“The Boys in Red Hats,” directed by Jonathan Schroder, is a frustrating example of a film at odds with itself. In light of the upcoming confrontation between white high school kids and a Native American demonstrator at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2019, this seems fitting. One teenager’s grin in the face of a Native American elder became a viral sensation.
Covington Catholic High School alumnus Schroder presents this film as a journey of self-discovery. Parent chaperones, furious past students, one kid’s attorney, and an anonymous current student are just some of the people who can be heard speaking out in his earpiece. On the day of the protest, black activists and Covington’s love of pep rallies are both cited as possible causes for the kids’ actions.
A “TMZ Live”-style bull session with his producer and a “bro-friendly” voiceover make Schroder’s experimental position appear exasperatingly dumb. In addition to this, the video features a cast of thoughtful commentators who reveal the complex interplay between power, race, and aggressiveness that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial. The Root’s Anne Branigin and Mohawk journalist Vincent Schilling are among those who see “classic illustration of white privilege,” while journalism scholar Allissa Richardson agrees.
Both Covington Catholic student Nathan Phillips and Native American drummer Nathan Schroder were turned down by Schroder when he requested to interview them. His account of being hit in the head by a Covington instructor while he was a student is so bizarre that I don’t know where to begin.
In the end, the media bias and our “bubbles” are blamed for the fizzle. In the words of the Marx Brothers, “Who are you going to trust, me or your own eyes?” could be a more appropriate question for those watching the events at the Lincoln Memorial.
The Red Hatted Men
Not rated at this time. Time spent on screen: 1 hour and 27 minutes. Virtual theatres.