Previously on Atlanta, “The Streisand Effect”
Atlanta – S1E5 – Nobody Beats the Biebs | Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, LaKeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz | Writer: Stephen Glover | Director: Hiro Murai
Y’all… okay. We’ve known from the jump that Atlanta was going to be a special show that would chronicle the various paths of the Black American experience. However this week’s episode provided further insight into the traps and snares of the media. As laugh out loud funny as it was, “Biebs” also cut deep into the hypocrisy and racism of White America. Given our current social climate, Hiro Murai and Stephen Glover were completely validated in framing their concerns with raw humor and damn, was it a satisfying feeling.
Somehow Earn used what little Black nerd magic he wields to get Alfred in a charity basketball game. While the action that takes place on the court is humorous on its own, most of the ridiculousness is attributed to one of music questionably popular acts, Justin Bieber. Yes, that Justin Bieber… who was finally cast as the Black man he wishes he could be. Portrayed by Austin Crute, this Biebs is everything we’ve come to hate about celebrity and then some. Sure, it was an exaggeration on writer Stephen Glover’s part but it wasn’t that far from the truth. Everything you saw JB has done over the years, though not so flamboyantly. Alfred, being the most rational person in the room, recognized Bieber’s foul behavior – which is casually dismissed by Lloyd as Justin “trying to find himself”. Even with Lil’ Zane and Jaleel White muttering their complaints, the Biebs was indeed too big to fail.
While Paper Boi was trying his best not to go Draymond on Bieber, Earnest is swept away by an older agent in a memorable performance by Jane Adams. She mistook Earn for a former associate and doesn’t care to hear his excuses while they casually stroll into the VIP Lounge. Thankfully, Marks makes the best of this opportunity and pretends he’s “Alonso” to make new contacts and hopefully new revenue streams for his client. All is good and well, until his chain-smoking fairy godmother returns after making rounds to dig into the betrayal “Alonso” committed that nearly buried her career. Earn sheepishly attempted to say she had the wrong guy but she cuts him off for the final time, seals it with a kiss and says “I’m gonna make sure you die homeless.”
Honestly, we better see more of this lady because she may finally have scared Marks straight. Imagine seeing this half-mad silver-maned agent lurking in background shots. Earn tracing a hint of Virginia Slims in the hazy summer air and realizing with wide-eyed fear that she’s nearby…
In the meantime, Darius is having himself a great day and visited the gun range to keep his eye sharp. Only problem was every God fearing red-blooded White American male took the greatest offense towards his target: a dumb ol’ dog. Typical in Atlanta’s more vital moments, it was a scene thick in humor that doubled as an underlying critique on the ass-backward views most Americans suffer. A dog is a far worse target than a human… imagine that! Darius managed to hit them back with their own disturbing choice of targets like knife-wielding Mexicans and another that reads “Dad”. Of course it all went to shit once a fellow gun enthusiast came to support Darius’ choice of targets… which avalanched into an impassioned tirade about the upcoming revolution. When folks start saying “Blood will spill!” from their chest, it’s time to go.
In the end, Alfred got some of the attention he wanted, just not in the way he thought it would go down. Thanks to his gripe with Bieber, the King Douche had the perfect opportunity to simultaneously retool his image and promote his next single during the post-game conference. Amidst this moment of surreality, Paper Boi tries yet again to strike a conversation with the pretty reporter who finally shuts him down by telling him to “…play your part. People don’t want Justin to be the asshole. They want you to be the asshole. You’re a rapper. That’s your job.”
And there you have it. White America in a nutshell. Nobody can move up without our say so. Do what’s expected of you – nothing less and certainly nothing more – or else we’ll lose our goddamn minds. Don’t believe me… cue every single, disgusting, misinformed response by pundits, former governors and mayors, presidential candidates and internet trolls after any shooting protest, BLM event or post from a recently woke actor or athlete in the last two years alone.
Both Alfred and Earnest left the event dumbfounded by their singular experiences. In the five seconds they watched a sell-out buffoon lip synch on a tiny stage to keep his place among wallets of his meal tickets, the duo appeared more determined to make it on their own terms.