Be the Change in the Industry
By Lily Prater
The American Film Institute—it is hard to deny that they are very influential in the film and entertainment industry. Institute. A word like that seems to only strike elegance. Prestige. Importance. Trustworthy.
Hollywood, for many years, has been placed on the hot seat for their lack of diversity and inclusion. With The Academy’s board being built of predominately old, white men, how could we expect anything but old fashioned Oscar nominations and winners? The American Film Institute tries, but, sadly, is no different. On their website, they have gifted us with a top 100 films list. Their first list, of top 100 films in 100 years, came out in 1998. If you go through that list, the latest films are Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction, from 1994. At the top of the list, they wrote a small blurb to explain their pickings- as if they already knew the list would cause controversial debate. The list includes classics like The Godfather, Psycho, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I think it would hard for anyone to argue their spots on the list. Also included on the list is The Birth of a Nation. A director’s failed history, silent film is a hard sell. For some, this film may be unknown. If you had the pleasure to see Spike Lee’s 2018 film, BlacKkKlansman, the silent film makes an appearance that is hunting.
In 2007, they released a 10th anniversary of that list. Thankfully, Birth of a Nation did not make this list. However, the reason for the film’s absence could have been due to the date cut off. Birth of a Nation was released in 1915. The earliest date of a film on the 10th anniversary list is 1916. Improvements were made, but were the improvements only made because of date cuts and demands for diversity? Bringing us to now, 2021. We have not received a 20th anniversary edition of the list, or just an updated top 100 films list since.
What about Jordan Peel’s 2017 film, Get Out? Get Out has already been raved as a classic and masterpiece of our generation. If American Film Institute wants to claim the best “top 100 films list,” then you cannot convince me that no film after 2007 deserves to be on the lists as well.
American Film Institute, being a film fanatic myself, I appreciate giving the public a list of “must-sees” of the great actors, directors, and stories that will stay with us forever; however, be the change in the industry. The sexists, racist, and simply poor story telling does not deserve a place on a top 100 films lists in the 2020s.
*Ultimately, the films you choose to watch and enjoy are all up to you- and that is something no one should take away from you. Not every film you like has to be some controversial topic, that breaks grounds on social norms. Love what you love; find the art that speaks to you.