“domestic blackness rarely results in something like empathy”
Mirzoeff never mentions race, but that this film (or/as “wilding”) works for so many viewers has everything to do with the black bodies at its center; bodies that index those other primarily black bodies set adrift in the devastation and devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but also those working class black bodies and people who, in this culture, have continually marked a space of joy, of “making a way out of no way” and access to something like freedom (primitivism) in spite and in the face of…everything. But those bodies also index the other definition of wilding, one that entered the lexicon in 1989 when five young black men were railroaded and wrongfully convicted of the brutal rape of a young white woman in Central Park. That’s how I came to understand wilding and it was a term that many people, across race, adopted to describe young black people as animals, feral and undomesticated.
It may be that “[d]isaster, survival and the physical deprivation that comes with it can, it is suggested, generate meaningful alternatives.” But at least part of the disaster on view here is everyday black life lived in the wake of slavery and neither this film nor many of its viewers actually account for that life as disastrous