Midweek Myers Movie Review: Hidden Figures (2016)

We’re back with another movie review from Audre Myers, who is tossing in reviews of her favorite flicks whenever the mood strikes (or whenever I e-mail her asking her to contribute something).

She offers up her review of the 2016 film Hidden Figures, about three black women “computers” working for NASA.  It was a darling of the critics for its frank depiction of segregation.

Unfortunately, some its iconic scenes—like the lady having to walk half-a-mile to use a segregated bathroom—are Hollywood hogwash.  The segregated facilities were abolished in 1958—three years before the films setting—and while there were segregated restrooms in one part of NASA’s facilities prior to that year, they were unlabeled.  Katherine Johnson, one of the titular “hidden figures,” unwittingly used the whites only bathroom for years, and ignored the one complaint that was ever issued without any further escalation.

These inaccuracies—perhaps dramatic artistic license?—don’t mean segregation wasn’t real—it certainly was—but it seems that NASA was not exactly the hotbed of segregationist sentiment that the film depicts.  That makes sense—an organization reaching for the stars probably isn’t all that concerned about such earthbound issues as skin pigmentation.  Besides, there are plenty of alien species we can discriminate against in the distant future.

With that, here is Audre Myers’s review of 2016’s Hidden Figures:

I LOVE this movie. It’s not a ‘feel good’ movie – but it’s the best darned feel good movie you’ll ever watch. It’s general release was January 2017 and is loosely based on the non-fiction book by the same title, written by Margaret Lee Shetterly.

Three black women work for NASA in 1961 America. This is the real racism that America had – segregated everything: toilets, lunchrooms, back of the bus, or walk. Those of us of a certain age don’t need to be reminded; we remember. But I grew up in New York and even though it was racist, it was nothing like rural towns – especially Southern rural towns. We know. We remember. The three women work in the Computer Department. No – not like your desktop. They themselves were considered ‘computers’ because of their math abilities – they ‘computed’ and were, therefore, computers. I know – I like the play on words, too.

Each have their challenges, both at work and at home. But especially at work, as you might imagine. NASA was big time for white men; and women, especially black women, were sort of like the stuff you see growing on food you’ve left too long in the fridge; you can see it but what it is baffles you. The ‘computers’ are given random assignments each day, based on whatever department might need one. Katherine Goble (played by actress Tarajie P. Henson) gets assigned to the launch/land department of the Space Task Group department in preparation for the first manned space flight. Mary Jackson (played by Jonelle Monae) is doing the work of an engineer in the department that is trying to figure out how to make the return capsule safe. Dorothy Vaughn (played by one of my favorite actresses – Octavia Spencer) is doing the work of a supervisor over the ‘Computers’ department.

There are so many scenes in this movie that are my favorite so I can’t tell you about them without spoiling the movie. But I do have a story to tell you. My brother was 10 years my senior and he was, to his end, a racist. He came to the house one day to spend some time and I’d told him about this great movie. He sat there and watched the whole thing. I was waiting … ya know, thinking he’d say something. He just said he enjoyed it. He called me from his home in the early evening to tell me he watched the movie twice more. That should tell you something significant right there.

I’m just going to give you this little trailer to go on. But please! Watch this movie. You’ll be so pleased that you did. And be sure to watch the closing credits – they include pictures of the real hidden figures; Dorothy Vaughn, Katherine Goble Johnson, and Mary Jackson.

26 thoughts on “Midweek Myers Movie Review: Hidden Figures (2016)

  1. Thanks Audre. Another movie that slipped under my radar. I’ll have a further look into it but I do hope the be all and end all isn’t about race – there must be substance to it otherwise it loses its audience.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This movie is about cream rising to the top – as it always will. Yes; it discusses racism but you have remember (well, of course you can’t – you’re not American) that racism in the 60s is not the manufactured racism of today. Our Civil Rights Movement finally brought our country together – today, it’s all socialist identity racism that is tearing our country apart.

      But that’s not what I want you to think about, as you view this movie. I had no idea what it was about the first time I watched it – I was just bored and looking for something to do. The joy – THE JOY – of this movie is palpable. It’s smart, it’s funny, and not one of these women is a ‘victim’. Every Black History Month should honor these incredible women. We didn’t know them then, but we sure do know them now!

      I’ll repeat what I said …. this is a feel good movie that will have you watching it a second, third, fourth time – it is just that good.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sold! I’ll have a look.

        I’m aware of the Civil Rights Movement, the importance of it and that it was needed – America wasn’t the only country that suffered problems with racism. As it is, it is white people who are under the cosh now, though thankfully, we’re not suffering like black people were then. Still, we’re a distance away from true equality and that, for me, is where we should have gone and then stopped. All men equal. No pigeon holing or raising one group over another. The left love division.

        As for Black History Month, I don’t agree with it. It goes against true equality. Same as Women’s Months, Gay Months, Trans Months and whatever other days and celebrations they have. Scrap the lot. They’re not needed.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Based on Audre’s review, it sounds like it is *not* all about race, although a flick from the twenty-first century about black women in the 1960s is inevitably going to focus on race heavily.

      I trust Audre’s judgment on this one, but the flick sounds like it pulls at the white guilt heartstrings a bit. Just my hot take—and I haven’t seen the movie! : D

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Port – thank you for the wonderful introduction. It doesn’t even matter to me that you brought out the bathroom info before folks have a chance to watch the movie. Because if that bathroom stuff didn’t actually happen at NASA, it surely did across America in the 60s and it’s important to be reminded of that.

    Thank you, as always, for giving me space to share what I love and what moves me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It sounds like it *might* matter to you that I brought up the bathroom stuff. ; D

      Your point is taken. I suspect that Hollywood, as it often does, took some creative license with the film to drive home a certain Current Year point about race and racial injustice, but you are correct: it really *did* exist at the time, even if it was not prevalent in the hallowed halls of NASA.

      Still, that rewriting does a disservice to both history and to NASA’s legacy by portraying the organization as segregationist when it was, in fact, not. But it does sound like a stirring tribute to the lives of these women.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Laughing out loud – you know me so well, lol! Yes; pinched my toes a little bit but your reasoning is sound. We’re good. I just hope that folks watch it and enjoy it as much as I did and do. After watching the video, I wanted to watch the movie again, lol!!!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Talk about creepy coincidence. I’ve just flicked on Youtube for a bit of a scroll and had a look at what The Critical Drinker was reviewing this week. Imagine my surprise when I found out he’d done a retrospective on Halloween so I decided to watch, gauge his views, compare and contrast if you will. Crikey, his review got in pretty much all the elements mine did. Language aside, Tina and I sat in disbelief as he mentioned practically each and every one of the points I’d made. Sounds like The Drinker and I have a lot in common.

    Liked by 2 people

      • You knock together a mean review yourself, if you don’t mind my saying. 🙂

        The Drinker and I could knock back a few and talk about film until the cows come home but we differ on superhero movies. I used to like them, when only a few would come out every few years. Now, there are way too many of them. He still views them. I stopped watching them after the Garfield Spiderman which was years ago. They stopped being impressive and magical, just churning out the same old parp for wonga. No imagination and worst of all, the producers didn’t care. I’m glad they’re all losing out now, by going Woke. It seems like the billion pounds and more Amazon spent on Rings of Power is floating down the nearest drain. Good.

        Liked by 2 people

    • For one, if you remember the Tolkien stories and the Jackson movies, one thing you might have noted is that Aragorn came from a line of Kings. In this, the Numenorian leader is a black woman. Just because.

      And there are a ton more inconsistencies. We’re in the era of movies/TV trashing everything that came before. Little wonder that Rings of Power, which incidentally shares an acronym with the so called Religion of Peace, is absolute tosh.

      Liked by 2 people

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