Re-watching 1995's ‘Strange Days’ in 2020

Reflecting on Redemption, Accountability and Blackness

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Strange Days. 1995. USA. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Screenplay by James Cameron, Jay Cocks. With Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore. 20th Century Fox. 145 min.
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Ralph Fiennes in Strange Days (1995) IMDB.
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Angela Bassett in Strange Days (1995) IMDB
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Glenn Plummer in Strange Days (1995) IMDB.

Jericho One’s death? And this carries so much more weight now too, doesn’t it? The death of an unarmed Black man by police officers, the action recorded which functions as the catalyst of what drives the city’s conflict to the point of cops in riot gear and tanks.

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Vincent D’Onofrio in Strange Days (1995)

It’s sombering isn’t it? Set in the future, the film tells us that the lives of Black people are still so very trivial. Jericho One’s death aids in setting the already untrusting, on edge city into overdrive, much like today.

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Strange Days (1995)
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Ralph Fiennes in Strange Days (1995)

I think of the visuals, I think of footage of the deaths of unarmed Black folks that we’ve seen over the years by white men who are cops or former law enforcement — this year, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd’s deaths were (Arbery’s was partially at least) caught on camera and played again and again, re-traumatizing Black people the world over.

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Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

I even think of how not having footage of death of a Black person — in the case of gender, makes an impact but lessens the degree of how much visibility one can receive by the public after death — Breonna Taylor’s death wasn’t recorded and the level of visibility for justice for those who took her life has waned. This too is a recurring tragedy in itself that traumatizes Black folks too — Black women who are victims are perpetually erased in the fight against police brutality.

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Angela Bassett in Strange Days (1995) IMDB.
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James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow in Strange Days (1995) IMDB.

I never felt truly at ease with the clip of Jericho One’s murder in what we probably all hoped — key word being hope— was in the right hands in the police force and now upon re-watching the film in 2020— there’s a even greater sinking, feeling in tune with the feelings associated with how the police in real life for me, stir up.

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Photo by Chris Henry on Unsplash

How many families of slain Black folks in real life have received some measure of justice for their fallen kin — video evidence or not? For those who are police officers, how many of these killers go free, get acquitted, get rehired and shuffled around to new departments in new counties and new cities?

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Twitter

Watching it now in June 2020 almost seems like a prophetic vision of how dark and dangerous surveillance tech can make our lives, in lieu of protecting us. In the future, Blackness seems to still be enough motive to dehumanize a person and with enough authority — take their life. And trust in authoritative figures, trust in institutions — like police officers, like your local city hall, like the White House are rightfully shaken and questioned in today’s time.

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⭐️ Writer, Editor & Media Scholar with an affinity for red lipstick living in California. Writes about literature, art, cinema & amazing women. ⭐️

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