Ah, the narrative of Black trauma. It's inevitable. Mostly because that's what our history stands on. We all know how far we've come, we all know how the story begins. But we also know we are more than this, and are kinda sick of hearing about it. The pressure has been put on the execs of Hollywood, like, sis, we don't want it anymore. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt with Africa on it and whatnot.
And the 'we're over it' noise has gotten so loud that directors, writers, and all those in between can't help but to hear it.
So much so, that mega-creators, like Lena Waithe, are acknowledging this work with a simple, 'give it a chance.'
In fact, she told POPSUGAR how her recent series that she executive produces, Them--which is about a number of difficult topics in the black community, including racism, death, mental illness, and murder (AKA Black trauma)--even came about.
"It's just so funny because Jordan Peele opened up a huge door, obviously, but that doesn't mean that if you're a Black person, you can't tell stories about horror through the Black lens anymore just because he did it first. But I went to a screening of Get Out and we were all blown away obviously by the movie. And then afterward, Jordan told us, 'You know what's interesting? I wrote this movie before Obama even got in office.' So, when a thing comes out, often it can be years after it started. It was just the right timing."
"If the work stands the test of time and there's something that's saying something about our society that hasn't really been said in that way before, I think it's valid and I think it's important. I just don't believe in stifling artists. We can never win when we do that. When we started telling artists what they can and can't do, we're doing ourselves a disservice. Because the truth is, white male artists get chances all the time. Nobody's telling a white dude, 'Hey, don't do that,' or maybe we are, but the truth is, Black artists deserve to be free to tell whatever story they want to tell. We at least deserve that."
When the trailer was initially released, the comparisons were obvious, which Waithe heard on Twitter loud and clear, but she stood firm on bringing the vision forward.
"I can't even explain to people what they're going to see. Can you? It's like Little Marvin's brain is unlike anyone's I've ever experienced. And I'm also walking him through it. I've been there and I'm trying to hold his hand and say, 'Hey, how you doing? Brace yourself. Gird your loins.' And he's just like, 'Look, I'm a half Indian, half Black, gay man. I've been thrown every name and hate that you can imagine,' by people that don't look like him and by people that do."
Despite the backlash, as for now, she just wants viewers to get out of it what they put in, which is all she can ask for.
"People ask, 'What did you want people to take away from the work?' and I always say, 'Whatever they bring to it. Because if people want to come to it and say, 'I want to be angry about this,' they will. If people want to come to and say, 'I want to have an open mind and just take this as a beautiful piece of art,' it will be that too. It just depends."
Watch the trailer below:
Them premiered on April 9 on Amazon Prime Video. The reviews are rolling in as we speak, from backlash to praise. Have you watched yet?
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