Winchester University is the illusory depiction of a typical east coast Ivy League college; filled with young scholars, eager to take on the world and carve out a legacy atypical of their upbringing—and the fictional setting for the highly anticipated, media-labeled-controversial, Dear White People (DWP). Premiering on Netflix this past weekend, each twenty-two-minute segment is rife with angst, gender identity crises, lots of rowdy sex, drug use, drinking and a cast of characters that engaged this viewer in the first minutes of episode one.
An adaption of the critically acclaimed 2014 movie, with matching title, this small screen version may deftly educate an additional minority group other than what creator Justin Simien may have originally intended–Liberals.
Yes, Liberals–not the All Lives Matter proponents or the fringy, Klan shadow groups, that our beloved media like to showcase as all conservative all the time. Just regular, run of the mill liberals who have lost their minds since November 2016, and they won’t see the message coming right at them. I’ll explain that a bit later.
Devotees of the movie eagerly awaited this weekend’s premiere while public relations professionals went to work creating a buzz steeped in racial overtones. An official trailer (language is raunchy) released weeks ago, finally struck the flint, and sparked the intended controversy granting the ravenous social media dogs a juicy bone to chew. Legions of DWP followers and outraged detractors hit Twitterverse and Facebookland to lament and deride each other with name calls and threats to, gasp, cancel their Netflix account.
With so many binge-worthy series to watch, this writer passed on participating in the hyped-up rush to view. That is until an article by Rolling Stone caught my eye a few days ago. It wasn’t so much the headline of the piece that spoke to me; it was the almost as prominent sub that had me rolling my eyes towards the heavens:
How this sharp satire of race relations on a college campus is ready to take racists, trolls and “All Lives Matter” proponents to school.
Well, the bell rang in my ears, and I tuned in, ready to fight another ridiculous attempt by the left to stay relevant. I admit, I was schooled, but not in the way Rolling Stone had predicted. One of the lessons learned is that writer, director, and creator of DWP, Justin Simien, has a universal message that America should hear. Everyone is to a degree, racist. Not just, as many have been indoctrinated to believe, the deplorable Trump voters.
Simien is a genius; and he proves his satirical superiority with an ability to aim his sarcastic dart gun, peppered with educational and historical narrative ammo, at, well, everybody. He is an equal opportunity offender that hasn’t found a cultural line he wasn’t propelled to cross—and he traverses boundaries like a broad-jumping Olympian.
We are introduced to one of the main protagonists, Sam White in the first episode. Sam hosts a radio program that espouses to initiate black culture and rally the people of color to action on campus against oppression. We soon find out that Sam is of bi-racial parentage, listens to country western music when out of earshot of her black friends and secretly dates a white guy—who wants to go public with their romance. She’s a likable, relatable – an all-around hot mess with a sharp tongue.
Another main character is Lionel, a black, afro-sporting gay journalist with a mad crush on Troy, the ultra-male on campus, son of the Dean of Students. Troy is a star on the Crew team but often mistaken by daddy’s wealthy white donors as the star running back on the football team. The two are roommates and philosophically opposed as Ted Nugent and Whoopee Goldberg, with the only commonality, the color of their skin.
Add in the black student groups on campus who range from hashtag baggy pants and gangsta talk, primped and sleek-haired valley girl talking preppies, politically conservative future leaders, violence inciters, the natural afro wearers and the MLK style of peaceful protest, the students are all seeking to discover what makes up black culture in America. And, seemingly as confused as all college-aged seekers tend to be in finding their place in a crazy world.
With an amazing ability to color-blind the viewer into shaking off any preconceived notions of race, Simien weaves a tale that could represent any minority group, in any situation, in America. He swipes at flamboyant theater people, intent on shrugging off heteronormative labels, pokes the uber-feminist groups dressed in frumpy frocks railing against the rape culture of male-only fraternities, and lands blow after blow on social outcasts without hesitation to the political correctness environs of today. There are no safe spaces at Winchester University.
When the audience is introduced to the campus newspaper hierarchy, of historic all white founding members and their legacy spawn, The Pastiche, and their sycophantic followers, one will cringe at their depiction. It is, unfortunately, true to our American past in many ways, and yet, a testament to how far most of America has come in race relations. Yes, it is wince-worthy, as this fictional University decides to hold a black-face party, as their invitation reads, ‘to release their inner black person.’
But the focus is not aimed at the stupidity of the Pastiche—I promised you I would get to this point–it is placed with bull’s eye precision on the apathy of the University’s Legacy students—the polite, passive, self-wallowing liberals who when given the opportunity, relished the invitation to apply blackface makeup and sink to the depths of their own race war narrative.
Ultimately it is hypocrisy is what drives Simien’s lead character, Sam White, to shake the Devil.
But, back to the series — literally, that’s where I am headed — to check out the next episode and witness the brew-haha brewing at Winchester U. Hey, thanks, Rolling Stone, you did one thing right; DWP is must see TV.
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