All this talk about SCHINDLER'S LIST has made me think about this issue.
I read in the newspaper about a high-school class, comprised of mostly
Blacks and Latino children, going to see SCHINDLER'S LIST. After one
hour there was such inappropriate behavior that the other patrons of
the theater (this happened somewhere in California) demanded that the
film be stopped. The manager complied and then lectured the children.
In response, the children explained that they found the film laughable
because their lives are surrounded by crime on a daily basis, and that
the killings in SCHINDLER'S LIST seemed so staged when compared to
the lives that many of them faced.
I've studied Resnais's NIGHT AND FOG (NUIT ET BROUILLIARD) for many years,
and I know that laughter is a typical reaction from many black people.
When in high school, this reaction was discussed among the students,
out of which a greater understanding of mutual cultural values emerged.
My question to the educators who have taught the Holocaust -- have you
encountered similar experiences, and what do you do (if anything) to
revise it and create a climate of greater awareness?
(The remainder of the initial story is that the community in which this
incident took place undertook a successful education program where
survivors went around to classrooms and told of their personal
Student, PhD Program in Music Librarian
Graduate Center Music Division
City University of New York The New York Public Library
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