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Ruby Benson - STROLLING Series Review
Jake Macfarlane's picture Jake Macfarlane 2 years 5 months ago
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I chose to review FLANER ep 2 and STROLLING ep 7 of the Strolling Series available

to stream on YouTube. These 15 minute documentary episodes feature either one or

two black people of the Afrikan Diaspora, and these respondents discuss their

ideologies, beliefs, deconstruct paradigms and explore their experiences all before the

viewer's eyes. In FLANER ep 2, Cecile Emeke interviews Fanta, a African-French

woman, about reparations, racism and the toll of emotional labour. Fanta is an

insightful, well-spoken though seemingly shy woman. It's interesting to catch glimpses

of her personality in the way that she goes about explaining her ideas, experiences and

beliefs. Even noticing the way that her eyes flicker from looking at the camera to looking

to the side; it's cool to make inferences into who she is as a person, rather than only as

a character in this "role" on the STROLLING series.

In STROLLING ep 7, Emeke speaks to Abraham, a proclaimed intersectional

feminist about the controversy that comes with associating himself as an ally to

feminism, learning how to cry again, and the journey he navigated to become who he is

today. This episode struck me because of the truth Abraham speaks, but also because

of his style, and the way it compliments the setting and colour of the video. I'm intrigued

by the way Emeke uses the style of the respondent to either compliment or make a

statement about the subject matter; for instance, Abraham has an intense personality, is

very big and tall, dressed in black and grey and is wearing a 'ARMY' T-shirt in a green

park in Hackney, UK. I think this visual set-up sets the stage for his critical rhetoric, as

he seems almost militant in aesthetic and that is juxtaposed with the stereotype of what

feminine looks like, but falls in line with the stereotype of what feminism looks like. And

then, even the notion of what feminism looks like is turned on his head because he

identifies as a man.

I am a big fan of the visual elements of the productions. Each video falls in line

with a general aesthetic or brand of the series. When comparing earlier episodes to

later ones, I saw a progression in walking or strolling as a story element; instead of

actually having the participants walk through their locals for the entire interview, we see

them stop and talk, instead of only ever walking. At times, the participants only walk in

the intro, and are still (though always outside) throughout the rest of the video. In terms

of the aural, there's a chillhop bed that accompanies each story. The music bed

communicates a relaxed, open mood to the viewer and listener.

I don't think all Canadians who are tuned into mainstream media would want to

watch this as each respondent speaks on heavy topics that have to deal with various

aspects of marginalization, and listening to more nuanced social justice ideas are not

generally an enjoyable or awakening experience for everyone. Also, since the targeted

demographic is black diasporans, I think the greatest amount of viewership would be

sourced from big cities that are ethnically diverse such as Toronto, Montreal and

Vancouver.

I would watch this program as I find it fascinating to be connected to the

experiences of other racialized people across the world. With Canada's proximity to the

United States, I find it easy to fall into adapting the culture of African-Americans into my

own experiences and culture, because Canada and the US are both English speaking

neo-capitalist nations. The STROLLING Series gives me the opportunity to tap into the

varied experiences of black people that is never heard about, and then to compare and

contrast my experiences with the people in each documentary story.