The love I bear for my hometown knows no bounds; hence, I cannot begin to express to you the excitement I felt watching a show that so closely depicts what I consider to be the real Atlanta, but I’ll try. I was first introduced to Atlanta’s creator and protagonist Donald Glover as a stand up comedian, and actor (I will admit I have never listened to his music) but I feel a certain amount of pride seeing someone who came from such a mainstream sitcom (Community) go on to create a comedy that’s so true to my experience as a black person from Atlanta. The authenticity of the accents, the jargon, the references, even the J.R. Crickets scene…my soul cried out hallelujah.
Earnest “Earn” Marks (played by Donald Glover) is struggling to get through life and maintain a relationship with the mother of his child, and comes up with the idea to manage his cousin Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles’ burgeoning rap career. Growing up in Atlanta, we have all witnessed (and continue to witness) the struggle rapper life. Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (played by Morehouse and Yale graduate Brian Tyree Henry) has to cope with unexpected fame, and unwanted attention. Meanwhile, Earn has to figure out how to adult (supes relate-able because hello I still haven’t figured it out). I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Paper Boi’s roommate Darius (played by Keith Stanfield). He is the lovable weed head who randomly drops gems of knowledge. Hi-jinks ensue with perfectly timed, and well written comedy. The show also touches on so many relevant issues, but without being “preachy.” People like to be tricked into assessing real life issues especially those we consider to be uniquely black for some reason, and Atlanta slides those right on into your psyche. Issues like the treatment of prisoners with mental disabilities, gun violence and its impact on kids in underprivileged communities, relationships, familial obligations, the fragility of black male sexuality, and finding your way as a 20 something are all explored…in just the first two episodes.
The ever-conflicting ideals of Martin and Malcolm, Du Bois and Washington, Buckhead and Bankhead are the underlying themes I find most intriguing here. I attribute the non existent division of wealth in black communities in Atlanta to what made my friends and I such well rounded people. We have ninja-like code switching skills, because those of us who had were brought up right alongside those of us who didn’t. By the time we reached adulthood, most of us developed a very healthy blend of the totality of the black spectrum. I’m really excited to see Atlanta explore that. Lastly, I have a new life goal: lemon pepper wet wings.
Not Attending: Lena Dunham’s Pity Party
I’ve always felt very indifferent towards Lena Dunham, especially after I realized what her game is. She’s made a career of being self deprecating under the guise of body positivism (but only when it’s convenient) and everyone praises her for her “bravery” and labels her a feminist hero. White women being praised for mediocrity isn’t new, so that in and of itself doesn’t bother me; however, her latest stunt involving the beautiful specimen that is Odell Beckham Jr. takes her from irrelevant to intolerable. Dunham interviewed her friend Amy Schumer (another draining story for another day) in her newsletter Lenny Letter. Dunham is recalling her experience at the Met Gala (which hello, she was invited and I wasn’t? Maybe I’m just bitter) and unleashed a fury of assumptions and insecurities with the following excerpt:
“I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, ‘That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.’ It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused. The vibe was very much like, ‘Do I want to f— it? Is it wearing a … yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cell phone.’ It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, ‘This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.’”
Deep sigh. She reminds me of that girl in high school who would criticize herself openly in hopes that someone would validate her with a compliment, only with Lena, when that validation doesn’t come, then it’s an issue. As someone who speaks openly about how problematic the objectification of women is, Dunhman seemed awfully troubled that Beckham didn’t objectify her in that moment. The most annoying thing about this was her “apology” once the internet ripped her a new one for being draining.
I owe Odell Beckham Jr an apology. Despite my moments of bravado, I struggle at industry events (and in life) with the sense that I don’t rep a certain standard of beauty and so when I show up to the Met Ball surrounded by models and swan-like actresses it’s hard not to feel like a sack of flaming garbage. This felt especially intense with a handsome athlete as my dinner companion and a bunch of women I was sure he’d rather be seated with. But I went ahead and projected these insecurities and made totally narcissistic assumptions about what he was thinking, then presented those assumptions as facts. I feel terrible about it. Because after listening to lots of valid criticism, I see how unfair it is to ascribe misogynistic thoughts to someone I don’t know AT ALL. Like, we have never met, I have no idea the kind of day he’s having or what his truth is. But most importantly, I would never intentionally contribute to a long and often violent history of the over-sexualization of black male bodies- as well as false accusations by white women towards black men. I’m so sorry, particularly to OBJ, who has every right to be on his cell phone. The fact is I don’t know about his state of mind (I don’t know a lot of things) and I shouldn’t have acted like I did. Much love and thanks, Lena
Girl, we don’t care, and we are not attending your “I’m ‘fat’ and unattractive by the world’s standards so please accept, praise, and compliment me for being regular as hell” pity party. Leave us alone.