Sunday, March 20, 2011

And This Week's Free Event Turned Out To Be...

A screening of the film Zoot Suit.  And how exactly did we get to Zoot Suit Riots from Tibet, you might ask?

Because this is actually a very time consuming project, we will often search calendars a few months at a time looking for free events.  This works fine until they change dates of events.  The Tibet lecture is scheduled for next week, so instead we thought we were going to see a movie called Chicano at the local university as part of Chicano Awareness Week.  I don't know if it raised much awareness, but I assume it might have at least raised the awareness of the coordinator to A) plan ahead to actually have the film advertised, and B) to check to make sure the film you end up showing will actually play on the machinery that you have.

The movie is a filmed play about the Zoot Suit Riots in LA during World War II.  I admit that while I had heard of them, I actually had no idea what the riots were about.  After the movie, it's not that much clearer, but like so much of American history, they were about racism.  Because I knew virtually nothing about Mexican-American history, earlier this week I watched A Class Apart on PBS online.  Mexican Americans, many of whom became US citizens when we added states rather than by choice, weren't given protection under the 14th amendment because they weren't black.  (Of course, blacks weren't actually given protection under the amendment either until about 100 years after it was passed, but that is a different story)  Technically, Mexican-Americans were considered "white," but they were still discriminated against, beaten up, denied civil rights, and generally treated as second class citizens.  I got much more out of the documentary than Zoot Suit, and I enjoyed the documentary more.  Zoot Suit was hard to follow at times, especially when large chunks of the dialog and music were in Spanish, and like so many filmed plays, the over-the-top approach that can work in a play doesn't come across well in a film.  But it DID raise my awareness of the Chicano Movement--largely because I had never heard of it before--and it made me aware of parts of our history that I had never really heard of, so it was a very successful evening.

On to Tibet next week!

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