Vibrant 70’s ambiance, dazzling cast, incredible music, and enough culture to transport you back in time. I saw The Get Down advertised on Netflix but honestly, the description did not do it justice. Just a few days ago, I decided to give it a try and my goodness, am I thrilled that I did.
My reasons for loving The Get Down are clear. How can I not be obsessed with a show that highlights minority talent in one of the most spectacular displays of creativity I’ve ever watched. Essentially, a group of young, aspiring artists are balancing chasing their dreams of stardom and the gritty life of poverty that is living in the Bronx in the 1970’s. From beautiful poetry to heart pumping action and an incredibly sweet love story; this musical series is definitely a gem.
One of my favorite aspects of the series is the poetry. Zeke, one of the leading characters, is a naturally talented writer and artist that is truly caught between getting out of the South Bronx using his talents and natural intelligence and living out his musical ambitions with his friends. The show cuts in his poetry throughout the episodes and every single time, I just fall more in love with the series.
What’s interesting about the series is how much it aligns with many of the social injustice issues that we are still faced with today. Crooked politicians, generational poverty, social and racial hierarchy, poor education, lack of giving a fuck by the government; all of those ring true in 2016 as it did in 1977 for people of color. I watched some of these episodes and felt like, as a person of color, I got it. The question that crossed my mind is: would a white person watching the show really understand it? Watching these kids navigate through a world of desperation and despair like they were trapped in a gang and poverty ridden neighborhood that was locked in with barbed wire allowing no hope to flow in and no person to flow out; I saw my own family history reflected. I saw my cousins, my father, my mother.. all of them.
Some of the critics felt the show and it’s white creator, Baz Luhrmann, slathered an otherwise interesting story in a coon like, shuck and jive, black face for Netflix ambiance. I just thought I’d mentioned that but I completely disagree. I didn’t get that feel whatsoever. I think there is an underlying comedic, grandiose essence to the show that is obvious unlike a jokes on you nigga type of thing.
With various powerful, hard hitting moments that really make you feel either totally uplifted and hopeful or completely heartbroken, the poem that Zeke reads after refusing to do so in front of the class is one of the moments that really made me turn the tv up and pay attention to what was happening. Take a look below (via The Daily Beast):
Boom. Then crash. The shattering of glass. Dive to the floor. Busting my ass. What the hell was that? It was all that I said. I could see the pool of blood. I seen my moms was dead. No emotion in the commotion. I wasn’t even sad. Not even when I learned the bullet was meant for my dad. Vietnam made pops crazy. He was already half-dead. So why couldn’t that have been him that got shot in the head? All the news that’s fit to print. Mama’s death went unreported. Not a whiff of word. They don’t care about us niggas is how my pops explained it. But I didn’t know I was a nigga until my dad proclaimed it. Six months later my pops was dead, too. Drug-related shots fired, his skin turned cold blue. On the news that night the president’s wife got a new hairdo. News guy said, I don’t like it, how about you? No word about my pops in the post or on CBS. Why was that, you ask? Take a fucking guess. And yeah, why is that? Is what politicians should be asking. But who’s got time for questions when you all skiing up on Aspen. Broads get gunshots to the head and all y’all getting swerving lessons up in Aspen. My mama was so lovely she would’ve made your head spin. Level the playing field and y’all would see who would really win. And yeah I got anger. But I don’t let it take me down. Because my mama taught me better and she holds me up when I fall down. Rest in peace, moms. Don’t worry about your son. Someday I’ll make you proud because, yeah, I am the one.