*Warning! Spoilers ahead.*
Amazon’s Them (2021), despite all of my predictions in my trailer analysis, did do something vital and imperative: critique ‘whiteness’ and white supremacy. I clocked a lot of the series themes in my initial analyses of the trailer, so if you’d like to read that first I’d highly recommend you do so.
When Adulation Sours: Contextualizing Amazon’s ‘Them’
A study in cautious optimism.
Them immediately lets you know that the main characters are constantly in danger from internal and external forces (seemingly beyond their control). Indeed a malevolent entity, that was once human, is orchestrating a percentage of the woes that befall them in California, but everything else in their lives has been instituted and facilitated by whiteness encroaching upon their moments of safety, agency, and autonomy.
This series navigates the tightrope of this dichotomy well, by showing that the physical and psychological trappings of white supremacy are destroying the white characters from within as well. Beyond the fantastical elements that occur in this series, the show makes it explicit that the myth of white supremacy has wrought unparalleled damage across the centuries. From communities that deemed themselves ‘good Christian folk’ to seemingly progressive real estate agents.
The horror of this series is also couched in anti-blackness and how it unravels the mental wellbeing of the Emory family (and that of lay Black people watching the series). The ugliness of this may also affect white viewers on a different cerebral level by holding a mirror up to the insidious ways that it operates across time and space. I will commend this series for erasing the lines between an ‘us vs them’ narrative because that’s how too many white persons are let off the hook for the generational trauma and violence that white supremacy leaves behind.
To become a participant in the cult of ‘whiteness’ is to remove the very things that make one human and humane. To be indoctrinated is to lose the very…