Snoop Dogg isn’t a critic. He doesn’t even play one on TV.
Yet the cannabis-craving rapper is speaking out about a miniseries airing this week on the History Channel.
“Roots” is a remake of the iconic ABC miniseries of the same name circa 1977. Based on Alex Haley’s book, the TV event offered an unflinching look at slavery at a time when race relations were making some progress after the turbulent 1960s.
The ratings proved massive. An estimated 140 million caught the 12-part original. The zeitgeist shifted under its cultural might.
So why doesn’t the rapper want people to watch the remake?
“I’m sick of this s***. How the f*** are they going to put Roots on, on Memorial Day?” Snoop said in an Instagram video. “They going to just to keep beating that s*** into our heads about how they did us, huh?”
Dogg also let loose on the Oscar-winning film “12 Years a Slave,” which similarly depicted slavery’s inhumane nature.
“Let’s create our own s*** based on today, how we live and how we inspire people today. Black is what’s real. F*** that old s****.”
Watch the whole tirade on the next page [language warning].
The argument, oddly enough, has some precedent, particularly in the press. Some media critics complain that content opening old wounds does little to help us evolve. Others say it’s vital to understand the roots of slavery, in this example, to put today’s race relations into context.
Just ask the team behind the new “Roots” project. They spoke of potential reparations payments and how the story connects to the Black Lives Matter movement during a spirited Q&A with The Hollywood Reporter.
“I want to create a safe space for Americans to really be honest about what we’re afraid of and what we’re so angry about,” “Roots” producer LeVar Burton, who starred as Kunte Kinte in the 1977 original, told THR. “I really want us to be able to have that honest conversation in a safe context, and I believe that Roots can help us do it.
Dogg’s colorful proclamation apparently did little to dent enthusiasm for the new miniseries.
The premiere, which aired on not just the History Channel but also on Lifetime, A+E and LMN, drew 5.3 million viewers during its May 30 premiere. That’s the most for a cable miniseries in three years.
It’s still a fraction of the ratings the 1977 miniseries drew. The media landscape is far different today than it was four decades ago. Audiences no longer flock to shows en masse due to the flood of new channels and content streams.
Dogg didn’t get his wish. Still, far fewer people will see “Roots” today than in the past. That means its cultural power can’t match the original’s impact.