Written by: Ziggiy
Defining The Concept Of Black Identity
How two young men blend comedy and passion into a tale of upstate ambition
“People of color have a constant frustration of not being represented, or being misrepresented, and these images go around the world. It comes down to this: black people were stripped of our identities when we were brought here, and it’s been a quest since then to define who we are.”
Establishing identity as a black man or woman can present a challenging paradox within America. Every single idea, notion, or inclining is in some way defined by our race. The stereotype of the African American is one fraught with beauty and grotesque. Intelligence and ignorance. Struggle and triumph. As every individual seeks to attain their own voice and infuse it into the tapestry of the larger black collective, we are continually confronted with the test of authenticity. Is the personality that the individual has constructed for ones self credible to what constitutes progressive blackness? Can our differences as individuals still in some form or medium be bridged to a common understanding or goal? Are our hopes, dreams, desires, and talents unique enough to give us a foundation to speak the truths that our experiences have shown us to be factual?
Two young creatives have wagered that their own unique perspectives on the world as black men attempting to become GREAT men, are a worthy addition to this continued enigma.
The pilot episode of Blowed Up begins with a reunion of two childhood best friends who have taken wildly differing life paths. One; the sensible, rational, and kind-hearted young man Terrence (played by Terrence James) is overjoyed to receive a visit from his creative soul-mate, the hippyish, quick smiling, and charismatic Lerone (played by Lerone Graham) who is coming to stay with Terrence for a few days. The quick introduction to our two leads feels natural and vibrant, as the pair are also real life best friends and creative partners. The first 5 minutes give us a brief glimpse of the duo’s past, as Terrence serves as best man at Lerone’s wedding reception 7 years earlier. Both men fancy themselves comedic writers, and the show is as much an autobiographical diary as it is a situational comedy. When Terrence asks Lerone whether his abrupt arrival brings news of their script’s admission to a television network’s writer’s program (hint, the station in question is a Chappelle favorite) Lerone reacts dismissively.
“FUCK Warner Brothers. As a staff. As a tv station. AND a muthafucking crew!
You telling me we can’t take over the industry shining on our OWN shit?
It’s INSPIRATION out here I can smell it!”
Mainstream rejection breeds underground motivation. Terrence, caught up in his friend’s unbridled enthusiasm, is overjoyed to have someone of such a bright-eyed and passionate, if not naive mindset, back in his life. Of course he has to clear all of this new fun and an impromptu roommate with his live in girlfriend Ashley. A particularly funny moment occurs where Terrence assures Lerone that he wears the pants in the household while the next scene shows him curling Ashley’s hair and humorously imploring her to allow Lerone to stay. This sets up the familiar “Odd Couple” trope as the next scenes showcase Lerone’s carefree attitude as opposed to Terrence and Ashley’s rather pedestrian lifestyle. Every scene with Lerone and Terrence is a highlight, as their real life friendship bleeds into the two characters banter and interactions. Their relationship feels full and realized, these are young black men who understand the potential in the other, and nothing, not a girlfriend’s skepticism, A parent’s expectation, or the world’s stereotyping of their identity, is going to shake that faith in potential.
The episode culminates with a not altogether shocking revelation, which I will not spoil here, as the support that these two men show one another while they discuss the path that their lives have taken is only strengthened by the common goal of the continued search for identity. Both of them are standing at a crossroads, adulthood pulling them towards the absolute of responsibility while creativity beckons them with the uncertainty of aspiration. The characters of Lerone and Terrence might stand on the edge of destiny or destruction, but the MEN who inspired the tale have triumphed in lifting their own voice and speaking their contribution to the world.
You can watch Blowed Up on YouTube, where the creators will be debuting new episodes weekly.