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Film / Blindspotting

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"You are a convicted felon, Mr. Hoskins. You are now that until proven otherwise. Prove otherwise at all times,"
Collin: Why blindspotting?
Val: 'Cause it's all about how you can look at something and there can be another thing there that you aren't seeing. So, you got a blind spot.
Collin: But, if someone points out the other picture, doesn't that make it not a blind spot anymore?
Val: No, because you can't go against what your brain wants to see first [...]
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Collin When you look at me now, do you always see the fight first?

Blindspotting is a buddy dramedy that is as much a story of its setting, the city of Oakland, as it is its two central characters, Collin Hoskins and Miles Turner. After getting released on probation, Collin, played by Daveed Diggs, finds work with his old best friend Miles, played by Rafael Casal, as a mover. However, this grants them a front row seat to the gentrification of the city that raised them, as both this and the growing Black Lives Matter movement begin to pull at their friendship. Written by Diggs and Casal, and directed by Carlos López Estrada, what follows is a raw loveletter to their city in all its tense duality.


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Blindspotting contains examples of:

  • Amicable Exes: Collin and Val. Both at times try to rekindle their relationship, but the fight and its aftermath have set them along separate paths.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Are you sure?"
  • Arms Dealer: Des has a comical amount of firearms hidden throughout his car, and after some Reckless Gun Usage that nearly turns into I Just Shot Marvin in the Face, he sells one to Miles.
  • As Himself: Diggs and Casal, two best friends from West Oakland, play Collins and Miles, two best friends from West Oakland. They even make reference to several of their lyrics and recurring gags as Real Life rap duo Getback, such as Casal being the Calvin to Diggs' Hobbes.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The scorpion bowl fight.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Collins is generally much more even-tempered and conciliatory than Miles, but can only take so much.
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  • Buddy Picture: Collins and Miles form the heart of the film, struggling to hold onto one another in spite of the rapid changes in their hometown.
  • Confirmation Bias: Discussed by Collin and Val while he's helping her study for her psychology class. The way bias warps our perception, causing two people to see the same events completely differently, is a central theme of the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: True to form, Miles buys a gun in one of the first scenes in the film, and Collins ends up using it in the climax.
  • Dream Sequence: Collin has one where he is back on trial, with the Killer Cop as the judge, and Miles as the prosecution.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: The cop is seen doing this at the climax, after he shot a fleeing man on the job and his wife and son are moving out.
  • Establishing Character Moment: After Miles accidentally orders a vegan burger from the newly hipsterized Kwikway, Collin has to talk him down from starting a fight with the drive-thru guy. This sets the tone of their relationship for much of the film.
  • Gratuitous Rap: As Diggs and Casal are both prolific rappers, this is no surprise. The two transition into verse as a form of heightened dialogue, and the soundtrack is full of their fellow Bay Area greats.
  • Man on Fire: The decorative flame in the middle of the scorpion bowl ignites the alcohol, setting both the hipster and Collin on fire by the end of their fight
  • Motor Mouth: Miles, naturally, as a hustler. He frequently transitions from sales-pitch to rap to slang even he doesn't understand and back.
  • N-Word Privileges: Becomes contentious as the city grows increasingly racially divided and charged. In the beginning, Miles and Collin both use it to each other. However, as their friendship starts to unravel, Collin demands Miles call him the n-word, and Miles is unable to do so, unsure if he's now become one of the poseurs he used to hate. Inverted in the following scene, where Miles tells his (black) girlfriend that he is uncomfortable with her calling him "nigga".
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: At the climax. Collin holds the cop at gunpoint, struggling with whether to kill the man who shot an innocent and still haunts him. He ultimately tells the cop a version of this and walks out, unsatisfied.
  • Jive Turkey: Miles and Collin mock an overcompensating yuppie for going on about "drank", clearly oblivious to what it means. Miles being called out as this in turn causes him to snap.
  • Just Got Out of Jail: Collin, though he's still on probation. His fear of being sent back for something as minor as missing curfew at his halfway house is a constant source of tension.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Miles is always testing out new raps, wears a grill, and hates gentrifiers with burning fury. However, he grew up in the now-fading slums, and feels he has as much a stake in them as anyone. Throughout the film, he struggles with being seen as one of the very hipsters he despises.
  • Police Brutality: Becomes central to the film, as the Black Lives Matter movement becomes a pressing issue in the city. Collin witnesses a police officer kill a fleeing suspect, leaving him in terror for his own life.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The quick-talking, quick to anger Miles to the conflict-averse, measured Collin. Given Diggs' strong Shakespearean influences, the parallels to Mercutio and Benvolio from Romeo and Juliet are almost certainly deliberate. Inverted at the climax.
  • Rice Burner: Des fitted his ride out with absurd hydraulics. Between this and the loud purple paint job, it seems more at home in a music video from the 90's than reality. Lampshaded by several characters.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Miles leaves a loaded gun in his house to step out for a smoke, and returns to find his toddler playing with it. Ironically, he initially bought it to try and protect his family.
  • Salt and Pepper: Miles and Casal.
  • Scary Black Man: Collin is quite conflicted about being seen as this. On the one hand, Miles views it as an enviable mark of authority and authenticity. However, Collin is increasingly fearful that it, and his prior conviction, will land him swiftly back in jail, or even dead.
  • Shattering the Illusion: The characters all struggle to see beyond their various biases, with their success, and even the existence of an objective reality outside their differing perspectives, left ambiguous. Optical illusions, in particular the Rubin's Vase illusion, form a recurring motif.
  • Tone Shift: Collin witnessing the killing of a fleeing black man by a police officer heralds a sudden dark turn to what was up-until-then, a fairly light slice-of-life comedy
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Miles is often this to Collins, starting fights and leaving Collins to deal with the aftermath. The fact that Miles didn't go to jail for starting the Scorpion Bowl brawl drives a wedge between the two.
  • Tragic Mistake: The scorpion bowl fight. Collin lets Miles goad him into fighting an aggressive hipster at the bar he worked at, ending in said hipster being set on fire by his gimmicky drink, Collin going to jail and his girlfriend breaking up with him. This sets the stage and the stakes for the events that follow.
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