Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth - my third movie at the IFC Center this week

... I wish I could tell you I didn't accompany it with my third bucket of popcorn this week but dear reader(s) I am not in the habit of lying to you.

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie.  The documentary centered on a public housing project built in St. Louis in the '50's that less than 25 years later was branded a complete failure after the once promising initiative fell into miserable conditions and eventually completely destroyed. 

The film relied heavily on (albeit compelling) accounts from former residents painting a picture of life inside this highly stigmatized but in fact quite family-oriented and at times happy community.  The perspective of the city planners and other residents of St. Louis were displayed through archival footage but I thought it would have been interesting to see what some of them thought today, how/if the passing of time had given them perspective. 

Mostly though, I thought about how nicely this tied into two other documentaries I saw recently about the experience of the marginalized urban poor - particularly Slavery By Another Name and The House I Live In.  Each of these three movies focuses on a totally different topic - the first being how for decades after slavery ended, it was still practiced in one form or another, and the second being a fascinating look in part at how the US war on drugs has ravaged entire communities, particularly the poor and minorities (although not exclusively).  Having seen these three movies in the last week or so, I've spent quite a lot of time reflecting on not only my own life of privilege and whether or not I've taken the opportunities I've been given for granted,  but mainly on the myriad invisible social systems that are in place affecting the ability of so many to live a prosperous and happy life.  And above all, it's been really eye-opening to be reminded of how relatively recently it was perfectly fine for folks to be so blatantly, overtly, plainly racist.   When I think back to that stuff, it's easier to imagine it as in the far distant past, no matter how untrue that is.

I also found it interesting that the movie was virtually sold out - there were at least 100 people in there.

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