Easily the most militant, near-radical Oprah product yet. 🙂 Episode One is the usual (corporate) skewered portrait of Black people (only) wanting as-is American identity through American liberal democracy and capitalism instead of freedom, which is a much more complicated socio-political discussion that American documentarians wish to ignore. (Docs like this conveniently 🙂 forget that the American Civil Rights Movement was a McCarthyite compromise to what Blacks really wanted and had to politically dismantle–a Freedom Movement.) But admittedly, having a Black woman on-camera asking other Black women about the state of American democracy, regardless of the lack of imagination of the answers, feels new. Episode Two’s Black womanist-centered approach to the discussion of the concept of race, again, felt quite innovative. Overall, the personal-is-political approach works for Hannah-Jones since it creates tensions not normally “scene” in Black American docs.
Mallori Johnson is a star but she has to burn through an unnecessary mess. A uniquely powerful story about the pain and irony of slavery in America–a short but stout book that slams the reader in the face–is so packed with television characters and thinned out and stretched as to lose its original meaning. Sad for non-readers who will think any of this has to do with a product produced by our amazing ancestor Octavia Butler.
JANUARY 30th UPDATE: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-news/kindred-canceled-fx-1235313309/
And so now I feel I just wasted eight hours of a Sunday. But I’m glad to be introduced to Mallori Johnson, who deserves better projects.
Not accidental that she has an Obama-level campaign stump speech. Entertainment forecasters say if she wins the Screen Actors Guild award that getting the subsequent gold action figure is a done deal.
“Green screen…” “Black history Starter Pack…” Good hate…. 🙂
My passionate first few minutes here are a manifestation of my core belief that writers should take sides but not necessarily be on sides. Big difference.
I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to be there tonight, but I just wanted to say thank you to @goldenglobes for this incredible honor. To my fellow nominees, it is a privilege to be named beside you, I admire you all deeply. Thank you to my Euphoria family, without you, none of this is possible. Lastly, thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has allowed Rue into theirs. I think everyone knows how much she means to me, but the fact that she can mean something to someone else is a gift. I’m honestly at a loss for words as I type this, all I can say is thank you thank you thank you. Goodnight♥️
- It’s important that I say it took all of this, and The New Yorker, to replace the old Rolling Stone in my heart.
- R.I.P., Washington Post Sunday Magazine. It was great in the 1990s.
- I’m really impressed with the scholarship of the Review and the style of New York.
Watching and, frankly, enjoying the unapologetically hagiographic network television tributes to the semi-retired Judy Woodruff and newly-deceased Barbara Walters over the weekend, and then waking up to this Juan Gonzalez speech on Democracy Now!, shows how stark differences in mainstream American journalism can be–or at least, used to be, pre-Web and pre-1,000 channels. I accept my membership in Juan’s camp. But it’s clear to do today and tomorrow what he did means using Substack, etc. Effective mainstream journalism has this weird history of coming out of the American muckraking and capitalist traditions, and the millions made by mass advertising created a lot of space for approaches that don’t exist today. So you have to make them yourself, the way I.F. Stone and those folks did.
What’s also interesting to me is how in America, “alternative” spaces, if created by middle-class whites, can eventually become mainstream–or, as some critics of the mainstream would say, co-opted. We remember that at its creation almost 50 years ago, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report and All Things Considered, the newsmagazine of National Public Radio, were silent critiques of, and alternatives to, commercial mainstream news. (Note that among NPR’s alumni is former Philadelphia radio journalist and now Leftist legend Mumia Abu-Jamal.) Almost 30 years ago, Democracy Now! was a radical, almost anarchist critique of the million-dollar media institution it now is. 😉 I guess it now sees itself through that Gonzalez lens of outsider-within-the-inside. Which makes me think: is the middle-class, millionaire blond public television anchor Judy Woodruff just a “purer” version of her commercial counterpart, the long-ago-gone-Hollywood Barbara Walters? It’s a good, fair question.
In 2023 and beyond, more and more truthtellers must struggle with Amiri Baraka’s words, applied to race but easily, in this monochromatic circumstance, given to class:
I know it’s hard to be Black, and we’re all controlled by white folks.
[W.E.B.] Du Bois said we always have the double consciousness.
We’re trying to be Black, and meanwhile you got a white ghost hovering over your head that says, “If you don’t do this, you’ll get killed. If you don’t do this, you won’t get no money. If you don’t do this, nobody’ll think you’re beautiful. If you don’t do this, nobody’ll think you’re smart.”
That’s the ghost.
You’re trying to be Black and the ghost is telling you to be a ghost.
I appreciate Walters intervening Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. But I appreciate more that she said a few years ago that in today’s commercial news media climate, no one would care about it. I will appreciate what Woodruff soon will teach me about parts of America of which I know nothing. But I still see ghosts in my TV tube. And with money and stardom on the line, very few Juan Gonzalez-es who will challenge powerful people like Woodruff’s and Walters’ employers.