“The lynching of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us
anywhere in the world had better be the business of us all.”
Mamie Till-Bradley in Till
The name Till is one that most Americans and many people around the world will recognize from their civil rights history lessons. In 1955, while visiting family, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago, was brutally beaten and murdered for allegedly flirting with and whistling at a married white woman near Money, Mississippi. His bloated body was later found in the Tallahatchie River.
I must admit that when I first heard about the film Till, it immediately sparked my curiosity. Yes, I thought. The heinous crime that caused a media frenzy and galvanized the civil rights movement needs to be brought to new generations. But wait. We live in an age of trigger warnings (statements that alert readers or viewers to potentially disturbing content) and audiences with a heightened sensitivity to violence. So how can film director Chinonye Chukwu draw viewers to movie theaters and simultaneously do justice to the brutality of that crime?
It also intrigued me that Chukwu placed Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Bradley, in the film’s center. If she’s mentioned at all in American history textbooks, it’s mainly to recognize the role she played in the decision to show the world what Southern hatred looked like. She was the driving force to ensure an open casket at Emmett Till’s funeral. So what does the film reveal that most history books do not?
Two things you should know about me that at first glance might have nothing in common: First, I love to watch movies and series – to dive into other worlds, to escape from reality, and just to have a good time. For me, there’s nothing better than going to the movies or lying on the couch on a rainy Sunday, watching a good movie, or binging a series. I even play a pivotal role in their creation as I work as an actor myself. Second, I consciously try to live sustainably because what we consume or do has a direct impact on the world’s ecosystems. I don’t eat meat, I don’t drive a car; instead, I use my bike or public transport. And I pay attention to labels to support companies dedicated to sustainable production and fair wages for laborers.
Two years ago, when I first read about the environmental impact of filmmaking in The Guardian, I was shocked. I hadn’t realized that my love for movies and for my job could seriously conflict with my dedication to the environment. Because the truth is: Blockbuster films with budgets of over $70 million produce an average of 2,840 tons of CO2 per production. That is equivalent to 11 one-way trips from the earth to the moon!
I like to think of May as one of the most amazing months – not only because it’s National Pet Month, but also because May 20 is National Rescue Dog Day in the United States. Let’s face it: Pets are so much more than just cute companions – they are fluffy family and friends as well as endless sources of comfort, joy, and hope. But what about all those animals out there who don’t have a human to look after them, love them back, and maybe even save them from horrible fates?
The reader and the writer. Two sides of the same coin. Pardon, the same page. Relationship status: It’s complicated since only one gets to state what’s on their mind. Thus, it’s only fair to talk back via text. Flannery O’Connor (1925–1964) may be long gone from this world, but her literature endures as an eternal message. And so does the question how an atheist-by-conviction connects to Catholic O’Connor’s Southern Gothic religious themes.
Full disclosure: I’ve written this blog on my behalf. Or in eigener Sache, as I would say in German. Is there a difference between the two expressions? Worlds, I would say, as someone who is preoccupied with language translation most days of the week. In light of the rapid proliferation and evolution of machine-learning translators, here’s to what makes thinking, speaking, and writing with diverse languages invaluably human.
How many hours have you already spent looking at a screen today? Nowadays, the universal answer to this question seems to be “too much.” As the internet becomes more deeply ingrained in every aspect of our lives, it gets trickier and trickier to find responsible ways of engaging with the online world without getting lost in it. This issue became even more challenging for many people during the pandemic. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, for example, found that young people now spend an average of 7.7 hours of their daily free time in front of screens – twice as much as they did pre-COVID. Why is the internet so wickedly tempting, and how can we establish healthier digital habits?