HARRIET – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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We’re so used to our historical figures, our Great Men, requiring a bit of grading-on-a-curve. “Oh, we must forgive So-and-So for that aspect of his life and work, times were different then.” “No, we must not judge Whatshisname by today’s understanding of morality, that’s simply the way things were back in the day.” And yet we still continue to celebrate them and insist upon their importance and mythologize their words and deeds.

Meanwhile, one of the great true heroes of American history — someone who needs no justifying or qualifying — has been all but ignored by pop culture, and hence all but left out of the collective American imagination. Perhaps because what she fought for is a grand cause — the physical and existential battle for autonomy, agency, and basic humanity of African-Americans — that is not yet fully won. Perhaps the fact that everything that Harriet Tubman stood for and continues to symbolize still resonates on so many levels today is — for some, for our cultural gatekeepers — too harsh a reminder that the ugly past is not yet past. (All the more reason to honor her and remember her, you’d think. The inspiration she offers continues to be very necessary.) Continue reading…

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at FlickFilosopher.com, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her AWFJ.org archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).