Anytime a movie is based on a true story you know it’s gotta have some merit to be made in the first place. Three black women in the 1960’s working for NASA as computers (not the machine) who put themselves in a position to get recognized for their natural intelligence, including playing a pivotal role in getting John Glenn into space? Great premise for a movie. The difference between a good movie and a great one is in the details. Obviously we know every detail in the movie isn’t 100% factually accurate. If it were then it’d just be a documentary. Documentaries don’t do well in the box office. Shocker, I know. But the small things like personal conversations and relationships between characters, that’s the stuff that makes for an entertaining movie while still staying true to the overall story of facts. That’s what made this movie great.
Hidden Figures had a few themes to touch upon throughout the story, some more prominent than others. The biggest one is obviously racism but there were others that added a lot of depth to the story. Such as a single parent working a full time job, a widow dating again, women in the workplace, the space race with the Russians, and computers taking people’s jobs. But racism was the big one. Normally we see period movies like this and all the white people hate the black people and vice versa. That wasn’t the case in Hidden Figures. It was completely different and an angle I don’t remember seeing before. It wasn’t hate, it was blindly conforming to the rules. White guys just putting COLORED stickers on shitty coffee pots and making the black people pee in different restrooms because those were the rules and obviously that’s what you’re supposed to do.
One exception was John Glenn. Thank you Mr. Glenn for making white guys look good in the 1960’s. We really needed it here. True hero.
I am white. Very white actually, almost clear if I’m being honest. I consider myself to be very forward thinking and accepting of almost everyone. I have reservations against elitist rich kids but whatever, I’ve never understood hate based on skin color. Hidden Figures didn’t have anyone who openly hated black people. It had hundreds of white guys like me who follow the rules and it really hit home. Unfortunately I think I’d be just like one of those guys which sucks. I’m a sucker for rules and I’ll follow them because I don’t know any better. I would definitely feel bad and I wouldn’t be a dick to anyone, but I sure as hell wouldn’t step up and make a difference. I can admit that. I’m not proud, I’m just being realistic because I know my worst quality is effort.
That’s what this movie did so well. It made the white audience understand racism by not making the white people out to be villains. Showing us that these were smart and educated people who’s crime was doing nothing. They really thought they weren’t racist. Octavia Spencer’s character addressed this when her supervisor said “You know I have nothing against you people” which was dripping in backhanded racism… and she responded with “I know you probably believe that”. Like yeah, you may not hate us but you’re sure as hell not helping either so it’s the same thing.
Eye opening stuff. This wasn’t that long ago.
You know what makes this movie so good? It took all that important stuff I just wrote about and fit it into a story that was entertaining as hell. It had humor and Kevin Costner, everything else was just a bonus.