Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Shots Fired... Where Do We Go From Here?



"If our stars don't shine in the darkness, 
where do we go from here? 
Do we hold onto the dream regardless? 
Where do we go from here?"


Art imitates life. Life imitates art...

Shots Fired, a lurid 10-hour mini series, premiered in late March with a clear agenda of depicting racial tension from multiple sides of the spectruma young, white male (Jesse Carr) killed by a rookie black cop (Joshua Beck/Tristan Wilds), a young, black male (Joey Campbell) killed by a rich white man, grieving mothers (Alicia Carr/Jill Hennessy, Shameeka Campbell/DeWanda Wise), an opportunistic Governor (Patricia Eamons/Helen Hunt), a privileged donor and businessman (Arlen Cox/Richard Dreyfuss), and every eyewitness affected by the alarming threats and unlawful repercussions of identifying themselves by sharing key details surrounding two interconnected murders. 

Creators/Husband-Wife Duo, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood were inspired by the discouraging outcome of Trayvon Martin's case, as well as various consecutive cases that resulted in unjust verdicts. Serving as writers and directors of the series, they sought out to design a narrative that would allow viewers to gain insight on how everyone involved in such events expresses feelings of remorse, or remains unapologetic while attempting to justify their actions in order to avoid a guilty ruling. 

Instead of providing an overall summary of the show and spoiling the experience for those who missed out on this necessary thematic offering, I'll focus on what made it so monumental. Starting with the uniquely-constructed storyline.

Hothead Detective, Ashe Akino (Sanaa Lathan) is paired with DOJ Prosecutor, Preston Terry (Stephan James) and together they are tasked with the responsibility of investigating Jesse's murder. However, by episode/hour number three, details regarding Joey's overlooked murder emerge and the web of clues quickly becomes a bit more tangled. Lieutenant Breeland and Sheriff Platt of fictional town Gate Station (obeisance to the memory of Jordan Davis) soon begin to display suspicious behavior, leading Ashe and Preston to eventually unveil the corruption behind an almost-successful political cover-up.

Plot distractions, such as Ashe's heated custody battle with her daughter's father and Preston's interracial fling with the Governor's assistant, soften the excruciating pain brought on by the repetitious cycle of police brutality. The series also includes various references to the necessity of spiritual healing, as Pastor Janae (Aisha Hinds) passionately spreads in-your-face gospel to angry members of the community. 

Despite the vital message delivered within the framework of this series, after growing accustomed to many unresolved cases, we have reasonably desensitized ourselves to avoid the heartache and disappointment of being failed once more by the court system. When news of another slain black teen breaks, we are already prepared for the biased, one-sided aftermath. But when a show like this one presents the truth so accurately, with vivid intentions, we are charged to stop and reflect. We must not allow fear to control our desire to aptly respond to immoral conduct. With no holds barred, "We need to be active participants in the pursuit of justice (Pastor Janae in Hour 10)."

Maybe a year from now there will be a shift in our nation's discriminatory makeup and the question "Where do we go from here?" won't seem so impossible to answer...

Previously aired episodes of Shots Fired are available for viewing on Hulu and Fox.

#WriterWednesday #WriterGrind®

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