I wanted to give a lot of background on myself and the book before we dive into the trailer. First, if you don’t follow Strong Black Lead on Instagram, go do that now. If you want to be in the know of all the new Black shows, movies and documentaries that will debut on Netflix, this is where you will see it. This is where I found this movie and why my day was made. Second, Walter Dean Myers was a giant in Black adult literature. Myers was born in 1937 and in reading his works, I get a Harlem Renaissance vibe. The books were rich in Black life and culture and you could sense that he was very observant when it came to how he expressed what was happening around the characters. It made you feel like you were a bystander in the world he created which resonated with me as a teenager.
I was a nerd growing up. My favorite subject was math but I loved writing, which is why I have this blog. They say to never judge a book by its cover but I do that a lot. Usually, if I’m not drawn to the cover of a book, I won’t pick it up. Monster, I remember, was a cover that made me tilt my head. Monster was different from anything I had read at that point. Seeing the way Monster was written and formatted made me want to write books the way Myers did with this one. The book is written as a screenplay and not as traditional prose, which makes it perfect for adapting it into this work of art.
Watch the trailer below and we’ll discuss.
Monster is the story of Steven Harmon, a 17 year-old Black honors student who dreams of becoming a filmmaker, who is charged with felony murder. In retrospect, the plot of this movie, in a way, mirrors Prison Song, the story about how a man named Elijah went from aspiring photographer to an inmate serving life in prison for an accident. Monster was published in 1999 and yet, it still resonates today. We, as Black people, still suffer with having to see prosecutors turn a perfectly normal human being into a monster in the media in order to win their case. I can’t even really say that this story was ahead of its time because of how often it’s happened throughout the years. We become numb to it. After watching the trailer, I remember how I felt and what I learned about the justice system after reading the book. It was the first time I remember being scared for what happened to a fictional character. I realized this could be a real person I know.
I hope this film, which was actually premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, captures that palpable feeling of angst and danger. As a side note, A$AP Rocky is a decent actor and I want to see him in more things.
Monster debuts on Netflix on May 7th.