The Importance Of Atlanta’s Golden Globes Wins
After the #Oscarssowhite controversy last year, Hollywood making a dedicated effort to acknowledge black film and television was easy to predict.
The hashtag didn’t really get to the root of the problem. There was of course very little representation at awards ceremonies. It wasn’t because Hollywood ignored black film, they just won’t make it in the first place. The controversy had its figurehead in Will Smith. He was screaming for an Oscar nod in Concussion which he never got. This forced Jada to make a video about how white the Oscars are with some kind of Mammoth tusk behind her.
Usually when a black filmmaker does get a win it’s made into a triumph over adversity story. ‘Look at you getting out there and winning while being black.’ There’s always been the sour taste of the obvious paths a black filmmaker must take to get any recognition. The film about slavery, the film about crime, being Will Smith.
Hollywood has a huge problem of only considering ‘Digestible Blackness’. This is really what makes Atlanta’s Golden Globes wins important ones. Donald Glover was vocal from the day one that Atlanta would try to break away from that. He kept his writing team exclusively to black writers, wanting to ensure that no parts of the show were stripped away because they weren’t relatable.
Everyone’s on Atlanta and the show deserves it. There’s one question hanging over it though. Would anyone without Donald Glover’s position be able to pull it off? In all honesty, nobody else could have. Without the career he’s had it’d be hard to see him convince anyone to back a project that wasn’t a ‘sure thing’. Glover’s proved he can turn anything to gold. Without having done his time in other avenues though, working on 30 Rock or Community, few people would have listened.
This is really where Atlanta has broken the most new ground. Glover positioned it to break into a huge audience but didn’t compromise what it is. Not only is that story now out there, it’s proven to work. The Get Down released on Netflix last year and would’ve been the stand out production they did if not for Stranger Things. Even there, the show has the benefit of looking back and picking the most TV worthy periods of black urban life. Atlanta works without that.
Atlanta and its success are more important than this one show. They’ve shown that TV like this can be made, and can be successful, without fitting into the categories it’s usually shoehorned into. It’s not a revolution but it’s an important step in how we treat all TV that isn’t made exclusively by white guys.