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12 Years a Slave is a powerful, yet emotionally draining film that I recommend everyone I know see.

The story takes place in 1840s America, and revolves around Solomon Northrup, a free black man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film takes us on Solomons nightmarish journey, with the intention of being as authentic and true-to-history as possible.

I'm not sure how exactly to review such a film, but here's how I described it to my dad after I got out of the theater tonight:

In grade school, when I learned about slavery, I was able to use reason and logic to understand that this was a terrible thing that happened; a true lowpoint in American history (really human history as a whole). However, in school, I don't remember having a visceral or emotional reaction to it, like I can remember having when I visited Yad Vashem in Israel after graduating college. 12 Years a Slave provided me, for the first time, with this emotional reaction I had not had yet. I realize that may be embarrassing to admit, but I think it also speaks to how Americans might find it easier to ignore slavery, or chalk it up to a past generation that we are not responsible to. As I sat in the theater, I became disgusted that these were Americans, only a few generations behind us, that were committing these crimes against humanity, and I felt guilty for not having reacted to it in such a way until this point, when I'm 24.
 

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Well, do you believe southern white people today are more culpable than anyone else in the world that has slavery in their history?

Slavery didn't start here and do you think the southern black people should feel something about how their ancestors started it by enslaving each other and selling each other to Europe, America and elsewhere?

I hate slavery with a killing passion BTW and I have slave ancestors along with slave owners.
 

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I'm not a Southern White American so I have no idea what they might think. And I think that they are not of one hive mind. I'll bet that each has their own opinion.

Why do you think that people who live today are responsible for slavery in the past? To my knowledge no one today was alive back then.

Do you know that slavery has existed going back to the dawn of time? It's only been since the 1850's that it was outlawed in some countries. It still exists in much of the world. There are more slaves in the world today than there ever have been in the any past time in history.

I lived in East Africa as a child. A very wealthy man lived a few houses down from where I lived. He was a local official of high rank. He was also a slaver. His men went to villages where they were starving the people on purpose and stole children. (most famines in Africa are caused by politics) Then he sold the children. Sometimes he had groups as large as 30-40 children at a time.
 

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Im a white American southerner. The movie didn't change my opinions at all. I have seen enough slavery around the world to hate it.

There was a funny SNL skit done about the movie.

 

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I don't watch emotionally draining films. I have real life for that.
But if you want to make me feel guilty for something someone else did just keep calling and begging me not to risk driving a car with an expired warranty.
 

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Don't think about it one way or another. If you are asking if I am supposed to feel some sort of guilt for something that happened over 150 years ago involving people who are long dead and buried and who are not connected to me, then the answer is no.

Nice try though
 

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(black person from the midwest here) 12 years a Slave really drilled into the everyday stress that slaves must have felt. Around the same time, Django Unchained came out. Not a true story but Tarantino's taste for violence was well placed here since that was everyday life for a slave in his mostly realistic movie. (Jamie Fox overcoming a platoon of overseers was great and a welcome relief from all the suffering that was depicted.) The history books that my schools used in the '60s and '70s was very cut and dry about discussing what happened but not much more.

I think some deniers would like to say that slavery was a jobs program for lazy black people just like Holocaust deniers want to minimise the horrors of that history. Remember "Arbeit Macht Frei.?" These two films blew the roof off the American fantasy. Unlike the Holocaust (and its back drop WWII) though, there is not much depiction in film about American state sanctioned slavery and then state sanctioned discrimination.

I don't doubt there is a lot of black on black violence in some African countries. There is a lot Asian on Asian violence occurring in Asia. and these days with the Alt Right, there's a lot of white on white violence.
I was wondering out loud with my husband, whether a Westerner who spends time in an African country can differentiate on sight the varying ethnicities in an African country. Sort of like watching a version of Star Trek, maybe.
 

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It’s simply to take focus off current affairs and ongoing democide of indigenous populations.
 

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Why does the movie Roots need to be mentioned here? I vaguely remember it. But 12 Years really drove some points home: 1) the level of day to day violence: 2) the fact US citizens from non slave states could be captured and forced into slavery. IOW, a black person was never "home free." Who knows how many other "free" blacks were forced into slavery?
 

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i'm not from the south. i was born and bred in southern california a white hispanic. and this has nothing to do with slavery. but since you mention the south, let me tell you about my experience there.

I had never been to the southern united states before. but some years ago i went on a camping trip in lousiana, mississippii, georgia. not knowing any better, and being influenced by the movies,and being obviously not a local person, i expected a stereotype reaction from the local people there, especially black people. but to my shock, people were unbelievably friendly. no sooner had we got off the plane, got our rental car, i was in charge of watching the car, while the others were in the grocery store buying supplies. there was this old black guy sitting outside and i was in ear reach of him. he proceeded to tell me about how he was re-building his car engine. he went into great detail acted like i was his pal, and went on and on. i was taken aback. not used to this. everywhere i went, people said hello, white and black. at first i was suspicious because in so cal, nobody says hello (or almost never, unless they want something). but after spending a few days, this was the norm. everyone was so polite and said hello everywhere almost always. no difference black or white. i never saw or experienced a incident of predjudice (execpt the one mentioned below, although i'm sure it occurs.

this is a different world than i grew up, that's for sure. and although only 2 weeks, we traveled extensively through the three states, mostly in rural areas.

now, i did run into some weird things there including a genuine red necked white-only racist campground. and once i got to atlanta, people were rude again and distant and cold, just like los angeles.

anyway, i guess the moral of the story at least for me is: don't fall for stereotypes.
 

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Why does the movie Roots need to be mentioned here? I vaguely remember it. But 12 Years really drove some points home: 1) the level of day to day violence: 2) the fact US citizens from non slave states could be captured and forced into slavery. IOW, a black person was never "home free." Who knows how many other "free" blacks were forced into slavery?
Actually it's more like who wouldn't know a non-slave in a lot of cases was forced into slavery.

Not that I was alive back then, I'm not that old, 😉 but had good American History and World History teachers.

Theres another movie, been out a long time, Amazing Grace that's a good historic reference;

"In 18th-century England, House of Commons member William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) and his close friend and a future prime minister, William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch), begin a lengthy battle to abolish Great Britain's slave trade. Though Wilberforce's legislation is soundly defeated in 1791, his… "

is a short summary.

Quite a good movie.
 

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(black person from the midwest here) 12 years a Slave really drilled into the everyday stress that slaves must have felt. Around the same time, Django Unchained came out. Not a true story but Tarantino's taste for violence was well placed here since that was everyday life for a slave in his mostly realistic movie. (Jamie Fox overcoming a platoon of overseers was great and a welcome relief from all the suffering that was depicted.) The history books that my schools used in the '60s and '70s was very cut and dry about discussing what happened but not much more.

I think some deniers would like to say that slavery was a jobs program for lazy black people just like Holocaust deniers want to minimise the horrors of that history. Remember "Arbeit Macht Frei.?" These two films blew the roof off the American fantasy. Unlike the Holocaust (and its back drop WWII) though, there is not much depiction in film about American state sanctioned slavery and then state sanctioned discrimination.

I don't doubt there is a lot of black on black violence in some African countries. There is a lot Asian on Asian violence occurring in Asia. and these days with the Alt Right, there's a lot of white on white violence.

I was wondering out loud with my husband, whether a Westerner who spends time in an African country can differentiate on sight the varying ethnicities in an African country. Sort of like watching a version of Star Trek, maybe.
As a 'westerner' who spent a fair amount of time in Africa, yes even stupid westerners are smart enough to differentiate on sight the varying ethnicities in an African country.
 

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Ok, so you're saying "12 years" is "It’s simply to take focus off current affairs and ongoing democide of indigenous populations."

What does "democide" mean?
A conversation really too in-depth for me to get into.
The OP stated they felt guilty and drained.
When someone is emotionally drained they are unable to give full awareness to current affairs.

When we realize all movies are created with a purpose, and have a psychological aspect then we can seek the why.

Democide: the intentional killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by government agents acting in their authoritative capacity and pursuant to government policy or high command

People wonder why society has changed so fast. Start with a couple movies from each decade watched in sequence starting in 1920’s to present. Especially those involving relationships.
 
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