Friday, June 01, 2007

Can't bear to watch... Nice White Lady a.k.a. Freedom Writers

So I am sitting here with the remote control in my hand trying to decide whether to watch Freedom Writers, and all I can think of is this youtube spoof.

I know once I hit play, I will probably cringe at all the stereotypes and exaggerations, just like I do when I watch any movie that portrays the military. Pray for my sanity.

- 5 minutes in to the movie and I am already cringing. I grew up right next door to Long Beach. It was bad, but not that bad. And then the whole, "I'm here for the diversity line"... I am about to puke.

- OK, her class just entered the room, and I realized I was actually rooting for her to fail. Something is wrong with me. Is this movie going to be as condescending as I think?

- Supposedly Ms Gruwell is super smart... so if she is so smart, how come she seems so shocked by the school? Growing up in Los Angeles, I don't care if you are from Beverly Hills, you are aware of the culture of the inner city.

- So only one kid in the whole 9th grade class knew what the holocaust was? (and he was white). Seriously... how many fricking stereotypes are they going to throw at me?

- Go white lady, go white lady, go! The journal idea is actually kind of cool. It probably doesn't help much with teaching grammar, spelling, or organization, but it could be a useful tool.

- It may be cliche, but the part where she took the kids to the holocaust museum actually got to me a little.

- Crap, I enjoyed that movie. Manipulating director 1 - Cynicism 0.

- The one thing I did take from the movie, is the idea of a teacher moving with their students from grade to grade. The idea has merit, unless of course the teacher sucks.

And I thought I was cynical... check this review out.: A Skeptic's view of Freedom Writers.

At first, I absolutely refused to see Freedom Writers. It looked like yet another feel good white-teacher-saves-colored-students with-much-rejoicing in-the-land-of-Nod movie. I mean, the narrative is another twist of the American Dream: ignore the circumstances around you and focus on yourself, and you’ll poise yourself for success and improvement. Rampant individualism abounds. You see people you once characterized as your people doing The Wrong Thing, and you set off to do The Right Thing without those people. And movies like Freedom Writers tell you in veiled ways that that’s okay, and the world cuts off when you leave it outside the fences of your school. The real world of deserting husbands, gang violence, and homelessness wipes clean away. As usual, my analysis is spoiler ridden because I just don’t give a damn. :-p
Read the rest for a pretty good analysis of the movie. (Despite all this, it still gave me an E.T. moment.)

This review over at MrCranky sums it up nicely as well.
More "credit" is due LaGravenese[the director] for deciding to avoid the scene with that one student who quits or dies or just doesn't get it. Everyone gets it in "Freedom Writers." Every student learns. Every student achieves. Every student is a changed person by the end of the film and Erin might as well be Mother Theresa.

"Freedom Writers 2" will feature Erin traveling to the Middle East to teach everyone peace, I'm sure.