Friday, November 06, 2009
We watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner tonight, which aside from being a delightful film full of win, thanks to Hepburn and Tracy, not to mention Poitier, was very interesting from a historical standpoint.
Brief, necessary background: it's about an interracial couple (Poitier and pretty girl who very much looks like she could be Katherine Hepburn's daughter) and their families, who are trying to come to grips with the interracial-ness of it all.
First, it's odd and sad how this doesn't seem THAT dated. I mean, I would hope people wouldn't freak out quite so much at the thought now, but I was really hoping it would feel laughably old-fashioned. Or maybe it's just because the performances are all so good?
Second, the craziest thing is how coincidental and eerie parts of the movie seem now. To wit: the couple meet in Hawaii at the University of Hawaii (presumably), and then later in the movie, Poitier talks about how his love "is confident that every single one of their biracial children will grow up to 'be president of the United States and they’ll all have colorful administrations.'" (Source. Great minds!).
Uh. YEAH. I seriously stopped the movie and made us watch that part again. How crazy is that? Like, did they have a time machine? Nutterbutters, I say!
So I was happy that something that seemed so ridiculously outlandish to the characters was very, very true and real 40-50 years later, but then I was sad again because Spencer Tracy's character says something about how while the world will change, it likely won't be in his lifetime. I have no idea what it was like then (being not-alive and all), but I know it took until almost exactly one year ago for the dream of a biracial president to come true. Luckily, I think there were plenty of other changes before then, though less dramatic. Loving v. Virginia was the same year (1967).
Watching the movie, I was also strongly reminded of the very similar struggle happening this very moment (I'm looking at you, Maine). There's a scene where the very awesome priest looks at the couple and says something about how looking at them makes him so incredibly happy and hopeful. It's funny, but I feel the same way whenever I see a same-sex couple expressing affection in public (even just holding hands or hugging). I always smile at them (or just smile) and want to tell them what a cute couple they are or something, but that seems HIGHLY random. So I just feel very happy for them inside and walk by.
So when will we have the "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" for this struggle? When can we look back at a scene and marvel at how far we've come? I hope we don't have to wait too long to make real progress. Nothing should hold back love.