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Film Review: 'Hidden Figures' Movie for Black Women to Cherish

by Todd A. Smith

 

Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), flanked by fellow mathematicians Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) meet the man they helped send to orbit John Glenn (Glen Powell) in “Hidden Figures” (Photo Credit: Hopper Stone/20th Century Fox Film Corporation).

 

‘Colored’ Computers 

 

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White supremacist leader Richard Spencer should be the first person in line to see “Hidden Figures” when it hits theaters on Christmas.


Spencer infamously stated that African-Americans made no contribution to American society or advancement.


While anyone who can read knows that is not true, a movie like “Hidden Figures” is perfect for someone who probably cannot read like Spencer because the movie allows them to see the untold contributions to this country made by African-American women without complicating things by requiring people to actually be literate.


“Hidden Figures” is a film for all Americans to be proud of, but one for African-American women to cherish forever.


During the Cold War, America was in an arms race with the Soviet Union, but also a space race with the Soviets.


The former U.S.S.R. became the first country to put a man in space, while their American counterparts were still struggling with the science and mathematics required to accomplish such a mission.


While many of the White men, not women, could not figure out the logistics of pulling off a space mission while keeping the vessel and the astronaut safe and intact, NASA’s Black female workforce were quietly figuring things out at a faster pace than their White male colleagues.


Although they were never really respected for their genius, NASA employees like Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) were quietly coming up with ways to help America close the space gap with the Russians.


Katherine was a mathematical genius who could do the quadratic equation while only in sixth grade.


Mary was a science whiz but could not be considered for a NASA engineering job until she took a few graduate courses at the University of Virginia.


The only problem was that the University of Virginia (UVA) was segregated despite the Brown v. Board of Education court case, which made segregation in schools illegal.


Without those courses at the all-White UVA, Mary would forever be in the shadows at NASA and not on the playing field where she belonged.


Dorothy performed the job of “supervisor” without the official job title and adequate pay.


She ran a department full of Black women geniuses whose jobs were now being threatened by the advent of computers.


The only problem was no one could figure out how to work the computers except Dorothy, who in turn taught her girls, virtually making them “colored” computers.


Despite the ingenuity of the “colored,” human computers, NASA was reluctant to give them their shine until they were forced to or else fall miserably behind the Russians.


“Hidden Figures” is simply remarkably and much-needed.


The film is so great that it had hard-to-impress movie critics applauding various scenes like when Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) knocked down the Whites Only signs on the NASA bathrooms.


Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) and Academy Award nominee Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) do what they always do.  The two performed brilliantly in “Hidden Figures.”


But as apparent from her role in “Moonlight” and now “Hidden Figures,” Monae is an actress moviegoers need to watch out for in the coming years because she has award-winning acting chops.


Furthermore, Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) proves how talented he is by playing Katherine’s racist co-worker, Paul Stafford.


When someone can make moviegoers mad like Parsons in “Hidden Figures,” they have done their job marvelously.


Unfortunately, “Hidden Figures” does fall into the formulaic, Hollywood feel good movie.

 

But when it comes to the current racial climate in America from such “people” as Richard Spencer, America needs a feel good movie that shows how great America can be when everyone is treated equally and given equal opportunity.


REGAL RATINGS

FOUR CROWNS=EXCELLENT

THREE CROWNS=GOOD

TWO CROWNS=AVERAGE

ONE CROWN=POOR


This article was published on Friday 16 December, 2016.
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