Fri. Jan 28th, 2022

In the early hours of Jan. 1, 2009, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officers responded to reports of violence that had broken out on a train traveling back from San Francisco. The officers then detained those involved and sat them on the platform at Fruitvale BART Station. They claimed one of those involved, Oscar Grant, was resisting arrest. Officer Johannes Mehserl lied Grant on the pavement and “accidently” shot him in the back.
The film “Fruitvale Station,” written and directed by Ryan Coogler, chronicles the last day of Bay Area resident, Oscar Grant (played by Michael B. Jordan), before he was unreasonably shot, and eventually died. It is no wonder why the film’s theatrical release was within the same weeks as the jurors in the George Zimmerman case were deliberating on the facts and events that had taken place in Feb. 2012. The film tackles a similar subject and shows that no one deserves to have their life unfairly cut short.
News stations all too often show stories of “thugs” killing, stealing, and drug dealing. They show the awful things that occur in the not-so-pleasant poverty stricken parts of cities around the United States. They make us think things such as, “Wow, how can people live like that, so uneducated, and so violent; they deserve what is in store.” We so often forget that they are just humans that have fallen on bad luck; they have lives, people to care for, people that care for them. This is exactly what the film shows you.
Although many criticize the film’s inaccuracies, saying it did not portray the “real” Oscar Grant, I believe Crooger wanted to reinforce the idea that he was not a “thug”; he was only human. Forbes magazine critic, Kyle Smith remarks: “Its first problem is how to handle its 22-year-old subject, who was a small-time criminal who cheated on his girlfriend and had been fired from a job at a grocery store. All of these flaws are depicted in the film, but nevertheless ‘Fruitvale Station,’ a debut effort from young filmmaker Ryan Coogler, tries to fit a halo on its subject, seemingly to play up the audience’s sympathies.” I believe the point of the film was not to see just Oscar Grant, it was to see the lives that are led by these so called “thugs” that people often quickly judge and fear. The film may portray its main character as much more innocent and kind than he may have been, but why is that a bad thing? He died at such a young age and his life was taken unfairly.
The film was beautifully done and I truly believe if Oscar Grant were able to see it, he would feel honored. Cooger shows Grant trying to get on the right track and hoping to change in the New Year. Although this might not be accurate, he eventually might have wanted to change, had his life not been cut short. It demonstrates to the audience that although someone may have had a bad track record, everyone makes mistakes they wish they could take back. It truly shows how all of us are so similar, and making assumptions can be dangerous, both figuratively and literally.
Emily Durkin is a student at West Chester University. She can be reached at ED797328@wcupa.edu. 

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