Reaction to filmmaker Justin Simien‘s debut film “Dear White People” has already reached a feverish pitch with the “n word” being thrown at him, along with accusations that he’s promoting a call for a “white genocide.”
In a post on Medium titled “Why Did I Name It ‘Dear White People?'” Simien laid out a long, detailed, thoughtful history of the project, which he has adapted into a 10-episode TV show for Netflix airing in April.
He knew the title was “provocative” but necessary to “break through the clutter” back when he first conceived it in 2009, but the targeted and organized harassment that has befallen him since Netflix released the “save the date” teaser for the series version of “Dear White People” came unexpectedly.
“Currently the clip has recieved [sic] 300k dislikes compared to 34k likes, despite trending in Youtube’s top 10 for days,” Simien wrote. “This kind of negatively weighted ratio is a classic and frankly transparent tell that automated tools for harassment, perfected during the latest election cycle, were at play.”
Of course, it’s not just bots and mass dislikes that have been thrown at Simien. Blatant and vulgar racist comments have flooded his Twitter, as well as the social media channels of his staff writers, the filmmaker said.
“Among the now perfunctory ‘what if there was a dear black people’ comments, were accusations that I, and by association Netflix, were promoting a call for ‘white genocide,'” he said. “Complaints that racism isn’t real, sat beside comments calling me a n*****. Assertions that all black people do is whine and destroy property were wedged between threats that the alt right would burn this country to the ground if we kept promoting ‘white hate. Being called a n***** as well as being called the sole cause of the racism I was complaining about was a sort of recurring theme.”
Members of the alt-right have called for a boycott of the show and cancellation of Netflix subscriptions, though, as Simien points out, the streaming platform’s stock has actually gone up in the hours and days since the video’s release.
“Even though I have the wherewithal to recognize their hatred as just a knee jerk attempt to avoid experiencing the deep pain of feeling powerless, I’ll be damned if I allow for someone else’s pain to become my prison,” he concluded.
“Dear White People” premieres on Netflix on Friday, April 28.