The Captivating, Oxymoronic “BlacKkKlansman”
By: Olivia Hultgren
“A Black Klansman.” The phrase itself borders on ridiculous, and that is exactly what director Spike Lee runs with throughout the near entirety of “BlacKkKlansman,” a film based on a true story. Enter early 1970s Colorado, where white supremacy is evident and the only Black man on the Colorado Springs police force is Ron Stallworth, whose awkwardly shaped afro aptly matches the time. Played with nuanced form by newcomer John David Washington, Stallworth manages to infiltrate the local Klu Klux Klan chapter by sending in a white police detective (Adam Driver) to pose as himself. It’s a compelling story, told through stunning cinematography and a witty, tongue-in-cheek script that makes blatant references to America’s current presidential situation. The KKK is certainly not a laughing matter, but one can’t help but gawk at the caricatured Klansmen, who all have sketchy mustaches and flaunt ludicrous claims of white superiority. A mustachioed Topher Grace plays famed KKK leader David Duke, who insists he can tell the difference between a “White” voice and a “Black” voice, yet is fooled by Stallworth over the phone. The entire film showcases the chronic problem of white supremacy and Blaxploitation. However, the epilogue takes this several steps further, displaying a montage of the 2017 protests in Charlottesville. It’s a chilling kicker that cements the relevance of the Black Klansman’s story into audience’s minds—a reminder that lingers even after they leave the theater.