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The Greenwood Massacre in the Watchmen Film Essay

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Updated: Aug 5th, 2022

The Greenwood Massacre is an event that led to a high number of deaths between the Whites and the African Americans within the region. The riot and violence emerged from a miscommunication regarding an encounter between Dick Rowland and Sarah Page. During Memorial Day on May 30th, 1921, Rowland, a shoeshiner entered an elevator in a nearby building where Page was working to access the restroom on the top floor (Gannon 3). However, while in the elevator, a man working in the building heard a woman scream then a Black person exited the premises. Although Sarah confessed that Dick only grabbed her hand, the press played a vital role in the development of the protests. The media used quotes in the newspapers and reports that portrayed Sarah as violated by Rowland, a situation that led to bloodshed and brutality between the two races. The Whites focused on establishing their superiority while the Blacks sought justice for Rowland. The movie “Watchmen” articulates the disparities between the two ethnic groups and the tension arising from the essence of superiority and inferiority hence compromising moral justice.

Moral justice is a crucial factor within a community with different races such as the Whites and the African Americans. The movie “Watchmen” entails the story of vigilantes and superheroes in an attempt to align society under their ideal goals. The plot of the story reflects the Greenwood Massacre mainly due to the victimization of individuals that steered the violence between the two groups. One of the sects is the superheroes living in human disguise within the community. The superheroes participated in the Vietnam War and led America to victory (Snyder 12:07-17-34). However, upon their return to their families and homes, they became alienated due to their social status as super beings. In this case, the marginalization of the group as the inferior erupts from the fear among the people regarding their threat to the nation. As a result, the storyline contributes to the remembrance of the carnage by distinguishing the different groups and the consequences of the segregation based on the atrocities.

In the 1920s, the Greenwood area was known as Black Wall Street since a significant percentage of the wealth was possessed by persons of the race. The wealthy status caused the Whites to resolve to cruelty due to the supremacist concept (Gannon 5). In the film, the supernatural beings feature as people fitting in the society despite their social identity as heroes during the wars; an issue that a population segment considered unusual. However, once one of the individuals with special abilities is murdered, a war emerges due to the existing tension. In an attempt to address the crisis, the violence leads to the loss of lives and properties. It is a reflection of the results of the riots during the Tulsa Massacre.

The plot of the movie focuses on the creative construction of the event based on the ideal differences between African Americans and Whites. On the one hand, the non-Hispanic Whites considered the African Americans as inferior and slaves. On the other hand, African Americans believed in equality as American citizens. Therefore, Snyder artistically frames the murder of “The Comedian” akin to the incident between Rowland and Sarah. Primarily, both constructs showcase the consequence of the war between individuals from different origins, mainly the death and destruction of property.

The show exclusively includes the historical accounts under a dynamic spectrum of events and interrelations. The major point during the Greenwood Massacre included the interaction between the members of ethnic groups. Both the Whites and the Blacks consider their unity a crucial factor during the fight for justice. On the one hand, the African Americans seek to save one of the members, that is, Rowland from the intentions of lynching by the Whites. On the other hand, the Whites get offended by Rowland’s attempt to establish contact with a teenager from their race (Gannon 4). As a result, both groups with a similar objective of defending their social status, resolve to violence as the ultimate measure of the highest-ranking entity. The film portrays the determination of the supernatural beings to establish a position in the community to enhance their security from criminals.

Another issue that the film addresses from the historical event enshrines the involvement of the authority. The account of the Greenwood Massacre establishes that a significant percentage of the police workforce collaborated with the Whites to access weapons and kill the African Americans. According to Snyder, the police cooperate with normal individuals to ensure the security of lives, unlike the proactive measures to protect the existence of the creatures (34:04-47:26). Although the plot of the film fails to address the main role of the sheriff in the negotiations and the prevention of the war, it enhances the influence of the authority on the social order. Snyder focuses on the exploitation of individualism than the authoritarian aspect to determine the core foundation of peace and harmony. In this case, the film must foster self-drive as the ultimate solution to the hindrance of growth and development.

The show suggests that miscommunication and marginalization render the consequence for subsequent historical events. The plot of the movie integrates racial segregation based on past events that address the issue of social injustice. The massacre emerged mainly due to the tension existing between two groups struggling for supremacy. On the one hand, the incident between Sarah and Rowland triggered the violence that led to massive loss of lives and property. On the other hand, the murder of “The Comedian” rendered the brutality and bloodshed among the participants. Therefore, the Greenwood savagery translated as a consequential phenomenon through the movie’s reconstruction.

Consequently, the Tulsa Massacre is a reflection of the rivalry between members of a community from different sects. The essence of supremacy is an issue that sparks violence causing death and destruction across a region. People must appreciate diversity and enhance their interrelationships due to the attribution of peace and harmony. Further, the law enforcement authorities must embrace a neutral focus. These practices enhance social justice and the prevention of war among conflicting groups. During the historic event, the police participated in the brutality through the distribution of firearms to the Whites hence causing a significant rampage. Snyder creatively develops the marginal groups as supernatural beings and people’s population. The segregation arises based on the fear among individuals regarding the existence of the creatures within the community. The tension becomes imminent, causing disorder and insecurity within the society. Communication and interdependence play a vital role in the promotion of peace and harmony across a dynamic population.

Works Cited

Gannon, Megan Sapiens website. (2020). Web.

Snyder, Zack. Watchmen. 2009, Web.

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