September 19, 2020

"What if a modern-day Black American woke up one morning to find herself on a Civil War–era slave plantation?"

"That’s what happens to Eden (played by Janelle Monáe), though the movie opens on her life in captivity and takes a while to reveal its contemporary twist. Antebellum evokes Octavia Butler’s chilling 1979 masterpiece, Kindred, in which an African American woman is mysteriously transported back in time and experiences the deep suffering of her enslaved ancestors. But that novel didn't relish the brutality that its protagonist experienced, and it offered profound insights into power, memory, and the psychology of enslavement. Antebellum isn’t worthy of the comparison. It loads up on visceral scares and disturbing imagery in service of a shallow film that feels like a gory theme-park ride showcasing the horrors of slavery.... Strangely, the whole estate seems to function only as a place for sadistic punishment. The first 40 or so minutes of Antebellum are a ceaseless torrent of violence and abuse.... The terrifying realities of slavery are reduced to horror-movie tropes. This cycle of violence and rape exists only to gin up the viewers’ fury and prepare them for the climactic sequence of revenge.... The middle part of the film snaps the audience back to the present, crucially revealing that 'Eden' is a popular lecturer and writer named Veronica, who has a gorgeously appointed home and a loving family... Here’s where I spoil the big reveal, in case you haven’t already figured it out: The plantation is fake, a present-day re-creation designed by rich racists so that they can act out vile power fantasies. Veronica, the viewer is meant to understand, is the sort of independent and liberated Black person who might draw ire from racists. That’s why she’s been targeted and pulled into their absurd experiment at restoring the hierarchies of the past."

From "Antebellum Is a Shallow Schlock-Fest About Slavery/To make a point about the evils of white supremacy, the film subjects its Black characters to unceasing brutality" by David Sims (The Atlantic).

71 comments:

GatorNavy said...

Me and my family watched it last night. More of a melodramatic torture porn flick than actual horror. Some smart and funny dialogue between the protagonist’s friends, but ultimately it fails as a movie.

Fernandinande said...

The plantation is fake, a present-day re-creation designed by rich racists so that they can act out vile power fantasies.

It's so cute the way black people think white people hate them like they hate white people.

Narayanan said...

Someone with courage needs to make a prequel to Roots

Lucid-Ideas said...

Were this play not a schlock-fest, and was indeed a true hypothetical, I think one the most amazing things m, shocking things black people would find was the astonishing absence of white people.

The white 'overseer' is largely a myth. On the biggest antebellum plantations, the predominant foreman (and disciplinarians) were black. It's just like the myths of the Calabar coast, you'd seldom see a white man excepting the captains and crews of the slave vessels. The predominant traders and slavers were africans and Muslim blacks and Arabs.

MadisonMan said...

My question for such a film. How often will the 'n' word be used? Or was that scrubbed?

chuck said...

The black version of Cuties?

Balfegor said...

Sounds like a left-wing fantasy of what racists actually want to do. I usually look to Frederick Douglass for contemporary accounts of the experience of slavery (although, other than his time with the negro breaker, he was likely treated much better than the average slave), but there were definitely sadists e.g. Madame LaLaurie in New Orleans, whose torture of her slaves was discovered when her mansion caught on fire, and so outraged the local citizenry that they tore her mansion down.

Drago said...

Its important for Hollywood to continue to create the racists needed for democratical/LLR-lefty political narratives since those racists are in such short supply in the real world.

Hey, is that a noose in that garage over there?!.......

JCA1 said...

Good to see someone finally exploring this completely neglected topic.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Yawn. Hollywood is dead.

Joe Smith said...

Why go back in time? America is just as racist now as it was in the Democratic South.

The 'twist' can be seen coming through the Lincoln Tunnel.

Even M. Night Shyamalan would be ashamed...

RNB said...

No qualms about assuming the existence of uber-wealthy, white supremacist psychopaths, then? It's not as if you can insult white people, after all.

n.n said...

The insidious progress of diversity. How cuties.

mikee said...

I, for one, think the original "I Spit On Your Grave" from 1978 is what got Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the Supreme Court 15 years later. How, I'm not sure. But empowered feminism will not be denied!

Thus, I predict that this movie will result in a Kamala Harris presidency next year. Things move faster now, because of Facebook and Instagram and TikTok. Of course, her ancestors were slave owners in Jamaica, so empowered black woman not exactly overcoming anything! More like authoritarian power-mad leftist looking to enslave the nation, will not be denied.

robother said...

Sounds like the kind of film that white liberal activists such as Ed Buck might enjoy.

Carol said...

Dwelling on slavery sure as hell makes your moral world easier than wondering why blacks just can't seem to cut it after 50 years of affirmative action and billions in education spending.

Roughcoat said...

I'm tired of the whole race thing. Yawn.

Jupiter said...

The intent of this movie is to get some white people killed. It will be successful.

Michael K said...

Do they allow leftist masturbation during the film ?

Quaestor said...

What if a modern-day black American woke up one morning to find herself in an 18th-century west African village of animist farmers under attack by members of a nearby village of Muslim farmers who, having learned that their religious duty is to enslave or kill all idolators and that whites are offering muskets in trade for slaves, are putting their faith to work.

rcocean said...

Actually American Slavery was terrible because of the lack of freedom, not because of the physical abuse. Southern slaveholders tried to treat their slaves in a Christian manner, but that doesn't obviate the fact, that they were Stealing the slaves wages for their own benefit and denying them the right to live their own lives.

Is Hollywood going to put out an annual slavery movie now? Seems like a good way to employ all those African American actors.

Joe Smith said...

"The plantation is fake, a present-day re-creation designed by rich racists so that they can act out vile power fantasies."

Southworld?

This is as delusional as believing a sub-Saharan African country could be the most technologically-advanced on the planet.

Ralph L said...

Was she forced to twerk in sequined shorts?

As a girl, my mother visited her ancestral plantation Vesuvius, then a paintless shambles, and was shown the chains for unruly slaves embedded in the cellar walls.

Sebastian said...

"What if a modern-day Black American woke up one morning to find herself on a Civil War–era slave plantation?"

What if a modern-day Black American woke up one morning to find herself being pursued by African slave raiders to be sold to European buyers?

What if a modern-day Black American woke up one morning to find herself living in Uganda under Idi Amin's rule?

What if a modern-day Black American woke up one morning to find herself confronting young soldiers in the Liberian civil war?

What if a modern-day Black American woke up one morning to find herself kidnapped by Boko Haram?

So much material!

Birches said...

Here's a thought I've not had till reading this post. The Woke set would like everyone not Black to feel guilty about what some people's ancestors did to black people. What if the woke feels guilty because they never had to endure what their ancestors' endured? I see this as a reason for this film?

It's a little Arthur Dimsdale with the whip, no?

Matt Sablan said...

Is it sad I assumed that the twist was: "But it was reality all along?"

alanc709 said...

The left can not tell the truth, even when they try. Why are you surprised?

Narr said...

Well shee-it. I go away for a day and this is the freshest post when I get back; and me a white male Southerner of Confed ancestry . . .

Slavery sucked, and was close enough to hell to make little difference to its victims. That said, historical memory is moving from ACWABAWS fetishization to Slavery fetishization, and I'm not sure that's an improvement.

The movie sounds awful, but I am not its audience on so many levels.

Narr
Shades of Fowles's "The Collector" and "The Magus"

Bay Area Guy said...

I think any movie, article, or political commentary that evokes the evil of slavery, should also evoke the heroism of those in the Civil War who fought to eradicate slavery.

Howard said...

Racism porn for libtards

Narr said...


Besides which, Key and Peele play with the slavery theme brilliantly.

Narr
So there

Unknown said...

We live in a Forced Economy run by sick people. There is no popular demand for the large majority of junk getting pushed down the pipe at us. A dumpster full of burning cash. Feeling angry today. -willie

Rocketeer said...

We live in such interesting times: upheaval, strife and even "entertainment" based on the irrational, scientifically unsupported anxiety of a non-insignificant portion of the population.

Wince said...

Actual time-travel would have been more believable.

The plantation is fake, a present-day re-creation designed by rich racists so that they can act out vile power fantasies.

Enough about Democrat-run cities.

Pillage Idiot said...

One of my definitions of racism is quite different than the current "woke" definition that is extant in the modern Left.

If you perform deliberate acts that serve to INCREASE the division between the races, then YOU are a racist.

Apply as needed to the current rioters, media pundits, campus administrators, Hollywood writers, etc.

tommyesq said...

Substitute 14-15 year old wayward girls for Eden and you would have the Epstein story!

tcrosse said...

What if a slave in a civil-war era plantation woke up one morning to find herself a popular writer and lecturer in 21st century America, having to deal with Systemic Racism?

JAORE said...

Gee, I sense a recurring 2and 4 year pattern to this type of film. Don't know why. 'Tis a puzzle. Truly is.

Big Mike said...

Golly geeeeee-whiz. Without movies like this I would never have realized that plantation owners mistreated their slaves. Boy! I’m so glad this movie came out to inform me.

Scott M said...

Sounds like a much worse, and horribly-timed, version of M Night's Village. Likewise, they would have to ignore the problem of her liners and other aircraft.

Michael K said...

rcocean said..
Actually American Slavery was terrible because of the lack of freedom, not because of the physical abuse.


A friend of mine was a professor at U of Alabama medical school. One of the other faculty was a grandchild of slave owners with a plantation. He told my friend they would drive wagons of cotton to a bluff over the river, where slaves would roll the bales of cotton over the edge. They did not use slaves to catch the bales and stow them on steamboats. It was too dangerous. Slaves were too valuable. Instead they used Irishmen.

narciso said...

how about infidel, though it's a movie about a real problem of christian prosecution, in the middle east,

Temujin said...

It is the quintessential image the Left has of their neighbors on the Right. Which is why Rodney King's rhetorical question, "Can we all just get along?" still hangs out there.

Paco Wové said...

This sort of delusional paranoia can't be good for one's mental health. The Eternal Honky is coming for you!

n.n said...

They did not use slaves to catch the bales and stow them on steamboats. It was too dangerous. Slaves were too valuable. Instead they used Irishmen.

Slavery started with retributive change in Africa, then progressed as an economic enterprise in the New World. Diversity a la Hutu/Tutsi was a motive for black Africans, then persisted with labor arbitrage under immigration reform, and integration without assimilation.

Narayanan said...

Trump (or any other President) for that matter would prefer not to have this in his in=box.

I wait to see how he handles it.

Is this equal of 9-11 or cannon? fire? on? from? Fort Sumter?

Narayanan said...

Michael K said...
rcocean said..
Actually American Slavery was terrible because of the lack of freedom, not because of the physical abuse.

A friend of mine was a professor at U of Alabama medical school. One of the other faculty was a grandchild of slave owners with a plantation. He told my friend they would drive wagons of cotton to a bluff over the river, where slaves would roll the bales of cotton over the edge. They did not use slaves to catch the bales and stow them on steamboats. It was too dangerous. Slaves were too valuable. Instead they used Irishmen.
-----------============
mechanically illiterate not to use rope and pulley tackle.

Tina Trent said...

Slavery was pure evil. The intergenerational aspects of it were especially evil.

Slaves, however, were valuable property. Credible historians of slavery know that white indentured servants (who were also property) and white sharecroppers (who were basically legally enslaved) suffered far higher levels of malnutrition than slaves.

Slaves were, of course, punished for escaping, disobedience, etc. But so were indentured whites. During and after Reconstruction, up to about 1905, lynchings of poor whites for theft and crime were as common as lynching of blacks. And blacks and poor whites had surprisingly equal access to recourse from the courts, with black women having at least as much if not more access to courts to make complaints about sexual assaults than white women, including assaults by white men. Diane Miller Sommerville's academic study, Rape and Race in the 19th Century South, blows up many popular misconceptions.

The pervy sado-masochistic stuff is largely an invention of authors in the Sixties such as the albino Austrian dog-trainer loon Kyle Onstott, who wrote Mandingo and much of the other race porn taken for fact today.

Jupiter said...

"Golly geeeeee-whiz. Without movies like this I would never have realized that plantation owners mistreated their slaves. Boy! I’m so glad this movie came out to inform me."

You really want a shock, check out Spartacus.

narciso said...

https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/09/actor-jim-caviezel-warns-christian-complacency-shares-powerful-heartfelt-conviction-standing-christ-video/

Dagwood said...

Didn't the highly-praised "Django Unchained" do pretty much the same thing?

JohnAnnArbor said...

In other words, they invent people who don't exist to have as antagonists in the film.

Paco Wové said...

I guess Blacks deserve their own Handmaid's Tale.

Bilwick said...

Then "liberals" should love ANTEBELLUM. Because the hate slavery. You know, because they're so pro-liberty.

wholelottasplainin' said...

n.n said...
They did not use slaves to catch the bales and stow them on steamboats. It was too dangerous. Slaves were too valuable. Instead they used Irishmen.

Slavery started with retributive change in Africa, then progressed as an economic enterprise in the New World. Diversity a la Hutu/Tutsi was a motive for black Africans, then persisted with labor arbitrage under immigration reform, and integration without assimilation.
****************
Slaves are mentioned in the Bible and the Koran. The ancient Greeks and Romans had slaves. Ditto peoples were enslaved in South East Asia. The Mayans had slaves.

The Ottomans had many slaves, taken from the area around the Black Sea, the Balkans and the Caucasus. Slavs were people who were originally slaves.

It's hard to find areas of the world that didn't have them, from time immemorial.

There's a whole chapter on the topic in Thomas Sowell's "Black Rednecks and White Liberals."

White Europeans didn't invent slavery, nor were they even the greatest practitioners of it. Yet it was White Europeans who put an end to the practice.

Bilwick said...

Jupiter wrote:

"'Golly geeeeee-whiz. Without movies like this I would never have realized that plantation owners mistreated their slaves. Boy! I’m so glad this movie came out to inform me.'

"'You really want a shock, check out Spartacus.'"

Indeed. For me it's interesting that a screenplay written by Dalton Trumbo based on a novel by Howard Fast should end up being a libertarian classic. It's as if the movie THE FOUNTAINHEAD had been written by Lillian Hellman based on a novel by Upton Sinclair.

Caligula said...

I suppose if they wanted to put some moral complexity into the plot they could have made the slaveowner black (as some were), or shown a flashback where some African tribe sells people it wants to get rid of to slave traders? But (alas) they don't, they just want to pound that preachy, "See, I hate this, I'm on the side of the angels!" drum.

Although at least making "the plantation" a contemporary fake is a small element of creativity/surprise, as nothing is quite so cliched as the SF novel that manages to place its contemporary (with the reader) protagonist into the future (or an alternate timeline, or something).

Not Sure said...

Probably most Althouse commenters aren't fans of the show "Insecure," HBO's Black dramedy, but bear with me....

A couple of years ago they created a show-within-a-show for all the characters to be watching. It was a cartoonish soap opera set on a slave plantation, focused on the passionate relationship between the master and an attractive house slave. Fans of the show loved it, and video clips of it were posted on youtube.

Now those clips are gone, as is any mention of the show-within-a-show on HBO's website.

It's now the comedy that dares not speak its name.

Rory said...

"It's hard to find areas of the world that didn't have them, from time immemorial."

Every tribal group had an era where "wives" were carried off in raids. Wives, sex slaves, slaves, you pick the word. If you trace any culture back enough, you'll erase the line between man and animal.

Oh, the men? They got killed outright.

tcrosse said...

“Pleasure me, Mandingo”.

ALP said...

This reminds me of the Netflix show "Hunters" - loosely based on Nazi hunters tracking down old war criminals from Germany that had made their way to the US.

The show features flashbacks of what individual Jewish characters went through at the hands of the Nazis. Problem is - the scenes in the show were fabricated. For fuck's sake, WHY are you putting your mind into that mindset so you can *invent* the type of torture that a Nazi would come up with? Was the historical record not awful enough you have to go *inventing* more?

Same here.

Narr said...

Not all slaveowners treated their property in a Christian manner; I'm pretty sure the Jewish ones--few though they were--didn't.

Narr
Quittin' time!

n.n said...

Yet it was White Europeans who put an end to [slavery].

Yes, to their credit.

The Godfather said...

Imagine a movie about a slave from the 1840's - early '50's (when it appeared that slavery in the US was too powerful to be changed, and would probably expand to new territories), who by some means was transported to the US of 2020. We follow his/her experiences learning what has changed for Black people. He/she learns not only that Blacks are no longer slaves, they are actually free citizens of the United States, entitled to vote, and run for elective office, and sit on juries, and own property (a few of them own a LOT of property). Mostly White voters have supported laws making it illegal to discriminate against Black people for jobs or admission to college -- "They let Black Folks go the college?? They wouldn't allow us to learn to READ!!!"

Our hero/heroine is asked, Don't you think that the descendants of slaves like you should be paid reparations for slavery, and he/she asks, how did we become free? Well, a bunch of White people, mostly in the North and West, elected a President who detested slavery, and when the slave states decided to rebel to protect slavery, that President and a whole bunch of White folks decided this was worth going to war over. And in the end, at least 600,000 young men died in that war, and slavery was ended, and Black people were declared to be free and equal citizens. And our hero/heroine says: Go talk to someone else about reparations. I'm FREE! Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!

Do you know of any cable channel that would show this story?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Michael K said...

mechanically illiterate not to use rope and pulley tackle.

Attached to skyhooks ? Trees ?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Perhaps another interesting show would be to transport a modern African-American woman back to the lives of her ancestors a couple of centuries before that.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Porn for race hustlers? Meh.

daskol said...

Tarrantino could have made a good movie out of this. More or less already did.

Kirk Parker said...

"Attached to skyhooks ? Trees ?"

Attached to Irishmen. Duh.

Tinderbox said...

Hollywood makes a movie like this to satisfy liberals' not-so-hidden fantasies about being slave-owners, projecting their sociopathies as usual.

Nichevo said...


Narr said...
Not all slaveowners treated their property in a Christian manner; I'm pretty sure the Jewish ones--few though they were--didn't.

Narr
Quittin' time!


I'm not deeply versed in Judaic slavery TTPs but I think we cut 'em loose after seven years unless they wanted to stay.


Howard said...
Racism porn for libtards

9/19/20, 10:16 AM

Propaganda for your war effort.