Dear University People: more HE at the Movies

I wrote here a couple of years ago about my excitement at the release of Admission. A film actually about admissions to higher education. OK, really a romantic comedy rather than a detailed dissection of Clearing and Adjustment, but still all very exciting.MV5BNDY2NDgxNDQ5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTE0ODk1MDE@._V1_UY268_CR9,0,182,268_AL_

Anyway, I still haven’t quite got round to watching it but maybe someday

Meanwhile there are plenty of other Higher Ed themed films worth avoiding, including Murder University and Dead on Campus, as reported here

And then last year this, Dear White People, arrived. Although the Guardian’s review of the movie is not wholly positive, I have to say having recently watched it I do think it is excellent:

“Dear white people, don’t dance.” That’s one of the pieces of unasked-for advice delivered by Sam White, student at Ivy League establishment Winchester University, whose radio show “Dear White People” helps to keep the campus racial tensions simmering. Another? “Dear white people, the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, but your weed man, Tyrone, does not count.”

Sam’s show gives Dear White People, the debut feature from writer/director Justin Simien, its title and her calm but ferociously judgmental voice speaks loudest, clearest and longest. But just as Dear White People seems to be a valentine to Sam (Veronica Mars’s Tessa Thompson) and her withering dismissal of the black students she sees as tap-dancing for white approval and the white students clownishly adopting hip hop diction, Simien reveals his heroine’s biracial parentage and clandestine affair with a sensitive white teaching assistant.

Sam’s far from the only student struggling with her identity in Winchester, a hall of learning whose president proudly proclaims “Racism is a thing of the past”. Coco (Mad Men’s Teyonah Parris) has erased any association to her impoverished past in Chicago, but when a shot at reality TV fame comes with the stipulation that only hood rats need apply, she’s forced to revert to the persona she detests.

It’s sharp, funny and really well-observed and tackles issues of both race and class in a US university in a very entertaining but also often challenging way.

Undoubtedly the best HE movie for a while. Highly recommended for all higher ed wonks.

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