Does 'Three Billboards' Deserve The Hype?

Does 'Three Billboards' Deserve The Hype?

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The other Sunday at the Golden Globes, one of the films that surprised me in how well it did is 3 Billboards. Not because I disliked the movie, but because it was one of the most controversial films of the year. While few debate Frances McDormand's stellar performance, the film's depiction of race in America has been widely critiqued.

In my opinion, the shaky depiction of police brutality in the film made it unworthy of winning Best Screenplay, and potentially Best Picture at the Oscars. This isn't to say that a film must be ideologically perfect to be a good film. In many ways, Three Billboards is a great film, and I loved many aspects of it. However, I believe that when it comes to award shows, the cultural context in which a film is released is a major part of whether it deserves certain awards. Furthermore, if a film seeks to tackle difficult issues, how it tackles these issues should be an aspect of its critique.

The film is advertised as mainly a story about Francis McDormand's character Mildred's campaign to get the corrupt local police department to investigate her daughter's rape and murder. And that is the main focus, but the film also spends a considerable amount of time humanizing these corrupt police officers.

The chief of police, Willoughby, who is originally targeted by the billboards Mildred puts up, ends up being the moral center of the film. His flaws, most obviously his refusal to fire Dixon, the violent, racist cop who allegedly has tortured black people (and who never refutes these allegations), are glossed over because of he is dying of cancer.

There are some very heart-wrenching scenes dealing with this, and I understand and admire McDonagh's desire to show the humanity in the supposed villains of the film, but it comes off a bit cheaply that his illness is the main reason we are supposed to sympathize with him.

Furthermore, his major monologue is the main emotional turning point in the film, and sets him up as the moral center of the film. We are supposed to forgive him for running a police station that is undeniably corrupt, and truly has failed Mildred and everyone else in the town of Ebbing.

The fact that Mildred, who kicks schoolchildren in the balls and tells her daughter she hopes she gets raped, is a less likable character than Willoughby is part of the point of the film: there are no good guys and no bad guys. But her over-the-top anger and his preachiness are a clear choice by the (male) writer and director of the film to villainize a female character and lionize a male character. This is an oversimplification of the film, of course, but it is the impression that it leaves, whether this was an intentional choice or not.

The main controversy about the film, however, has to do with the previously mentioned Dixon. For the first half to three-quarters of the film, he is a completely unlikable character. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and just straight up stupid (sound familiar?). Like Willoughby, however, he is humanized. His redemption arc is triggered by Willoughby's belief in him that despite everything, he is a good person.

Though the idea that everyone has good inside of them waiting to be released is beautiful and an admirable message, this seems like a flimsy excuse for a complete 180 in characterization.

Another aspect of the critique of the film is its treatment of the black people within the town of Ebbing. The victims of Dixon's "torturing" are never named or seen. There are almost no black people shown in the film, period. One of the few, Mildred's colleague Denise, is shown very briefly at the beginning, before she is arrested by Dixon in an effort to make Mildred comply, and then completely forgotten until she reappears, smiling, without another word about what must have been a traumatic experience, knowing what we do about Dixon.

This episode, to me, is the most egregious and troubling example of the lazy writing in the film. Black people as a whole are used in the film the same way cancer is: as a device to further the emotional development of white people in the film. For a film that seeks to explore the failures of law enforcement to deal with citizens' issues, this is quite an oversight.

Cover Image Credit: Youtube.com

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To the guy that shot my brother...

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To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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23 Things That ~Barely~ Run Through A Girl's Mind During Her First Workout In, Like, Forever

Why did I do this to myself?

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It's the beginning of the semester and that means half of the students on campus have decided that we are going to go back to the gym after their workout routine fell through last semester. It's been months since we've stepped foot in the gym, but we are ready to attack it and get fit. That is until we get there and start going.

1. How did I get to the gym? Didn't I walk here? That should count as exercise

2. Why am I here?

3. Are these clothes tighter than they were last time?

4. Why is every single machine full? What am I supposed to do?

5. Is everyone looking at me?

6. I can't remember where anything is here

7. Okay, I am going to set this at the easiest level

8. Can I go home yet?

9. Is 3 minutes long enough? No, darn it.

10. How many calories have I burned? Only 10 are you kidding me!

11. Why is everyone else here going so hard? I look like a slacker

12. I am so sweaty right now

13. Maybe I should get a smoothie as a reward for working out

14. I am literally dying right now. I am about to drop dead

15. Only 5 more minutes to go. I've got this!

16. I don't got this

17. Why do people come here every day?

18. Last minute I'm going to go so hard right now

19. Just kidding that two seconds was good enough. I'm going to cool down for the last 58

20. Hallelujah, praise Jesus, I am done!

21. I am so tired

22. My body is so sore

23. I can't believe I have to walk home now. I've already done my exercising for the day

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