New to Netflix: Dear White People
“Dear white people, please stop touching my hair. Does this look like a petting zoo to you?”
When the film Dear White People appeared in cinemas a couple of years ago, it felt like an electric shock. It was provocative, funny, smart and relevant: The perfect film for our time.
The film was inspired, in part, by real events; racially themed college parties where white students wore blackface and mocked their ethnic classmates and their customs. Using one of these parties as a starting point, Dear White People goes on to discuss interracial relationships, racial expectations (from various sides) and other potent subjects.
Dear White People followed four very different black students in an Ivy League college, with the notorious party providing the film’s climax.
It was a lively and stylish film – using humour and bite to make some salient points. And it filled the shoes of a young Spike Lee with aplomb. The film takes its name from a fictional campus radio show, where its host shares direct messages with the helpful intro “Dear white people”.
It dealt with some meaty issues, but was limited by a film’s running time. So it’s great to see Netflix continue the stories and ideas started by the film.
Just like the film, the series of Dear White People deals with a divisive party and its aftermath. Only this time it can take its time in dealing with the different characters, points of view and attitudes over the course of ten episodes.
Like the classic Japanese film Rashomon, it shows some of the same scenes from different perspectives – highlighting that truth is subjective.
With a longer running time, Dear White People can delve into more race-related issues like political correctness, social justice, modern politics and activism (both guided and misguided!). And, of course, the past year has been an eventful one in American politics, giving the show runners plenty to chew on.
The original film’s writer/director Justin Simien returns, this time with more experience, some new cast members and a bigger budget. The result is an intense, original and endlessly entertaining show. And one that’s much funnier than it has any right to be.
The complete Dear White People is available on Netflix from April 31st.
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