Hidden Figures, a film based off of the black mathematicians responsible for sending an American man into space topped the box office this past week. This movie was based off of a book with the same name. The film follows the life of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), and her two friends Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer).The three women are “computers”, part of the colored women’s math department.
Katherine’s assigned to work on the project for the trajectory of the ship’s that was meant to carry the first man into space, and is the only colored woman on the entire team. The majority of the film follows her struggle as a brilliant mind surrounded by people who completely doubt her capabilities. Hidden Figures made over $60 million after being out for ten days, and was the highest grossing film at the box office for two weeks in a row.
Although the majority of the movie is true, and a refreshing change from most Hollywood films, it did suffer slightly from the white savior syndrome. The overseer of the business project is shown knocking down the colored women’s sign on the bathroom, because Katherine had to run to the colored bathroom across the facility. In real life though, this didn’t happen. Katherine went to the white woman’s bathroom because it was available, and to suggest that she and the other black women of the program had to be liberated by a white man is an a historical lie meant to make the white audience feel good.
Other than this historical discrepancy, Hidden figures is an accurate portrayal of these women’s roles at NASA, and a film I would recommend for everyone.