Kathryn Bigelow (right), director of "Detroit," is interviewed on the red carpet before the premiere.

Credit: Carlos Osorio/AP

All Revved Up: 'Detroit' Missed An Opportunity To Explore Black History

August 7, 2017

The film “Detroit” underperformed at the box office this weekend, despite its high Rotten Tomato score and famous director. The reason for its struggles may be somewhat unexpected.

According to Reverends Emmett Price and Irene Monroe, the film fell short because a team of white creatives missed the mark when trying to tell a story about black citizens in Detroit.

Price said the raw violence and lack of meaningful plot was problematic.

“It was two hours and 23 minutes of the muting, maiming, torturing and murder of black bodies,” he said. “That’s the movie.”

Monroe agreed, saying the film exploited black people’s trauma without character development.

The director of the film, Kathryn Bigelow, is a white woman and the screenwriter, Matt Boal, is a white man.

“Race is certainly the reason why [the director] did it, and race is certainly the narrative, but the character of the story, believe it or not, is not the people; it’s rage. It is violence,” she said. “That’s the main character.”

Monroe also criticized the film’s lack of focus on the role of women of color.

“She eclipsed the role of black women in [the movie],” she said. “The question that it very much raised here is, who is this film really intended for?”

Price said the director missed an opportunity to inform and educate white audiences on what they might have missed in school about this important piece of black history. In that arena, he said, the movie failed.

“This movie is an opportunity for folks to catch up on what they didn’t have,” he said. “All we saw was black bodies being tortured."

Irene Monroe is a syndicated Religion Columnist. Emmett Price is a professor and Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. To hear their interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.


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