Fox Sets Premiere Date for Controversial ‘Shots Fired’
Fox has made the premiere episode of their new event series, Shots Fired, available for viewing by the press. And while I have personally chosen not to watch it, I still find myself wanting to lowkey support the show because of my affinity for actress Sanaa Lathan and writer/producer Gina Prince-Bythewood.
As many of you already know, Sanaa and Gina first worked together back in 2000 when Gina handpicked both her and Omar Epps to star in her directorial debut, Love & Basketball. I have wanted these two to work together again ever since; unfortunately, Shots Fired isn’t how I wanted the two to reunite.
Now, just to be totally honest, I have no knowledge of Shots Fired being anything but an amazing effort at social commentary by Prince-Bythewood. Sadly, the story of a black cop who shoots an unarmed white teen and sets off a firestorm of criticism in a small town, does not appeal to me at the moment, as it does not ring true insofar as what is actually happening in this country.
Yes, people are being shot and killed in record numbers at the hands of law enforcement, but the victims are overwhelmingly black and the perpetrators; white. Why Prince-Bythewood or Fox chose to invert this fact is anyone’s guess, but it is an automatic turnoff for me.
The entire storyline is a turnoff for me if I am going to be honest. Sometimes I NEED escapism. It is why my soul won’t allow me to watch the series, which is 10-episodes long. I have found that I often need time to turn off the world and just hide from the realities of life. Prince-Bythewood says she wants to put those realities out there front and center. And while I stand by her need to take a stand, I cannot stand with her on this particular project.
For those of you who want to support Shots Fired, however, it debuts March 22nd and co-stars Stephan James, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Mac Wilds and DeWanda Wise, who just landed the role of Nola Darling in the upcoming television remake of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It.
Gina Prince-Bythewood’s message to the press:
On July 13, 2013, our oldest son, who was 12 at the time, watched live courtroom footage of the George Zimmerman trial. As the world and our son looked on, the jury found George Zimmerman not guilty for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Tears of anger and confusion filled our son’s eyes, as he slowly began to frame a different picture of America. Prior to that day, every year during Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, he earnestly recited portions of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. For many African-Americans, the words in that speech mean more to us than the words in the United States Constitution. However, the sense of optimism Dr. King ignited never seemed further away from our son than when that verdict was announced. It was as if the dream was on fire.
Many African-Americans looked at Trayvon as if he were their child. President Obama said, “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon.” As if on cue, angry comments from Zimmerman sympathizers flooded the airwaves. “He shouldn’t have been dressed in a hoodie.” “They should be more upset about black-on-black violence.” “O.J. got off and now we’re even.” These conversations are regurgitated every time an unarmed African-American is killed by law enforcement.
While we mourned the loss of our son’s innocence, the parents of Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin and too many others are forced to mourn the loss of their child’s life. Pundits, politicians and the American public take sides in a contest that produces no winners. And the 2016 presidential election revealed much starker divisions in our country than most realized.
Within our family history, there are family members in law enforcement, and family members who have been harassed by law enforcement. What if we put Americans in other people’s shoes just for a minute? A sports announcer once said he aimed to give his listeners a view from every seat in the house. What if we created an event series that did just that? What if we looked at the policing of African-Americans, our broken criminal justice system, and race-relations from every seat in the house? What if we created a 10-hour film that asked the difficult questions and sparked real conversation and change?