Letters

"It will be fun. It will make us cry": Salon readers respond to Charles Taylor's review of "Hotel Rwanda."


Salon Staff
December 24, 2004 2:00AM (UTC)

[Read "Eyes Wide Shut," Charles Taylor's review of "Hotel Rwanda."]

It's a good thing they've made a movie about the genocide in Rwanda. This way Americans don't have to read anything. We can just sit in the movie theater and let it all wash over us. We can watch the heart-wrenching story unfold in a dramatic narrative with characters far removed from the real souls who lived in the midst of fathers killing fathers, neighbors killing neighbors, Africans killing Africans. It will be fun. It will make us cry. It will provide us with "good guys" and "bad guys," and it will even all turn out OK because this is not "Genocide Rwanda" (that storyline does not have a happy ending); this is "Hotel Rwanda," and we will happily devour its shining heroism. As I said, it's a good thing they've made this movie, because we all know that news of humans slaughtering humans, in any medium other than film, goes ignored by the West. So rest assured, Rwanda, history will not repeat itself. There has been a movie made about you; we are paying attention now.

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-- Alice Gray

I've not seen "Hotel Rwanda" yet but look forward to seeing it.

As an American that's visited Africa more than a few times, I hope Nick Nolte's highly charged bark to Don Cheadle isn't just racial grandstanding meant for a liberal American audience:

"You should spit in my face," says Colonel Oliver to Paul. "You're dirt. We think you're dirt, Paul ... The West, all the superpowers ... They think you're dirt. They think you're dung ... You're not even a nigger. You're African.""

I've never heard an American expatriate talk to Africans in such a manner. British and Afrikaaner colonials, when drunk, may disparage the locals, but their negative term for Africans is more often the Arabic term "kaffir," not the American "nigger." Nick Nolte's character doesn't reflect the attitude of most white American expatriates in Africa.

Without seeing the movie, though, and the context in which Nolte's character talks to Cheadle's, perhaps it's too early to make a judgment. Thanks to Charles Taylor for making me want to see this movie even more than I had initially.

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-- Van Souther

I am looking forward to seeing this movie, and as a precursor, I would like to mention a book that is a must for anyone interested in the background of the genocide, "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda" by Philip Gourevitch.

-- Lana Putintsev

In his review of the movie "Hotel Rwanda," Charles Taylor writes, "We know how little attention the West paid to the Rwandan genocide as it was occurring. The question now is, How much attention will be paid to this movie?" The real question should be, How much attention are we willing to pay to the genocide currently occurring in Darfur, Sudan?

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-- Larissa Kelly


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