Hidden Figures

I am unavailable to march today, but one of my sorority sisters is attending the Women’s March in DC and offered to make a sign listing the names of those of us there in spirit, and I asked her to include my own.  In the meanwhile, I’m going to give a shout out to a movie featuring some other awesome women: Hidden Figures.

Image result for hidden figures

This biopic follows three African-American women at NASA during the space race of the 60s. Though some of it is a bit dramatized, it is all based on real life. I saw it opening weekend and loved it…and apparently so did a lot of other people.  In its opening weekend it actually beat Rogue One (which had already been out a few weeks, but was playing in nearly twice as many theaters) at the box office, and held on to the #1 spot over MLK Jr. weekend, too.  It’s a great movie for anyone to enjoy, but I would really encourage all young women especially to see it.

On to the science!

Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson) is a brilliant mathematician working as a “computer” at Langley Research Center and is assigned to the Space Task Group to help with the calculations for the launch and landing of Alan Shepard and John Glenn.  In Glenn’s case, putting a man into orbit around the Earth has never been done, so there isn’t a mathematical model for the situation.  Rather than looking at it as an “applied math” situation from a physics perspective, Goble finds a purely mathematical model that simply fits the numbers.

My favorite quote from her: “So, yes, they let women do some things at NASA, Mr. Johnson, and it’s not because we wear skirts.  It’s because we wear glasses.”  I think I related to her most of all the women.

Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) is an aspiring engineer, attempting to take night classes at a white high school. She is supported in this by her Polish-Jewish boss, but her husband (Aldis Hodge) is more hesitant.  I liked how the movie showed the struggle for civil rights not as one united movement pushing forward to a single goal, but going in fits and starts, with many different foci, sometimes at odds within the movement (white women especially don’t appear as allies here).  When Mary doesn’t want their young kids to see the news about a firebombing of a bus, her husband replies, “Everybody needs to see this.”  It was a powerful moment for me, thinking about present day events: videos captured on phones and uploaded, violence against innocent people that can no longer be hidden.  If we want to change the world, we have to face it first.

Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) watches as men install the IBM that may put her whole staff of computers out of a job.  So she learns FORTRAN from a library book and starts working with the machine.  But she doesn’t stop there…she teaches her entire staff of African-American women how to program as well, ensuring that the whole group is kept on to work with the IBM.  Now that’s “leaning in.”

So the science part is great.  But the movie also shows these women as not just scientists, but leaders in their community as well.  They are moral women; we see them going to church, raising children, and participating in positive relationships with good men.  They support each other in their struggles and ambitions.

I was so impressed with the marketing for this movie.  It did a great job focusing on the three leading women in advertisements, so much so that I was surprised by the appearance of several white or male actors during the movie because I hadn’t even realized they were going to be in it.  I think this shows that a movie featuring black women can perform well, and hopefully Hollywood will taken this lesson from Hidden Figures and give us more.

One last note: the movie also shows astronaut John Glenn in a very good light, a point of pride for us in Ohio.  He unfortunately didn’t get to see it before he passed away last year, but it was a wonderful tribute to him.  (They also just renamed the Columbus airport for him recently.)

So if you are looking for sometime to do this weekend that will both entertain you and make you think about how far we have come–and how far we have to go–I highly recommend checking out a showing of Hidden Figures.  And I think I may go learn FORTRAN now. ~_^

10 thoughts on “Hidden Figures

    • Mei-Mei January 21, 2017 / 3:26 pm

      Yes! Haha. Hope you enjoy it.


  1. Michael J. Miller January 21, 2017 / 12:12 pm

    Beautiful review! I’ve been so excited to see this film but haven’t had the time to yet. However, this makes me as certain as ever that I need to get to the theatre! This seems like it would always be a poignant, moving, important story but -as you said – it seems particularly important right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei January 21, 2017 / 3:26 pm

      It is a great story, and one that is needed right now. I hope you can get to see it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. reocochran January 22, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    I loved this movie and cried some tears. I remember the “coloreds only” water drinking fountains, the separate bathrooms and a particular fast food restaurant which didn’t want to serve black people so my Grandpa ordered food for them. They were professionals who had traveled to Florida from Washington DC. This has stuck for years in my mind.i could not fathom this. I am grateful for this movie, for any movement forward for women and for all people of different roots. We thought it was a melting pot but need to become one still years after so many civil rights people have matched as well as many who have died. Let their lives not have been in vain. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei January 22, 2017 / 6:02 pm

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I shed a few tears at the movie as well. It’s such an important story and message.

      Liked by 1 person

      • reocochran January 22, 2017 / 7:05 pm

        It really is a very important story, a real testament to women and those who have had challenges due ethnicity or religious differences. I only wish all had become better by now! Thanks for your reply.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. starwarsanon January 23, 2017 / 2:22 pm

    I’ve heard only great things about this movie! I will probably wait until it’s out on DVD but I’m excited to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei January 23, 2017 / 10:31 pm

      I think you’ll like it! I know it’s hard for new-ish parents to get to the theater, but I’m sure they’ll have it out on DVD soon.


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