Application of the Critical Theory

The cause of racism from the drama "Mississippi Burning"

Film Statistics
Date: 1988
Time: 128 minutes
Rated: R
Director: Alan Parker
Writter: Chris Gerolmo
Editor: Gerry Hambling
Cast in this scene Gene Hackman as Rupert Anderson and Willem Dafoe as Alan Ward

Plot Summery by Walter Jensen: The film Mississippi Burning is inspired by the historical murders of three young civil rights workers (James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman) by the Ku Klux Klan on June 21, 1964. Willem Dafoe plays Alan Ward, a northern FBI agent morally outraged by the racism he finds in the South. While, Gene Hackman plays Rupert Anderson, a FBI agent and a good ol' boy from Mississippi. These two uniquely different characters try to work together to discover what actually happen to the three civil rights workers. Counter to the events in the film, history has shown that the FBI was not the heroes of the day. This is due to the director of the FBI, Edgar J. Hover, was personally indifference to civil rights movement. Ignoring the historical errors in the film, one scene stands out, the conversation in the hotel room were the two FBI agents discuss the cause of racism.

Anderson: Down here they see things a bit differently. People down here feel something's are worth killing for.

Ward: Where does it come from, all this hatred?

You know when I was a little boy, there was an old negro farmer that lived down the road from us, named Monroe. He was ... (subtle laugh), I guess he was just a little more luckier than my daddy was. He bought himself a mule. It was a big deal in round that town. Now my daddy hated that mule. Kuse, his friends were always kidding him about, "They saw Monroe out plowing with his new mule and Monroe is going to rent another field now he had a mule." One morning that mule showed up dead. They poisoned the water. After that, there wasn't any mention about that mule around my daddy. It just never came up. One time we were driving down that road and we passed Monroe's place and we saw it was empty. He just packed up and left, I guess, he must of went up north or something. I looked over at my daddy's face, I knew he done it. He saw that I knew. He was ashamed. I guess he was ashamed. He looked at me and said, "If you ain't better than a nigger son, who are you better than?"

Ward: I think that's an excuse.

Anderson: No it's not, excuse. It's just a story about my daddy.

Ward: Where's that leave you?

Anderson: With an old man who just so full of hate that he didn't know that being poor was what was killing him.


Revised 03-02-2000