Monday, April 22, 2013
Reflections on "Snow on tha Bluff"
So, in class a few days ago, Dayna referred us to a movie called “Snow on the Bluff”, and I had some time on my hands so I thought I'd watch it on Netflix. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the movie, it follows the life of Curtis Snow, an Atlanta gangster who lives in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Atlanta, the Bluff, after he steals a camera from a few college kids looking to buy drugs off of him. From there we become privy to “everyday” life on the bluff. We see Curtis's drug raids, his drive-bys, and his angry moments but we also see the care he has for his community and his family.
The opening scene of the movie is brilliant. It starts from the point of view of the college kids that originally bought the video camera. The first line is, “No, I wouldn't want to raise my kids in Georgia” and sets up the movie as directly against this entitled, college-kid culture. The insertion of these college kids does not take up a lot of time, but it contextualizes the movie. By showing these other college kids, the movie makes it harder for viewers to trivialize the events of the movie by thinking, “well, that's just how life is in this world” because there are people who don't live like that.
I also think it is important that it originally sets up Curtis as “the bad guy”. In the first scene he robs these kids, and the emotional impact of that scene is multifaceted. On the one hand, I think it is natural to feel bad for the kids, and that emotional reaction is later brought into question. The viewer must ask if there is a difference in emotional response between watching the kids get robbed and watching Curtis and his family suffer, and if there is a difference, then why? On the other hand, it identifies Curtis as he would be seen by society, as some nameless bad guy. The movie brings him a humanity that is marginalized by the mainstream parts of society and specifically white society.
What makes this movie so affecting is how real and surreal it feels simultaneously. While watching, I was constantly questioning the veracity of the film; was Curtis Snow a real guy, or an actor? Were those real guns and deaths, or were they dramatized? These, I think, are not the right questions, but they are the questions that an audience who has never experienced gang life will ask. What I personally need to recognize is that “Snow on Tha Bluff” seems surreal to me because it is very far removed from the things I experience on a day to day basis. I am luck to not have to experience the level of violence that is so common place in “Snow on The Bluff”.
I would highly recommend this movie, and I thank Dayna for pointing me towards it. Watching it was a crazy experience. A few questions I would like to ask the class: Do you think movies like “Snow on Tha Bluff” should have a social justice imperative? What role do you think the question of reality and our understanding of reality plays in interpreting the film? And, if you've watched it, how do you feel about the film's portrayal of violence?