When A&E announced its upcoming documentary series Generation KKK Monday, the public was understandably befuddled the decision.
The show—which the network began filming just as the 2016 political primaries were taking shape—offers “unprecedented” access to the Ku Klux Klan. Producers were embedded among Klan members, according to filmmaker Aengus James, to witness firsthand “the struggles with the internal families” of the KKK.
Many were quick to criticize the series, arguing a KKK reality TV show can only serve as a platform for the hate group, effectively normalizing and glorifying white supremacy.
A&E's KKK reality show spawns new KKK-friendly sitcoms: KKK is Enough The Hatey Bunch Friends (in Hoods Who Hate Anyone Who Isn't White)— Christopher Sebela (@Christopher Sebela) 1482131846.0
There should be an immediate boycott of A&E and all of its sponsors as they normalize the KKK with a reality series. Abhorrent— Wendell Pierce (@Wendell Pierce) 1482121895.0
I'm so old, I remember when America was ashamed of its racists. Now we reward them with shows like Generation KKK. https://t.co/tO1HYwTFYX— Jeff Tiedrich [retired account — see bio] (@Jeff Tiedrich [retired account — see bio]) 1482152729.0
A&E Executive Vice President Robert Sharenow defended the decision to pick up Generation KKK, telling the Hollywood Reporter the network wants “viewers to see and hear the ugliness at the heart of hate groups,” arguing the message is one against hate. “I really think the message of anti-hate is important, timeless and moral.” Sharenow said. “I fear that people will some way think that it's a political statement—though [the election] is part of the backdrop of the show. We were filming during the campaign, but that's not what drove our interest. I have concerns that people will put a wall up, thinking it's a political statement—which it isn’t.” Some people jumped to the shows defense, including civil rights activist Shaun King.
Generation KKK looks genuinely fascinating from a sociological/ anthropological perspective. Yelling it down won't make the hate go away.— Danny Rivero (@Danny Rivero) 1482174612.0
King also shared a preview of the show. Watch the video below, via A&E:
Generation KKK follows a network of peace activists as they work to break the cycle of hate in prominent Ku Klux Klan families. pic.twitter.com/stkqbsBNcC
— A&E Network (@AETV) December 20, 2016