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The Antagonism of Blackness in Netflix’s Stranger Things | Black Writers Week


“Stranger Things” has develop into a phenomenon throughout its six-year run, beating out exhibits like “Squid Game” as Netflix’s top series, and it’s rightfully earned that spot. Season One got here out on the good time, amidst an ‘80s nostalgia revival additionally propelled by movies such because the “It” reboot and the now canceled “Glow,” providing adults and Gen Z alike a glimpse again into the previous. Despite the present’s creativity, it has failed its Black characters and its Black viewers time and time once more.

As the present has moved ahead, and with the Volume One premiere of Season Four, it’s clear after six years that the Duffer Brothers nonetheless don’t know what to do with Lucas. In Season Three, this was obvious, however in the newest collection it’s abhorrent. Immediately, Lucas turns into a foil for his good friend’s Mike and Dustin, prioritizing his new basketball profession quite than enjoying Dungeons & Dragons along with his buddies. It’s not that he’s misplaced curiosity in his companions, it’s that he desires to be fashionable. “I’m uninterested in being a loser,” he states, and Mike and Dustin look on at him with gentle loathing. Because, in fact, it will be unacceptable {that a} Black individual was uninterested in being bullied, known as “midnight,” and bodily assaulted by racists like his girlfriend Max’s older brother, Billy.

They don’t present as much as his basketball recreation, and as an alternative convey alongside Lucas’ sister, Erica, to switch him for his or her marketing campaign. In swapping out their good friend for his sister, we’re given a glimpse into the world of Erica, however nonetheless, it’s not sufficient. Erica joined “Stranger Things” in Season Two, to my shock, because it wasn’t beforehand identified that Lucas had a sister. Her first scene again in 2017 exhibits her listening in on Lucas’ personal walkie-talkie dialog as the 2 of them share snarky phrases and nothing extra. This is how Erica’s character stays, years later. Other than a quick stint serving to Steve, Dustin and Robin evade Russian forces in Season Three, Erica all the time seems briefly, and never with out some witty comeback. 

She is enjoyable to look at at occasions, and that’s all to do with Priah Ferguson’s charisma, however the jokes develop into previous as time goes on. Who is Erica, actually, and what’s her objective on this story? Is she a stand-in for her brother’s buddies? Is she solely invaluable as a serving to hand when the older crew wants her assist (however nonetheless manages to maintain her out of the loop)? There’s an odd sense of nationalism with Erica’s character as properly, with a proud declaration of “You can’t spell America with out Erica!” being one in every of her defining traces in Season Three. In Season Four, she struts down the college hallway proudly, donning an American flag round her shoulders, trailing behind her like a cape, or a beacon of hope. “Stranger Things” and its nationalism within the wake of Hawkins being invaded by Russian forces isn’t essentially new, however having your sole Black feminine character’s total character constructed across the love of America is tone deaf at the perfect of occasions, however particularly immediately.

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