11.11.2013

Black Girls' Night Out: Sleepy Hollow Addendum

On Arthur Bernard aka Cicero:
I think the unfortunate implication is Arthur, a black person, especially a freed slave already being mistreated being happy to die for the soul of Ichabod, the white guy. And then that same black guy absolved Ichabod of feeling any guilt, in essence, erasing any responsibility for his death. It also was a very surface addressing of Ichabod’s past life. Some people believe that Arthur wasn’t Ichabod’s first interrogation. Which means Ichabod has a hell of a lot more to feel guilty about. And the fact that Arthur’s death, his conversations with Ichabod involved Katrina instead of it being about him as it should rightfully be was badly done. Katrina wasn’t the one being tortured and treated like a dog. It was him. Also, Ichabod’s guilt and sin didn’t include the shit he did to Arthur previously and only focused on the fact that Arthur died anyways. Ironically, that was the one thing Ichabod was not responsible for. He couldn’t have known that he was being followed and that the demon was hellbent on killing Arthur.

At the least, he should have felt guilty that he participated in the dehumanization of another human being. He knew it was because of Arthur’s race he was being treated with such inhumane behavior but he went along with it. And the fact that it took just a pretty woman admonishing him in less than a hot minute to start to see the light was badly done. The entire arc was the hiccup of the entire episode. I mean, the whole Arthur dying happily to save the white man would be even more glaring if the entire show was just another white show where Arthur was the token character who got used as such a terrible plot device to absolve the white guy of his sins. But that’s just my take. This review http://io9.com/sleepy-hollow-s-sin-eater-is-an-everytrope-gift-baske-1458658297 talks about the same thing too which may be clearer than mine.

Personally, i think the racially problematic stuff could have been avoided if they had made Arthur white. It was unnecessary to make him black and then mishandle the payoff and resolution so badly.
Whether you agree or disagree, this person has made some very valid points.  Was there a better way to handle this particular part of the storyline?  Was there a better way to write this character?  Could the same ends have been reached without the problematic portions?  Was it truly problematic in the first place?  Why or why not?

This show has been really good with diversity and its treatment of POC and their characterizations.  However, that doesn't mean it's exempt from constructive criticism or honest debate when it's warranted. 

4 comments:

  1. Was there a better way to handle this particular part of the storyline?

    Yes.

    Was there a better way to write this character?

    Yes. By all means, make Cicero a bad-ass black revolutionary scholar. Keep that part intact. Just don't have him die for some white man's enlightenment, and spend copious amounts of time showing him being a bad-ass.

    Could the same ends have been reached without the problematic portions?

    No. This patriotic, historical sanitation bullshit is an extremely problematic tumor in the Sleepy Hollow 'verse and it needs to be cut out ASAP. The writers can wrack their brains all they want, but chances are, we will end up here again and again because despite the show's imagination and draw, part of it is built on a shitty foundation, and to avoid crumbling, all roads will keep leading back to the eschewing of white historical responsibility, aka draptoresponsia.

    I know white America would love nothing more than to be absolved of its great sins - and let's face it, the scene between Cicero and Ichabod was a blatant metaphor for that shit - but like I've said before, it ain't happenin' anytime soon. And it's not going to happen with words; talk is cheap. Anyone can say sorry. It don't mean dick.

    Was it truly problematic in the first place? Why or why not?

    See "shitty foundation".

    The irony here is that once again, they had an interesting idea.

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    1. ...Fantasies like Sleepy Hollow often hinge on a Chosen One executing some grand action that saves the day/saves the world. But so far, Sleepy Hollow favors a more relatable kind of heroism. Ichabod and Abbie uphold the genre trope by being “special”; they are “Witnesses.” Their gift is the ability to see the demonic influence that permeates their world that others can’t. This may not sound too impressive as far as superpowers go, but it’s a pretty extraordinary talent in a world where people are blind to sinister forces, or find the notion of “sinister forces” too incredible to believe, or too scared or uncertain to act. In Sleepy Hollow, the hero is simply anyone who recognizes that things aren’t what they should be and chooses to try to do something about it.

      ...Sleepy Hollow suggests that corrective change must be a group effort, not the work of One Great Man, let alone a Great White Man. Last week’s episode, the season’s sixth, set up a scenario that positioned Ichabod as a messianic hero, if only for the purpose of telling a story that was all about rejecting that archetype. Ichabod was told by a conspiracy of do-gooders — Freemasons — that he could destroy The Headless Horseman, sin incarnate, by killing himself by drinking poison, since their souls are conjoined by magic. The logic was compelling, and if Sleepy Hollow was a flop, I suspect the producers would have ended the series here, with Ichabod making this sacrifice. Instead, we live in a world where Sleepy Hollow is a hit, and the writers concocted a provocative reason for Ichabod to quit with the WWJD all-about-me: It denied everyone else the dignity — and responsibility — of participating in achieving victory. The rationalization was tortured, but interesting. By allowing exhausted, lost-in-life Parrish to eat his sins and sever his connection to the Horseman, Ichabod was giving him fulfillment that he wouldn’t have had if Ichabod had killed himself. Moreover, had Ichabod not allowed Parrish to fulfill his function, he would have made meaningless the heroic work of Abbie and her sister Jenny of finding Parrish in hopes of saving Ichabod’s life. Ichabod’s choice to give up on the quick and easy win creates an opportunity for a better kind of triumph, one that makes bringing order to chaos a collective project of individuals.
      (Source)

      See what I mean???

      Delete
  2. Were they trying to cover their butts by using Cicero as the password. Really, lady and gents, get your acts together or hire three Black writers to work on your team.

    It's like Johnny Depp as the representative of the last Indian not on display in a museum. If they wanted to fix that mess, all they had to do was cast an Indian, preferably a Comanche, as the Lone Ranger. Yes, he would have had to chop off his hair to conceal his identity, but he would have had a valid reason to do so.

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    1. Were they trying to cover their butts by using Cicero as the password. Really, lady and gents, get your acts together or hire three Black writers to work on your team.

      For real!!!! When I saw that shit I just rolled my eyes, like, "Negroes, are you serious? Damage is done. No bandage on this cancer, thank you."

      Delete

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