I have previously blogged about the book Hidden Figures (in conjunction with Small Great Things). I hosted a movie night with some friends of mine and I am not sure how I feel about the movie. I tried very hard not to let my feelings about the book influence my feelings about the movie, and I do think I succeeded in that. However, it was impossible not to compare the book the the movie.
As with most book to movie translations, a lot of information from the book was left out of the movie. This bothered me because it is a work of non-fiction, these were real women doing important work, and it didn’t feel right having their life stories altered from what I read in the book. However, I think it was done tactfully. The movie was still two hours long, so clearly not everything would have fit into the movie well anyway. The other note I have about the length of the movie is that I didn’t feel like the ending was coming when it did. I felt like there was more waiting to be said.
I had a lot of thoughts during the movie that I recorded for myself, and reading them now I think most , if not all of them, sound pretty ridiculous. Example: how did they choose the cast for this movie? I think everybody played their roles well, but I couldn’t help but wonder how Minnie (The Help) ended up playing a supervisor, or how Cookie (Empire) ended up looking like a woman who lacked poise, and how Sheldon (The Big Bang Theory) basically played another Sheldon. This happened with several other characters as well. I know that it isn’t fair to put actors and actresses in boxes of their former characters, but I also don’t think a movie is well produced if you still see that former role. I don’t think any of the members of the cast lack diverse acting talent, and yet, I feel as if the movie was produced as such.
In the end, I think this movie (and book) was timely and necessary. I made a comment to my friends in the middle of the movie about how I still have conversations with women of color that I mentor about dressing better than their white male counterparts. It saddens me to have to say that while watching a movie which took place before the buses were desegregated. It pained me to watch a black family get kicked out of the library, with the current push towards literacy. Their struggle is still our struggle, even if we have come a long way in the past sixty years. For myself, I do not think the movie nor the book exemplified how important these women were to science or as role models. However, I have many friends who do not understand how color and gender shape opinions. Therefore, I am very happy that the movie was picked up. I think it showed a struggle, I think it showed challenges based on both gender and color. I know that there are people who needed that movie. I know there are people who will still need that movie in the near future, and probably the far future. I just don’t feel like the movie was made for me, a black woman in STEM.