Race

Snoop Dogg Didn't Watch the New Roots Miniseries. What About You?

The rapper makes a passionate, NSFW case against the classic. He's really on to something.

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thecomeupshow, Wikimedia

[Edited for clarity.]

Last night, just as the first episode of the new version of Roots was hitting the History channel, rapper Snoop Dogg took to Instagram to denounce the show with a passionate, expletive-rich, NSFW rant on his Instagram feed.

"I'm sick of this shit. How the f— are they going to put Roots on, on Memorial Day?" Snoop said in an Instagram video. "They going to just keep beating that shit into our heads about how they did us, huh?"

The History Channel revival is a four-part, eight-hour series that debuts Monday. 

Snoop said he has no interest in new shows and movies — specifically mentioning 12 Years a Slave — that "keep showing the abuse we took hundreds and hundreds of years ago."

"I ain't watching that shit, and I advise you motherf—ers as real n— like myself; f— them television shows," Snoop said. "Let's create our own shit based on today, how we live and how we inspire people today. Black is what's real. F— that old shit."

More here.

As it happens, I wrote a piece for The Daily Beast about Roots that covers related ground. The original 1976 book and 1977 miniseries were massive cultural events in their time, with the latter drawing a record-breaking audience and the former spending forever on the best-seller lists. Roots on TV represented the first time that the horrors of slavery, Reconstruction, and (eventually, in a follow-up series) Jim Crow were represented from a specifically black POV in a mass medium. While controversy swirled over the facticity and authorship of the book, chunks of which were revealed to have been plagiarized from a 1967 novel, Roots "dared to define the black experience, including the immense indignities of slavery, sharecropping, and Jim Crow not as something separate from the American experience but as its very essence."

History Channel

In placing the experience of a marginalized group at or near the center of our national identity,

Roots is reminiscent of other texts from the late 1960s and early 1970s. For instance, Mario Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather, along with the two movies made from it in 1972 and 1974, audaciously recast the rise of the Mafia as every bit the immigrant success story as Ben Franklin's journey from indentured servitude in Boston to freedom and fame in Philadelphia. The percentage of the U.S. population that was foreign born hit a historic low of 4.7 percent in 1970, which had the counterintuitive effect of allowing second- and third-generation Americans to begin asserting ethnic pride in ways that would have been unthinkable even a few decades earlier due to lingering mistrust and resentment of foreigners (there's a reason Dino Crocetti rechristened himself Dean Martin and, later still, Allan Konigsberg became Woody Allen). 

But as the cultural critic Leslie Fiedler wrote in 1982—and in this, I think he anticipates Snoop Dogg's angry reaction—Haley didn't so much as create a new script of possibilities for America as flip the one that was already evident in much-earlier works.

Fiedler notes that Roots, despite Haley's attempt to write a "final Happy Ending" in which African Americans become professors and government functionaries and world-famous authors, replicates the same irresolvable racial tensions that fueled earlier novels such as Uncle Tom's Cabin, Thomas Dixon's The Clansman (which became the basis on D.W. Griffith's execrable The Birth of a Nation), and Gone With The Wind. "Scenes of rape and flagellation are as essential to [Haley's] vision as to that of Mrs. Stowe or Thomas Dixon, or Margaret Mitchell, though his victims are, of course, always black," writes Fiedler.

Though the brutalization of his ancestors, especially at the hands of slave owners, means that Haley is himself part white, he cannot acknowledge that part of his ancestry. Try as he might, Fiedler argues, Haley doesn't offer a way out of an unbridgeable gap between the races. Instead, he describes the lurid, racist fantasies from the victims' point of view.

Haley's accomplishment in Roots is no small thing. Specifically, it not only gave a mythic origin story for black America, it also forced white America to understand the brutality of the slave system in a new way. This, even as it signaled solidarity with white ethnics who themselves were exploring their own histories of overcoming marginalization as immigrants in America.

Yet for all the problems tied to race that still exist in America, it's also true that things are objectively better for blacks (and whites) and, more pressing, we are finally moving past the dualistic racial categories that marked some of our ancestors as free and others as slaves. As we become more truly multi-ethnic, we need culture that explores those possibilities, not so that we forget the past but so that we can finally move on from it.

[Link for Snoop Dogg image.]

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83 responses to “Snoop Dogg Didn't Watch the New Roots Miniseries. What About You?

  1. Snoop is right. Roots is nothing but misery porn made to enable Prog white people to superior to other white people. There is a whole lot more to black America and black history than slavery and Jim Crow. Progressive whites just make it appear otherwise because talking about slavery and Jim Crow allows them to signal their moral superiority over other whites.

    1. It just occurred to me that this is another manifestation of progressives lack of imagination. They flatter themselves as bright and loving science, but their proposals are always the same old, like trains and windmills. They see a trend and can’t imagine that human ingenuity can alter the trend. And it’s always 1968 when all good caring people care about black suffering.

      1. Is there any more tired cliche in Hollywood or Television than the “racist white Southerner”? And Progs are such a spent intellectual force that they can’t even do that well anymore. Contrast this crap with something like in The Heat of the Night.

        1. Swear to god, before I read your last words, I was thinking of Carroll O’Connor and Chief Gillespie.

          1. There is a movie that show was based on. If you haven’t seen it, watch it some time. It has Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier. It is a great movie. Sidney Poitier was one of the coolest men who ever lived. Had it been socially acceptable back then, he would have made a great James Bond.

            1. That movie was filmed where I grew up. Funny looking back how accurately southern Illinois stands in for Mississippi. A buddy pointed out that Steiger is really the star of that movie. Poitier was outstanding but his character is to a great degree the stereotype of the noble black man. Steiger on the other hand is flawed and by movies’ end, a changed man.

            2. Sidney Poitier was one of the coolest men who ever lived. Had it been socially acceptable back then, he would have made a great James Bond.

              I’d never thought of that before, but you’re right. He would have been an awesome bond…assuming he could do a Brit accent (I don’t recall ever hearing him do one.)

            3. Had it been socially acceptable back then, he would have made a great James Bond.

              It would also confirm the fanon that “James Bond” is a code name to go along with the 007 identifier.

        2. Is there any more tired cliche in Hollywood or Television than the “racist white Southerner”?

          At least in Sci-Fi, “AI is a Crapshoot” and “No Transhumanism Allowed” are at least that doddering and elderly.

          Which is funny, since one of the most popular movies in recent years stars 3 transhumans and an alien alongside two regular (if highly trained) humans.

    2. I think so. And he’s further right to say that always looking at black history in America first and foremost in terms of slavery and later continued oppression is not positive. Of course, people should know about that. And maybe the original Roots helped make people more aware of that stuff. But at this point, everyone has been beaten over the head with the (truly awful and shameful) history of slavery and racist policies for long enough that no one is ignorant of that stuff. American blacks aren’t just a historical curiosity and morality lesson.

    3. Roots is nothing but misery porn made to enable Prog white people to superior to other white people.

      Something about the progressive mindset, I think, requires them to feel superior to someone, and since they can’t feel superior to blacks (like the old school progressives of the early 20th century), or womyn, or gays, or trannies, or immigrants, or any other “traditionally oppressed minorities” the only people left are those “flyover country” whites. Who, as everyone knows, are all a bunch of “gun toting Bible thumping rednecks.”

      1. They still seem to feel superior to blacks, in sort of a smug, pseudo-humble way. “White privilege” is like saying “Gosh, I sure feel bad that white people are so awesome at everything *pats head* Have a cookie.”

        1. Yeah, honestly they’ve got their own patronizing brand of racism. The kind that subtly insists that all Middle Easterners are predisposed to rape, therefore they should be given special treatment when on trial for rape.

          Hell, they’ve even reverted to calling non-whites “Colored People”, though they’ve rearranged the order of the words into “People of Color” because changing the position of the words clearly makes it not racist.

      2. “a bunch of gun toting Bible thumping rednecks”…and as happy as a June Bug,

      3. TL:DR; Progressives – If you can’t move the goal posts, drag the starting line as far back as possible.

    4. Agreed.

      Why do they never cover the blossoming of black culture in the early-mid part of the 20th century in places like Harlem, or the black baseball leagues? Here in Lexington, blacks had a vibrant neighborhood with a wonderful theater that drew in famous black artists from all over and black culture thriving everywhere. Now it’s a ghetto (as ghetto as Lexington gets anyways), and the theater, just restored via multitudes of tax money, is already on the rocks.

      And it’s no coincidence that the downfall of said black culture in America coincides with the start of gov “help.”

    5. It’s not misery porn so much as victimization porn. SJW’s eat that shit up.

  2. The original 1976 book 1977 miniseries were massive cultural events in their time, with the latter drawing a record-breaking audience, representing the first time that a true mass-media portrayed the horrors of slavery.

    Not even close.

    Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in 1852, and was the 2nd best-selling book of the 19th Century, coming in just after The Bible.

    1. And the original book was a fairy tale. It has been debunked dozens of times.

      1. And the original book was a fairy tale.

        So was Roots.

      2. How do you “debunk” a work of fiction?

  3. Meanwhile, back in present day reality, slavery apparently remains alive and well.

    1. Over half a million slaves in Europe, huh? I would like to see their definitions and measurement criteria.

      1. Same. Might look at the study later.

      2. They’re probably including all those made up sex trafficking victims/ sex slaves we keep hearing about. Apparently Taken was a documentary.

        1. Apparently Taken was a documentary.

          Well, Liam Neeson *does* have a particular set of skills.

      3. Income Tax is a form of slavery.

        1. WAge LAB0our IS sLaVERYYY!1!1!1

          *pees self

      4. I think the definition has been expanded to include people who cant get a job with their degree.

    2. Cute. I like how they lump in “The Americas”. Especially since the number is 0 north of the Rio Grande except for a couple of chicks locked up in Buffalo Bill’s cellar.

    3. Well it is still technically legal in the US as a punishment for crimes.

    4. The only kind of slavery, and I don’t mean kidnapped sex trafficking victims, but legally condoned slavery that exists in the world today is that of ‘public slaves’. Slaves owned by the state, North Korea being the epitome of that.

      1. Eh, I don’t know. The North Koreans at least KNOW they’re getting a shit deal (sure they tow the party line about how great and awesome Glorious Leader is whenever someone points a camera at them, but that’s just a rational means of self-preservation, but as soon as they are out of that country they make it clear that they knew just how horrible it is there).

        Not sure what the epitome truly is when we compare. The slaves who know they are slaves and seek escape when possible, or the slaves who are so far-gone with Stockholm Syndrome that they don’t even consider themselves slaves, they think they’re the ones calling the shots.

  4. Yet for all the problems tied to race that still exist in America, it’s also true that things are objectively better for blacks (and whites) and, more pressing, we are finally moving past the dualistic racial categories that marked some of our ancestors free and others as slaves. As we become more truly multi-ethnic, we need culture that explores those possibilities, not to forget the past but to finally move on from it.

    Yeah, that’s been the best part of the Obama administration, all the racial healing.

    1. Hey, can’t have that healing shit going on, what the hell good is that for getting out the votes using scare tactics?

  5. Facticity is actually a word.

    1. I remember picking that word up from reading about Sarte/Existentialism.

    2. From Merriam-Webster:

      Origin of facticity
      French or German; French facticit?, from German Faktizit?t, from Factum fact, from Latin factum
      First Known Use: 1945

      TIL

  6. Nope,watched person of interest,I didn’t watch the first one.I was a teen then and was either working evenings at the Gulf station down the street [ for 1.50 an hour ] or out fishing farm ponds for bass.

  7. “Try as he might, Fiedler argues, Haley doesn’t offer a way out of an unbridgeable gap between the races. Instead, he describes the lurid, racist fantasies from the victims’ point of view.”

    “Roots” was a pretty shameless pot boiler, but the “lurid, racist fantasies” described in the book were in fact true, so perhaps “shameful realities” is a more accurate phrase. I can understand why blacks don’t like to be reminded of a time when they were weak and helpless, just as Hannah Arendt disliked the Eichmann trial because she didn’t like to hear Holocaust survivors “whining” about all their lost relatives. But as recent events have vividly demonstrated, millions of white southerners still want to believe in a “chivalrous” South that left the Union over the abstract issue of “states rights” (which would have given northern states the right to nullify the Fugitive Slave Act, which could have wrecked the South). Continuing lies need continuing refutation. The historical experiences of black and white Americans are radically different: let’s not pretend that they weren’t.

    1. And Anal Vainman swoops in to miss the point.

      1. Haha, yup…

        1. He’s so vain…

  8. I’d bet dollars to donuts the new Roots doesn’t show black (or mulatto) slave masters or white (or mulatto) slaves. Yep, America ONLY had black slaves and every single one of them routinely got the shit beat out of them. Never mind those pesky little things like facts about US slavery being more complex than what the Proggies want us to believe. I suppose being a Southerner and in fact descended from one family of slave owners (on my mothers side) means I need to commit harakiri to atone for my evil, cis, hetero white, privileged self now….

    1. They routinely take the last years of slavery-the-institution and the worst examples of slavery-the-practice and portray both as the whole story. Yet slaves aren’t very useful if you treat them all like expendable livestock, and the racialist arguments employed by slavery apologists reflected their desperation to maintain an institution increasingly at odds with public sentiment and economic realities.

      1. Yeah an able bodied slave was worth as much pre civil war as a new car today and they had to be clothed, fed and housed. As a business proposition, brutalizing your assets doesn’t make much sense. Great book on the subject: Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men by Jeff Hummel, an economist.

    2. Never mind those pesky little things like facts about US slavery being more complex than what the Proggies want us to believe.

      Yes, nevermind that. Because what does ‘complexity’ matter?

    3. I’ll take that bet and your money. The part of Chicken George, mulatto slave from the original series, has been cast.

      1. Basically, I doubt they’d change the fact that Chicken George is half white. That’d mean they’d need to change his mother’s rape, now wouldn’t it??

  9. Snoop Dogg Didn’t Watch the New Roots Miniseries.

    Uncle Tom /derp

    What About You

    Allow me to answer that sarcastically: yes, it had been a full 5 minutes or more since the last time popular culture had reminded me of how evil white people are and told me that we’re the cause of all the pain and suffering in the world, so I had totally forgotten about that. I needed the reminder. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m way behind on my required self flagellation…

    1. I’m going to go out and revel in my white privilege now. I’m behind on oppressing all the victim classes today.

  10. What they did to us? Us? I didn’t realize that Snoop Dogg was so old.

  11. Just remember, Roots was plagiarized from an account that was itself a lie.
    http://townhall.com/columnists…..e-n2005541

    1. The History Channel’s rendition of Roots should be subtitled: “Remake of a Fake.”

      Or perhaps “a work of fiction”.

      1. I like “refake”.

    2. Investigative journalist Philip Nobile refers to Haley as a “literary rogue,” an “impostor” whose “prose was so inept that he required ghosts [ghost writers] throughout his career.”

      ah, phil.

      He lived down the street from me. I went to school with his daughter. He was editor of Playboy for a while I think. He also co-authored a book that claims lincoln was gay.

      1. Sorry – not playboy – he edited Penthouse Forum… back when it was *classy* i guess

        He was an editor, along with Eric Nadler, of Penthouse Forum. [7][8] In addition he is a regular contributor to the online History News Network. As a “muckraking” investigative journalist and media analyst, Nobile has generated controversy by his criticisms of a variety of public figures, including sexologist Shere Hite,[9] talk radio host Don Imus, historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, and President Harry S. Truman.[10]

        In 1982 he wrote in Penthouse Forum of his penis size research. He argued that data from Kinsey Institute studies showed that black penis were longer than white penises. This was based on a sample of 2376 “white college men”, 143 “non-white college men” and 59 “black college men”.[11] In 1984 he was sued by Shere Hite for his Penthouse Forum editorial that said that she should be driven “out of the erogenous zones”. The $15 million case was settled out of court, but Nobile did not issue an apology or retraction.[9] In 1990 he debated Judith Reisman on the work of Alfred Kinsey in an appearance on the The Phil Donahue Show where his writing on “positive incest” arose.[12]

        I think Nadler was also a neighbor. They both remind me of 1980s NY.

  12. Anyone else remember a recent episode of one of the genealogy shows where the subject’s antebellum black ancestor had actually made it to Canada and was free…but then chose to return to his master in the United States? That seems on a par with “black Confederate soldiers” but apparently happened in some few instances. It is also widely accepted, through census records, that there were free blacks who owned black slaves in Virginia and not just the free folks who bought their family members but could not, by law, emancipate them.

    1. A higher percentage of free blacks owned slaves than whites.

      1. Cite?

  13. Isn’t “Empire” one of the biggest shows on now?

  14. When Snoop Dogg is the most sensible person in the public sphere, you know how far off the rails you’ve gone.

    1. That was my impression as well; I remember him for the ad “Girls Gone Wild, it’s a way of life.”

      Fo shizzle yo.

  15. Well, to me the lesson of slavery is “wow, look how far we’ve come!” Also, based on some of the inspiring stuff done by people despite the slave system, “human beings can be resilient!”

    But also the lesson is “look at the depths human beings can sink to – no amount of flattering self-talk can erase that, and Original Sin is actually a thing.”

    Progs look at this and say, “OMG, someone was rude to our black President, it’s just like slavery times!” which is nuts, and “well, human nature is infinitely perfectible, except for white conservative males,” which is also nuts. But it’s what lots of people actually believe.

    You can’t blame history for these attitudes. Idiots are gonna idiot.

    Sane people shouldn’t be scared to face up to the bad parts of history, especially given the use which insane people make of it.

    1. Oh, and slavery isn’t historically a white thing. We can study the history of American slavery because we’re American, but let’s not use this an an excuse to (so to speak) whitewash or ignore the slavery in the North African pirate-states, or gloss over who it was from whom white people bought slaves in West Africa.

      1. I was taught slaves were caught in traps and nets like fur traders used.

  16. I never watched the original Roots when it ran on TV but caught some reruns of it recently.

    Horribly dated. Bad acting. It looked like it was shot on Paramount’s back lot. I was expecting the Vasquez Rocks to make an appearance.

  17. Wait a minute….you’re telling me that slavery was a bad thing?! Holy shit! Does anybody else know about this?!!

  18. The Holocaust ended only 71 years ago. That’s why today’s European Jews are mostly living in urban ghettos with a sky-high out-of-wedlock teenage pregnancy rate, and constantly shooting each other over gang turf.

    Oh, wait………

  19. Black-“Americans” ought to be THANKFUL their ancestors were brought here,even as slaves. Otherwise,present-day black-“Americans” would have been born in AFRICA,and never have the rights, education,economic prosperity,opportunity,or peaceful living that they enjoy in the US. No TV,and in many places,no electricity or clean water!!

    1. True. Or maybe it would of been better not to bring them here as slaves so that blacks that wanted a better life for themselves and their families would’ve migrated here on their own like other races.Instead of generations growing up dependent on government and social programs that have kept many of them from achieving the success that other migrants have achieved. Slavery was a horrible part of this country’s past, but the trap that is dependency and victimhood status just for political purposes is also bad.

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  21. Slavery existed everywhere but only in America does it seem we have to be constantly reminded of it and never let it just be a part of the distant past. And as long as the left want to keep black Americans on the progressive plantation, and whites with self guilt, we will keep being reminded. Probably somewhere around election season.

    1. Europeans and their North American colonies were probably last in and first out on slavery, but get all the blame.

  22. In my research on Roman slavery, I’ve noticed that every single person who writes about slavery in antiquity feels the need to apologize first and foremost for its existence in the United States, as if that had any real methodological relationship to the ancient world.

    Although he’s a Marxist, Moses Finley wrote an excellent book (Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology) that looks at historiographical trends in ancient-slavery research and how people use it to forward their modern political agendas. Definitely worth a read if you’re interested in this sort of thing.

    1. I had a history professor in college claim that the Roman institution of slavery was much less onerous and hazardous than the American one….oh and that it wasn’t based on race. He said this because some slaves could be scribes and such. I pointed out that was a small percentage. Most got stuck in iron mines or shackled to an oar on a galley. Those poor bastards lived a year at most. The other “fortunate” ones were the Gladiators….fortunate if you consider getting a foot of Roman steel in your gut or being torn to pieces by a Bear or Lion…..

  23. I didn’t bother to watch the original either, I don’t need a politically-driven piece of mostly fictional crap TV to tell me that slavery is wrong even though it has existed unabated throughout all of known history.

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