We are currently blessed with many great auteurs of color. Directors like Spike Lee and Ava DuVernay have been on their game for years, and newcomers like Barry Jenkins and Jordan Peele are paving lanes for fresh stories about black Americana.
However, with all the praise going around to black directors and creatives, we also have to be real with ourselves when their work isn’t up to par.
I will always support black art and wish for its success, but I can’t do it blindly. Sometimes we just have to admit that just because something was created by a person of color, that doesn’t automatically make it dope.
When Netflix dropped a surprise new season of Dear White People, I was hype as hell. The first two seasons were breaths of fresh air. They told interesting stories about race, gender, and sexuality in America.
I was expecting more of the same from season 3. But it never seemed to reach the bar set by the previous two seasons. That’s not to say there wasn’t anything good to take away from this season. It just fell a little flat.
My biggest issue with this season was the lack of focus. There was no central story that kept me invested throughout the season. Sure, there was some solid character development and interesting storylines, but they did little to push the season forward.
Within a larger context, these storylines and character arcs could’ve made for another great season. Instead, we got 10 episodes that were flimsily tied together to create something that resembles a season of “descent television.”
Throughout the season, experimental and inventive camera, lighting, and even editing techniques are utilized. While they all look cool, they did little to help the season’s story or even an overarching theme. It’s one thing to know how to create a shot with a “dutch angle.” It’s another thing entirely to know when to use it.
Whether it was wonky filmmaking techniques or loose writing, I just never got the sense that the makers of this season’s Dear White People knew where they wanted to take the audience or how they wanted to do it.
This criticism of the new season isn’t just blind hate. It actually comes out of a place of love. A place of love that wants ALL art by people of color to reach its full potential. I hold the TV and movies I consume to a high standard. If it doesn’t live up, I gotta call it out for what it is.
The only way to continue the growth of the amazing art being made is to critique it with realistic expectations. It’s not enough just to see stories about people of color by people of color. Those stories need to be damn good and better be well made.
We’ve had people of color make some absolute classic movies and TV shows. But we’ve also had some people make some absolute trash. I’m here for the classics and I’ll keep calling out the trash for what it is until I’m only seeing classics.