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Hulu's Black Twitter producers on trailer backlash: 'You got to welcome the smoke'

Hulu's 'Black Twitter' producers on trailer backlash: 'You got to welcome the smoke'

(L-R): Jason Parham (senior writer at WIRED, producer); Prentice Penny (director, executive producer); Joie Jacoby (showrunner, executive producer)
PRIDE

(L-R): Jason Parham (senior writer at WIRED, producer); Prentice Penny (director, executive producer); Joie Jacoby (showrunner, executive producer)

The docuseries creators tell PRIDE that their intentions were to document Black Twitter's legacy.

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"Is this f*cking play about us???!" memes and sentiments were echoed across X (formerly Twitter) when a new documentary about Black Twitter was announced to be coming to Hulu.

On May 9th, the docuseries Black Twitter: A People’s History, a three-part odyssey on the most popular online community, premiered on the streaming platform. Inspired by Jason Parham’s WIRED cover story “A People’s History of Black Twitter,” the docuseries chronicles the rise, movements, voices, and memes that made Black Twitter an influential and dominant force across American political and cultural life.

Following the initial announcement and teaser trailer, Black Twitter sounded off, opposing the project for seemingly giving away recipes to outsiders of the culture.

Criticism included questions about who this series was being produced for and the concern that the doc would prioritize legacy blue-check celebrity accounts over everyday users. However, according to the creators behind the Hulu docuseries, their intentions were clear, documenting that Black Twitter existed for future generations, especially after the platform was sold to Elon Musk.

“I think it's too very intrinsic to what Black Twitter represents. We are sort of the litmus test for what is allowed in the culture … I would be upset if they actually didn't react like, well, did we not do our job,” Parham says.

“You got to welcome the smoke,” director Prentice Penny adds.

Although these concerns were valid and true to the core of who Black Twitter is, the docuseries attempts to balance things with a diverse ecosystem of experiences from online to the screen. The Hulu doc features prominent figures, including LGBTQ+ voices and activists like Raquel Willis, Kid Fury, and Sam Jay, creators of iconic memes, and the origins of legendary hashtags from #BlackGirlMagic to #OscarsSoWhite. Beyond the jokes and memes, Hulu’s Black Twitter discusses how Black queer and trans voices equally found community and bigotry on the platform. Even a story of online transphobia I shared in episode three.

Post-production, I caught up with the senior writer at WIRED and producer Jason Parham, director and executive producer Prentice Penny, and showrunner and executive producer Joie Jacoby. In a portion of that interview, PRIDE had to ask the big question: what was their response to the pushback of the trailer on the TL (timeline)?

"I can't wait for everybody to actually watch it, and then we'll see what they say," Jacoby tells PRIDE.

"I think that we feel like we don't get as many chances as everybody else. So it's like we got to show ourselves in a good light, but we also have to tell a true and authentic story. So, I think the doc really speaks to that as well," Parham tells PRIDE.

Check out the video below to watch the creators fully address viewers' initial concerns.

PRIDE Interviews 'Black Twitter: A People’s History' producers Prentice, Joie, & Jasonyoutu.be

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Daric L. Cottingham

Daric L. Cottingham (she/her), Deputy Editor of PRIDE.com, is an award-winning news, culture, and entertainment journalist. She is a proud Southern Black trans woman based in Los Angeles holding a mass communications degree from Prairie View A&M University in Texas and a master's in Sports & Entertainment journalism from the University of Southern California. Beyond her career portfolio, which includes the LA Times, Spotify, and freelancing for publications like BuzzFeed, Harper's Bazaar, ESSENCE, The Washington Post, etc., she does advocacy work as a general board member of NABJLA, striving to make the industry more inclusive for Black journalists.

Daric L. Cottingham (she/her), Deputy Editor of PRIDE.com, is an award-winning news, culture, and entertainment journalist. She is a proud Southern Black trans woman based in Los Angeles holding a mass communications degree from Prairie View A&M University in Texas and a master's in Sports & Entertainment journalism from the University of Southern California. Beyond her career portfolio, which includes the LA Times, Spotify, and freelancing for publications like BuzzFeed, Harper's Bazaar, ESSENCE, The Washington Post, etc., she does advocacy work as a general board member of NABJLA, striving to make the industry more inclusive for Black journalists.