Selma — The Insane Reasons Behind The Paraphrasing MLK Speeches

I have a dream.  Great films change our lives.  Films remind us of events from our past that still affect us today.  Films bring us back to childhood, help us to realize how long-held beliefs about ourselves and our world are serving us, or how these beliefs may be blocking our way to goals and dreams.  Films enlighten us.  Films, at the very least, allow us to have emotions and feelings that we may otherwise be too busy, (or incapable of expressing), with our lives … to allow for ourselves in the dark safety of a theatre or our living room.  Of course, the power of film may be short-lived but deep in our consciousness, we have the experience of a great film forever with us.  “Oh Captain, my captain.”

Cable TV has also become similar in this respect to films due to the excellent work being produced.  If you have gotten into Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire or Shameless, to name just a few, you know the joy from these series’ and the stories they tell.  We talk about the characters like we know them.  We sit down with our loved ones and share the experience of viewing the shows. They, like films, are events for us that we take with us.  I don’t know about you but me and my man are still mourning the loss of Newsroom.

Many people like to criticize Aaron Sorkin for being too ‘preachy.’  Errrrr, no.  Sorkin is pure genius.  He does not need the politics of a cable network to express his vision of our world.  Newsroom was nothing short of epic storytelling that ended up being too much of a political mess with which to deal.  I don’t blame him for walking away.  I will still always miss what could have, and should have been, in Newsroom.

The politics of the ‘biz’ are fierce and nasty.  Sorkin has better fish to fry with a biopic film based on the incredibly revealing Walter Isaacson biography about the late, great, mad genius Steve Jobs — book entitled simply Jobs.  They have cast Michael Fassbender as Jobs (brilliant choice), and I am so looking forward to this film.  You see, Sorkin may be difficult for some people to understand.  Sorkin may be demanding and unwilling to allow compromise to the powers that be to steer his work.  I blame him not.

What Aaron Sorkin is most is a genius, just like Steve Jobs.  Aaron Sorkin is also one of those rare artists who is truly deserving of the ‘above the line’ position.  It’s work like The Social Network, regarding the ongoing controversy surrounding the founders and inventors of Facebook, to the theatrical powerhouse made-to-tour comedy musical The Book of Mormon, among hundreds of other highly successful ventures that put Sorkin in this place of envy.  That is precisely the place those who criticize Sorkin as a person are in — Envy.  Personally, I admire him and would give my left tit to work with him.  Maybe even my right one as well.

I digress.  This article was born from a viewing of Selma and a discovery of why and how the actual MLK Jr. speeches were paraphrased in this particular film.  Selma is quite enjoyable and until I discovered the truth, made the assumption that the filmmakers purposely did not want to manipulate our heartstrings and wanted to make the film be truly a film rather than a documentary-type biopic.  With further research however, I discovered the ugly and disappointing truth.

The bottom line?  They did not use the actual speeches (even with the power of Harpo films backing them), because Dreamworks and Warner Brothers with Steven Spielberg, had been granted the rights to the speeches before them and, film studios are understandably conservative when it comes to copyright issues.  To top this unfortunate truth off, the MLK estate has been known to sue over copyright issues and this is more of a financial risk than the studios can take.

As you can see clearly from this short article I have linked for you here, even with fair use copyright laws, it is safer to err on the side of safety in the light of severe copyright penalties.  The laws actually make it difficult to practice freedom of expression and tie the hands of great directors like Ava DuVernay.  A damn shame.

I have a dream of better things for great stories to be told with complete (reasonable) freedom.  Perhaps the Spielberg film will be allowed these freedoms.  We can only hope. (I just pray that Spielberg can resist his common temptation of making yet another film about his ‘daddy’ issues #itsnotallaboutyou).   

Here’s wishing you a safe, healthy and fun MLK holiday weekend … full of freedom of speech, expression, enlightenment and moments of memorable storytelling for you and those you love.  Oh happy day.


Also, I highly recommend the Isaacson book Jobs, especially if you plan on viewing the Sorkin film.  This book is just one great read in it’s own right.  Here’s a link for you:


— Laura Tompkins

9 comments on “Selma — The Insane Reasons Behind The Paraphrasing MLK Speeches

  1. Love your stuff. Did you leave FB. Thank you for your blog. Truly love reading your insights and truths.

    • Thank you Timothy! I miss ya’ll on Facebook. My account was hacked by steppers who proceeded to steal pictures (Neil Allen!!), who was trolling the exposeaa group. They took the pics and added nasty, rude and juvenile captions to them. I did report them to Facebook (undoubtedly harassment) but fb has done nothing about it. My only recourse was to deactivate. Bummer.

      Give everyone (the non trolls that is) my love.

  2. Great article. I fully agree and am glad you mentioned cable shows up there. Another AntiAA blogger just posted about Shameless having a new 12 step plotline… barf… but I may check out the show as a result, though I have been trying to cut down on the tv.

    Some of these shows have given a little truth to the reality of 12 step. I think “Dexter” was a good example, he did a few NA’s, and hooked up with a member, who was of course a psycho.

    “Orange is the New Black” did some great AA meetings. They were of course gross.
    One of the meeting members was sharing thier story which ended in her waking up naked with her BBQ sause on her “Titties”, and on the floor was a dead dude also covered in sause…. and she knew then she had a problem… lol

    “Breaking Bad” of course. Selling drugs in NA meetings. A common thing.

    But of course the Award should go to “Southpark” for the classic “Bloody Mary” episode. As they not only accurately depict AA members, they blatantly state to stay the heck away from there, and offer a moderation approach. Wonderful stuff.

    • Thank you so much for commenting. I quit watching Nurse Jackie when they went all in with the 12 step nonsense. Same for House of Cards, which I never liked due to all the asides to the camera. H of C always felt manipulative and when they started promoting the 12 step cult, that was my cue to stop watching. The worst offender though was Nurse Jackie. When I found out that Falco and the two female producers were die hard steppers, I had no interest in watching yet another group of ‘biz’ people sell their cult as some safe self-help group.

      As for Shameless, yes they have had a 12 step plot line for a while. It seems though like they are really making fun of it in order to create a love interest for the Fiona character. What’s funny is that they are shooting IN an NA meeting where she has been mandated while she and one of the brothers are mocking the ’12 step koolaid.’ She’s actualky 13th stepping the guy (who also happens to be her boss) during a meeting. It’s hilarious.

      You are completely correct about the shows you mention above. The award definitely goes to Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the Bloody Mary story line. I have a link to it here on my blog. Too funny!

  3. lol…. I am glad you agree. Who could not. But I tell ya if they work a 12 step plot line into Game of Thrones… I am done with televishon. But I think we are safe.

    However, I would be pleased to see them some how work it into a season of The Walking Dead. That could be fun.

    Keep blogging I love your style.

    • At the end of Boardwalk Empire, I wondered if they were going to end on some sort of temperance note, but thankfully they did not. If the Walking Dead used the cult, they would have to all either be zombies or turned into zombies over the course of the episode. That would be fucking awesome. Stepper zombies! Just think of the line for THAT casting call! Every actor-stepper in Hollywood will be sent there by their agent. “He/She is perfect for this part!” It’s typecasting! Everyone wins … except the poor vulnerable sot who actually thinks it a good idea to join AA. Fucking cult.

  4. exactly along the lines I was thinking with The Walking Dead… Harkens me back to a really cool college girl that unfortunately got into the cult of NA when I was doing some rablerousing in the rooms. She and I had endless talks as she was a zombie freak.

    Really nice person. Anyway, she was having trouble digesting the bullshit, but still she tried to be a part of the “fellowship” {I think “Creepshow” is a far better term} and was made to be the birthday person. Anyway, she suddenly quit. At the bizz meeting it was announced that she claimed she was sexually harassed, everyone went “aww…” for a moment. “We Need to do something about this.” And there were some guilty looking faces I must say, not mine, as I knew damn well all we ever talked about was zombies. And twice I steered some creepy mental health cases of the dangerous kind away from her.

    But! not long after the announcement of the “possible” harassment, the parking lot was full of assasinations of her character, by both women and men. “She asked for it…”etc..etc… “She was a feminist!”, “She wanted to go back out and use.” Standard stepper shit.

    Such garbage. I am glad that she ran for the hills, she was certainly a smart young woman. And I hope she found help elsewhere if she really needs it. And I hope that nothing more than the common disgusting 12 step sexual harassment took place.

    As we both no, I would guess, that absolutely nothing is far better than 12 step.

    • “Nothing more than the common disgusting 12 step harrassment” is the best which we can hope for her. I also hope she ran the guy over with her car … And then backed up to finish the job.

      Steppers are horrendous brainwashed criminals. You know that saying, “if you’re not sick before you go onto the hospital, you will be when you get out!” ?

      Same thing here except when in a 12 step group you can safely say: whatever problems you have before you go in, they will only be worse after some ‘time.’

      Steppers actually learn how to behave like predators to one degree or another the more time they spend in this fucking cult.

      Fucking cult.

  5. Ya know, thinking of MLK. I am glad I saved the comment on his day. But I have always been a Big Malcolm X fan. I have written college papers on the guy every chance I have gotten, and frankly Malcolm exemplifies the difference between the stepper and I.

    The story of Malcom is that he to was in a cult. The Nation of Islam. Prior to his cult killing him, 2 women came forward to tell Malcom that the leader of the cult had fathered children with them. Malcom’s death sentance was issued after he made the fateful decishion to belive them.

    And rather than stuff the information under the rug, he left the organization. I did the same with 12 step.

    The only thing worse than being a preditor in 12 step, is covering for them.

    It is really disgusting how previlant this is in our society. I have been sending notices to various Church groups that house 12 step meetings to inform them of the dangers within these groups that they are supporting. I have been met with total silence. They simply ignore it.

    I am now thinking that the issue must be taken to the city councel itself. Fuck the Christians. I think I am going to get some shit stirring, I want to try to get an ordinance passed that mandates that any group including the churches, and including any organization that meets on their property carry their own insurance for sex preditors, and hopefully sexual harassment. I also hope to possibly get the city to demand a statement be read at these meetings informing all of the dangers present in anonymous groups in particular. May be more difficult.

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