During this quarantine we have been scrambling though our streaming services for new shows. There’s a show on Netflix called “Black AF”, created by Kenya Barris. If you aren’t familiar with his work think of “Blackish” starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson. That’s his masterpiece on primetime television about a black middleclass family in white suburbia.
The previews for this movie are hilarious which piqued my interest. Being that I’m a fan of Barris, I was willing to give this film a shot, besides, who doesn’t love a good satire film? Remember “Dear White People” These films resemble each other in regards to their style of comedy. If you really think about, they use socially awkward experiences and try to make them humorous. Sometimes people get the jokes and sometimes people don’t. The point is, I gathered from both films that they wanted to highlight blerd experience while educating us.
Does Barris pander to the white audience? Perhaps. As creatives, we want to be accepted by everyone, we want our work to be well received by our peers and consumers. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s what drives people to create. If black validation was enough then, Black creatives would be content with our own award shows and critics, but we aren’t. This is something that Barris highlighted in the episode with Tyler Perry. Perry very eloquently explained that he stopped seeking validation and awards from those critics because they can’t comprehend our struggle. Perry stated that he’s not trying to reach them anyway. Where most of his peers are banging their heads trying to please them, he has no desire to appease them anyway, it's about his consumers, he wants to make black people feel seen.
One thing I can appreciate about Barris is the way he drops jewels in all his projects. It might seem that Barris might make his work more palpable to whites, but aren't we all guilty of that? Until you’re financially set then some of your art has to be sacrificed. TI and Barris addressed all the critics in “Expeditiously”. If you didn’t see the interview, here’s the link: https://youtu.be/VeJzb26XF2o?t=9
Barris stated something in one of the episodes that I thought was really dope. As creatives, we have to hold each other accountable for what we put out. I don’t think he was wrong for saying that but there is a way to say anything. Even though we’ve come so far. It would be an utter slap in the face to the ones before us if become complacent and put out mediocre material. “Sometimes it’s just nice to be nice” it takes a lot of courage to put your gifts out there.
This movie wasn’t that far-fetched, we all have that family member who has done well for themselves. Who we barely see, sheltered cousins who are clueless about the struggle and the spouse who over compensates. The aunts and uncles who gossip amongst each other about the children being soft and bougie. Even though I’m not a part of Barris’s tax bracket this film was still relatable. So, it wasn't super trash as people made it seem.