From Netflix The chilling adventures of Sabrina It's a show that wants you to know exactly how progressive and feminist it is. But the program's messages on women's empowerment are severely Undermined by the way he mishandles one of his most prominent color characters.
The Night of Prudence of Tati Gabrielle is presented as one of the first antagonists that Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) is just when her 16th birthday arrives. It is the age when Sabrina is destined to finally embrace her witchcraft, the Church of the Night and a place in the Academy of Invisible Arts.
Prudence and her personal squad of orphaned companions, bad girl. Witches (collectively known as Weird Sisters): focus on Sabrina, largely because she is half mortal and accepted in the magical community of Greendale despite having been secretly baptized in a Catholic church when she was a baby and, at first, He refused to sign his name in the Book of the Beast. For Prudence and her sisters, Sabrina is an outsider whose presence in her orbit represents a very real threat because of her love for mortals, and the very real potential that her links with them may reveal the existence of her coven, putting them all in danger.
For Sabrina, on the other hand, the Weird Sisters are simply thugs who try to make her have a hard time by being different and, like the heroine of the program, she intends to face them as the season progresses. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this particular kind of premise in a vacuum, in the ways that The chilling adventures of Sabrina As the conflict approaches, the program begins to venture into some extremely problematic images and messages of racial charge that have left many people discouraged.
In "Chapter Four: School of Witches," the Weird Sisters point to Sabrina in a hazing ritual known as "heartbreaking" in an attempt to convince her to drop out of school. In the process, Sabrina comes to meet the dozens of ghosts that roam the campus.
When Sabrina has decided that she has had enough with the psychological torment of the other girls, she confronts them and, with the help of the ghosts, defends herself using her powers to lift the Weird Sisters by the neck, in front of a tree. where 13 witches were hanged in the distant past.
Why SabrinaIt is focused on witches, it is not surprising that hanging is a recurring theme throughout the program, but the practice acquires a different meaning in that particular scene because Gabrielle is a black woman. We live in a country where public lynching of black people was often used to terrorize black communities throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and the images associated with lynching are still used to send racist and threatening messages.
The chilling adventures of Sabrina He never really engages with the race in any significant way within the text of the show itself. Greendale is an American city with a diverse population that has lived in the area since the country was first colonized by Europeans. The show gives him the feeling that people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds have coexisted peacefully in the city since its founding. While this translates into an idyllic concept, it is said to be definitely out of touch with reality when considering how minority populations have historically been treated in the US. UU The black population of the city endured slavery or Jim Crow? Who knows? All we are told is that, in the past, mortals exterminated witches in the late seventeenth century around the Salem witch trials and that is … about it.
But while it is possible that the program does not want to get involved with ideas about the complexities of the race, it is impossible to see it without being executed in the back of the mind, especially when a black woman is being hung on the screen.
Although it was probably not the intention of the program's production team to evoke the racist legacy of the lynchings, that is precisely what it accomplishes, both because of the scene itself and because of the way in which the program generally ignores any type of comment. about the race. . Other fantastic, as the genre is shown as American Gods they have approached plots with the pendant of black characters, but what American Gods he does that Sabrina stop It is really addressing the hangings and all their cultural importance in the real world. The audience is informed that the program understands how complicated and painful the story of the practice continues to be by making its characters really recognize and react to the lynching itself and its racial implications. In not putting in that job, SabrinaThe hanging scene is presented in a dull tone at best and culturally ignorant in the worst case, especially considering that the moment must be a turning point for Sabrina, who finally begins to assert herself as a witch entrusted to the Academy.
Just before the Weird Sisters are hanged, Sabrina urges them to stop their own plans to hang her by giving a speech about how the original Greendale witches would be horrified to learn that women like them, their descendants, might one day try to hurt her. another in a place where witches meet to learn and perfect their craft:
"13 witches were hanged here by witch hunters. It is possible that these women could not have imagined a place like the Academy, a school where witches would be safe. Even if they could, they would never believe that the women inside their walls would face each other like this. "
As for the message, Sabrina's speech is intended to be a kind of thesis statement about the feminist ideals of the program, but it sounds a bit empty because of the way the program clumsily handles Sabrina's retaliation. Ultimately, there is no real reason for the Weird Sisters I had to be hanged and, therefore, one can not help wondering why Sabrina could not think of literally any other way of defending herself.
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The lynching scene would have been more than enough to make The chilling adventures of Sabrina It's hard to sit down with everything on its own, but Prudence's character arc is still something unpleasant as the season continues. Later, it is revealed that she is the illegitimate and abandoned daughter of Father Blackwood, the High Priest of the Church of the Night (and Dean of the Academy), who is a white man married to other Black woman who is not Prudence's mother. It is a surprising plot point that recontextualizes Prudence's use of the "mestizo" insult to refer to Sabrina. Following the turn, their rivalry transforms into a story about a white woman seeking to dismiss a multiracial and black woman from her social station, specifically by exposing the truth about her inheritance. The term "mestizo" must be considered fairly charged in this context.
It's great that The chilling adventures of Sabrina He did everything he could to make sure that color characters like Prudence play those integral parts in their larger plot. But it is important to understand that a show with colored characters must be fully aware of their use of racially charged images. These scenes from the first season should have been warning signs since the jump, and you can only expect the show to be more attentive in its next season.