The '90s brought us a lot of cheesy movie experiences as well as some beautiful and heartbreaking scenes of human frailty and tons of theatrical swells of emotionally manipulative film scores to bring us all to tears. Take for instance this this scene from the film "Amistad", in which Matthew McConaughey plays a lawyer with delightful hair, and the gorgeous Djimon Hounsou is recently shipped slave cargo who has miraculously learned some key words in English despite being unable to communicate in English for the rest of the film.
Before I show that clip, a refresher. Jackson's character, Carl Lee Hailey, is on trial for murder because he shot the men who raped and lynched his daughter -- not because they raped and lynched her, but because the court system let them go free. This scene occurred to me recently despite the fact that I haven't seen the movie in ages, because so many of us are living in an era in which we find ourselves looking at existing systems upholding injustice in the name of a "rule of law" that allows people to be hurt or killed or imprisoned, facing the question that for many had existed only as a retrospective hypothetical contextualized by study of Nazi Germany: "How did regular people stand and accept these atrocities taking place around them?" Carl Lee Hailey is the everyman who doesn't stand aside accepting the rule of law that is wrong; his is the cathartic and long-suffering internal hero that we all wish we could be in the face of injustice.
My favorite part of that scene are the couple of seconds at the end when Hailey looks at the jury stone-faced to gauge their reactions. But the larger point is this: maybe we should stop wondering how it can be that we live amongst people who cannot admit to human right violations happening right under their noses, and start thinking about the narrative, imagery, and symbolism that would help them see the facts for what they really are by forcing them to imagine those horrors inflicted on people who look more like them?
The goal is simple: sometimes, in order to make someone see you or others as human and therefore worthy of human compassion, you first have to fully acknowledge the fact that when they close their eyes and think about the word "human", it would never occur to them to think of someone who looks like you.
So here is the art prompt:
Happy arting around! And if you should choose to do this prompt for your own entertainment or edification, feel free to share it with me, and I'll post it here and on my social media. You should absolutely share it on your own media, of course; I'm just happy to help (and get free accredited content). If we're lucky, we'll get more people walking around resembling Chris Cooper's character in "A Time to Kill", who was called on the stand after one of Hailey's stray bullets permanently paralyzed him.