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Case Number 25691: Small Claims Court

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Soul Food Junkies

PBS // 2012 // 64 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 18th, 2013

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson is ready for some BBQ.

The Charge

A film about food, family and tradition.

The Case

"The fact that black people live in neighborhoods where they can't get access to healthy food choices and white people can get access to healthy food choices, that is classic textbook racism. When you want to wipe out an entire generation of people, when you want to engage in a kind of 20th century genocide all you have to do is continuing to do what you're doing, which is deprive people of access to healthy food."—Marc Lamont Hill.

So, yeah, I pretty much stopped paying attention after that quote so excuse the brevity of this review. Filmmaker Byron Hurt, influenced by the sight of his father downing greasy soul food by the metric ton, sets out to investigate the draw of the delicacy. He pokes around the history of the food, tracing it all the way back to the days of slavery and moving forward, looking at how soul became entwined with the African American populace from that point on.

What starts as a quirky journey soon morphs into something bigger and more exhaustive. Soul Food Junkies eventually becomes an indictment of the eating habits of the poor in general and African-Americans in particular. Well, really, the indictment is that good habits are neither encouraged nor given the adequate exposure in poor neighborhoods. Maybe that's true, and there is something certainly worth digging into, but a quote like Hill's just totally undermines the will of the film. I have no idea how that didn't end up on the cutting room floor.

My overall reaction to this production is, as a result, mixed. Byron Hurt has skills as a filmmaker and is obviously passionate about the material and he unearths some genuinely interesting trivia about soul food and its cultural significance. But he undermines his own message with the inclusion of bullcrap. Also, he comes across as sort of a party-pooper. Let your dad eat his pulled pork, dude.

The DVD: standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby 2.0 Stereo, English SDH subtitles, and no extras.

The Verdict

Guilty. Pass the BBQ sauce.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: PBS
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 64 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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