REVIEW: BlacKkKlansman is relevant to today’s racial tensions


Walking into Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” my initial thought was that this would be a comedy as portrayed by the film’s trailers and early Comedy Central© humor. I was mistaken to hold such assumptions.

While enjoyable to watch, it is important to remember the shocking nature of the film is not meant to be inflammatory, but to highlight a parallel still seen today.

The film is set in 1979, a post-Martin Luther King era. Racial tensions are simmering within an uneasy coexistence.

Lee’s direction closely follows the true tale of Ron Stallworth, Colorado Springs Police Department’s first African-American police officer, who seeks to establish himself in a predominantly white police force.

While working under the Intelligence Desk, he discovers a posting for the local KKK chapter and sets out to expose “The Organization” with the aid of his partner, Flip Zimmerman.

Together the two officers carry out a back and forth charade as a singular Ron Stallworth, attracting the attention of the Grand Wizard David Duke in course of the operation.

Lee pays close attention to voicing both sides of the argument and attempting to be objective of the turmoil felt between the Black Power and KKK movements and the police force responsible for keeping tabs on both.

The audio for the film was mildly lackluster as there was not much used for the soundtrack except for instances of seriousness and light-heartedness.

In terms of the visual appeal of the film, the imagery is reminiscent of classical “blacks-ploitation” such as Gordon Parks’s Shaft, which is referenced in the film.

Beyond the surface visuals, the consideration placed with both casting and the wardrobe portray all sides as close as factually possible. This is likely due to Ron Stallworth being on scene for much of the filming.

John David Washington and Adam Driver both delivered excellent performances. Together, they take the audience on a suspenseful ride.

Conclusively, this film has earned its reputation of high esteem and is a welcome addition to Lee’s many other projects.

I felt this movie was perfect for the moment, largely as there has recently been non-stop decisiveness between police authorities, the resurgence of “white-power” and white nationalism fervor and the minority communities that feel at disadvantage.

Joshua Yankoviz, Kansas State alumnus, said he thought the movie had a compelling story.

“[The film] is very suggestive, with a lot of underlying themes that play on what’s going on in today’s society,” Yankoviz said. “It blows up the issue of racism, and in that regard if you watch it objectively it shows you the absolute worst sides of things to see where we came from.”

Bill Bernard is a sophomore in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to