‘Red Hat Boys’ Review: A Great Story, Brother


Jonathan Schroder’s “The Boys in Red Hats” is a maddening example of a movie at war with itself. That’s fitting enough as it’s about the encounter between white high school students and a Native American demonstrator at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2019. The incident became a viral flashpoint over a teenager’s grin on the Native American elder’s face.

As an alumnus of the Covington Catholic student school in Kentucky, Schroder presents this film as his journey to understanding. He hears the news of his playful parent accomplices, hectic ex-students, a student’s lawyer, and a current student whose identity is undercover. Black activists of the day and Covington’s proclivity for pep rallies are advanced as explanations for the behavior of the youth.

Between “TMZ Live”-style bull sessions with a sibling-friendly voice-over and producer, Schroder’s scouting pose sounds tiresomely uninformed. Yet the film also brings together soothingly poignant commentators who openly reveal the dynamics of power and race and aggression at the Lincoln Memorial encounter. These include Mohawk journalist Vincent Schilling; Anne Branigin, author of The Root; and Allissa Richardson, a journalism professor who saw the “textbook example of white privilege.”

Schroder’s request to interview the Covington Catholic student, which got a lot of backlash, was turned down, and the same happened (in person) with Native American drummer Nathan Phillips. (I don’t even know where to begin with his weird and nostalgic story about being punched in the head by a Covington teacher as a student.)

A gushing ending points fingers at media bias and our “bubbles.” Some viewers Lincoln Memorial events instead, leading media theorists can turn to The Marx Brothers: “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

Kids in Red Hats
Not rated. Duration: 1 hour 27 minutes. In virtual cinemas.


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