blank'/> Liberally Lean From The Land Of Dairy Queen: Roots

12.03.2007

Roots


I just completed watching the 1970s mini-series Roots (which took quite a while since I viewed it in 40 minute segments whenever I was on the treadmill.)

For you youngsters in your 30s out there, Roots ran in January of 1977 and the entire nation stopped down to watch. Except me. It's a story of watching generation after generation of a black family from Africa to post Civil War days.

This year while watching the Golden Globes, the cast of the mini-series came out on stage for a 30th anniversary reunion. It dawned on me I had never seen it. So it's stuffed by Netflix queue ever since.

Verdict: Pretty darn good. And observations:

- Anyone who was anyone in the 70s had a role in the series. From a little Todd Bridges to Sandy Duncan to Burl Ives to O.J. Simpson to Robert Reed.
- There was some poor acting every now and then. I could have sworn that John Amos' character would sometimes morph into the the father he played in Good Times.
- The "n word" was thrown around so much that I'm not sure you could show it on regular TV today.
- Chuck Connors and Lloyd Bridges had the most uncomfortable black hating rolls of all. And Conners was great.
- There was no depiction of a plantation with 100s of slaves. Most just showed a nice home with a few acres around it with maybe 10 to 15 slaves.
- While I was watching it, I thought how much history would anger me if I were black man. And then I thought perhaps the series gave rise to some of the gang violence we saw in the 1980s. I mentioned my theory to someone else this weekend who retorted, "Blacks weren't angry before that?" Good point.
- A kind of dumb white guy made an extended appearance at the end. I thought he looked familiar and I was right. It was Brad Davis who I discovered last year in Midnight Express.
- I had more, but can't remember them right now.

5 comments:

Pseudonym said...

I watched it again a few years ago and would have to agree that some the acting was not so good. But for a made for TV movie it was very good. It was interesting to see some of the actors no longer around because the mini-series had a huge cast. But what Roots did best was tell a story about time in American history from the perspective of a family. It was very compelling.

Anonymous said...

There is two ways of looking at how the blacks should feel. Angry or happy that slavery as been abolished and they have equal rights.

You don't see women going around with a chip on their shoulder.

Anonymous said...

As a young white man, I remember Roots being an eye opening experience for me. Not growing up with blacks, but during the civil rights movement, I was probably, at best, indifferent to what seemed to me much ado about nothing. This drama made me face this country's need to grow past this, one of humanity's greatest mistakes and begin to unify.
It would be sad to think that something with so much potential for healing instead opened old wounds that are no closer to healing today. Could tragedys such as the L.A. Riots, gang violence, and even Sean Taylor's death been avoided if the blacks in America had not been reminded of 300 years of slavery? Far too simple, but you insinuate that the anger started with Roots and is worse today, 30 years later.
I so appreciate the stance Jason Whitlock took in his article you blogged about several days ago. As a young white man I was ready to acknowledge that I was wrong. Will the angry young black men of today acknowledge the same? Or will it take another 270 years of hatred to right the wrong?
To quote Rodney King, "Why can't we just get along?"

Gloria Steinem said...

To 11:56:
Re: the "women" comment: You're being facetious, right? 'cuz it can be hard to tell when I can't see your eyes.

Anonymous said...

Historical (or at least semi-historical) drama and literature exists for many periods of history. For Indians, there's Dances With Wolves, Little Big Man, etc. The Irish have Gangs of NY, and for a bunch of peoples and areas there're Michener's stories. All provide further insight into history withour necessarily inciting riots. Even if they're not always perfectly accurate, they can bing understanding for those with limited perspective on how we all got where we are.