A Digital Collective Gaze: How Black Women on Twitter used Hippolyta's Futuristic Journey to "Look Back"

Curator's Note

“Name yourself.” This was one of the many challenges executive producer, Misha Green, tasked viewers with through her supernatural TV series Lovecraft Country (HBO Max, 2020). A challenge not taken lightly by Black Twitter, who would engage in somewhat of a ceremonial second screening each Sunday while live-tweeting the many twists and unexpected turns the 10-part series brought Black audiences. While the show certainly utilizes creatively entertaining metaphors to emphasize Black magic, Black love, Afro-futurism, and America’s not-so-distant racist past, Black Twitter very much treasured the nod to the challenging intersectionality of Black womanhood depicted in episode 7 “I am.”

As the episode’s title suggests, all leading characters are forced to figuratively look in the mirror and wrestle their true identities, but it is Hippolyta Freeman, a traditional 1950s stay-at-home wife and mother, who gets the standing ovation from Black Twitter in this episode. Using a multidimensional journey through space and time, Green invites Hippolyata and all Black women viewers to 60 minutes of uninterrupted self-reflection on body appreciation, courage, leadership, self-agency, and psychological freedom. In doing so, they discover they are much more than what society has labeled them to be – Black, women, domestic, silent, subordinate, or as Hippolyta explains, “shrinking” to be who everyone else needed them to be.

Through tweets, retweets, comments, likes, and GIFs, Black Twitter celebrated the fictional re-birth of one Black woman in the same networked public where they had just 4 days prior grieved another — Breonna Taylor. The participatory mediated communication that Twitter affords continues to allow Black audiences and creators to collectively engage and critique media that centers Black experiences. Stuart Hall's Representation Theory reminds us not to view media and film spaces "as a second-order mirror held up to reflect what already exists, but as a form of representation which is able to constitute us as new kinds of subjects, and thereby enable us to discover who we are." 

For Black women in particular, these spaces and representations are indispensable; watching Hippolyta’s journey, we are reminded of the power in the oppositional gaze in reclaiming our agency and freedom and how that freedom can lead us to reflect on who “I am.”

Black women: Are you shrinking yourself for others? If so, who? And how will you begin to take back the agency of your life? It’s never too late, “name yourself.” 


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