Warner Bros. make Just Mercy free to watch to encourage education of systemic racism
Not everyone agrees with the actions being taken during #BlackoutTuesday, with some questioning what tangible action is going to be taken by entertainment companies to address the systemic racism that exists within their respective industries. Warner Bros. are one of the larger corporations taking part, and they today announced that the Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx drama, Just Mercy, will be made free to rent on all major platforms throughout June.
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the story is based on the work of real-life civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson (played by Jordan) who defended Walter McMillian (Foxx) after he was falsely convicted of killing a local white man and sentenced to death. The film was in contention during last year's award season although it did not pick up any major gongs.
Warner Bros. also released a statement saying: “We believe in the power of story,. Our film ‘Just Mercy,’ based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, is one resource we can humbly offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society. For the month of June, ‘Just Mercy’ will be available to rent for free across digital platforms in the US. To actively be part of the change our country is so desperately seeking, we encourage you to learn more about our past and the countless injustices that have led us to where we are today. Thank you to the artists, storytellers and advocates who helped make this film happen. Watch with your family, friends and allies. For further information on Bryan Stevenson and his work at the Equal Justice Initiative please visit EJI.org."
Whilst a nice gesture as film can have a profound impact on people, this should only be accepted as a starting point. Racial prejudice and discrimination is rife in the film industry in the US and UK and much more work has to be done from the top down within companies like Warner Bros. to address and change the system for good. Not everyone can afford online rental costs and cinema be a helpful start point to educate oneself, but until the industry takes a long hard look at itself, little will change.