And Another One: Are You Ready For A Web Series About Traveling Back In Time To The Slave Era?

October 17, 2014  |  


Are you ready for another production about slavery? Well, you better get ready because one, a web series at that, is in production.

According to Shadow and Act:

Created by playwright, screenwriter and actor Steve Harper, and starring Tracie Thoms (“Annie,” “Death Proof,” “Looper” among many other film and TV roles), “Send Me” deals with a black woman (Thoms) who has the power to send black people back in time to slavery days.

But Harper makes clear to point out that the people who do this in the series are doing it of their own free will: “It’s not a punishment. They want to go – to explore their blackness, their history, to connect to who they are. It takes place now, in 2014, and it involves time travel. Candidates apply for the chance to take the trip. Those who want to go are trying to find out who they are now based on who their ancestors were.”

Harper is currently crowdfunding to cover production costs and thus far, he has raised a little over $10,000 out of the $100,000 requested. As such, it’s hard to really visualize how this series will finally look if it ever comes to fruition. But judging by all of those involved, including the director and the producer, “Send Me” sounds pretty original.

And according to Harper, who wrote this on his IndieGoGo page:

Almost every time I mention the premise of this show, I get into a deep conversation about race in this country. The conversations are wide ranging and there are no easy solutions. That’s the same spark I hope to ignite in homes all over the world as a result of making this series. People are, apparently, eager to talk about race relations even though some consider this a “post-racial” moment. By creating and producing this drama about 21st century people who are dealing with the past, I want to continue the conversation in a unique and entertaining way.

Entertaining and slavery don’t really sound like they belong in the same sentence. And I imagine that for some folks, purely fictionalized accounts of slavery might touch a few nerves. However, it has been done before. The 2011 French film Case départ broke all sorts of barriers in using comedy to tell a similar story about two time-traveling blacks, who venture back to the antebellum South where they get sold to a plantation owner. On the surface, it sounds like a horrible idea, but as a film, it’s not that bad.

And in general, why should slavery be off-limits in terms of topics, which art can be created around? As I’ve mentioned many times before, comedy and tragedy are not that strange of bedfellows. People laugh because it hurts. People laugh because sometimes what is happening is so absurd, the best and only non-violent response is laughter. So if this series does take on a lighthearted approach, I’m actually kind of cool with it – just as long as it is tasteful.

However, I do wonder if the slave theme and period, which Hollywood has taken a tremendous interest in as of late, has finally reached its peak. Thus far, we have had Django, 12 Years a Slave, Belle, I Am Slave and a slew of other film and TV movies still working their way down the underground railroad pipeline. At this point, what could another production centered around slavery teach us or even entertain us with that hasn’t already been done?

Not to mention, it’s hard to imagine people – real or fictionalized – who want to travel back in time to visit the era of American slavery. I mean, I can certainly see going back in time if the intent was to kill a slave owner or two, but to go back just to see what things were like? What is this, a zoo trip? Plus, we had plenty of history of our own before slavery. And as a black person, I think I might prefer a time traveling trip down the Nile as opposed to a donkey trek on the plantation. I mean, what if I get caught and forced into the fields?

But what say you? Are you ready for another production revolving around slavery? And what do you think of the premise? If the technology was available, would you take a trip back to in time to help an ancestor? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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