My sweet and brilliant grandson Ashton just turned nine years old. His greatest love for years now is Bendy – he has drawn a fold-out rendition of Bendy and shown me in a video. He’ll be Bendy for Halloween this year.

So I’m educating myself.

Bendy is a video game character – this stuff seems dark. It’s advertised as the game “that will ruin your childhood love of cartoons.” I think I like it.

While I watch a YouTube video of someone playing the game, I’m excited that my grandson is learning to love animation the way I did when I saw the early, slightly creepy, permutations of Mickey Mouse. I like this so much better than what Disney puts out these days. It’s a personal preference.

I message my daughter and request an appointment to chat with Ashton. She works in a hospital; he has school. This is long-distance grandparenting. The activist in me is watching the video for covert messages of racial supremacy – but no. It’s just terrifying and gross.

Every once in a while, the internet throws systemic racism in front of entertainment, either pointing out that there are no persons of color in the TV show Friends, or complaining that everybody in the latest sci-fi is black. If minority sci-fi is trending, I’m here for it. If it makes somebody uncomfortable, there’s the opportunity to understand the bubble of what’s been allowed in popular culture until now. It’s not all about subversion; it’s about disregarding a demographic because they didn’t seem important enough to be treated like a market.

Bendy doesn’t seem to be excluding anybody. The protagonist, as a video game, is you. We’re killing characters made out of black ink, but the entire thing is shot in black and white. Bendy is black and white. My grandson is Black and White. I’m not going to focus his lens for him, but I will open a dialogue so we have something to build on, him and me.

deb Ewing

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