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Don’t Be Afraid Bulldozes Parental Stereotypes: Film Review

A budding activist decides whether or not he should participate in a protest in Don’t Be Afraid. Though under two minutes, this film hits you in the gut with an engaging ethical conflict at its core.

Don’t Be Afraid starts in medias res without any explanation of the main characters nor their relationship. A young man and a middle-aged man have been speaking at a diner for some time. It appears at first as though the middle-aged man might be talking down to the young man. Surprisingly, though, it turns into something unexpected: an encouraging pep talk from father to son.

In media Americans are overexposed to the trope that parents are old fogies who believe the youth are ruining America with social justice. All stereotypes are fallible, however, and creators of Don’t Be Afraid, Ben Cable and Cristopher Michael Rose bulldoze this stereotype. In fact, they offer representation on how a parent may successfully engage in a supportive conversation regarding protesting.

The material feels particularly heartfelt in that the creators also star as father and son, Hank and Ben, respectively. Cable and Rose’s sincere performances hit the heart. Audiences receive reprieve from the toxic masculinity in exchange for emotionality and encouragement. The healthy dynamic between father and son is so refreshing to see on screen.

At the mention of the Hank’s experience with table sit-ins - images of the 1960s civil rights come to mind - that of Greensburo and Stonewall, the march in Alabama. What starts out as possible contempt for Hank turns into utmost respect for his struggle. Moreover, in the face of danger, Hank encourages his son Ben to not be afraid of something like a police arrest if what Ben is doing is for the social fare of others. Again, in media there is so much reinforcement of putting familial safety first no matter what.

Don’t Be Afraid encourages the opposite. It takes the viewpoint that sacrificing your own safety for the sake of others is paramount and worthwhile, that humanitarianism goes beyond the immediate blood relation.

Don’t Be Afraid doesn’t skimp on production value, and it's clear that competent people are not only in front of the camera, but behind it as well. It’s almost as if viewers are watching a clip from a larger movie or television show. It does leave the watcher wondering if this idea could have something more to it.

Though this short may be simple, its emotional depth and representational value makes it a meaningful watch. It leaves the viewer thinking about their potentiality as a parent and how they might handle a conversation if ever tasked.


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