Why Do the Oscars Keep Falling for Racial Reconciliation Fantasies?

From Driving Miss Daisy to Green Book.

Not knowing what these movies were “about” didn’t mean it wasn’t clear what they were about. They symbolize a style of American storytelling in which the wheels of interracial friendship are greased by employment, in which prolonged exposure to the black half of the duo enhances the humanity of his white, frequently racist counterpart. All the optimism of racial progress — from desegregation to integration to equality to something like true companionship — is stipulated by terms of service.

Julie Snyder, one of the first producers at This American Life, is the co-creator of Serial and S-Town.

“I am constantly second-guessing myself. I am full of regret and recrimination all the time. I don’t pride myself on it cause it probably goes too far, but in other ways I do feel like I am a person who is very flawed and I make mistakes and I try and learn from them. And I try to be very open to other people’s thoughts and input and everything like that. So to be that open to criticism after season one [of Serial] was rough for being that open because we just got so much attention. I could feel people being like, ‘Oh, go cry on your bags of money.’ It was huge. I got that, but at the same time, it was hard to ignore.”

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Letter from Birmingham Jail

On the moral responsibility to break unjust laws.

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“There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’”