Saturday, October 19, 2013

Poignancy in Death at the Cinema: Fruitvale Station

Oscar Grant, who was killed by a BART police officer at the Fruitvale Station during a melee, is the subject of a gritty film that paints an unsparing picture of the lives of too many young black men with little future, much of it owing to their own tragic plight.  We must keep in mind that most were raised without a father, and for many, their mothers hooked

Grant is far from a likable character in the first frames.  After assuring his girlfriend that he is not fooling around on her, shortly after, at his work place on a day off, he goes out of his way to "help" a customer in the meat department, the customer a good looker, making it clear he is and may always be on the make.

Then we learn that, in fact, he no longer works at the store, but was fired two weeks prior for his inability to show up for the job.

He deals drugs to get by.  He has already served time in prison, so you get the portrait.

the director has gone out of his way to build up sympathy based upon the assertion that Grant spent ample time with his daughter out of wedlock to show her affection, and for this, we are suppose to like the guy.

Fast forward to the tragic New Years Eve when, his girlfriend and fellow revelers, retuning tom San Francisco on BART, were hustled off the train after a fight.

Fast forward to the shot that killed Grant.  The police officer maintained he thought he had pulled his taser.  He served less than two years time for the "mistake."

Here in Oakland, though far from the world of Oscar Grants, it was an outrage.  And yet, who knows, maybe this BART policeman was telling the truth.

Having observed, whenever another strike is staged, how all of BART'S employees virtually run the system, holding a Unionized power to shut down the trains and leave half a million people stranded, I have little feeling or sympathy for this greedy lot, and that would include a police force that does not come off as totally professional. 

The end sequence of the film gives us a poignancy that makes even more tragic these Oscar Grants.

Had he lived, this Oscar ,might well have ended up back in prison.  He might have lived out his days selling more drugs and ending up on welfare.

So, in his death, there is a symbolic tragedy that falls over an entire class of people.

Unfortunately, the life of Oscar Grant would never have lived up to the dreams of his mother, who draws the sympathy of outraged citizens.

It's a tale that sheds more light on the vicious cycle of violence in which too many African American men are trapped.

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