'The Hate U Give' Is The Teen Drama America Needs
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'The Hate U Give' Is The Teen Drama America Needs

Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.

'The Hate U Give' Is The Teen Drama America Needs

It's rare for a coming-of-age story to sideline romance and get straight to the point with zero angst. Thankfully, it's 2018, and vampires and werewolves no longer define young adult entertainment.

"The Hate U Give" opened in select cities across the U.S. this past weekend and opens nationwide on October 19. If you want to consider yourself at least slightly "woke", you'll go see it. The film is based on Angie Thomas's 2017 novel of the same name, which I encourage reading before watching the new adaptation. "THUG" follows the story of Starr Carter, an African-American teenager caught in a tug-of-war between two worlds: her "black" neighborhood and the white private school she attends. This struggle intensifies after she witnesses the shooting and death of her childhood friend, Khalil, at the hands of a biased white police officer. Starr must cope with her status as a witness to the event and all the publicity that comes along with it.

This is not an easy movie to watch. Having read the book beforehand I knew it wouldn't be easy, but seeing and reading do two different things to your mind. This is, as one of the characters puts it, the same story we see on the news every day, just a different name.

The ever-present theme of "THUG LIFE" permeates the storyline of THUG. An acronym made popular by rapper Tupac, the familiar phrase stands for "The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everybody". This movie made me angry, frustrated, guilty, and hopeful all at the same time. Angry that a police officer, a figure who should stand for order and peace, would shoot an innocent boy armed only with his skin color and a hairbrush. Frustrated, because this officer is one of many who gets away with what would be considered manslaughter in any other case. Guilty, because I don't often acknowledge the unwarranted privilege granted to my white skin and, when I do, I choose to remain an onlooker. Hopeful, because watching such a powerful criticism of injustice portrayed on the big screen means America is one step closer to hearing the voices it has chosen to silence.

There were many things I appreciated about THUG, particularly its refusal to place the blame on one side. While thoughtless shootings and drug activity are largely the results of a white-dominated system, broken homes full of fear and hatred are inherently a people problem. Corruption manifests in both the white law enforcement and the black King Lord gang in the film, showing that everyone shares responsibility for "the hate we give". This could have been an angry propaganda piece for black empowerment, but THUG chose the route of civility and perseverance. It could have chosen to mourn; instead, it was a celebration of life. The lives of those lost—Trayvon, Eric, Tamir, Michael, and so many others—inspire us to live each day standing for and working towards justice.

A few words of advisement: don't go into the theater expecting a cinematic masterpiece. It's a good movie, but as a movie alone it still contains flaws. I say this because too many people will only see what's on the screen in front of them and ignore the message. 'The Hate U Give' will spark intelligent discussion when the credits roll, and when a film can do that it succeeds—in my humble opinion, anyway. Discussion leads to understanding, understanding to initiative, initiative to action, and action to reconciliation. Again, I would highly recommend you read the book first because the movie adaptation merely scratches the surface of a conflict that stretches into far deeper territory.

It's time we began listening to each other again.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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