"Lovecraft Country": Episode 8, 'Jig-A-Bobo'
Creator: Misha Green, Episode Directed By: Misha Green
"Black kids don't get to be kids."- Every Black Person Who Knows the Truth.
*To help keep my analysis/points organized, I'm going to explain using the pictures as a reference. Enjoy!
Emmett 'Bobo' Till: Image One
Episode 8 of Lovecraft Country, throws us into the throes of Emmett Till's funeral. If you are not familiar with the story of Emmett, or just simply want to learn more please click on the link below! I previously mentioned in ('Fragmented Vision) not being able to sleep after seeing the face of Emmett following his murder, so I do want to warn you before watching the documentary, that his pictures may be shown (been a while since I last seen the doc).
Ruby, "He looked like a monster.": Image Two
Following Emmett's funeral, Ruby travels to Christina's home where she is skin-walking as William. Ruby goes on to describe what she felt after viewing the open-casket of Emmett. This description is not far off from how I've heard other people try and describe what Emmett resembled after being brutalized. Ruby's description also ties into a point that I will make in the next paragraph. I'm also reminded of how Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, and the countless number of Black children that have been killed are then positioned as aggressors and monsters to have their deaths justified.
Topsy & Bobsey: Image Three
Topsy and Bobsey, a caricature of Black children and more specifically Black girls in this case, gives a nod to the stereotype of Black children being unkept, wild, disorderly, and typically geared at dark-skinned Black children. The stereotype has its ties to the enslavement of Black people and its comedic roots in minstrel shows, which were used to mock the ways/rituals of Black people. Black children were referred to as 'pickaninnies.' Pickaninny, originally used by groups of people in the West Indies to indicate that a child/object was small, was later on used as a racial and derogatory term. Topsy, a character from Harriet Beacher Stowe's "anti-slavery" novel, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' would be an example of a pickaninny, hence why we see a copy of the novel throughout the episode. *Side note, can we just talk about how they ate that choreography? One thing Black people will always be rulers over is the dance arena!
The Funeral: Image Four
Considering that Topsy and Bobsey appear to Dee after she has been 'cursed' by Lancaster, I believe this highlights a very important notion; Black children don't get to be children. I see the appearance of Topsy and Bobsey in the climate of Emmett's funeral as a juxtaposition. If you remember at the funeral, Ruby recalls that Emmett was a 'sweet boy.' As the adults try and rally together to support Dee, Montrose recalls that babying her through the process does not provide the support she really needs. In fact, he proclaims that 'this is her rite of passage.' If we couple Ruby and Montrose' statement along with the appearance of the twins, what we come to see is a split vision. Ruby highlights the humanity of Emmett, while Lancaster exposes Dee to what Black children are seen as through the white imagination. Revisiting Ruby's statement of Emmett 'looking like a monster,' I find it interesting that in front of Montrose, Leti, and Tic, Emmett was a 'sweet boy.' When she goes to vent to Christina, she has to describe what she saw in a way that Christina will understand, 'Emmett resembling a monster.' Furthermore what we come to understand is that Black children are monsters/demons as long as the white imagination rules us all.
Christina: Image Five
As mentioned in the explanation for image four, Ruby goes to outpour to Christina in the wake of Emmett's funeral. In a way, I feel that Ruby does this as an emotional dump, in which she can rid herself of her feelings by giving them all to Christina. The sex scene between Ruby (white woman from episode 2) and Christina (William) is proof of that. Ruby goes so far as to explain why she initiates the skin-walking change prior to having sex, yet Christina remains void of empathy. In fact, Ruby charges Christina up by prompting her to acknowledge the pain that is rippling throughout Chicago because Emmett. Christina does not. She responds by telling Ruby that she doesn't care and even suggests that Ruby herself doesn't care, that the feelings are of obligation to her people and not genuity.
We later see Christina encounter two white men, who beat her, shoot her, and sink her body in the river by tying a cotton gin around her neck. It is no surprise this is the same manner in which Emmett Till is killed. This scene sparked a few thoughts for me:
1. I see Christina's overall position in the episode as a nod to Carol Bryant, the woman responsible for Emmett's death, who is still alive to this day, never knowing the amount of pain, hopelessness, and despair she caused. I see this through Christina's apathy and her explanation of it when she spoke with Ruby.
2. I find it interesting that yt people have to immerse themselves in the experience of trauma and pain, because it is the only way to understand the extent of what they've envisioned. I speak about the white imagination often, because its impact has shielded white people from comprehension and empathy, hence why Christina uses the encounter to try and feel the pain Ruby spoke of, while also testing her own immortality and invulnerability. Even in that act, it is one of selfishness.
3. Can we also acknowledge how rare it is to see white women undergo this type of treatment on film/television?
*Now don't get me wrong, I would rather not see the brutalization of anybody but as Christina mentioned in her conversation with Tic, "perfect alignment upsets the balance of nature.' In that same vein, the white imagination normalizes the viewing of brutalization against Black and POC bodies so much and so often, that we've come to accept it as "natural." In a world outside of the white imagination, if one had to see brutalization, white people would not be exempt from it either, therefore the balance of "nature" would be upset.
Dee: Image Six
I would definitely consider this episode to be Dee's stand alone episode. With much of the emphasis being centered around Black children, I think this episode is spooky on purpose. Mind you, the entire show is that way on purpose lol but I see this as Dee's bubble bursting. She already understands that because she's Black and a girl, she is subjected to unfair treatment and violence. But to lose someone close to her at her age, speaks to a different type of scary for her. We see this with her throwing rocks at two black girls, (potentially a foreshadow of Topsy & Bobsey) laughing as they leave out of a candy store, waving and smiling at Dee. The girls run across the street as Dee yells 'ain't nothing to laugh about.' It's a looming reminder that children can die too, especially Black children. Revisiting the point of Black kids not being able to be kids, I remember the scene in which we see Dee on her way back to the house where she is met by Leti leaving out. The scene is juxtaposed with three white girls jumping rope enjoying their day as if nothing happened, while Dee is literally on the run from Topsy and Bobsey. More and more, it becomes painfully clear that a childhood for Black children is damned and cursed as long as the white imagination persists.
Some of my own theories about what could happen or what is happening....
1. We know that Leti now bears the mark of invulnerability thanks to Christina. In episode 7 when Tic goes into the portal to try and save Hippolyta, he understands that he has traveled to the future, in which he comes back with the book his son wrote. I believe in the show as well as in real life that every choice has a future. We also know that Christina is gunning to be immortal, in which Tic discloses to Montrose that Christina is going to sacrifice him to achieve immortality. Given the nature of the show and all of its twists and turns, I don't see that future coming into fruition. That would be too obvious right? Instead, I see Leti possibly sacrificing herself to save Tic, in which she will remove her mark of invulnerability (like Christina's father in episode 2), but instead of her liver being cut out, it will be their son.
2. I think the snoggoloth that saved Leti, Tic, Ruby, and the housemates at the end of the episode could be Uncle George, Tic's mama, or even Hanna since she carries The Book of Names.
3. This isn't necessarily a theory of what will happen, but I found myself somewhat geeked to see Topsy & Bobsey. Why? I remember Wayne (yes Lil Wayne) once said, "sometimes you got to fight the devil with a demon." I was hoping that Dee would embrace Topsy and Bobsey as a way to extract her revenge on Landcaster, and at large could aid Tic, Letti, Montrose, and Ruby in taking down Christina. I think with Black people turning to the "demonic" as a way to combat evil could be an interesting way to rewrite the horror they're experiencing. The demonic in this case is what whiteness has named Blackness. A monstrosity always. I believe Blackness can completely shift horror in this show as well as through the creation of more horror films/shows. There is still a horror undiscovered. Hmmm, idk just throwing thoughts out there.