Lovecraft Country, created by Misha Green, takes the experiences of African Americans and applies science fiction to depict the racial horrors they go through and how they overcome them. Following in the footsteps of films such as Get Out and Black Panther, Lovecraft Country uses Afrofuturism to open possibilities of positioning people of African descent in unknown futures.
Author Mark Dery coined the term in his essay, "Black to the Future," as "speculative fiction that treats African American themes and addresses African American concerns in the context of 20th-century technoculture (Capers, 2019)." Even though Afrofuturism has multiple definitions, scholar Bennet Capers says, "the most important of these is the insistence that people of color, in fact, have a future, and a commitment to disrupting racial, sexual, and economic hierarchies and categories (2019)."
In Lovecraft Country, Afrofuturism is used to address race relations and oppression in America. One of the episodes in which Afrofuturism is used to disrupt racial and sexual hierarchies is in episode 7, when Hippolyta stumbles upon a time machine and is taken on an Afrofuturistic adventure that opens up possibilities for her future that she did not think were possible.
In this episode, Hippolyta is told she can be wherever she wants to be. When she sarcastically states she wants "to be dancing on stage in Paris with Josephine Baker," she travels through time and space to instantly do that. The episode follows this theme of Hippolyta naming what she wants and immediately getting it until she decides that she wants to be back home with her daughter. Hippolyta's mind becomes open to possibilities and abilities that help her save her daughter's life a few episodes later. Even when she's back home, what she's gained from this Afrofuturistic experience is with her forever.
Aunjanue Ellis, the actress who plays Hippolyta, said in an interview that the evoking of "futurism" allowed the show to portray "what we thought the future would look like, and what it actually does look like, our perceptions of the past (Jones, 2020)."
This use of Afrofuturism allows Hippolyta, who had so far been portrayed as a supportive wife, mother, and aunt, to break out of the box that 1950s racist America had forced her to stay in. Though she stumbles across this time machine while trying to find answers, she ends up finding a part of herself that she has had to keep hidden and that she no longer has to hide for the rest of the show.
Capers, I. (2019). Afrofuturism, critical race theory, and policing in the year 2044. New York University Law Review, 94(1), 1-60.
Jones, M. (2020, September 26). 'Lovecraft COUNTRY': Aunjanue ELLIS TEASES HIPPOLYTA'S SELF-DISCOVERY, breaks Down America's Cyclical relationship with racism. Retrieved from https://shadowandact.com/lovecraft-country-aunjanue-ellis-teases-hippoly...