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Five Movies to Watch to Educate Yourself on Social Justice Issues

In a society where fighting for rights is at its peak right now, it is important for everyone to be educating themselves on everything going on in the world. From inequality to climate change, all social justice issues are a priority right now. One of the best ways to educate yourself on these matters is through film. Films about social justice issues allow people to advocate for their rights on a larger scale by showing audiences that yes, this is a problem and yes, it is something that needs to be solved. Looking to educate yourself on some social justice issues? Here are 5 movies that can help with that.

Gun Violence: 22 July

22 July is a film directed by award-nominated filmmaker Paul Greengrass. Based on a true story, the film documents the aftermath of a deadly terrorist attack. On July 22nd 2011, 77 people were killed when an extremist set off a car bomb in Oslo. Following this event, a teen leadership camp based on an island nearby Oslo is then attacked by what they thought was police securing the island, but was really a mass shooter. The film looks at the story from the perspective of one of the teens who survived the shooting, as we watch the survivor’s physical and emotional journey to healing and reconciliation, along with the rest of the country. The mass shooting killed an additional 69 people and injured 110 (with 55 having serious injuries). In August of 2021, 59 mass shootings occurred in the US (US Gun Violence Archive) (if you think that’s a lot, the US has had around 470 shootings since January in 2021 alone). In Canada, we have a death rate of 0.032 when it comes to mass shootings, which is relatively small, but still a deadly amount. When watching this film, it allows us to not only learn about a survivor’s view of a mass shooting, but also learn why someone would choose to do something like this (in this case, the mass shooter was influenced by politics).

Climate Change: I am Greta

Climate change is a big issue in our world right now due to global warming and climate pollution. One activist advocating for this social justice issue a Greta Thunberg, an 18-year-old from Sweden who is known to challenge world leaders to take action to support climate change. This documentary tells the story of Greta, and how she started standing for climate change by skipping school and sitting outside the parliament building, stating to politicians that “if they don’t care about my future, why should I?” Greta has spoken at the United Nations back in 2018, as well as other protests and summits across Europe. Her goals are not only to encourage parliament to help solve climate change, but also to get people such as ourselves to protest and find methods to reduce our Carbon Footprint.

Racial Injustice: Boyz n the hood

Boyz n the Hood is a coming-of-age drama about three Black friends who cope with the dangers of living in a ghetto in Los Angeles. We watch the 3 main characters, Darrin, Tre, and Ricky, grow up together as they deal with gangs, shootings, and just trying to grow up and create amazing lives for themselves. Released in 1991, this film tackles a lot of issues that occur within the Black community. It was also directed by John Singleton, a notable director of colour, also known for his work with 2 Fast 2 Furious, and “The Race Card ” which was the 5th episode of The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story. He was also the first African American to be nominated for best director for Boys n the Hood. Since passing away in 2019, John Singleton is still widely praised for his work and what he has done for directors of colour within the film industry. Along with all of this, the United States Library of Congress has also selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry as they deemed it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” to the history of the United States. The film shows the truth of what occurred in the ghettos within the Black Community and is still an important issue that occurs in the world to this day that must be addressed.

Internet Privacy: The Social Dilemma

Internet privacy is something more on a minor scale within the social justice movement, but with the government wanting to censor internet speech, as well as the concept we all know of large corporations invading our privacy, I thought this issue was still something we should educate ourselves on. The Social Dilemma is a documentary-drama that explains how social media is designed to manipulate its audiences, affect mental health, and spread certain ideas to help maximize its profit. Being a combination of a documentary and fictional drama piece, the movie contains two sides to the film: the first side being interviews with former tech executives and employees from notable companies such as Google, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, explaining the algorithm and how it is used to manipulate the mind, and the other half being the story of a teenage boy falling for these tactics and watching a dramatization of the apps algorithms as they try to find ways to keep the boy on the platform. Today, the algorithms that social media uses to keep people on their platforms causes notable mental health issues and higher suicide rates. As well, it also spreads certain ideas across the internet (whether it’s something true or not) trying to motivate an audience to think in that matter, one example being doombait, which are news articles formatted in a way to make readers scared, which has be occurring a lot with COVID-19 statistics recently. The government is currently trying to find ways to censor free speech within our online space through Bill C-10, so while it’s not an issue being widely discussed now, it certainly will be later. 

Sexism: Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures is a biographical drama about three women of colour; Katherine Henson, a Mathematician who helped calculate flight trajectories for Project Mercury among other space missions; Dorothy Vaughan, a supervisor and other Mathematician for NASA; and Mary Jackson, a NASA Engineer. In 1961, NASA was still segregated by race and sex, with Katherine being the first woman of colour on Project Mercury. Not only does this film target racism, but it also targets sexism of being a woman within a STEM field. Women have been fighting for years to be recognized within science, math, and other academic areas, but men tend to be the people of focus within those subject areas. This film therefore advocates for women empowerment but also recognizes notable women of colour within areas of STEM.

I am a 2nd year student in the Communication, Media and Film program at UWindsor, and I am the social Media Director and a writer for my school's HerCampus! Tech-wise, I love graphic design, TV/film and social media marketing, which is why I plan to go into advertising! I also love watching movies and TV Shows, self-care, and spending time with friends!
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