The show expands on Justin Simien’s 2014 movie of the same name, which chronicled the lives of several black students at a predominately white, Ivy-like university as racial tensions spike. In the new 30-second spot, protagonist Samantha White bluntly ticks off a list of acceptable Halloween costumes on her radio show: “Pirate, slutty nurse, any of our first 43 presidents. Top of the list of unacceptable costumes: Me,” she says amidst a flurry of photos of fellow students in blackface.
While the trailer captures the wicked humor of the original film, it unsurprisingly irked members of the so-called alt-right. As Fusion points out, Tim Treadstone, a former BuzzFeed writer who is now a prominent alt-right Twitter user, sparked the backlash by tweeting a screengrab of his Netflix cancellation notice and the message, “Netflix announced a new anti-white show (Dear White People) that promotes white genocide.”
Treadstone, however, forgot to blur out his personal e-mail address in the photo, and as comeuppance for confusing satire that encourages critical thinking about racism in the 21st century with mass murder, he was signed up for 7,000 different mailing lists.
While others have since taken up Treadstone’s protest, Simien responded to the empty fury on Facebook, noting he faced a similar deluge after the first trailer for the movie.
“But now, I feel strangely encouraged,” he continued. “To see the sheer threat that people feel over a date announcement video featuring a woman of color (politely) asking not to be mocked makes it so clear why I made this show. I want those who are chronically unseen in the culture to feel seen. And I want those willing to extend empathy to experiences unlike theirs to understand their humanity more deeply.”
Netflix’s Dear White People will feature the same characters as the movie, though the cast includes both newcomers and performers from the film reprising their roles.