Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oprah Keeping Me From "The Butler"

Oprah Keeping Me From The Butler
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
August 15, 2013

Not being a big fan of visiting movie theaters to pay $10 apiece for a film that once it hits Redbox can be seen for a buck a day, The Butler, grabbed my attention.

This is a film chronicling a White House butler serving eight presidents over three decades and the experiences throughout the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, among other landmark periods of American history.

The Butler stars some top flight actors in Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, and Forest Whitaker – each of whom I have enjoyed in one film/television program or another, along with Oprah Winfrey.

Never having seen an entire episode of her former afternoon chat show, my feelings toward Winfrey have been largely ambivalent. I applauded her decision to build a school in South Africa versus one in the United States upon learning the “needs” of the students of the potential communities to be served. Apparently the students in the US, when asked, told Winfrey they wanted fancy gym shoes, computers, cell phones, and other non-academic materials, while the students in Africa asked for books, paper, pencils, and many of the academic needs people take for granted here. Winfrey was largely criticized by people who thought they should have a say in how Winfrey spends her money. She was and still is free to spend her hard earned resources as she wishes.

Fast forward to this newly released film, and my decision not to spend my hard earned money on it – in spite of my interest in the story and liking many of the major stars. It is due solely to Winfrey and her recent comments likening Trayvon Martin to Emmett Till.

Winfrey said the two cases were the “same thing.” And although she continued by invoking context, and how society has advanced so far since the Till slaughter, Winfrey patently stoked the flames of racial division in the United States.

Martin’s death was not race-induced, even his own parents agreed their son was not slain out of racial animus. For more details:

Till, born in Chicago, in 1941, was a black 14-year-old boy murdered in cold blood in 1955 in Tallahatchie River, Mississippi following and encounter where he allegedly flirted with a white woman. While Till disrupted the apple cart of the Southern “sensibilities” of the ‘50s, he did not commit a crime or deserve to be murdered. Martin, was not murdered, but instead killed within the confines of a fight he presumably started.

While Winfrey is certainly entitled to her opinion, her clear distortion of history will not be rewarded. I will not put money in her pocket because her ignorance will create a ripple effect amongst her large fandom that will perpetuate her racially divisive and irresponsible belief.

Need another reason to wait for The Butler to appear in your local Redbox? Hanoi Jane Fonda has a minor role playing, of all people, Nancy Reagan.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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