Saturday, 16 June 2012

Week 25: Mississippi

"You don't have to live next to me,
 Just give me my equality!
 Everybody knows about Missisippi,
 Everybody knows about Alabama,
 Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam!"
 - 'Mississippi Goddam',
 Nina Simone

From Minnesota, source of the mighty Mississippi River, we are travelling down its length - possibly by one of those cool old paddle steamers - to its delta territories. Not quite to its end (that would be back in Louisiana), but the next best thing is the state of Mississippi itself.

Mississippi (the river) borders Mississippi (the state) along its western border. The eastern border is Alabama, where we started off way back in January. And that twosome tends to stick in the mind for all the wrong reasons. These two states were the heart of racial segregation and oppression from the 19th century slave plantations, through the era of Jim Crow laws, up until the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and '60s. And unlike Alabama it doesn't have a Lynyrd Skynyrd track to deflect attention away from this shameful past. But it has given the world the Blues, and the cross-over icon of the century Elvis Presley. And it ain't no slouch when it comes to that fancy-pants book-larnin' either, counting both Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner among its sons.

But it's no surprise that Hollywood has chosen to focus on the race angle when setting films in th Magnolia State. I don't particularly want to dwell on racial intolerance to the exclusion of everything else about Mississippi however, so I've tried to find at least one film that isn't about civil rights. So that means that Mississippi Burning has had to be given the old heave-ho to make way for something else.

My three chosen films are:
  • In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  • The Help (2011)
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
So carve yourself up a big ol' slice of Mississippi Mud Pie and pull up a seat. We've got some movies to watch!

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