If, like most of America, you don’t care about Hollywood’s Academy Awards anymore and you missed its recent all-time lowest-rated broadcast, then you likely haven’t heard about an ugly bit of Black Lives Matter agitprop that scored an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film.
The woke propagandists at Netflix, the streaming service that made multi-million dollar deals with the Obamas and with former British royals Meghan and Harry to create social justice content, produced the half-hour film titled Two Distant Strangers. It was written and directed by Travon Free, whose credits as a writer include leftist political comedy for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and The Daily Show. It centers on a young, black graphic novelist named Carter who is trapped in a time loop somehow and, Groundhog Day-style, is forced to re-live deadly encounters with a police officer named Merk.
The officer – a white man, of course – is a caricature 0f racist evil (“merk” is slang for committing violence, usually killing). Carter, by contrast, is polite, affluent, and intellectual. Over and over in a sort of living nightmare, he experiences being rousted by the cop on the street for no reason, in confrontations that always end with the unarmed Carter being killed – first suffocated to death in a chokehold while complaining “I can’t breathe” (sound familiar?), then shot to death by the trigger-happy Merk in subsequent run-ins.
Carter finally realizes both he and Merk are caught in some kind of endless cycle of lethal police brutality. When they manage to postpone the inevitable long enough to discuss their situation, Carter asks why Merk became a cop. “I guess I got sick of being bullied,” he confesses, and Carter counters, “So you became one.” This is a disgusting smear of hundreds of thousands of law enforcement personnel in this nation who chose for noble reasons to put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect.
But it gets worse. Carter goes on to lecture Merk about black victimhood: “You guys over-police our neighborhoods, over-punish us, lock us up for life, for some shit that white boys joke about in their memoirs. And then we’re stuck in a cycle we can’t even break.” Everyone’s responsible for their own choices, Merk retorts, including criminals. Carter shoots back: “What choice do they have when white people are born on third base and niggas outside the stadium?”
What outrageous dishonesty. In Travon Free’s race-mongering worldview, blacks are all given a raw deal at birth and whites are all given a backstage pass. In this patently false narrative, there is no thriving black middle class or wealthy blacks rewarded for talent and hard work, just as there are no poor, unsuccessful whites. There is only white privilege, black oppression, and mass incarceration.
“If we’re being really real here,” Carter continues, “the system rewards you with the best possible prize for the only thing you had nothin’ to do with – bein’ white.” Actually, if we’re being “really real,” the only systemic racism is in the Democrat Party, and the only privilege in today’s America is black Democrat privilege. But there’s no room for the truth in this short film; only propaganda.
Just as the two characters seem to be heading toward a sort of grudging racial rapprochement, Merk reveals that their honest conversation about race was all just part of this game, and he has no intention of letting Carter go after all. Merk murders him (again) with a cold-blooded smile and says, “See you tomorrow, kid.” Carter lies dead in a pool of his own blood (an Africa-shaped one, because no symbolism is too heavy-handed for this clunky allegory). He wakes up yet again and tells his girlfriend that he understands now that no matter what he does or says, this white cop “just wants to kill me.”
End of spoilers
The film’s sledgehammer messaging is straight out of Critical Race Theory, Black Lives Matter ideology, and cultural Marxism – all the divisive, racist, false narratives that drive today’s Democrat Party: that America is white supremacist in its essence; that even criminal blacks are the innocent, helpless pawns of an irredeemably racist system; that the police are its murderous storm troopers; and that only burning everything to the ground in the cleansing fire of “mostly peaceful” protests can bring about justice.
A scroll in the closing credits of the film lists the names of dozens of blacks killed in police-involved incidents in recent years, including well-known ones like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and George Floyd. “Say their names,” the scroll concludes. Added to some of those names are brief descriptions of what they were doing prior to their deaths – all of which have been stripped of any nuance or detail, and some of which are either grossly misleading (George Floyd was “killed while going to a grocery store”; Tamir Rice was “playing in a park”) or complete lies (Breonna Taylor was “killed in her sleep”).
In Rice’s tragic case, for example, Cleveland officers responded to a call in 2014 about a young black male aiming a gun at people in a park. The cops were unaware the male was a 12-year-old. When they arrived, they confronted a 5’7”, 195-lb. suspect who did not respond to shouts to show his hands. One officer shot when Rice drew a gun from his waistband; it was later discovered to be an Airsoft replica that is indistinguishable from a real gun, even lacking the orange tip which would mark it as a toy. The Two Distant Strangers filmmakers would have you believe the cops simply murdered Tamir Rice while he played on a swingset.
Prior to the film’s Oscar win, a critic at RogerEbert.com had written that he liked the concept but complained that its “noble efforts can be phony and cartoonish when it comes to every interaction between Carter and the police officer” [emphasis added]. A critic at ReadySteadyCut gave the short only 1.5 stars out of 5, perversely praising the filmmakers’ “good intentions” but stating that the film “lacks empathy and depth, leaning on shock and aesthetic.” In other words, even critics who support its blunt social justice messaging were unmoved by it as a story – because it’s not a story. It’s just a slick vehicle for pushing hateful, Black Lives Matter-style propaganda about America’s purportedly racist policing, and that is the only reason Academy voters found it Oscar-worthy.
Who cares?” you might ask. “Nobody watches short films.” Not in theaters, perhaps. But Netflix has Two Distant Strangers prominently featured in its “New on Netflix” section, where it is readily available for nearly 208 million subscribers. An Oscar statuette gives these filmmakers, especially writer/director Free, enormous clout for other Hollywood social justice projects, and legitimizes the film’s grotesque lie about the freest, least racist country in history.
Netflix and Travon Free, like the racist Democrat Party and its media enablers, want you to believe America is a racial killing field in which innocent “black and brown bodies,” as the left likes to put it, are wantonly slain by law enforcement in genocidal numbers. They don’t want you to know that there are over 500,000 crimes of interracial violence every year between whites and blacks, 90% of which are committed by blacks against whites, not against blacks by white supremacist cops.
They don’t want you to know any facts about race and police violence, because the truth undermines the narrative they depend on. The Freedom Center’s Discover the Networks website notes, for example, that
[a] 2019 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that white officers are no more likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot black civilians. “In fact,” writes Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald, the study found that “if there is a bias in police shootings after crime rates are taken into account, it is against white civilians.”
Each and every year, without exception, whites who are shot and killed by police officers in the U.S. far outnumber blacks and Hispanics who meet that same fate...
When we compare black rates of violent crime, with the rate at which blacks are shot and killed by police officers, we find that blacks are represented among those shooting victims at rates significantly lower than we would normally expect. For example, in 2017, blacks were just 23.6% of all people shot dead by police, even though they were arrested for 37.5% of all violent crimes.
In fact, in the real world, as opposed to the lies Travon Free and Netflix are selling, the threat of violence against cops dwarfs that of violence from cops:
According to Heather Mac Donald: “The per capita rate of officers being feloniously killed is 45 times higher than the rate at which unarmed black males are killed by cops. And an officer’s chance of getting killed by a black assailant is 18.5 times higher than the chance of an unarmed black getting killed by a cop.”
The facts simply demolish the left’s cop-hating, black victimhood narrative. Unfortunately, when it comes to shaping the cultural narrative, the left knows that facts are less compelling than Hollywood’s emotional manipulation and racial agitation.
From FrontPage Mag, 5/2/21