Hidden Figures Tackles Racism, Sexism and Rocket Science In One Go

The United States is in a “Black Lives Matter” uproar, a time when racism appears to be on the rise. The entry of Hidden Figures then can be considered as a timely reminder that, indeed, the nation was also built on the brilliant intelligence of our black brothers – or sisters, to be more appropriate.

Pun On Many Things

Hidden Figures is a pun on many things. First, it may refer to the mathematical figures that remained hidden until three brilliant African-American women came into the scene. Second, it may also pertain to the fact that despite their instrumental role in the space program, the three women remained nearly anonymous from the general public.

This isn’t surprising in the context of the times. It was the 1960s, at the height of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was an intense time for the world because of the Cold War, too.

It was also a time when blacks and whites were still segregated in the workplace. It was a time when women who earned degrees, more so degrees in science and math, were still considered novelties. Many of them were even treated with contempt despite their obvious superior intellect, even over the men.  

Three Women in Space Science

The three real-life African-American women in the movie are Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae). Johnson is a brilliant space scientist, physicist, and mathematician with a clever optimism that allows her to overcome the obstacles of racism and sexism in her life.

Vaughn has a no-nonsense attitude that pervades her work and life. Her mechanical skills are only rivalled by her mathematical skills, a combination that made many men insecure.

Jackson is a woman with a quick with and an equally quick scientific mind. Her math and science skills are as formidable as those of her colleagues and friends. But since she has the double whammy of being a black woman, her ideas aren’t taken seriously at first.

Together, the three brilliant women unlocked the math behind two of the most crucial missions in NASA history – Project Mercury and Apollo 11.  Who says that women can’t be space scientists? These women certainly proved otherwise!

Of course, a movie is only as good as its directors, writers and actors. Hidden Figures deserves its high satisfaction ratings from the audience who saw it at Regal theaters. The movie’s as enjoyable as can be, thanks to the superb direction, screenplay and performance from everybody.

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