Donald Glover and his brother and fellow writer/producer Stephen Glover responded to Black criticism regarding his hit FX show, Atlanta.
The creative brother duo talked about what it’s like to receive criticism during a Television Critics Association virtual press conference about the series, which is in its final season. The question was about how some Black viewers feel the show has leaned into anti-Black/anti-Black woman sentiment and how they handle such criticism and if that criticism hurts.
Stephen said that he doesn't like when people assume Atlanta isn't for Black people because, as he said, "I think it is very much for Black people. So that's one thing that kind of rubs me the wrong way."
“But what I’ll also say is being in Atlanta and walking around or even, like, in L.A. walking around in the streets,” he continued, “I run into Black people all the time who are, like, ‘This is my favorite show, and I appreciate everything you guys do. And, like, you guys are making me want to do cooler stuff and, like, weirder stuff.’ The kind of TikTok generation and Vine skit, like, generation kids, they’ll hit me up online and say how much they love the episodes and love things. So, for me, that is the real kind of conversation that’s happening out there that I listen to. Internet stuff isn’t always real. You know, it’s not how people really feel. So I kind of get my feelings from the streets, to sum that up. I listen to the streets. I listen to the streets.”
Donald Glover reiterated his brother's feelings about level of veracity on the internet, saying that "if you're online, everybody's going to have an agenda on some level."
“Personally, it would be silly to say, like, sometimes what people say doesn’t affect you…especially being Black,” he continued. “I feel like a lot of the Black criticism, it bothers me only because it sounds like Black people who don’t really know what we’ve been through…I don’t think they give a lot of credit to what we’ve gone through. And to sit there and be, like, ‘Oh, these Black people hate Black people’ or ‘These Black people hate Black women,’ it’s such a small view of who we are. And I feel like it might even be because of what we’ve been through that you look at us the way you look at us, the way we look at things.”
Donald invoked Kendrick Lamar when adding, "I'm a little through with the culture personally."
“I do a lot of this s–t for the people, but the culture, I think at this point, I think a lot of us are sitting here being like, a lot of this s–t was learned because of f–d up s–t that happened to us, and we actually have to relearn a lot of stuff,” he said. “So if you’re sitting there being like, ‘Oh, this is misogynoir,’ I’m like, ‘Why do you think that? And why would you think I feel that way when I’m nothing without my people. It’s just kind of whack to me. But also I’m just like, yeah, most [of] that s–t is just internet people trying to get hot, which is also something we learned, which is also some bs we learned in the system we’re in.”
Donald said that if he has to answer the question about if the criticism is true, he said, "No, we don't feel that way."
“I listen to the criticism, but…the conversation isn’t as elevated as it should be. There’s better ways to talk about it rather than, like, s–t that I heard in fourth grade about who we are. Because I just feel like this is such a Black show on a lot of levels, you know. To say that it’s for white people is like we’re cutting ourselves down. IT’s just kind of whack to me,” he said. “It’s just sad to me, mostly. But I think that’s just internet s–t anyway…I read it all on TikTok all the time. ‘Oh, Atlanta is transphobic.’ I’m like, ‘Man, I’m neighbors with a trans man down there, and he literally was like, ‘Atlanta is my favorite show. I love how you guys talked about the trans thing.’ Because I’m like a lot of this s–t is just takes for the internet.”
The new season of Atlanta premieres on FX in September.