‘Amend: The Fight for America’, Netflix’s new painfully woke docuseries, is only interested in indoctrinating, not educating
The Will Smith-hosted series aims to spotlight the history of rights in the US. But what transpires is a ludicrous exercise in politically correct performance art that is allergic to intellectual seriousness or nuance.
‘Amend: The Fight for America’ is a new Netflix docuseries hosted by Will Smith that examines the history and impact of the 14th Amendment, which addresses citizenship rights and equal protection under the law.
The series is broken down into six episodes. The first three episodes cover the 14th Amendment in relation to the black struggle for equality from slavery to Black Lives Matter, while episodes four, five and six focus on the women’s movement, marriage equality/gay rights and immigrant rights, respectively.
The docuseries is a high-end public service announcement featuring stars such as Pedro Pascal, Mahershala Ali and Joseph Gordon Levitt, and is obviously meant as a teaching guide for children and teenagers.
One of the big problems with ‘Amend’, though, and there are many of them, is that it presents itself as a serious work of history, but is really just a blatant work of advocacy.
There is nothing wrong with advocating, but doing it under the guise of teaching history makes ‘Amend’ an insidious piece of propaganda.
As propaganda, it is very slick, as it has all the trappings of a serious historical documentary, but it’s violently allergic to nuance. The series’ shameless embrace of woke identity politics is never countenanced with even a rudimentary glimpse of oppositional ideas and beliefs, except to label them as obviously and irredeemably evil.
For instance, in the episode about women’s rights and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), anti-abortion beliefs are only seen as tools of misogyny and the patriarchy, and the potentially rich and fascinating topic of the clash of 14th Amendment rights of the unborn child versus those of the pregnant woman is never broached.
The series’ intellectual petulance is also highlighted in this episode, when one of the talking heads is incapable of even saying famed ERA opposition leader Phyllis Schlafly’s name. She stumbles over it numerous times and then finally gives up, only to be quickly replaced by another talking head who simply calls Ms. Schlafly, “Mean Phyllis.” Apparently in an attempt to appeal to grade-school children, the docuseries decided to act like a grade-school child.
Preferring this slavishly woke, blindly Manichean perspective on every issue guts the project of any intellectual seriousness, and its relentlessly self-righteous snickering at opposing arguments cheapens the project and transforms it from being potentially laudable to ridiculously laughable.
Speaking of laughable, The credibility of Amend is further damaged by “comedian” Larry Wilmore. Wilmore, a producer on the series, keeps showing up to mug for the camera for no discernible reason, and is so tonally out of place as to be painful. Wilmore’s “comedy” is always impotent and grating, but in ‘Amend’ his shtick is even more insipidly limp and irritating due to the supposedly serious context.
The docuseries is obsessed with narratives, as it repeatedly talks about the evil of “messages of fear and hate” from small-minded bigots used to rile the masses. Donald Trump is repeatedly conjured in this context to accentuate the point. This is curious, since the series espouses its own message of fear and hate by continually denigrating “white men” and ringing the alarm bells over the boogeyman of ‘white supremacy’, which is supposedly lurking under every bed and around every corner.
This anti-white attitude is evident when the 300,000-plus white men who died to free slaves in the Civil War are studiously ignored, but the black soldiers who fought are celebrated. It’s also evident when minority actors Pedro Pascal and Graham Greene play Abraham Lincoln and Ohio Senator John Bingham, the principal framer of the 14th Amendment, respectively, yet white actor Joseph Gordon Levitt plays the villainous, N-word-spouting Andrew Johnson.
Another telling moment that spotlights the series’ manipulative mendacity and deceptive intentions is when activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham recounts her experiences as a protester in Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the 2014 shooting of black man Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.
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Video and photos of protesters fill the screen as Ms. Cunningham states that “the call on the streets was ‘hands up don’t shoot’ because what we were being told was that Michael Brown had his hands up in the air when Darren Wilson shot him.”
This is an intentionally misleading statement, as Ms. Cunningham – who is featured throughout the series as some kind of expert – knows it isn’t true. She is perpetuating the false narrative surrounding Brown’s shooting, and that’s why she couches it with “we were being told.”
Brown didn’t have his hands up when Wilson shot him and yet Ms. Cunningham and ‘Amend’ prefer that lie because it fits their narrative instead of the truth that destroys it. (Watch an infinitely more insightful documentary, ‘What Killed Michael Brown?’ for the truth.)
If you like deceptive docuseries that indoctrinate instead of educate, and enjoy watching solemn-faced actors babbling about “inclusivity” while pushing so hard to conjure non-existent gravitas it seems like they could soil themselves at any moment, then ‘Amend’ is definitely for you.
After suffering though all six hours of ‘Amend: The Fight for America’, my biggest takeaway is that we need a new constitutional amendment to protect me from the torture of watching the vapid Will Smith mimic sincerity while spouting woke talking points as if they’re holy decrees from God on high.
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