In this episode of Clalre.She.Goes, I spoke with Cassie McDaniel and Mark Staplehurst of Jane & Jury. We had an engaging discussion about the contemporary workplace, and small-town living.
Tomorrow I’m off to record my next podcast episode. Meanwhile, I realized that I forgot to post something–my last show! I shared it on Twitter, but forgot to post it on my blog. Last month I had a lovely chat with Amandah Wood and Matt Quinn of Ways We Work. I apologize for not sharing this with you sooner!
…Except for a little something about online behaviour.
When I follow people on social media, it’s because their content interests me, or I like them, or both. Either way, I’m not connected to them by accident. Most importantly, if an individual is rude to someone that I follow, I notice.
Be careful of how you treat others online. Your behaviour may cause your brand more harm than good.
This post is useful, not only for Sleepy Hollow, but other shows. I’m talking about Abbie specifically. But what I have to offer is also a commentary on love, and the depiction of marginalized characters.
A writer of color who used to work on Sleepy Hollow once insisted that contrary to what fans thought, the people behind the show weren’t opposed to interracial relationships. To support his argument, he pointed to the fact that they gave us Joenny (Joe + Jenny).
In Google, Joenny gifs are hard to come by. Meanwhile Ichabbie…? *sigh*
So when it comes to Crane and Abbie, what gives?
On Twitter, Roberto Orci mentioned a decision to be “chaste” in an attempt to avoid disrespectful tropes relating to Black women in relationships. This is a bit of a response.
I appreciate the producers’ concerns. However, I would like to urge them not to be so preoccupied with doing a character justice, that they forget she’s human.
As a Black woman, it’s true: I exist in a space where racism and sexism collide. However, that doesn’t mean that this space should be removed from the fullness of human experience.
In some ways, the Mills sisters have been written like normal women. Take the scenes with them at the local bar enjoying a beer. In those moments I’ve nearly squealed, “That’s something I would do!” (Maybe I need to watch more TV. I’m just not used to seeing Black women on my screen in a blue-collar setting, with a drink.)
There are other things that have felt realistic to me–costuming, dialogue, the ability to kick ass...
Those examples are a part of why I’m confused. If Sleepy Hollow is able to get certain things right about Abbie, how could their portrayal of her in a relationship be so tone deaf?
I used to believe the writers were a bunch of immature dorks who thought Abbie had cooties–or worse. Now, I realize they avoided giving her a relationship with Crane because they were afraid to get “it” wrong. Nevertheless. The “chasteness” that producers have employed isn’t respectful. It’s been insulting.
When approaching the writing of Black women in love, I need the show’s writers to think: How would you write a relationship for the average woman with Abbie’s characteristics? (I’m referring to her personality and lifestyle.) Why should her being Black make any difference? (There are factors worth considering when writing a Black woman or an interracial relationship–like having to deal with bigotry. I’m not referring to those. I’m thinking of the general picture.)
Promising and refusing to deliver on love for Abbie with Crane has done nothing more than mock the show’s audience. There are times when a television romance seems forced. There are also times when a relationship is a natural next step in a couple’s evolution.
Consider Sleepy Hollow’s timeline, and the characters’ rapport. Given those, I think a show about a couple who shared the same race would have had them dating by now. Hence, hesitating to follow up on romantic innuendo out of concern about offense when depicting a Black woman isn’t wise. It looks like a cop-out, whether intended that way or not.
Normally, I’d advocate this for simpler reasons, but under these circumstances, let me make a recommendation: If someone’s feeling insecure about writing relationships for characters of color, then hire writers of color. Or for God’s sake, talk to us!
I remember an old interview where one of Sleepy Hollow’s producers was asked about the program’s (first season) diversity. His reply suggested that it came naturally to him–it reflected his reality. If that’s the case, why don’t the producers ask friends and colleagues what they think of Black people in love on TV? I’m sure they’d get an earful.
(I know some of the show’s creatives are reaching out to fans, and I appreciate it. But they would have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they’d listened to us sooner.)
Lastly, I’d noticed someone on Team Sleepy Hollow mentioned that he’d been taking in our ideas, including those about “romance”. And no, that wasn’t a typo. “Romance” was mentioned. I’d wanted to shoot him one of these:
That type of talk suggests Sleepy Hollow’s people may have a plan that depends on whether or not Nicole Beharie (Abbie) returns. If that takes place, and intimacy is, finally, pursued, I hope we’ll finally get to see Abbie and Crane not only battling bad guys, but juggling the ups and downs of a relationship. Again, I don’t know every show out there. Yet I think their romance would be a one-of-a-kind.
I’m not asking for an apocalyptic, less-cheesy Hart to Hart…But then again, maybe I am.
Lord knows. The way things have been, Abbie Mills really does deserve better.
Want more of my thoughts on Ichabbie, and Abbie as a love interest?
This morning I noticed something.
Here’s FOX’s 2016-2017 schedule.
Sleepy Hollow isn’t returning until the middle of the season. (From what I can remember, that’s when…? January?)
Although upset over Abbie’s elimination, I’ve been thinking. Last night, I came up with what I think is an appropriate analogy.
In my opinion, this season’s finale was Sleepy Hollow ’s Kobiyashi Maru.
For those of you who don’t know Star Trek, give me a minute. In the Star Trek universe, the Kobiyashi Maru is a test that
Outer-Space Explorer School Startfleet Cadets have to take in their journey to graduate from Space Explorer Camp the Academy.
I’ve read a definition that says the Kobiyashi Maru exists to test a cadet’s character.
However, I’m not referring to it that way.
I’m speaking of something every Trekkie knows:
The Kobiyashi is a no-win scenario.
Now then. Get your head out of Star Trek and step into Sleepy Hollow.
I wish everyone involved good luck, and there’s a side of me that has faith in the show’s original team. But they need to know that my wishes are conditional: I do not see Sleepy Hollow succeeding without Abbie.
Fans’ and critics’ reactions have made things crystal clear. Talking about this elsewhere, I once said, “They can’t make things any worse.” That wasn’t a complaint, but a statement of fact.
In my most positive moments, something inside keeps saying,”They can’t make Sleepy Hollow without Abbie, and they won’t.” But I don’t hold the keys to this show’s destiny.
Ultimately, I’m convinced that the only way for Sleepy Hollow to improve is through a complete change of course. Season 4’s scheduled appearance gives them time to make corrections.
I’m going to watch and see how things unfold.
Here it is–my latest podcast episode featuring Monique of Just Add Color and Jamie, from Black Girl Nerds.
For those who missed that last scene:
Yesterday I saw a prompt to discuss what people think will happen on season 2 of Underground. My mind went in several different directions…
Rosalee will be working as Harriet Tubman’s apprentice (for lack of a better word). I’m glad to know that Harriet is a character in a television series. There’s so much about her to celebrate and even more that the audience will learn from Misha and Joe’s decision to bring her to life. I look forward to seeing her relationship with Rosalee unfold.
Noah won’t stay in jail for long. I can’t wait for him to escape. As I drafted this post, I wondered if Noah, John, and Elizabeth would continue to work together. Specifically, in what capacity? Would Noah be employed in a free area as both a blacksmith and Railroad liaison? Would he have to pretend to be the Hawkes’ slave?
I’m concerned about James’ fate alone with Ms Suzanna. Will we see anything of the Macon plantation on Season 2, or will our focus be elsewhere…? And if we still see their plantation, will Bill still be around? (A bottle to the neck couldn’t stop him.) Who knows?
Ernestine. I can’t help but fear for her safety. She’s a compelling character. By the time season 2 premieres, Stine will probably have been sold to a new owner. There’s no telling who she’ll end up with. She could be facing a situation similar to the one she encountered on the Macon plantation, or things could be even worse.
I predict that August will change his mind about his profession, but I don’t know if we will see that take place in S2. I’m glad that Ben is alive, and I hope he and Jay are still around to question Mr. Pullman’s lifestyle.
What will life be like now for Boo? Will she still be living with the Hawkes’ family, or somewhere else? Meanwhile, I predict Elizabeth and John’s “station” will be fully up and running as a regular stop on the Underground Railroad. I want to see the stress they experience as they live double lives.
Hell, I want to see that for all of the characters. Underground invigorates me, like an action-packed spy thriller.
I’m glad Cato‘s alive! Watching him in Undergound‘s first episode, I never thought I’d say that, but here we are. He has a trunk full of money, so I imagine he might try to buy his freedom, or simply make a way for himself among free Black people. (The nerd in me wants to research what would have been possible.) Meanwhile, I assume Cato thinks the worst of Noah for leaving him to face that Patty Cannon Gang alone. When they cross paths he just might have vengeance on his mind.
Speaking of Patty Cannon, will she be Season 2’s new villain…?
How about you? What do you think will happen on next season of WGN’s best series?
In the past, I’ve been told it isn’t a good idea for me to write about about religion. But I can’t help it–I’m drawn to spirituality. It’s a huge part of people’s lives. Here in Canada, only 23.9 percent of the population claims to not have some sort of religious affiliation. Therefore, those who believe in (a) God are in the majority.
Whether it’s discussed or ignored, religion has tremendous cultural and personal power. Most people’s understanding of the divine likely colours the way they view themselves and others. Faith also has the power to determine the way folks perceive every part of their lives, including their sexuality.
When religion has a healthy influence over the way someone sees relationships, it can promote a deeper level of things such as commitment and self-care. When its impact is unhealthy, it can lead to distorted ideas concerning oneself and others. Among Christians, this negativity can manifest itself through purity culture, an entity that
…encompasses the emphasis on virginity before marriage and on maintaining emotional purity that pervades fundamentalism and evangelicalism, made visible in purity balls, purity rings, purity pledges, and modesty teachings. These teachings are not limited to fundamentalism and evangelicalism, and can be seen in the culture at large with the slut/virgin dichotomy and the prevalence of abstinence only sex education in public schools. In its most extreme, the purity culture involves giving up dating for a return to parent-guided courtship, and even arranged marriages.*
Fortunately, some are daring to turn the tide. Not too long ago, I got in touch with Lola Prescott, creator of No Shame Movement, a platform committed to countering purity culture’s stifling hold on Christianity.
I asked her some questions, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity to share her thoughts on my blog.
What’s your religious background? Were you born into a church family?
I grew up in a Christian household, around conservative evangelicals and Pentacostals. I also attended Christian schools during my preteen and teen years.
Growing up, what were you taught about sex?
Explicitly, I was taught to believe that sex is a gift from God to be enjoyed between husbands and wives. Implicitly, I learned that sex was something that men do to women: Men want sex and women must do everything they can to keep them from getting it.
Any discussion of sex outside of marriage was considered disgusting. For instance, TV characters who talked a lot about sex were thought of as “raunchy” and cast in a negative light.
Policing or shaming people’s sexuality is an integral part of purity culture. Can you give me an example of a purity culture tool that you think has been especially harmful?
[Purity culture] infantilizes teens and young adults. They’re taught to “avoid temptation” in a variety of ways instead of learning how to set healthy boundaries and communicate with their partners; it also doesn’t teach the concept of consent.
It’s harmful because it has resulted in a whole generation of Christians who have no idea of how to have a healthy relationship and believe they’re “damaged” [because of] any physical activity they’ve engaged in outside of a heterosexual marriage.
When it comes to myths that some Christians perpetuate about sexuality, what do you think is the biggest one?
You’re either Chaste-y McVirginton or you’re a sex fiend, running around having sex with any and everyone. Also, [there’s] the notion that having sex outside [of] a hetero marriage will ruin your life…When you’re told consistently that sex will result in heartache and depression, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Suppose someone tells you that we need “purity culture” to keep us on the right track in our Christian walk. What would you say to them?
I have a website full of receipts that say otherwise. One of the main reasons I started NSM is to have a place for people to share stories. It’s easy to argue with one person, but a multitude of people sharing stories with a common theme is harder to ignore.
In terms of deconstructing or destroying purity culture, what do you think people can do? Do you think it’s possible…? Better yet, how can people heal from its influence?
It is definitely possible, but it’s an ongoing process. People [need to] start with educating themselves. Many people who grew up in purity culture are woefully uninformed about sex ed. Get to know your own body and discover what you like and don’t like. Be patient with yourself. Recognize whether or not you’re ready to be sexually active, and don’t be afraid to communicate that clearly with your partner.
Also, [it’s important to] talk to people who share your experiences.
The bottom line is to understand that the things that are best for YOU don’t necessarily equal things that are best for ALL.
How can people find out more about you and the No Shame Movement? What’s your URL, social media handle, etc.?
Thanks again to Ms. Prescott for her time.
*Definition taken from The “Purity Culture”–a definition and resource list on pathos.com
Here’s the latest episode of Claire.She.Goes. This time around, I talked to Paris, Ontario artist, Jennifer Budd.
If you missed the latest episode and don’t like spoilers, this isn’t the post for you.
Most shows that cover serious subjects avoid giving children a lot to do. Certainly, when I’ve seen programs depict slavery, the majority of screen time is given to adult actors, while the kids appear merely for minutes, if not seconds. However last Wednesday, Underground flipped this ratio. There are several young performers on the show. Each of the last episode’s acts focused on how one of them was affected by his or her circumstances.
James’ story grieved my spirit. No longer T.R.’s playmate, the show opened with Sam and Ernestine preparing him to begin life as a field slave. Over the course of his scenes, you could see young James transform. As the reality of slave life sunk in, everything about him changed–even his posture. My heart broke when his mother, Ernestine, acknowledged the truth about her youngest child: Before his first day in the cotton fields, he didn’t even realize that he was a slave.
Ben’s segment didn’t deal with slavery. Instead, we picked up where we left off in the previous episode. He and his father, August, went to find his mother. (You might remember that she’s a patient in a mental hospital…) Eventually they located her in a nearby forest. These scenes brought to mind stories that I’d heard about healthcare before the modern age. I felt Ben’s frustration over his mother–a woman who is lost to him, yet very much alive.
Little Boo broke my heart. Moses’ death (seen in flashbacks) has left her all alone. Thankfully, Elizabeth found her, and they were able to spend a few precious moments together. Her fear and struggle over whether or not to trust a stranger really resonated with me. I can only imagine what the real Boos of her day endured.
I won’t spoil this next part in great detail, but by the end of Henry’s scenes I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s okay. In “Cradle”, his dialogue revealed an interesting note about his backstory. Period dramas that discuss slavery usually stick to tales of slaves born either to their parents in bondage, or sold away. I can’t remember one ever referencing a slave born on a breeding farm.
T.R.’s scenes revealed the end end of his friendship with James–with powerful acting by both Maceo Smedley and Toby Nichols. I also noticed a glimpse of something else. Remember the scene in the pilot when T.R. was sticking green beans up his nose? I thought,”What a harmless brat!” Yet as always, Underground‘s writers aren’t here for viewers’ assumptions. I can still hear T.R.’s last line. In spite of his initial good intentions, I believe we’ve witnessed the beginning of his heart being hardened.
Other elements that caught my eye:
Did they use modern music in “Cradle”? I couldn’t tell you. I was too much in love with the sound of the children’s choir. Kudos to Underground’s music supervisors for including their voices.
All of the children’s scenes left me thinking, and in the wake of T.R.’s scenes, I couldn’t help but ask the unanswerable: How many slaves’ lives were ruined by the whims of their owners’ children?
My next question relates to the preview for tonight’s episode:
Why do Tom and Ernestine want Sam’s departure to remain a secret? Is it because of the Reverend, or something else? If I didn’t believe otherwise, I’d think Sam was Mr. Macon’s son.