Movie Review: ‘The Boys In Red Hats’ Documents How A Viral Video Becomes Misunderstood

When I used to be requested to review a documentary titled The Boys in Red Hats, my first thought was of that picture that went viral in January 2019: a teenaged boy in a pink MAGA hat, smirking at a drumming Native American elder. You’ll keep in mind it in case you had any publicity in any respect to social media then.

I figured that the documentarian would in all probability discover the motives of the Native American drummer and clarify why we should always know extra about his tradition. And both trash the privileged white dude and his chanting compatriots or clarify why these poor youngsters have been misunderstood.

In truth, The Boys in Red Hats is an even-handed tackle this temporary incident, which generated a substantial amount of media protection and lawsuits however little effort at understanding. Writer/director and narrator Jonathan Schroder is a graduate of Covington Catholic High School, the college represented by the group filmed chanting their faculty songs and doing tomahawk chops whereas the Native American elder drummed, and a 17-year-old named Nicholas Sandmann smirked. Or smiled. But it turned out, because it usually does, that the story is longer and extra complicated than the two-minute video performed repeatedly on Twitter and YouTube. The proven fact that lots of the college students have been carrying Make America Great Again hats led to the moment assumption that the occasion was a pro-Trump/anti-Trump confrontation.

Schroder and supervising producer Justin Jones play roles within the documentary; we see them strategizing their finest strategy to the Sandmann household to get an interview with Nicholas and methods to study extra about Nathan Phillips, the Omaha Nation elder and Vietnam vet who was drumming to carry peace to a chaotic scene.

Briefly, the story is that the scholars from Cov Cath (because it’s identified by locals) have been in Washington DC for the anti-abortion March for Life in January 2019. Their chaperones informed them to satisfy on the Lincoln Memorial after the occasion, the place buses would decide them up. While they have been there, a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites got here to the scene and started to harass and insult the scholars and close by Native Americans, in response to the filmmaker, who acquired two hours of videotape of the occasion. The college students had no concept what to do, in order that they began a pep rally. That was the confrontation that introduced Phillips in to drum and encourage peace.

The MAGA-capped youngsters who demonstrated within the March for Life occasion have been college students at Covington Catholic High School, an all-male faculty in Park Hills, Ky., a rich, 97 p.c white suburb of Cincinnati. “We’re all Colonels,” Schroder and his interviewees say proudly. The faculty’s Colonels workforce names are a reference to the honorific title bestowed by the commonwealth of Kentucky. (The honorific has its personal lengthy Wikipedia web page. Colonel Sanders of fried hen fame was one of many awardees.)

The controversy was enhanced when Sandmann’s rich dad and mom employed a public relations agency to groom their son for interviews and filed a number of lawsuits towards varied information media. Schroder’s makes an attempt to achieve an interview, a few of them very inventive, have been all unsuccessful. He additionally did not interview Phillips. Late within the movie, Schroder goes to Phillips’ dwelling to attempt to interview him and Phillips threatens to name police.

The movie contains interviews with Cov Cath alumni and oldsters, a number of journalism professors, and a Native American journalist named Vincent Schilling. Schilling offers his view of the brouhaha close to the tip of the movie. “If any of these young men are listening, I’d like to say that if you can, try to empathize with people in this world who may not have what you have, people who aren’t walking in your shoes.”

Schroder himself sums up the movie and the occasion as a case of our insularity and our fierce intuition to defend our personal beliefs. We’re all in our bubbles and we love our bubbles. “The only winners are the 24-hour news networks and the social media conglomerates,” he says. In a separate interview, he mentioned, “I hope audiences consider the importance of personal research and vetting news stories. It’s important to not outsource that responsibility to the media. … think twice before launching a Twitter rant or simply retweeting something they believe to be true.”

The Boys in Red Hats opens immediately within the Music Box Theatre’s Virtual Cinema.

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