“I’m good, I’m good. I’m gonna be good.”
A while back when I read Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein our class had a discussion about whether or not human beings were born good or whether we are born evil. Do we subconsciously pursue “bad” when we do, or is it those damned demons that get ahold of our greatness? I’d like to believe that we are good; I do, but then there are incidents like the 2009 Oakland BART tragedy that leave me wondering about human beings’ innateness and how some really are just plain evil.
Take Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), for instance. A young guy–only 22–with a daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal) and girlfriend (Melonie Diaz) Sophina. And all in all he does have his shit together, but his struggle lies within his own self and his recurring inability to stay out of trouble with the law (he tends to have a bit of an anger issue.) But he means well. Throughout the movie Oscar’s efforts charm you into rooting for his success, and well, let’s be serious: developing a major crush on Michael B. Jordan (holla!).
But things take a dark turn on New Year’s Eve when Oscar’s mother (Octavia Spencer) relieves Oscar and Sophina of parenting for the night and tells them to take the train into San Francisco. The two’s crew has a rendezvous at Fruitvale Station (just outside downtown Oakland), and the night’s all good and fun—up until the BART ride home, that is, when Oscar’s past unexpectedly creeps up on him and a guy with beef approaches him violently. Things escalade and eventually lead to Oakland’s finest stopping the train and breaking up the fight; Oscar is then singled out along with two of his buddies as suspects, and things broil into a shot bullet that’s life it took will never be forgot—taking away the beloved Oscar, who, outside of that train station was also a father, a boyfriend, a son, and a human life.
Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station is an important film for everyone to remind us how our system is becoming increasingly unjust (the cop who shot Oscar only served two years in prison, for a murder!), and how the people in power’s own evils / prejudices are alarmingly present in dealing with this so-called “crime”.
(photo via PE)