Warning: this post contains mild spoilers about Blinded by the Light.
74 years ago, World War II ended. Millions were dead and it seemed like the evils that brought on the war were dead. But instead of remaining in the past, the evils of hate and prejudice are alive and well in our world.
I recently saw the new film Blinded by the Light. The film, in case you have not see it (and if you haven’t you should) is about a Pakistani-British boy who wants to be a writer. It is set in late 80’s Britain, at a time when both economic uncertainty and hate are on the rise. One of the neighbors of this young man is a World War II veteran. Upon finding one of these boy’s poems about the local hate groups, this man proudly states that he fought for Britain during the war.
My question is, if we (when I mean we, the cultural we) fought for freedom and democracy 70 years ago, why does this battle seem futile? According to an article on NPR from February, hate groups have risen 30% over the past few years.
I wish we lived in a better world. I wish that we treated each other as human beings. I wish that we judged each other as individuals before seeing someone’s skin color, ethnicity or choice of religion.
When one thinks of the bedroom of the average teenager, they think of a room covered with posters of a favorite performer. In the late 1980’s, Sarfraz Manzoor (the author of the memoir Greetings from Bury Park) was like any other teenager with one exception: his love of Bruce Springsteen‘s music was more of an obsession than the typical teenage fan.
His story is told in the new movie,Blinded by the Light. The late 1980’s was not an easy time to live in the UK. Economic and social unrest was the news of the day. The late Margaret Thatcher was running for another term as Prime Minister. In Luton, 16 year old Javed (Viveik Kalra) is your average teenage boy. He wants to write, but his strict Pakistani immigrant father, Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) has other ideas about his son’s future.
Then Javed is introduced to the music of Bruce Springsteen and his world changed forever. But he is caught between the expectations of his family and his own idea of what his future will look like. It takes his teacher, Ms. Clay (Hayley Atwell) to convince Javed to go for his dream, but at what cost?
I really love this film. I love that it speaks to all of us, regardless of age. The expectation of what everyone else expects of you vs following your own heart is a story that has been told time and again. But in the context of this film, this basic narrative with added layers of race, relationships and music, it becomes a story that is both personal and universal.