Hello, Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea (2019) – Summary, Review (with Spoilers)

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In Hello, Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea, Chelsea Handler shows she means well yet still operates on a limited scope of what white privilege is.


Director(s) Alex Stapleton
Screenplay By N/A
Date Released 9/13/2019
Genre(s) Documentary
Who Is This For?
  • Those Seeking A Introduction To White Privilege & Examples
Where To Buy, Rent, or Stream? Netflix
Noted Cast
Herself Chelsea Handler
Himself Tim Wise
Himself Kevin Hart
Herself Tiffany Haddish
Himself Jelly Roll
Himself W. Kamau Bell

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Plot Summary/ Review

In this documentary, Handler travels across the country, mostly sticking to coastal states, to get a grasp on not only what others perceive as white Privilege, but how they feel about it. This leads to her speaking to, when it comes to people of color, almost exclusively Black people, including her childhood ex and his family. Then, on the other side, white people of different socio-economic backgrounds and political beliefs. Pushing the idea that there is a desire to learn, but Handler not having a firm grasp herself leads to very surface-level conversations.

Collected Quote(s) or .Gifs

I think a lot of times people assume that activism has to be this big, epic sort of thing, where you’re pit marching, and that’s part of it, and I think a lot of people are ready for that and down for that. But I think that we have to start where we are in the communities where we live, in the schools that our kids attend, [and] in our workplaces. Having good productive conversations about things that are really important to people of color and ought to be important to white folks. So, there’s little things like that, starting where we are.
— Tim Wise

Highlights

A Good Mix Of Chelsea Using Her Life As An Example And Using Her Access To Get In Other Voices

Within the documentary, Chelsea mixes in various groups of society in order to help illuminate what white privilege means to those people. She begins things with comedians Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish and how, be it getting to this point in their career, or life in general, their skin tone has held them back. She also talks to Tennessee rapper Jelly Roll, and his take on white privilege considering he would accept the adjective “white Trash” to describe his person, and also taking note of his dealings with the legal system.

But, where Handler shines is the fact that, unlike peer W. Kamau Bell, who appears in the documentary, she doesn’t have to deal with the veneer people put up who have white privilege. Making it so she gets less of a confrontation and more of a conversation, without having to figure out ways to put people at ease. Leading to, when talking to Orange County republicans, her getting honest answers about this discomfort and why they’d rather people move on. If not use terminology that doesn’t make white people sound privileged, but Black people sound dis-privileged.

Criticism

It Strictly Focuses On How White Privilege Affects Black People

When it comes to white privilege, it doesn’t just affect Black people. It’s an issue that affects the Latinx, and Hispanic communities, Asian communities, Indigenous Americans, as well as those in the Muslim population since whiteness isn’t commonly associated to that religion and the culture attached. So for this to strictly focus on Black people continues that divide that white privilege, and the narrative around it, is a Black people issue that they solely are being oppressed by.

On The Fence

This Deserved More Than One Hour

Taking note of the criticism, and how significant the issue is, since it isn’t just an American thing, it makes an hour feel too watered down and simple. Which, for some, might be good. After all, Handler is a comic and knows how to play the jester and poke those with privilege. But, one will admit, some could feel, as multiple people push the idea of, this whole thing might be sourced in curiosity but may not be followed up with real action. Similar to when many in the Black community talk about colorism and yet don’t hire or advocate for the hiring of darker-skinned people.

Which is to say, maybe if this went beyond an hour, we’d come to realize that Handler may fancy the conversation, the big moments as Tim Wise points out a lot of people are for, but when it comes to the day to day? Engaging beyond what could be used as material or that can be commercialized? You could find yourself wondering who is this really for? Is it to talk about, perhaps expose, white privilege or just be a salve for Handler’s own white guilt – which she clearly is trying to deal with.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

While you can see an effort and good intentions, Hello, Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea shows the issue of centering important topics around a celebrity. For even with experts or people with lived experiences included, you can see so much more that could have been said and done with Handler’s privilege, which allowed for this project to be financed. Leaving you feeling, if aware of the subject matter, it barely left the shallow end of the pool, and for those unaware, you may feel they may get the gist but could easily be misinformed.

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