Thoughts about “Beyond the Lights”
I’ve watched the movie five times since I purchased it on iTunes a month ago. The latest viewing was with my bi-racial niece. I really felt it was important for her to see the movie. She informed me that she had wanted to see it since it came out last year.
Please note: These are my thoughts and feelings about the movie and about our society. They are subjective and not a credo.
The intent of the screenwriter and director, was to illustrate how women are objectified, hyper-sexualized and ultimately disrespected in the music and movie industry. Consumers of these mediums are also culprits in this objectification. If ignored, how far will this unmitigated disrespect be allowed to permeate society? Do we as a society really want our young women (our children) to believe they will only be accepted and successful by emulating the “musicians” and actors propagating this obscene message? Obscene in the sense that sex is the only denomination by which women can profit.
The song, Blackbird, written by Nina Simone, is used as a theme in the movie to underscore Noni Jean’s lot in life. Yes, monetarily she became successful and fame bought the things in life considered signs of success by our society. And yet, she was hollow inside. She was not her own person but a shell under which she portrayed not her own message but that determined by the music industry. Her own mother viewed Noni as a ticket to get out of their poverty-ridden home in Brixton, England. Her mother was Noni’s manager but abdicated her role as Noni’s mother. That in itself wreaked havoc on Noni’s sense of self-worth.
This movie offers a profound message to consider. For me, though, the movie’s music some of which can be purchased on the soundtrack reveal a hopelessness and helplessness that is alarming. Half a century after the Civil Rights Movement secured legislation requiring changes in society to “level the playing field” – equal rights for all – and yet it is obvious it takes more than legislation to bring about true and permanent change.
Racial intolerance, bigotry and hatred are faced everyday by those whose skin color is a genetic factor which cannot be changed. What will it take to allow freedom of choice in education, occupations and dreams and aspirations? An act from God? How to motivate caring Americans who feel helpless to bring about true and meaningful change?
Why does this matter to me? I am of Irish and English descent – my civil rights are mostly “equal” with those of white males. I care as a citizen hoping to bring about positive change in America. I care because my nieces and nephews may likely face racial intolerance. They are bi-racial. Why should skin color or hair color (red for example) or height or disability determine the rights and ability to succeed in this country?