The ‘Selma’ “Controversy” Isn’t About History; It’s About Oscars

SELMA (2014)


Late last week, The Washington Postran an Op-Ed titled “The movie ‘Selma’ has a glaring flaw,” penned by Joseph A. Califano Jr., “President Lyndon Johnson’s top assistant for domestic affairs from 1965 to 1969.” In it, Califano contends that Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed new film — covering events that transpired, by the way, before Califano took that position in the Johnson White House — takes “dramatic, trumped-up license with a true story that didn’t need any embellishment to work as a big-screen historical drama.” He contends that the film’s central conflict, between an LBJ who asks for patience on the voting rights issue while he pursues other agendas and an MLK who will not wait, does not jibe with the historical record, and attempts to shame the filmmakers for “feel[ing] no obligation to check the facts” and “fill[ing] the screen with falsehoods.” (“In fact, Selma was LBJ’s idea,” Califano writes…

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