Why “American Skin’s” Message Will Get Lost Amongst the Masses

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“American Skin” Red Carpet Arrivals – The 76th Venice Film Festival

An analysis on why the message of “American Skin” will fail to reach a larger audience.
By Terrence Allen, STAFF WRITER
Warning: Content may contain spoilers.
2020 was a difficult year for the United States of America. COVID-19 affected the entire world, but some things affected the U.S. in a different facet. 2020 saw more high profile coverage of unarmed killings of African-Americans by the police.
George Floyd and Breonna Taylor highlight some of the more covered cases, but they are just two of many victims that have suffered at the hands of the police. The nation is divided on the issue of police reform.
“American Skin” aimed to express the concerns and views of those who protest against police homicides. It is written from the lens of people of color who have a distrust for the police and why that distrust has come about.
“American Skin” is a movie directed, written, and starring Nate Parker. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Sep. 1, 2019, and was released officially on Jan. 15, 2021. The film received a lot of negative reviews from critics. These reviews cited both elements of the film and of Parker’s personal life.
Parker was accused of raping a woman in college in 1999 but was later acquitted of the crime. These accusations resurfaced as Parker’s profile grew at the height of the Me Too movement. This controversy along with the lackluster reviews dilute the impact that the film had an opportunity to make.
A film that covers an important social issue that is ongoing in the country has the potential to be a groundbreaking piece of art that furthers the conversation surrounding this issue. That opportunity is lost when the film is surrounded by controversy.
The film is centered around a war veteran, Lincoln Jefferson, played by Parker, whose 14-year-old son is murdered by a police officer. When the officer is acquitted on the charges, Jefferson takes matters into his own hands by holding the police department hostage. He then conducts his own trial with inmates and civilians as the jurors and converses back and forth with the officers.
The film’s message is important because it’s about dialogue between opposing sides. Dialogue is something that we need in the U.S. very much. This country is divided and lacks understanding from people who disagree. Conversations would reveal that we are much more alike than we are different.