Art Vs The Artist
The room is silent. The only noise that can be heard are the soft inhales and exhales coming from the audience. Dazzling lights illuminate the stage. The spotlight is on Nate Parker. The writer and director of the period drama, The Birth of a Nation. That night, Nate Parker was awarded the grand jury prize and the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. As a black man in America, he defied the odds by attaining a prestige award that most only dream of. The crowd roared with excitement as Parker stood on stage with his unblemished prize. Months before its nation wide release, The Birth of a Nation was already getting Oscar buzz and was being praised by dozens of critics across the country as one of the best films of the year. Later, the Fox Searchlight distribution company gambled on the picture, and purchased the film for $17.5 million (Variety). Yet, a few months after the first praised screenings of The Birth of A Nation, a dark past began to knock on Parker 's door. A past with the intent to punish Parker in the name of justice. Once more, the spotlight was on Parker.
In 1999, Nate Parker and his Penn State roommate and wrestling teammate Jean Celestine, were charged with rape and sexual assault. The accuser was a college freshman who was 60 days away from her 18th birthday on the day she was assaulted. After an immediate trial on October 2001, Parker was acquitted on all charges. Celestin was convicted of sexual assault, only to have the charge overturned four years later when a Superior Court judge ruled his trial attorney was ineffective in defending him (The Beast). Months after the trial, in 2002, Parker transferred schools and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. As Nate Parker beg...
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...nd if there is an argument that Parkers skin color has nothing to do with why The Birth of a Nation failed, and that his color is a mere coincidence. Parker hasn’t been the only person of color who has been berated. Comedian Bill Cosby also endured a sexual assault case and has been condemned by the public ever since. He 's been hit with a virtual tsunami of public scorn and outrage over his abuse of women, while Allen has more or less given a free pass – even though his misconduct is equally, if not more, disturbing (Daily Kaos). Maybe America has been hit with too many reminders of the wickedness we partook in. Maybe the fear of the Black Live Matter movement caused promotion of The Birth of a Nation to be minimal. Maybe a rape allegation was all the critics needed to dismiss another slave movie. Or maybe, justice for Sharon Loafer 's sister is finally being served.
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