black representation in horror/sci-fi is exploding
By Erin White
January 16, 2019
Now more than ever Black voices are being represented in sci-fi/horror narratives. From scene-stealing witch Tati Gabrielle on Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to the occult characters played by Angela Bassett and Billy Porter on American Horror Story to the prominent featuring of Black and brown actors in the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel, Black characters are changing the face of these genres. The newest project to do so is Fox’s series The Passage, led by 12-year-old Saniyya Sidney, who plays a young vampire.
Based on Justin Cronin’s best-selling trilogy, the show is said to be a character-driven thriller about government experimentations and a deadly unconfined virus that could either kill or heal all of humanity. Amy Bellafonte (Sidney) is chosen as a test subject for the experiment until Brad Wolgast (Mark‐Paul Gosselaar), a federal agent, grows attached to her and tries to protect her.
Overlapping with this trend of inclusion in supernatural film and TV is the work of artists like Boots Riley who use afrosurrealism as a method of storytelling. Here, reality is distorted to the extreme and absurdity reigns supreme, demonstrating how surrealistic the Black experience can be. For viewers, this warped world is almost a simulation of what it feels like to operate in a world that centers around white people as in his sleeper hit, last year’s Sorry To Bother You. But Riley isn’t the only one making moves in afrosurrealism.
A, well, surrealistic approach to exploring the Black experience, Afrosurrealism has the ability to deconstruct nuanced experiences and trends by warping the world in which they are presented. Removed from reality, it is here where artists can hold a discussion about real life issues. During this awakening, we’ve seen the likes of Jordan Peele reshape the horror genre into a powerful tool for unpacking anti-Black social issues. Judging by the trailer for his follow-up to Get Out, Us, Peele plans on expounding on that theme that internalizes racial issues instead. The busy writer/director is additionally working on a reboot of the classic sci-fi series The Twilight Zone and his own original anthology series Weird City—both of which will feature a diverse ensemble cast
Can’t wait to dive into these upcoming projects.
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