NewsBlack Twitter Has Questions About Black Twitter Hulu Documentary

Black Twitter Has Questions About Black Twitter Hulu Documentary

Some were critical of the merits of publicly documenting Black Twitter on a white-owned platform.

After Hulu released its trailer for “Black Twitter: A People’s History,” a docuseries about Black Twitter on March 8, some members of Black Twitter did not believe that the story of Black Twitter could be accurately conveyed in three hours and were also critical of some of the people chosen to discuss Black Twitter in the documentary series. Others still, pointed out that the nature of this discussion existing on Black Twitter was in itself, a commentary on Black Twitter.

The docuseries premiered at SXSW in Austin on the same night the trailer was released, with many of the documentary series’ contributors sharing the same announcement post, and some of those contributors became the focus of some criticism by the present iteration of Black Twitter. 

i’m looking at that list of usernames they showed and i’m not seeing those who have truly moved black twitter over the years (yours included @Phil_Lewis_)— luca (@LucaGuadagnegro) March 8, 2024

Several complaints online were lodged before the project even dropped its trailer. Penny addressed some of the critics in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Penny told the outlet that he wanted a cross-section of Black Twitter, if such a thing is even possible:

“For the people we selected, I really wanted a wide array. I didn’t want it to feel like these were just journalists or professors talking conceptually around Black Twitter. We can have those people that can give that context, but Black Twitter is made up of everyone. It is made up of comics like Sam Jay and Amanda Seales, political people like Brad Jenkins who worked with Obama, and of course journalists like the Wesley Lowery’s of the world – and everything in between.”

Penny continued, “So many of the things that happened on Black Twitter were just through regular folks. It wasn’t through the pundits and the professors. I think of CaShawn who started #BlackGirlMagic and I think of Johnetta Elzie who was there on the ground in Ferguson telling us the stories. For me, it was important to have the “professor types” along with regular people because Black Twitter is a level playing field, which is rare for Black people in this country. To me, Black Twitter is the hang out in the quad in college or the stoop in your neighborhood. Famous or not, everybody can get these jokes. It’s the cookout where we’re all cousins.”

While some were critical of the merits of publicly documenting Black Twitter on a white-owned platform, others, including Penny, saw that criticism as short-sighted and myopic.

Bring back gatekeeping and secrecy as it relates to Black Twitter…which exists in a public space? Our cultural phenomena, traditions, stories deserve to be documented and protected. That is how we pass things down. Not gatekeeping and secrecy. https://t.co/ulbMLoBCYU— Gerrick Kennedy (@GerrickKennedy) March 9, 2024

I can understand this, but I’d push back slightly and say we don’t have enough records of our story in America. if the platform got erased tomorrow, Black Twitter would become another oral tradition instead of proof we were here. How does secrecy help tell our story longterm? https://t.co/3P4ZsM46Vp— Prentice Penny (FUX YO BLUE CHECK) (@The_A_Prentice) March 9, 2024

Penny discussed the series with IndieWire at SXSW, telling them, “When I read the article, it was not only was only something that I love, that I participated in, but I saw the power of it. It was sort of feeling like the way my mother talks about the Civil Rights Movement. That’s what I felt like was happening on Black Twitter.”

Penny added, “Typically when you’re doing a doc, the subject matter of what you’re talking about is past — it’s over, it’s done,” Penny said. “Jason was so prophetic in documenting the story at this moment in time. We sit in the dark, in the digital space or internet, and so many things are here today, gone tomorrow that you’ve got to catch these moments.”

Parham, who, according to Penny, was a key figure in shaping the docuseries, told the outlet that there is a particular challenge in documenting something that is continuously morphing and changing. 

“That’s also the beauty of the ecosystem of the platform and Black Twitter,” Parham said. “You can’t quite define it totally because it’s always moving and reshaping and adapting and remixing — which is so intrinsic to Black culture.”

RELATED CONTENT: Black Twitter Users Are Now Digital Nomads

Source: Black Enterprise

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