B.A.N. : “Black American Nuance”

With Donald Glover at the helm of this episode, the audience is pulled into a parallel TV network that shocks, exposes, and tackles issues of the Black experience in America. Glover’s satire binds together a multitude of underlying messages.

Current media repeatedly avoids gray areas. The binary of good and evil is something to cling to and put faith in, but it isn’t real life. The Montague show, specifically Franklin Montague, is a representation of how Americans cherish the idea of a “right way” to be. Montague brings on Paper Boi and Deborah Holt in an attempt to condemn him for his lyrics and musical messages. This calls into focus the way the Blackness is often seen as needing to be “palatable” to effectively work its way into mainstream culture.

As the episode goes on, it seems that Paper Boi is in the wrong when faced with the scrutiny of Montague and Holt. Glover leads us right into the trap that cancel culture often leads us down. On social media, and within academia, there is a common occurrence of not allowing ideas within identity discourse be outside of a binary of good and evil. This divides those who are trying to make progress more than Paper Boi is being transphobic, and all of the facts being presented lead the audience to come this conclusion, until the last moment.

Of course, we recognize that his argument is flawed, but he describes the abandonment he feels as a Black man which makes it harder for him to want to fight for trans rights. What is important here is not his argument or reasoning, but the way that Glover allows for nuance. He lets Paper Boi sit in a gray area for the audience, with room to grow, but also an understanding of where he may be coming from.

How do you think the framing of the advertisements around the main plotline advanced Glover’s message of nuance?

Where can we find examples of this type of nuance in our other texts and class materials?

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