In an odd turnaround, a TV show focusing on campus racism is now being called racist. Dear White People, an upcoming Netflix series, dropped its first trailer this week. And the backlash has been intense. The outraged cries to boycott the show have already turned up.
Dear White People is based on the 2014 film of the same name. The IMDB synopsis reads: “At a predominantly white Ivy League college, a diverse group of students navigate various forms of racial and other types of discrimination.” The series stars Marque Richardson, Antoinette Robertson, Brandon P Bell, and Logan Browning.
Commentary On Racism, Or SJW Pandering?
The 35-second trailer shows Browning as Samantha White speaking on what appears to be a radio show. “Dear white people,” she says, “here’s a list of acceptable Halloween costumes: pirate, slutty nurse, any of our first 43 presidents. Top of the list of unacceptable costumes? Me.”
It then shows a short collage of college parties where people are wearing “blackface” costumes, followed by various scenes of tension among blacks and whites at what looks like a frat house. Some of the scenes are reminiscent of the 2014 film, where black students gatecrash the blackface-themed party, and a brawl ensues.
Netizens have criticized the trailer of being “reverse-racist”, or as some would simply put it, racist. “The trailer seems to glorify aggression against white people,” the blog Red Pill Philosophy points out, referring to a scene where a black woman rips a Bob Marley-style hat with dreadlocks off a white man’s head. Many called attention to the irony of a show, which intends to counteract racism, using violence and making sweeping generalizations.
Commenters on the video on YouTube have been vocal about their displeasure as well. In addition to the 211,000 dislikes the show has received (compared 16,000 likes), it’s been called “SJW-pandering” on Netflix’s part.
Some also pointed out a racist tweet by show writer Jack Moore. Moore tweeted “[expletive] white people” last November after the US elections, perhaps in response to Trump’s win.
Showrunner Justin Simien responded to the negative attention in his own way. “For me, it was really profound, encouraging in a way,” he said. “It just brought more attention to the series.” “Thanks, white supremacists, you really helped me promote my show,” he also added, jokingly.
It may not necessarily help Siemen’s case to call all critics of the trailer “white supremacists”. Sure, there are some genuine racists in the mix. He shared that someone called him a “[expletive] monkey that should shut up and go back to Africa” – a horrifically racist remark. But plenty of those responses to the trailer are also rooted in counteracting black-on-white transgressions, which do exist.
It will be interesting to see if the way the show is being advertised will affect viewership. The series premieres April 28 on Netflix.