12.08.2011

Just to Be Clear: Reviewing Web Shows by POC

I've noticed a subtle shift in the 'sphere ever since I did my tentative review on Osiris.  *shrug*  Sometimes I don't know my own strength.

At this time, I have yet to officially boycott a POC web production and exile it from the bar for all time, so let me be clear about my attitude towards web shows created by and starring people of color: I support them all.  I may not enjoy them all.  I may not agree with them all.  Hell, I don't even watch them all.  But I support them all because they're fighting an uphill battle in an unjust war, and I more than understand where they're coming from.

However, I am socially and artistically critical of these shows, and have every intention of remaining so.  I don't want POC artists to get comfortable and lazy, thinking that as long as they just cast a lot of POC, they'll automatically get financial support - oh, no.  I need to see good writing.  I need to see innovation.  Slapping faces of color on a project and riding that wave to the bank is a tactic used by Hollywhite, and I have no desire to see that here.  I need to see the talent these artists claim to have.

That being said, allow me to clarify a few more things.
Osiris

I have every intention of continuing to watch Osiris.  It has a sharp premise, and Brad James is fine.  As I stated in my review, I don't have a final verdict yet.  I cannot issue a final verdict when there are five more episodes to go, and I don't have the whole story at this stage.  For all I know, it could get better.  Right now, I simply feel let down because it's not what I expected, but at the same time, being surprised can be pretty cool too.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

A commenter on my Facebook page is thinking about withdrawing her support from this show because of various questionable comments - e.g., saying Patty probably has AIDS, mimicking deaf/hard of hearing people, derisively referencing the "Trail of Tears," using the word "tranny", etc. and then issuing a "non-apology" for such lines.  These are all perfectly valid concerns.

That's why you talk about them.  Instead of just withdrawing support altogether, talk about them.  Write blogs and open letters.  Get an analytical discussion going.  A bartender can only serve up so much, y'all.  Sometimes I need someone else to take a shift or two.

I have every intention of continuing to watch ABG ( I mean, duh).  I love that show.   As with Osiris, I'm hoping that with enough constructive feedback, it can improve. All these shows have room for improvement; that sort of goes without saying.

Notice also that Osiris is published on a blog, while ABG is available on YouTube.  These platforms allow viewers to comment and voice their concerns.

12 Steps to Recovery

This is one of those shows which - even if Neo-Prodigy hadn't alerted me to the treatment of a transwoman in Episode 2 - I won't really watch because the premise isn't my cup of tea.  The overall story is just so...normal.

And while the main character apologizes to the transwoman in Ep. 2, I would've preferred if that particular storyline had been handled differently altogether.  I'm tired of seeing one dude flip because he kissed a former dude.

Eeazy

Actor Dorian Santiago, after seeing my review of Osiris, invited me to share my thoughts on his show Eeazy.  I was both surprised and deeply flattered by the invite.  So far, I've finished the first three episodes and I want to see a few more before I write my thoughts but I can tell you right now that that's a very well-done webseries.  Already I'm in awe.

16 comments:

  1. Thank you will be checking some of these web shows out, I am loving ABG so far.

    Also wanted to mention there is a another new web series out called Honey + Milk and the producer is Idris Elba.

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  2. Funny you should say that:

    For the past few weeks I've been watching and reviewing various POC and LGBTQ web series. I'm actually going to post a huge comprehensive review on the shows hopefully either this weekend or next week. I'll be happy to send you the link and feel free to cross post.

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  3. Also I"ll be adding Eeazy to the list of my review as well. I'm glad I hadn't posted my reviews yet.

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  4. Okay here’s my take on Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl and why she fucked up using the term tranny:

    1. She attacked a marginalized group she doesn't belong to.

    2. This wasn't a villain or an antagonist saying offensive shit (and thus illustrating their ignorance) it was one of the main protagonists. And without establishing in the narrative that actions from said protagonist is wrong it conveys such bigotry is acceptable.

    We’re also talking about a marginalized group who has been continuously met with an increasing level of violence this year alone.

    And while I get that Rae and co. might not have initially realized where they fucked up, when folks have talked about it and expressed their points only to get a non-apology in return, I can’t fault queer POCs for withdrawing their support.

    Saying ABG was never meant to be “politically correct,” that’s the same bullshit I’ve heard from white folks on many a day when they’re showing their ass with the racism and homophobia. And when we tell said racist white feminists and racist white LGBTQs fuck this shit, we’re sick of being dehumanized, they try to pull the whole "stop being divisive and stay and support the cause" crap.

    Because as much as I call out racist white gays for regularly throwing trans and queer pocs under the bus, unfortunately the same is also true for too many in the black community. Black folks too often have fucked up when it comes to standing tall for queer blacks and we’re still expected to be in lockstep.

    As someone else pointed out on Twitter, there are plenty of trans and queer black women who connected with the show and the slur and Rae’s response comes across like a slap to the face. And just as they don’t have time for racism from white queers, they don’t have time for queerphobia from cis straight blacks.

    Personally, I’ve had issue with ABG dropping the N-Word (I personally don’t like anyone using that term casually period) but she’s black and she’s in-group. And the show has done a lot of good which is why I rolled with it. From what I’ve read, it seems that Rae at least realizes that there are some lines that can’t be crossed without being called out or catching heat and for now I can roll with that. Here’s hoping this doesn’t happen again. While I’ll personally continue to watch the show, I can understand why others opt to withdraw their support.

    With that said, I hope Vampire Diaries catches this much heat the next time Caroline uses tranny on the show like she did in ep 1.

    In regards to 12-Steps, I dropped that show because they took it further than just making a transphobic slur in passing. The created a trans female character and used her as the butt of jokes. It would’ve been one thing if this was used as an opportunity for the main character to learn and grow and it illustrates why she’s human, but whole “ewww a dude touched me” bullshit was too much bile to deal with. And as far as I’m concerned, if you’re that insecure about your manhood, then you’re not a real man to begin with.

    *Resumes penning web series review*

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  5. yeah I was talking about this on tumblr, I think because they are fellow POC you feel they would "get you" when you point out something problematic and when ABG gave that faux apology many were like "C'mon son!"

    But I am not pulling out of POC web shows, I mean I still watch True Blood and that has soooooooo many fuck ups.

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  6. We’re also talking about a marginalized group who has been continuously met with an increasing level of violence this year alone.

    Transgriot keeps her readers posted, and every story she publishes is horrifying. Some of these transwomen are targeted in their own homes, murdered in their own beds. This was why ep 2 of "12 Steps" really just rubbed me the wrong way.

    If their intent was to show the humanity of transwomen, it could have been handled another way.

    ...Saying ABG was never meant to be “politically correct,” that’s the same bullshit I’ve heard from white folks on many a day when they’re showing their ass with the racism and homophobia.

    ...As someone else pointed out on Twitter, there are plenty of trans and queer black women who connected with the show and the slur and Rae’s response comes across like a slap to the face. And just as they don’t have time for racism from white queers, they don’t have time for queerphobia from cis straight blacks.


    PREACH.

    I believe in supporting our artists, but they have to understand that there's a no-no zone, and since ABG has huge LGBTQ following, it should've never even crossed anyone's mind to use the term "tranny". The moment the word crossed her lips, I had a double WTF moment.

    Missy Elliot is not ugly compared to Angelina Jolie. While Missy only seems to get better with age, Jolie ain't even been fine (or in a decent movie) in a hot minute, so what was THAT all about?

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  7. Sometimes I don't know my own strength.

    Girl, please. You have a voice and you use it...and you effect change from within, one person at a time. I'm a witness. And I respect the game.

    Now I don't watch any of the webseries (though I do have Osiris bookmarked, courtesy of Neo; and I do have a whole list of PoC shows from Racialicious), but I am fascinated by the reviews and commentary. I know I won't be watching until I get a solid review from Ankh and Neo because I have very little patience for TV, and web shows just happen to be included in this. But I appreciate what they're trying to do, and I'm sure we all understand that this movement is akin to a newborn infant if not a fetus. Here is to hoping they grow and improve, but here's also hoping they eliminate shit that can cause them to lose a significant chunk of their fanbases.

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  8. The “tranny” comment was a humor fail. I also did not like the excessive use of “ni**er” in every episode, the “trail of tears” comment in the Halloween episode, the imitation of deaf people, making fun of Missy's looks, or the “Michelle's baby daddy” sticker. I am not surprised that these kind of humor fails are in the show because the show is reflecting back the offensive ways in which humans talk to and about one another or think about one another. I think it is great that people are complaining, writing open letters, and engaging in dialogue about this show and other shows. I also don't expect the writers to change that much. I have seen Issa Rae's other shows. When I learned that she is a fan of Donald Glover (who received criticism for rape jokes and misogynistic lyrics), I assumed that there will be things that she might find funny and I might find offensive. It is really tempting to over-identify with J's awkward black woman character and assume the writers will care enough about their audience to be sensitive to issues like racism and prejudice among people of color, the feelings of people with disabilities, violence against people that are transgendered, etc. I was not surprised that the writers issued a non-apology and I do not really expect the humor to change that much.


    @ Ankh
    @ Neo-Prodigy
    When I suggested that patrons watch “12 Steps” it was meant to be within the context of discussing shows that have a primarily black cast. I watched all of the episodes back to back and was not thinking about the episode in which he dated a transgendered woman in the second episode when I suggested it. I should have been more detailed about the fails and non-fails and/or included a trigger warning.

    @Ankh
    I agree that the subject matter has been done before. It definitely has flaws. I mostly liked how it's primarily black cast included a wide range of black women with different sizes, personalities, hair styles, and skin tones. I am always surprised to see this. Even though I do not agree with transphobia or homophobia, I am so used to hearing it come out of the mouths of men in real life and on TV that it does not surprise me. I apologize to those who watched the series because I suggested it and were hurt by this.

    @Aiyo. True Blood has many fails. I am not sure if I will watch it next season because last season was trash and the finale was trash, as well. If LaFayette and Tara were not in the cast, I never would have given the show the time of day...even though their plot lines are terrible.

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  9. What I don't get about the "tranny" situation is the fact that many and I do mean many white shows on TV mind you have used the word and never has their been an open letter written to them about using it or a stop in supporting them.
    I always say if ur going to rally for one incident then you need to rally for the other ones as well.
    Caroline in Vampire Diaries said tranny and there was mute done about it, some comedians and comedy shows with a majority white cast use the word tranny and/or use it with an offense tone and again mute.
    I don't agree with everything said or done in ABG, but there is a fine line.

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  10. What I don't get about the "tranny" situation is the fact that many and I do mean many white shows on TV mind you have used the word and never has their been an open letter written to them about using it or a stop in supporting them.

    White folks don't care, hon.

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  11. 'I always say if ur going to rally for one incident then you need to rally for the other ones as well.'

    This is so bogus and is a silencing tactic.
    People don't have infinite energy? and sometimes people don't care about other avenues because those avenues don't care about them.
    The sage advice is to chose your battles careful and that includes choosing battles where you might actually have the result you want.

    It doesn't matter that white shows are using what ever idiotic language. What matters is the content which you are invested in.

    So NO. You don't have to run yourself ragged by fighting every single battle just to prove to people that you are pious or 'dedicated to your cause',

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  12. @ Anonymous

    Some good points. Leave a name, please.

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  13. @Anon.

    Fuck that!

    That's a copout and then some. It's also a silencing tactic in calling out white privilege and hypocrisy and double standards. Because it's real convenient that said white shows get a pass while POCs get ran through the ringer. Don't sit here and tell us that Vampire Diaries shouldn't be called out when they reach a much larger audience than ABG and do far more harm.

    "It doesn't matter that white shows are using what ever idiotic language. What matters is the content which you are invested in."

    There are far more white folks invested in these white shows and all I hear are e-crickets when that fail goes down.

    I'll be the first to say that ABG should've gotten taken to task for this bullshit. They fucked up royally and they need to be called out on it. I went hard on Isaiah Washington, Tracy Morgan, Wanda Sykes when they fucked up. I don't think anyone is arguing that or making excuses at all.

    Our point is that there are other shows that are doing just as much harm if not more that get a pass every fucking day. It's real interesting how they all tend to be white.

    People wanna pick their battles, fine. But when the only time (cis white) fauxial justice blowhards are ready to get righteous is when it's a chance to play Lynch the POC, I'm calling bullshit, as well as hypocrisy.

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  14. A hope they issue a proper apology. It is really hurtful to fans when shows do things like this and just ruins the enjoyment of the show.

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  15. An interview with Issa Rae, Tracy Oliver, and Madison Shockley on Google. Issa Rae and Tracy Oliver address the issue of the use of the word "tranny" on the show. They also answer other questions about the show and talk about their experiences as writers/directors. Out takes of episodes 1 through 6 are included, as well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bynfUels8Zo&feature=player_embedded

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