a joke comparing a black person to an ape? Absolutely. Make those insults and far worse yourself, perhaps accompanied by threats of violence? Hey, whatever gets the job done.
Politicians seem to inevitably be the worst of us, but to see Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy smirking their oleaginous way through this politically-orchestrated slander was infuriating. Kennedy’s shamelessness notwithstanding, you just wanna punch Biden in the face. Seems like too many of the faces were familiar. Either still in office or just recently stepped down.
Point being, a woke lynching isn’t much different from the old-fashioned kind, and certainly not from the perspective of the lynchee.
If Thomas were on the Left, he’d be getting the Full RBG treatment: There’d be movies and (more than one) documentary, tchotchkes, workout- and cook-books, but instead it’s: “He’s Scallia’s lapdog,” “He’s so dumb, he never asks questions,” “He’s an Uncle Tom”. That’s why he needed his own documentary.
Thomas has long been my favorite Supreme Court Justice for the simple reason I can understand what he writes. I can follow the logic. I usually agree, but whether I do or not, I don’t feel like he’s riding some hobby horse. (Scalia sometimes seemed to be twisting himself into what you might call pro-government positions, by contrast. And I didn’t always understand his logic even when I agreed with his general conclusion.) This movie talks almost none at all about his decisions, however, content to end with his arrival at the Supreme Court. (Though there is some coverage of the continued attempts to invalidate him.)
But what a ride. What an interesting person. He’s kinda pissed, and I don’t blame him. But you also get the sense he’s living his best life, and is kind of bulletproof now from the dirt kicked up at him because he knows his enemies have no shame and will stop at nothing.
On the three-point documentary scale:
- Subject matter: Obviously worthy.
- Presentation: Straightforward. Interview/narrative by Thomas himself, basically, with some segments from wife, Ginnie. Good enough photos and some relevant stock footage. Video of the hearings and a couple of other occasions exist. Appropriate music and for the interstitials there were low camera shots of the swampy island where Thomas spent his early childhood. Good music choices.
- Slant: Well, it’s his own story, in his own words. In that sense, it’s not slanted at all from what I can tell. Any biases or prejudices are Thomas’ own. There isn’t any apparent commentary around that.
On this last point, you could say it’s biased, obviously, because Thomas doubtless has his own. Anita Hill (speaking of leftists given tonguebaths by the media) is not given any more due than she actually deserves, though she isn’t dragged either. She’s just a slightly more emotionally stable version of the loons they dragged up for Kavanagh.
It only played a few days here in Gomorrah and it was only because I was down in the OC that I had a change to see it: It’s a definite recommend, if you have any interest in the man, or even just want to get a sense of what this slice of American history was like. Even if he weren’t a Supreme Court Justice, his story would be a worthwhile one.