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In MTV Entertainment Group’s Juneteenth Spot, a Black Creator Subverts Common Media Imagery

MTV Entertainment Group passed the mic to one Black creative to illustrate and raise up seldom-seen portrayals of Blackness intended to provoke self-recognition for Juneteenth.

Filmmaker Ewurakua Dawson-Amoah is behind “Noitamalcer” (“reclamation” backwards), a one-minute ad focused on Black resilience. The spot includes a narration of an original poem Dawson-Amoah wrote about the topic. Lines like, “We will not be confined to a day/ But this is the day you listen,” and, “Clipped our wings, we fell, yet hit the ground running,” evoke themes of defiance. Her words are interlaced with vibrant images of Black men and women in a variety of settings, such as the woods and a classroom.

The ad, which was released today, is airing across linear, digital and social for MTV Entertainment Group’s nine brands, which include MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Paramount Network, CMT, Smithsonian Channel, TV Land and Pop TV.

Dawson-Amoah’s approach to the spot was to go beyond just educating people about Juneteenth.

“I wanted it to be something that acknowledged the past but didn’t dwell in it,” she told Adweek.

She also “wanted to be able to represent each of the characters and in a heroic and powerful way.” She especially wanted to confront and contrast stereotypical takes on Black manhood. That entailed a creative choice to include Black men in colorful outfits. It meant depicting these men in more innocent settings and styles, “something that we usually don’t see [them] in in film and TV, in any type of media.”

Letting independent creators take the lead on spots reflecting their respective communities has become the norm for MTV Entertainment Group’s creative strategy. The network began implementing this practice during Hispanic Heritage Month last fall and continued doing it for heritage months and holidays such as Native American Heritage Month, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, AAPI Heritage Month and Jewish American Heritage Month.

“Allowing them that freedom is so critical for these pieces. Everyone has their own unique way of expressing what a particular heritage month, or what a particular moment, means to them—how they can develop it and how they can express it creatively,” Deva Newman, MTV Entertainment Group’s svp, brand creative group, told Adweek.

Dawson-Amoah noted that this creative freedom for “Noitamalcer” allowed her to do a plethora of things a traditional collaboration with a major company wouldn’t have. That included putting together a team primarily comprised of people of color and 80% women. From MTV’s perspective, the aim was to have Dawson-Amoah use her voice to showcase her individual viewpoint of how the Black community should be seen.

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