Happy Scribe
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You're tuning in to Lovecraft Country Radio. There's some strong language and spoilers ahead. Buckle up. Fuck you. And it fucking stinks in here. Come on. Come on, D. That's what I like to hear. Yeah, I don't feel even a little bit bad here in this little kid go off.

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Not a touch bad. I'm here for you. I'm behind her.

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We support this movement. And I know that we want to keep our babies safe. But I have to say me personally, this is the exact kind of energy I want my children to have in their souls.

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Thank you D. I love this episode and I'm really excited to talk about it with you and our guest.

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So let's get into it.

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Episode eight Jega Bobo, welcome to Lovecraft Country Radio.

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I'm Ashley C. Ford, podcast host, writer and horror enthusiast.

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And I'm Shannon Houston, a writer for the HBO series and Lovecraft Country and Mother to three free Black Children, Women and Men. So this is D episode, which I love.

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Speaking of free black children, in my opinion, this episode most deeply rooted in the horror genre so far. I'm obsessed with it every I mean, it was creepy. It was thrilling. And it definitely this is the one that I was like, if I'm going to have nightmares, it's going to be about these characters.

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And I was absolutely right. Yes, terrifying things have happened.

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Beautiful things have happened.

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Me personally, I'm a little exhausted. I'm not going to lie. The reason I'm exhausted is because this is episode eight. And at this point, Ashleigh, we have stand so many of the actors on this show. And I can't believe that we are now being presented with yet another actor whom we have no choice but to stand.

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Jada Harris, a.k.a. D, a.k.a. Fuck You Pig, a young icon, a young icon in the making.

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She's here. She's here. It's already iconic. So let's recap this episode a little bit. We sent her the ways D is trying to cope after the trauma of her close friend Bobo's horrific murder.

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Some of you definitely caught on to this sooner. That Bobo is actually Emmett Till. I saw this conversation happening online. I had my own inclinations, but I also knew there were things coming up. I knew that, like, this story is always revealing itself a little bit more. But we're watching D confront this murder. We are watching these adult characters who don't know how to reconcile their own trauma, turn away from D in the process.

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They're all focused on each other, even when there are moments when she is in theory, the concern. The reality is everybody is still concerned about themselves and going about their own business and dealing with themselves at the center.

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Yes. And it's such a strange episode. I mean, I love so much of the energy that we're getting four D and it's also terrifying and it's hard. There's just so much to unpack here. And as you mentioned, Ashleigh, there is a very serious horror element, of course.

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So later on, we're going to bring on Tananarive Due, film producer and horror scholar, to discuss some of those elements.

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I'm so excited. I've loved her for so long. I loved watching her commentary in horror noir and shudder. I have loved following her on Twitter for years.

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She's brilliant. But yes, we've got other things to talk about. Let's talk about our girl, Dee, who. So this episode opens with a profound tragedy. We have the death of Emmett Till and the world of Lovecraft. This is Diana's best friend.

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And when we were talking about that opening scene and this episode is written by Misha Green and Egholm 04, DeRay, we thought a lot about grieving somebody and what it looks like just before you're going in to view a body, even when that body isn't Emmett Till's body. But what that what that feels like and what that looks like and what Diana would feel like and what she would be hearing all around her.

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So there is I think one thing that we were trying to think about is there's so much happening before you even step into that building, into that that funeral.

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There's already a world of grief and a world of horror and a world of trauma and also a community, everybody.

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Is there? This is true. The line was around the block and around the block and around the block, hundreds of thousands of people were there. But the reason that this story was important to us is because Emmett Till has come to mean something that's larger than life to a degree. And I think one thing we were wanting to do is to remind you that this was somebody's best friend. Yeah. That this was somebody's baby. That this was somebody who lived in the neighborhood.

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So those are his friends and family members. And that line, along with a ton of people who didn't know him and that that matters. And what did you think of that scene? How did you feel not knowing what was coming?

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It was claustrophobic.

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It was that scene was claustrophobic.

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I, I did not necessarily grow up in a family that dealt with death. Well, but I also, for one reason or another, did grow up in such a way that it wasn't until I was in my 20s that I had a deep grieving process that was about death, like it took me that long to get there. And that was not true for most of the kids in my community. And I remember having to go to funerals of people who I didn't necessarily know or wasn't necessarily close to.

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And I remember that feeling when everybody is either like leaving the sanctuary or just about to go into the sanctuary and the bodies pressed against each other and people stopping in grief because it's like they can't take another step, someone else coming up to carry them along the conversations, especially as a kid that are happening around you.

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But no one's necessarily talking to you unless they're offering platitudes. So they're just telling you things like, don't worry, baby, everything's going to be OK. And nobody is addressing the pain, you see. Yeah. Nobody is saying this is painful and that's OK. They're saying you're going to feel better eventually. So let's just kind of ignore this right now internally.

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Maybe it wasn't a good idea to bring the. You know, getting around this, every Nagel's rite of passage in. Uncle George would have wanted her to see Bobo. We've now been on, like, quite a ride with all of our characters. We know a lot. We don't know everything. There's more to find out, but we know a lot. And we know they're all struggling with things. We know that they're all keeping secrets still. There's just tension.

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And so on top of all of that, they're now standing in this line. And, you know, when D asks about the smile, it's like, oh, God, I wish we were making that up. I wish that was fiction. But it's not. We're seeing Ruby in that moment. Try to answer her, but not really being able to. And then in the commotion of our older characters, talking about what we should do, there's also this conversation about whether or not D should even be there to begin with, which is a really interesting question to ask about violence and blackness and children.

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Again, all of this, unfortunately, very familiar, very timely. So I love that opening scene and it's also heartbreaking.

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And then you have it's a cruel summer playing over, which is like, why, Michelle, why did you why by.

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And the weird thing is it works. Yeah. Really does work in that moment because that's what it kind of sounds like on a two hot day. Yeah. You know, and the sound of grief quite often doesn't necessarily match the sound of the world around you.

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If you are having this private experience of pain, suffering, whatever it is, and the world around you just keeps going. And, you know, the thing with these, like, yes, this is a cruel summer in that her best friend has been murdered and she is standing in line waiting to see his body that's happening to her right now. On top of the fact that her father is gone.

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Her mother is gone. Yes. So what does that do to a child to have not even the safety of familiarity?

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Right.

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It isolates her and it brings out some of the darkness.

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I guess that's the best way to say that. I think that that can kind of help us understand the experience as well. So she runs out of the line. Nobody notices her. Nobody's paying attention. They're actually busy arguing about her and arguing about other things.

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And we're seeing a different deal than the deal that we met in Episode one.

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She's lost a lot at this point. And so she's standing in front of that store and she sees those two little black girls with the ice cream. And she oh, yeah, she throws rocks at them and she screams in the writers room.

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Initially, we talked about her running into two white girls. Mm hmm. And throwing rocks at them, which I was all for. But then it was like, no, that's not what happens. She's on the south side. She wouldn't run into two white girls, number one. Number two, that's actually not even what happens generally when we're dealing with something traumatic. It doesn't go outward. We don't we don't. It does stay in our community.

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We do throw rocks at each other and get angry at each other.

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I love that acknowledgement. I'll be honest. I really did. I love that acknowledgement that, like, it wouldn't have been two white girls who she threw rocks at because I thought the same thing in that scene for a second. You're like, why is she throwing rocks at two black girls?

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And you start thinking about it's like because that's where she lives.

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Because to be perfectly honest, at this point, the idea that I'm getting from D is that if she did before, she doesn't have expectation that white folks would be upset or that they should be upset to do that.

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To me, it's really easy when you don't have any expectations of white people when you're like, I like white people were never coming to get me, no way white people were ever trying to save me anyway. White people weren't ever going to feel this pain anyway.

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But you should get it. You should feel like me right now.

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It's the tyranny of community in a certain sense, you know, because community is this thing that builds us up and pushes us forward and makes us feel safe.

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But community, when warped and and perverted in a certain sense or when placed under oppression and desperation, community can become a place that says there is no room for individuality.

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Mm hmm. And if I feel you should feel yes.

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It's painful and it's beautiful. And it's also uncomfortable because we don't want that. Right. We don't we don't want that us. But it makes so much sense for what's happening. And so then she runs away and she meets fucking Lancaster. And this is Dee's first real encounter with magic. I ate the scene. I hate the scene with everything in my body. It's making me squirm right now. Yeah. And it's like, again, of course, this is happening why, because nobody's around, nobody's watching, the adult characters are nowhere to be found.

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And so this is like trauma on top of trauma. And we can start with Montreaux, who is actually in this episode doing more than anybody else.

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He's not successful, but compared to the other characters, he's trying to do something and he's been staying with.

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Right when we were talking about the scene where Diana stormed into the house and stormed into the bathroom and Montreaux is like chasing after her, we wanted to think about what we now call the talk, which is black parents sitting their children down and explaining to them how to basically survive an interaction with the police, which is basically a smaller version of the conversation of how to survive white supremacy in America. And in the writers room, we talked about how we've seen the talk on television now a few times and a few different shows, and that it's always the same version of the talk.

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So we wanted to think about how can we do the talk in a different way?

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Well, first of all, all of our characters are different, so they wouldn't give Diana the talk in the same way.

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And so Montreaux is doing it in his way. And he has this great line that I love where he's like, if they come for you, you damn sure make them work for it.

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And this is true for somebody who survived Tulsa, which is, I think Montreaux. His idea is, oh, they're coming. They're always coming. That's why he says in the funeral line, of course, she should be here. This is a rite of passage like this is this is how it is, though. Having survived that, his philosophy is go down swinging, which is horrifying and powerful, but also heartbreaking because you're like, but I got to go down.

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Right? They're coming for me. Right. You're not sitting here telling me that they're not coming for me.

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You're saying they are. And I go down swinging. And obviously that's something that she hears and she she's paying attention to that at the end of the episode.

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So that's his version, because I think that the truth of the conversation, which we did discuss in the room, is actually there isn't really a way to beat this, actually.

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You can keep your hands on the steering wheel. You can say, yes, sir, no, sir. You can do all of the things that we're telling you to do.

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And still be killed. Absolutely. But we can't really say that, so we say, put your hands on the steering wheel. We say these other things and there's a darker truth there that also like technically you shouldn't say to a child.

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But that's the tension of I'm trying to prepare you for reality. But I also can't even tell you how bad reality really is to me.

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It's very reminiscent of a couple of things. It's reminiscent of the idea there's so many people who have talked about the fact that when they were growing up, if they were being bullied or beat up and stuff like that, having a parent who would say to you, if you get beat up, I'm going to beat you up. You know what I mean, like, that's that's what it is if you get beat up. Yeah. Then I'm going to beat you up because you have to be tougher than this for the world that's coming.

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You necessarily I guess your kids will encounter pain.

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They won't. Counterterror it is absolutely different for black children how those things might show up.

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And most children of color, I would say, like it is always different how those things might show up.

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But if you are going to try to prepare me for pain.

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Can you also prepare me for what it might look like if things go well? Can you prepare me for love? Can you prepare me for that?

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But yes, hope is dangerous and nobody believes that more than Montreaux. Nobody believes hope is dangerous more than Montreaux facts, big facts.

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So how do we raise it like that? This is the thing that I'm trying to figure out. How do we raise free black kids in reality?

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Not in theory. How do we raise free black kids right now?

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One of the first answers to that question, and there are several, but I think one of the first answers is your presence, your actual legitimate presence. And so there's a bunch of adults around D in this episode, but they are not with D in this episode.

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She does not have their presence. She does not have their attention. It sounds so small and basic and simple, but it's not like so many kids don't have this all the time or consistently. So I think that's part of it. And I think we have some other answers coming too, throughout the episode. But coming off of Montreaux, we have Atticus, who's also obviously trying to protect Dee, but also trying to protect the entire family and himself.

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And one of the ways that he's going to try to do this is by making an exchange with Christina, which I know a lot of people were like, why?

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Why? But we all do dumb things when we're panicking. We all, I think, make deals with devils. And as a result, he's ignoring Diana. But there is a lot of interesting stuff happening here because he's wrapped up in this quest for the book of names at which, again, he knows will ultimately help his family.

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And what we wanted to do with Atticus in this episode was talk a talk about how we could take him from being a lone wolf to this person who understands community and family.

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And we fight together. He's not that guy. In Episode one, he's consistently left Letty out of the picture in the past. And now we're trying to bring him closer to, you know, basically what a real hero is.

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And our story, which is, no, you need everybody to think about everybody, right? Like real power is actually not going at it alone.

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And I actually love the scenes with Montreaux because there's a shift happening in this relationship, which has always troubled us and I think will always trouble us.

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Right.

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Of course, as it must. But they do the unthinkable and they attempt to cast a spell together. And this is also an episode where even though there's there are still secrets being kept, we're trying to get our characters to open up more with each other.

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Also, it still shocks me in that scene because I'm like, man, they have lacked intimacy for eight episodes and there have been these little moments of love between them. And so it is really exciting to see him pull out that book. He has this scene with Montreaux, where he's describing the book, which I also love, because it's like a little nod to Matt Roth's Lovecraft country, where he talks about what's, you know, what a Shane.

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Yeah, yeah. There's a boy named Horace, which was a change that we made. We made lots of, you know, changes, but quite a few.

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It's a sweet scene. And then Montreaux says, well, if Kristina said that casting a spell is about intention, I got some fucking intention. I don't intend for you to die.

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Let's do this. Pitchwoman become Toca, Dunk's Sophina. And then they do it and it appears that nothing has happened, and of course, then we also get this other secret, which is that Montreaux has dyslexia. And Tech says to him, what does he say? That better be the last secret. And we know we know that it is not a secret.

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And, you know, one of the reasons why I really love that moment is because because the communication between these two characters, this father and son, has been so poor for so long.

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There's so much there that it's very clear that if they had been able to communicate with each other earlier. Yes. It's not that they would not have encountered any of these things. It's just that they could have been on the same team from the beginning. And so much violence and so much that has gone down between them would not have necessarily had to have been. But you know how fate goes.

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You know, like I said before, actually, on the one hand, I'm really mad at all of our adult characters for not being there for me.

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But they are also dealing with a lot. And that's true for Montross and Atticus and that's also true for Atticus and Leidy. Oh, yeah.

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And Gere, who is here with us in the flesh and looking for.

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I'm looking for Atticus. So Leidy does come back to the house looking for Diana in her defense, she actually is looking for her. She yells up at the stairs and she gets sidelined because there's a young woman sitting in a room waiting and that woman is Gia. And your thoughts, your thoughts on Jio wasn't ready?

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I think, like Gere's presence immediately made me terrified. Like I was like anything could happen. Yes. I love that scene. It's icky. It's uncomfortable like all the other scenes are. And then Lettie and Atticus have this big blowout where, again, we're trying to take tech from being a lone wolf. But it's a struggle to change. It's not that easy. And Leidy has to remind him, like you continuously think of yourself even when it kind of seems like we're in this together, you continuously make choices.

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And this isn't just about you. And Letty's also freaking out because Letty's like also I don't want you to die. Side note, I'm also pregnant. Right? I don't think she says that to know what she like.

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And he says that, you know, when he's talking to Montreaux, one of the things they talk about is the fact that he knows that he is pregnant.

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Right. But she hasn't told him yet. Right.

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And that in and of itself, I'm already like, OK, first of all, how long has it been on this show?

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Because this pregnancy is a little twilight.

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Hey, don't do that. Right? Don't do that. I'm sorry. It's a little it's a little Renesmee. It's giving me Bella and Edward Vibe's only slightly just because I'm like, how long how long has this been going?

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Like what? How long?

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What is the timeline here? First of all?

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Second of all, there is a part of me that's like, come on, y'all like y'all can't even tell each other like she's pregnant and y'all can't talk to each other about that.

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Like, what is what is that?

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How do you build from there. Like she's told Ruby before she tells Atticus there's 400 things going right.

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When should I tell him, how should I tell him, like all that fear wrapped up in what it means for them and what it means for their future. But I remember in the writers room also talking about we wanted her to say it to Ruby first because we are trying to bring our characters closer together. So that's a really important moment between the sisters. Letty makes an offering of here's something that I haven't told anybody in the dark room with Ruby.

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And then Ruby also shares her secrets about Hillary, Davenport and Christina and William.

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And so even though it's a sad scene and it's an uncomfortable scene and they're talking about Emmett and the guilt that Letty feels for not being able to take photos of him, which is also so powerful and beautiful. But it's also about two sisters finally coming together and talking. Yeah, and that's something that our characters are really bad at doing for most of the show. But we're trying to push them closer together. We want them to learn. We want them to be better.

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Ruby gives her this really great advice about how it's OK that she wasn't able to take that photo and that this day is also about like taking care of yourself. But when we were talking about this before, you said something really interesting that I had either forgotten about or hadn't quite thought of, but which was that Ruby is saying that for a particular reason. Oh, yeah. Coming out of the house that she just came out of. So this is the part where I just want to scream at the top of my lungs, because we are going to now talk about Ruby and Christina Aguilera, Hilary Davenport, again, what is happening?

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What is happening, honestly?

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Like what is going on?

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Ruby leaves the funeral head straight to William, a.k.a. Christina's house, and immediately is stopped by a neighbor trying to enter who's all like, you know, what's going on here?

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Are you the maid, you know, or whatever?

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And she's like, I'm not the damn May with I was like, oh, yes.

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And I saw you know, I do want to mention that I did see a couple of people tweet that particular love and hip hop Atlanta gift.

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You know, they may with Johnson, right.

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The maid uniform is gone, everybody, and it's over.

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But Ruby in this moment, like, is having just my this visceral reaction to her pain and her rage. You can see it at the surface. And this interaction with this man that comes up and, you know, William walks out. But what if William hadn't walked up?

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And I see that that is something that she is considering, but almost feels like I can't let myself worry about that right now.

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Like, I can't let myself worry about why I'm safe. When I'm safe and I feel safe for a moment, you know what I mean? And I on the one hand, you get that, on the one hand you're like, man, if you feel is somebody who never feels safe, feel safe for a moment, let them have that.

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But on the other hand, especially when it comes to black folks, you always have to ask, what did it cost you?

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Because it's going to cost you something Earth.

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Yes. And I think to what's happening is she wants to escape. She she comes from the funeral and she's like, I don't ever want to see anything like that again. I don't even want to think about anything like that again.

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But I'm going to just say this.

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When I see the sex scene in this episode, I go to myself.

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I say, at this point, I'm done with Mr. Green. But you have gone too far, my friend.

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Like I say that to say, with respect to my showrunner, those feelings that you have about the show where you're like, I'm horrified. This is grotesque. I'm deeply uncomfortable. I don't like it. Wait, I kind of like that part. No, I didn't like it. That is all intentional. That is exactly the show that we set out to give you.

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There's this other weird thing that's uncomfortable, which is I'm like, first of all, nobody should be having sex on this day period at all.

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Right. Right. Second of all, you're going to go have sex with your white lover.

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And then also it's like levels of outrage that I also feel, which is, again, the thing that Lovecraft does was it's like, oh, yeah, that thing that's sacred to you, we're going to put a monster in there.

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Right? That thing that you're like, no, you can't touch that. And I had very strong feelings about just Bobo as a character in general. I did not like the idea when we first started the room. Right. Because, again, I'm like, we can't do that. I'm uncomfortable. I don't like it. It's sad. And it's like, yep, yes, that's the point. And we're going to now layer in some other things with that.

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But yes, of course, people have sex. Yes, that's what I was basically going to say.

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Of course, people do. People deal with things all kinds of ways. And this sex is about hiding. This sex is about secrets. This sex is about using.

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You know, one of the things that I think people have a hard time talking about is that when there are power differentials in a relationship, sex can become a charged thing.

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Sex can become a thing that is uncomfortable if you are engaging with each other as symbols, if you are engaging with each other as places to go, not people to know if that's what's happening, then yeah, absolutely. Like, it can be like just the contact and then you go on about your way.

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But that's not what's happening here. I, I mean, that's partly what's happening here.

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I think like they're both performative Lee being a certain way, but ultimately legate.

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Ruby and Williams, Christina, are both trying to figure something out with each other. Yes, and they are both affecting each other more than either of them want to admit. Yes.

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And I think along those lines, it's like Ruby is hiding, but also this is her lover and she wants to be with her lover on this day, whether we want her to or not. If that wasn't enough, Meshuggah, you then decide to have this follow up conversation with Ruby and Christina.

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And it chills my blood to hear this exchange because it's also it's so beautiful. Unlike what Ruby is saying, I should have been on the south side with my people. Everything she's saying, it's feels so true and beautiful. And then, you know, she says to Christina, I want you to feel what I feel, which we know isn't really possible. But she says it and she asks her a question that maybe you should not ask somebody like Christina, which is, do you care?

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And Christina gives Ruby and asks her answer. And it's. Probably not the answer that we expected, but it's also an answer that feels so true to Christina, who says these uncomfortable, truthful things, which is simply now a 14 year old boy, was beaten and shot to death, then tied with barbed wire by the neck to a cotton gin fan and cast into the Tallahatchie River.

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But do you care? What? I don't care about Emmett Till and Ruby is not admitting in this moment what she's seeking from Christina. She will not admit that what that question is about is not necessarily whether or not Christina cares, because if she really cared how much Christina cared, then she would have cared before they had sex.

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You know what I would like if she it really made you this upset. If it really made you this hot, why are you just now considering it? Yes.

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And then, you know, again, the layers to a scene, not only do we hear Christina say no, but then she turns on Ruby and she's like, I don't really think you do either.

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Mm hmm. And if Ruby wanted to be on the south side, why wasn't she on the south side?

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And that's what Christina sang like you wanted, what you wanted, which was to fuck me, which again, is like you do not say that on this day, but she says it and it's crazy.

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And I think that Ruby is changed by this conversation. I think it has an impact on her. But she's not the only one, because later on we have the scene where Christina goes and she, quote unquote, experiences Emmett Till's death. So many uncomfortable feelings about this scene as well. The just watching her do this and knowing that it's partly coming off of this weird connection that she has with Ruby, where she you know, Ruby said, I want you to feel what I feel.

[00:33:51]

And so in a weird way, Christina's trying to do that, but it's so violent and horrific as it should technically be.

[00:34:01]

Ashley, how do you read the scene?

[00:34:04]

I read it as a coopting of an experience and of pain. I read it. I'm honestly I read it as a false attempt.

[00:34:15]

You know, maybe the best she could do. I you know, I don't know if I can say a false attempt. I can definitely say an unsuccessful attempt at understanding what it actually would have been like for that black child to experience that moment.

[00:34:34]

One of the things that upset me about this was the fact that she had white people do it too white to be perfectly light.

[00:34:45]

In my mind, if anybody needs to blow off some steam in this moment, at this time in this city, it's not these white dudes who are clearly taking pleasure and this moment and in what they're doing to you, which, you know, at any time, like she's experiencing this pain, she's going through it, she's on the ground, she's been shot.

[00:35:10]

She's got barbed wire around her neck. But all the while, she knows she's not going to die yet. She knows she's not going to die.

[00:35:21]

And knowing that means the entire exercise is for naught if you know that you are so protected. Yeah, that even as you experienced this danger, you will not perish, you will not lose your one sweet, precious life that everyone else is terrified of losing at any given time, including children and everybody else.

[00:35:49]

When you don't have that fear for real in that moment, you are pantomiming.

[00:35:59]

You're just handsome, it's an emotional pantomiming, and so. Familiar, to be perfectly honest, I think also like you had this great point about what we do collectively to rationalize our behavior and what that there's a connection there to this show to. Absolutely.

[00:36:17]

You know, one of the things that I've said before, and I'll like I'll probably be saying it until I die, is that rationalization is the closest human beings come to divining magic.

[00:36:26]

It is the closest I come to divining magic because of how good we are at convincing ourselves that anything we want to be true is true.

[00:36:37]

You can rationalize anything. And I believe that people sit in their lives and in their homes and rationally believe to themselves.

[00:36:49]

Every child that does not belong to me. Has nothing to do with me, and so it's not that it's actually the right choice. It's not that it's actually what's best for the child.

[00:37:01]

It's just that I know that I'm not going to face any real repercussions from abdicating what is, to me, a communal responsibility.

[00:37:13]

So, yes, so where does that leave us, because, you know, it's hard, nobody's saying it's not hard. A lot of kids are going through a lot of stuff. Can we save them all? Can we go take care of them all? Like, I don't know.

[00:37:26]

But I know that it's not helping us to sit around and talk about the fact that we shouldn't have to try.

[00:37:33]

Yeah. And D as our example of that, D is literally like trying to call out for help to her family and they are not hearing her. They are wrapped up in their own lives and that's a problem. And she gets very angry. And so I want to also take a moment to talk about all this angry ass ladies of Lovecraftian.

[00:37:54]

They all mad, they're mad. And, you know, I love that. I think that's part of the shift that we're watching take place with Diana. And now that Diana is suffering, that voice is coming out in different ways.

[00:38:06]

That also reminds me of D.C. running into the safe Negro Travel Guide, locking up home alone Macaulay Culkin style, like, yes, I am going to defend myself. And she's angry and it's so beautiful and it's so profound because we need that more.

[00:38:26]

We need our little girls to feel like they can talk back, yell back, fight back.

[00:38:32]

And it's also terrifying because what you're actually looking at in that moment where she spits on him, that's a free black child and it's terrifying.

[00:38:42]

And I want to say, I, I come on this podcast every week and I and I say three free black children, not because I believe it.

[00:38:50]

Because I don't. That's true.

[00:38:53]

I don't I know I know that there are so many limitations. I know that they're in danger. I know that they shouldn't spit on cops. But I say it because I want it to be true and I'm trying to make it true.

[00:39:05]

And I'm trying to remind myself that there are things that I can do to try to get us a little bit closer to that truth. But that's actually what it looks like. It's Diana in those scenes. And it's scary because we don't know if she can win the fight, right?

[00:39:18]

We never do. Right. We never do know if anybody's going to be able to win the fight. Like that's reality. That's real.

[00:39:26]

And I think one of the things that this show does is show us essentially like those things that we really want to do, these expressions of anger, these things that, like I've said before, it feels like everybody else gets to do. And when do we get our shot? When do we get just one time? When do we get a turn to just, like, lose it, you know, like and not be put down for it?

[00:39:49]

There's a reason that we wanted Diana to be a girl, and there's a reason that we wanted to take Bobo's story and to have that story in conversation with Diana. And the reason you can actually hear and that incredible clip of Naomi Wadler at the March for Our Lives in twenty eighteen. And she's talking about all the young black girls who get left behind in conversations about violence and brutality in this country. And so that's part of the thing that we're wrestling with in this episode.

[00:40:23]

And so I love Diana fighting back against Topsy Bobbsey. Why are they dancing? Why they have to be Topsy and Bob.

[00:40:32]

See, for me, I think were so terrifying because that image, that image is sort of like that, exaggerated, you know, like that minstrelsy like look like that is the narrative that follows you.

[00:40:52]

And it is absolutely the narrative that follows angry black girls, because any time you express your anger as a black girl, you are told essentially that when you do that, you no longer become a person and you become a symbol or a stereotype of something. And any time you express your anger, you're giving away your agency. You're giving them what they want, you know, whatever you like.

[00:41:18]

And it's so terrifying the idea that, like my emotions, for some reason, even though I am a human being, I'm a child for some reason, my emotions are so powerful.

[00:41:30]

That people lose their shit when I express them, I terrify people with my reasonable anger. One of the things I will tell you that I thought I kept thinking that they would turn her into one of them. I kept thinking that watching it like, is that like what do they do when they catch her? Do they turn her into one of them?

[00:41:54]

And what does that mean? What does it mean that she would become one of them?

[00:41:59]

There's something else here that I love about Diana. It made me think of that, that Zora Neale Hurston quote, If you are silent about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it. Yes. And that speaks to what Montreaux was telling her to at the beginning of the episode. Like, we have to be loud, like, who knows what's going to happen, but do not take this silently. And she doesn't. And even in that moment where she can't verbalize what's happening, she does what she should do, which is to draw the pictures, to create art.

[00:42:31]

Oh, she's creating art of these horrific dolls that are chasing her. And it just and talking about it, I'm like, oh, my God, I'm thinking about Kara Walker and I and I wanted to bring up Kara Walker because I feel like you kind of need to look at Kara Walker images. And there are other artists, black female artists like her, who dabbled in that like space of like the grotesque and the beautiful and the feminine all coming together.

[00:42:59]

And obviously, like Kara's also really dabbling and like antebellum south stuff, which is important for this episode.

[00:43:05]

But it's it's like somebody picked up that drawing and didn't know anything about Diana.

[00:43:09]

It would just be like, oh, why make something so ugly? Right.

[00:43:12]

And so I'm thinking about Diana's artwork and like, how do you tell somebody we don't want to see your trauma in that particular way?

[00:43:20]

You know, there's something else strange happening.

[00:43:22]

There are in trauma are so intimately linked and how they like and how your art can help you express your trauma and how it can help you change a narrative for yourself.

[00:43:34]

It's so important. So her beginning to dress like that was a wonderful moment for me, too, because I realized what she's doing in that moment is changing her narrative, because when I become the artist, when I am in control of the story, I can do with it whatever I want and I can be whoever I want within it. So I love that. I think what's really fascinating about this episode and the way horror is presented in it is that we do get to grapple with the literal horror of racism and how it can be explored in a narrative, how it can be explored in artistic expression in a really specific way, how trauma can be explored and how we can grapple with our internal responses to not only our own trauma, but seeing how other people decide to deal with their trauma.

[00:44:25]

So this is the perfect time for us to phone a friend and really dig into these themes and ideas. Yes, yes.

[00:44:34]

Our very special guest today, Tananarive Due, film scholar, UCLA professor and executive producer of the documentary that you all should watch. And you should have already watched because it was assigned to you before Noir. A History of black horror.

[00:44:49]

Tananarive Oh, my God. We're so excited. We're so excited to have you. Thank you. I am so excited to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me. You know, it's a lifelong horror fan and especially as a black horror fan. And that is a very specific thing. As a black fan, I feel like Lovecraft Country is the show I have waited my whole life for and love that.

[00:45:13]

I love that. Congratulations to Qadam. She's going to cry. She's going to cry about this.

[00:45:17]

It feels so good to hear you say that. I'm so thank you. And it feels great to be talking to you about this. I am also a big, huge fan of horror and a black whore specifically.

[00:45:31]

So this conversation for me is a long time coming because I've been watching your work for a really long time.

[00:45:41]

Thank you, Lovecraft country for bringing us together. Finally, finally, out of a ten episode seasons.

[00:45:47]

This is top three episode for me. This is in my top three.

[00:45:51]

It's swirling around in there and I think it's because of how many traditional horror tropes show up in this episode.

[00:46:02]

However, I don't feel like I see a whole lot of black children in horror films, even the ones that include children.

[00:46:10]

I know recently there was the girl with all the gifts.

[00:46:13]

There was Doctor Sleep, which were both amazing depictions, I think.

[00:46:18]

But I wanted to talk to you a little bit about how black children have shown up in horror traditionally because Topsy and Bobbsey got me.

[00:46:28]

OK, I'm going to be right. I had. Well, when you say the word traditionally, that's kind of an oxymoron because we don't see black children in horror and I'm like you, I mean, just to preface it as a as a horror creator myself, it's this idea of loss of innocence. And I think because a lot of us did come to horror as children, we saw ourselves in the movie even when we weren't in the movie. So let's start with that.

[00:46:55]

Right. But in terms of is it top, Sam? Yeah.

[00:47:01]

You know, the vibe of the vibe they were giving off. And I think in the best of ways for me, let's just go to modern horror us. Jordan Peele, you know, who very famously uses a black family again, never been done. It's such a low bar for things that we've never been able to have before. So a black family in a horror movie and the children playing such an important role in their doppelgangers being so scary. Yeah, that's what came to mind when I was watching Topsy and biopsy and all the best ways, right?

[00:47:33]

Yes. But in terms of where have we seen children, I mean, not that often. So there was the people under the stairs. Wes Craven yelled that and had a little black boy as the lead, which was amazing. I mean, way ahead of its time.

[00:47:46]

And I loved it. I watched it every chance I got as a kid, even though it terrified me and made me think that, like white people might be living under the stairs of almost every house I was ever in.

[00:48:01]

Right. So there's some of that energy even in this, come to think of it, you know, which is about hidden worlds on so many levels and secrets, as you all were just discussing. I am at a loss to think of more.

[00:48:15]

Well, in Tales from the Hood and the Hood has a very famous segment about abuse in a family with a little black boy at the center who can use art. And this is relevant to Lovecraft country. Yes, using art, literally drawing pictures of the monster and crumpling the monster in his hands. Yes. To heal trauma, to heal trauma.

[00:48:38]

I was so deep in so deep. I love this. This is why I love horror. I got to back it up a minute, please. I mean, I get out.

[00:48:45]

My late mother, Patricia Stephens, due as a civil rights activist and her entire adult life, she wore dark glasses because she was injured by a police officer who threw a tear gas canister in her face when she was 20 years old because she was leading a non-violent protest. It's what we see played out in the news now. And even if we don't see it on the news, it is still playing out. Now, this violence against protesters because of the deep fear of change.

[00:49:11]

Right. And my mother was on the front lines of that. And I really believe that she loved horror. Because not despite her history as a civil rights activist, it was her way of alleviating the trauma of her lived experiences, her rage. But what's what rage but a mask over fear. So, you know, someone's really angry. Like, what are you afraid of? Is a question you need to ask. So we are at this funeral at the beginning of this episode, and I can't talk about the horror and Lovecraft country without talking about the horror of black lived experiences.

[00:49:47]

You know, it's like I said, in horror and more black history is black horror. Yes. And especially the trauma of a child. So to get back to autopsy is a top top CNN. Bobby, I'm sorry.

[00:50:01]

Whoo! What a perfect physical manifestation of how a childhood trauma haunts you for life. Because in life, you know, the best friend of Emmett Till did not thrive emotionally without help. Right? Right. So there's this passage we have to take through trauma. And horror is such a great visualization of the passage through trauma, whether it's running away from them, letting them chase you or that moment, which I love in all horror, which is when you decide, you know what if I'm going to stand and fight.

[00:50:35]

Yeah, that is what I'm always looking for and waiting for. And I think that's one of the things I love about writing child protagonist in horror is that, yes, they do feel the trauma and they feel it very deeply. And they have fears that as adults, sometimes we've forgotten about like if you're in the dark or a monster under your bed. Right. But when they understand what they're up against and they are always quick to understand, they don't need a whole committee to explain to them what's happening.

[00:51:00]

She knows there's a demon chasing her. Right. And she knows nobody else can see those demons even as she tries to enlist help from others. But this is her personal journey with her trauma. And she figures it out. Yeah, she figures out what to do. She figures out, OK, I'm going to confront these police who are in fact, the police are probably the most frightening presence outside of Topsy. A biopsy or in the street.

[00:51:22]

Is the police as monstrous, not just your everyday Jim Crow police, where there's one scene that looked like it was about to turn into a sexual assault, which I was rising up so much as I go. I do not want to see this, but then it's like, right. So you transfer that energy that we know from history that they could do whatever they want to. That little girl in that alley and there is nothing she can do.

[00:51:43]

There's nothing her family can do. There will be no justice, just like in many cases today. There will be no justice. So we take that that memory, that ancestral memory, that hashtag memory that we live with every day. And you transfer it to the supernatural realm so the police are not going to harm her in the ways that we know police can harm us. They're going to harm us through magic. Mm hmm. Which is which, again, it helps us have a little bit of emotional remove so that we can actually watch it know.

[00:52:15]

But also it expresses so beautifully what it feels like to be helpless in the face of the police. Yes.

[00:52:24]

One of the things that I really loved about that moment when she confronts the police is that I kept thinking, in a way these police have just made a really powerful enemy because you have given her something that she stared down but that originally scared her more than you.

[00:52:45]

Yes, these demons scared me more than you. Yeah. And if I can run them down, then I'm not really worried about you anymore.

[00:52:55]

Like, it enforces this shift that I think, unfortunately, so many black kids have to face at a very young age where you have to decide so quickly when it's worth it to die, like when it is worth it to say what I need to say.

[00:53:16]

And I don't care if I die. I don't care if I get expelled. I don't care if I get kicked out, like being forced to that place, of having to understand within yourself that, like, my safety in a certain sense to me just became moot because I don't even necessarily believe anymore that it ever existed.

[00:53:38]

And so now I'm going to do whatever I want and I'm going to say whatever I want.

[00:53:43]

That to me summarizes, I think, what my mother's viewpoint was as a 19 and 20 year old in the civil rights era, you know, facing down these police tear gas. I mean, she said many times I felt like if I did not have my rights, I was already dead. Yeah. So there's nothing more you can do to me. And that's the point she came to write, is like, OK, these demons of taste. And you're so right, she's she's more afraid of those demons that she has with police.

[00:54:09]

So it kind of demystified them for her. Yes, they have power, but there's power and there's power. Yes. So and that scene is also about the power of language and words like literally part of the spell is that she can't speak, she can't verbalize and explain what's happening. When she tries to talk, she gets that scratch in her throat. But in that scene, it's like, fuck you.

[00:54:35]

And she found that voice, her voice, the thing that she need.