In 2007 Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras is celebrated... and complicated. Following a cast of characters, parades, and parties across an enduring color line, we see that beneath the surface of pageantry lies something else altogether.
Mobile, Alabama, 2007: the oldest Mardi Gras in the United States is a study in Black and White. Groups prepare coronations, parades, balls, and revelry. White and Black communities have separate royal courts and separate events. People comment on these vestiges of segregation, some critical and some okay with it. The Black king and queen come to the coronation of the White royal couple, and the White king and queen join the celebration at the Comrades party, a primarily Black event. City patriarchs agree to do more together, and the city's youth seem to want more interaction as well. The film explores possible contradictions between preserving traditions and putting the old Mobile behind them.Written by
A lesson more for the natives than the outsiders...
This film honestly looks at the accepted "segregation" of "America's oldest Mardi Gras celebration." Tradition runs deep in the 307-year-old port city of Mobile, and the residents like it that way.
As a native Mobilian who happens to be black, no one could tell me anything different about the differences between the pageantry of the King Felix III's (the white king) court and King Elexis I's (the black king). It's an unspoken truth. However, someone not familiar with Mobile culture, may find this appalling and racist.
There were parts of the film that seemed to only speak to the natives of Mobile. For example, "old society" Mobile prides itself in thinking it is more progressive than other southern cities. There are several incidents in the film that indicate this same "myth," such as the white queen declaring her liberal political stance, or the wide acceptance of Mobile's first black mayor, Sam Jones. The filmmaker even seems to carry this myth herself, since she, as a white society member, is sympathetic towards the black society. Her moves, however, are still seen as progressive. In Mobile, racism is something polite society does not discuss, white or black.
The film displays so much emphasis on race, that it only occasionally touches on Mobile's true social problem, classism. Several of the white krewe members mention how "closed" the societies are to non-bluebloods, regardless of color. In both societies, you have to be the right kind of black or white person. Although the whites hold on to this idea more than the blacks, krewes are slow to open up to the idea of anyone joining, versus crossing color lines.
As a coda, the film opens up to the idea that society in Mobile is slowly, but progressively changing for the better. Both sets of royalty get along fine, based on the love of Mardi Gras and tradition. And in the end, everyone has bons temps.
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