Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Black Women and the Body Police

When “12 Years a Slave” was released in October, Time magazine wanted to go that extra step. Instead of a review or a 300-word treatise on how this was the hardest and the best film they had ever seen, the publication decided to get tough in an online piece called “The True Story of ‘12 Years a Slave.’” It promised to “break down what’s fact—and fiction—in the new movie about slavery in the antebellum South.” And so writer Eliana Docterman did just that, summarizing key plot points and labeling them as “fiction,” “fact” or “mostly fact” based on the memoir written by Solomon Northup. Only two moments are written off as fiction, one involving the cause of death of another man on the ship that took Northup to the South (he did die, but not in the way the film said). The other fictional flight of fancy, according to Time, was the plantation owner’s wife’s violence against an enslaved woman Patsy.

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