With the reboot of the classic Roots hitting airways this week, I’ve seen a number of posts on social media platforms and blogs bashing the miniseries and blacks recent depiction in film. While I’ve admittedly not been the biggest supporter of this remake (I just feel certain projects should not be rebooted), I’m not against the miniseries for the same reasons most naysayers are. But I most certainly understand the naysayers’ frustrations.
In the past several years, Hollywood has managed to put out a host of films that reflect a common theme. There was 12 Years a Slave (2013), The Book of Negroes (2015), Django Unchained (2012), Selma (2014), The Butler (2013), as well as others. All these films have gained critical acclaim, most of them earned a host of nominations and awards, and a few earned a top spot at the box office. While I’ve enjoyed most of the movies mentioned here, I also recognize they all reflect the struggles of a people.
I distinctly remember that after The Butler, my very own grandmother said “they can’t make any other kinds of movies?” She too was perplexed by Hollywood’s obsession with making money showing black men and women being whipped, chained, raped, killed, and overall disrespected. Films that don’t leave you feeling uplifted and empowered knowing that we’ve overcome. But movies that make you wanna take names and whoop ass. LOL! Those in her school of thought reflect a sentiment that Hollywood has been overexposing the black plight.
Well for those that feel like my grandma, I’d like to present a counter point. How do you authentically tell the various stories of Black America without touching on the struggles? Heck even with the latest installment of Barbershop, there is an underlying discussion in the film about the trend of black on black crime in America. And that’s a comedy. Also, shouldn’t we at least be happy that Hollywood is ready to show stories that share black history from a black perspective? There was a time when the black perspective was told through a white lens (i.e. Mandingo, The Birth of a Nation (1915), Imitation of Life (1934) and black exploitation movies).
Look, I’m not for or against the new Roots or the current trend in America. I’m just here to present a brief argument for both sides. What I will say however, is that I hope there is more of an overcoming tone placed in future movies showing America’s past. And on a completely other note, I want people to get more in their feelings and become increasingly vocal about the whitewashing of Hollywood in recent years. Why I still have to convince people that the Egyptians, Cleopatra, and pharaohs of yester year were not white, is still a problematic mystery to me.
As always nothing but love,