Edited by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld


Edited by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld

Monday, July 24, 2017

"Bitch Better Have My Cotton": A Satirical "Trading Places" Counterfactual

Last Thursday night's Daily Show provided a great example of a satirically-minded "trading places" counterfactual -- one in which the relationship between two groups in real history is switched in alternate history -- with an ironically minded news "story" by Roy Wood Jr.  (Click HERE for the clip).


The story was prompted by HBO's announcement of its upcoming alternate history show, Confederate, which has received a lot of criticism for various perceived shortcomings.

Wood's story displays a conflicted view of counterfactual history.  On the one hand, he implores Hollywood producers to abandon "what if" concepts in future shows, citing the example of The Man in the High Castle, among other series.  But he avails himself of a time honored counterfactual known as a trading places counterfactual to make his point.

There are many examples of such role switching in counterfactual history, for example, the notion that the inhabitants of the New World might have "discovered" and subsequently colonized the Old World of Europe.  But Wood provides a new spin on such a switch by presenting his idea for an alternate television series: Bitch Better Have my Cotton.



In it, the blacks are the slave owners and the whites are the slaves.  (For kicks, the lead actor slated to the play a slave is Matt Damon; the 1970s Blaxploitation imagery further lends the premise a hilarious feel).

I'm not sure that this satirical counterfactual needs its own category, as the trading places element is dominant.  But in contrast to other examples of this type of counterfactual, the comic edge is far more pronounced.

Perhaps if further such examples appear in the future, a category called "satirical counterfactuals" would make sense.

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