‘12 Years a Slave’ Writer John Ridley Directing Feature About 1992 L.A. Riots
Back in April, we reported that in-demand screenwriter John Ridley had been caught in Marvel’s web of cross-promotion, inking a deal to develop a TV show that would spin off a key property from the already-popular Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. program. The specifics of that project still have yet to take shape (though we’re all keeping our fingers crossed that the M.O.D.O.K. solo show America so richly deserves will soon come to pass), but today brings news of a new endeavor for Ridley with no less social import. The Academy Award-winning scribe of 12 Years a Slave has announced that he will take the director’s chair once again to helm a feature about the notorious 1992 Los Angeles riots catalyzed by Rodney King’s savage beating at the hands of the LAPD.
Broad Green Pictures could not have picked a more urgent time or a more apt director for this vital project. The 1992 riots were a direct result of a widely-publicized instance of police brutality, a topic that has regrettably dominated headlines for what feels like every other week during the past couple of years. Violence against black bodies has grown more rampant than ever, and frustration over the murders of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and a host of others exploded into violence during protests in Baltimore this past spring. As a vocal proponent of the fight for racial justice, Ridley’s uniquely suited to tackle a subject requiring this level of sensitivity. All of his more personal endeavors have engaged with racial themes in some capacity, from his TV show American Crime to the 2013 Jimi Hendrix biopic that he directed, All Is By My Side. (We may assume that Ridley’s gun-for-hire involvement with the upcoming Ben-Hur remake may take a less politicized angle.)
The post from Entertainment Weekly that first broke this news couldn’t really offer more than “it’s happening,” so all eyes will be on Ridley as the project takes shape. With the righteousness of the subject matter and Ridley’s talent as a chronicler of history’s darker underbelly, it’s sure to be a success, but if nothing else, remaining keenly aware of developments in this film’s pre-production will make it substantially easier to prove that you’re not racist at cocktail parties.