There was a swift uproar surrounding Snoop Dogg’s criticism of The History Channel’s remake of the miniseries Roots, which garnered epic ratings. Snoop’s opinion was that he was tired of watching films that centered on events like slavery. He cited 12 Years a Slave, Roots and WGN America’s period piece Underground.
(Now keep in mind that this is Snoop wearing a du-rag, clearly chilling on a sofa somewhere informally speaking his mind. He didn’t call a press conference and urge for a boycott in front of a crowd of reporters.)
Snoop expressed his opinion. We all get to have our own. Black people are not a monolith. We don’t have to think or feel the same about anything. If Snoop doesn’t want to watch these types of films and television shows, that’s his right. And it’s his right to speak on it, complain about it and tell others not to watch it. If you want to watch the shows — you can! You can totally ignore Snoop’s comments and watch the show anyway. That’s how freedom of speech works.
Also, it’s a bit of a stretch to say Snoop called for a boycott, (but it makes for a juicier story). He never even used the word boycott. And even if he did, who are we to judge?
His exact words were: "I advise you motherf**kers that’s real n****s like myself, f**k them television shows."
If you listen to the entire video, his words were really an indictment on Hollywood as a whole. He was speaking on all of the slavery-focused films and television shows, not just Roots.
On Wednesday, Roland Martin took Snoop to task, calling him out for skipping the miniseries and telling others to do the same. Martin mentioned that there were more Holocaust films than films on slavery. So what? Snoop can still be annoyed by what he’s seeing in the media. If Snoop doesn’t want to see any films about slavery, more power to him.
Martin’s criticism included Snoop’s appearance in the critically-derided film Soul Plane. Somehow, Martin made the connection that Snoop had no right to speak his mind because his highest grossing film was a hot mess (and because he’s produced adult entertainment). But what does Snoop’s film career have to do with his right to express his opinion? Only celebrated actors like Denzel Washington and Idris Elba can express themselves?
Martin also brought up Snoop’s affinity for weed. Why does his love of marijuana make him not worthy of having an opinion? Martin then implored Snoop to reach out to film directors and invest in the positive movies he wants to see on the big screen.
I walked out on 12 Years a Slave. I didn’t tune in to Underground. And I didn’t watch the remake of Roots.
Don’t try to come for me about needing to know my history. I know these stories well. (I saw Roots with my family in 1977 and have watched it several times since. I’ve read and re-read all the books these films are based on — and hundreds more. I have a BA in African-American History and I taught African-American history for several years.)
I go to the movies to escape reality for 90 minutes. I don’t want to see slavery on the large or small screen. And that’s my right. If people want to see these films to get educated — that’s wonderful. But I (and Snoop too) have the right to pass. I won’t call for others to not watch the movie. But I (and Snoop too) have the right to do that as well.
Watch how Snoop was honored for his efforts on behalf of Flint, Michigan, with BET Breaks above.
(Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Firefly)