‘Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird’ on American Masters 2 April

[2 April 2012]

By Cynthia Fuchs

PopMatters Film and TV Editor

Scout Finch appeals to everyone. Wise and immature, tomboyish and vulnerable, she’s recognizable even to people who didn’t grow up in segregated Alabama, who didn’t have a scary next-door neighbor and who didn’t have an awesome dad like Atticus. The continuing resonance of Scout’s story is the subject of Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird. Airing on PBS’ American Masters, the documentary features a series of interviewees, many quite famous, who describe their sense of likeness and commitment to Scout (James McBride: “She sees the world through child’s eyes with an adult’s understanding,” Oprah Winfrey: “I fell in love with Scout, I wanted to be Scout. I thought I was Scout”). Harper Lee is less available. She retreated from public life soon after the famous film based on her only book was made. She remains rather perfectly the writer whose intentions aren’t performed, for an interviewer who’s asking or an audience who’s projecting. Even as people speculate, imagining both questions and answers for her. Her 99-year-old sister Alice, still a lawyer in the firm their father helped to found, explains Lee’s absence as a choice. “As time went on, she said that reporters began to take too many liberties with what she was saying, so she just wanted out… She felt like she gave enough.” Hey, Boo isn’t asking more of her. But it can’t quite leave her alone, either. 

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Watch Harper Lee: Hey, Boo on PBS. See more from American Masters.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/156688-hey-boo-harper-lee-to-kill-a-mockingbird-on-american-masters-2-april/