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Heartstrings: A Review of CHAMBERS
~ Dr. Dawn Karima
CHAMBERS, a new web series currently
streaming on Netflix, does what Native
viewers have longed to see on TV...it
shows Native America as part of America.
Natives wearing t-shirts and jeans,
instead of beads and feathers; riding i
n cars instead of on horses; and embracing technology instead of tomahawks bring Native life out of 1819 into 2019. This series represents a refreshing antidote to the Western genre films that relegate tribes to the past and erase Natives from the present and future.
Stunning Sivan Alyra Rose commands the screen as Sasha. Yazzie. San Carlos Apache/Puerto Rican actress portrays a smart, savvy teenager, who acts like average adolescent that also respects her tribal traditions. Griffin Powell-Arcand plays Sasha's boyfriend, TJ Locklear, a character that embodies typical teen characteristics as well as a Dine' lifestyle. Seeing Native life depicted in the modern era is a long overdue perspective in mainstream media.
Anchoring the show with starpower balances out the blend between newcomers and ,experienced artists in a way that prevents the program from languishing in obscurity. Uma Thurman, of KILL BILL fame, assumes the role of the grieving mother of the heart donor, whose heart saves the critically ill Sasha. The heart works as a metaphor on many levels, and serves as a symbol of long-standing issues of blood quantum, blood myths, belle hooks' concept of "eating the other" and the delicate balance between identity and integration.
Following a standard horror premise makes this show accessible to viewers from all backgrounds. Horror provides a popular part of the Netflix catalog. Audience members are likely to accept a film in this genre and embrace diversity in its characters.
CHAMBERS centers on the chaos that erupts when a young woman falls ill suddenly. A heart transplant saves her life,yet opens her eyes to a distressing set of visions and dreams. As this young woman encounters the parents of the person that donated a heart to her, she seeks to understand the disturbing dreams and insights that afflict her. Her Native roots and ways of interpreting the paranormal merge seamlessly with the ominous storytelling style of this series. Thus, viewers from various backgrounds can relate to this show and enjoy each episode.
Indigenous people frequently attempt to influence media by saying that "representation matters." CHAMBERS proves that statement to be true. This reviewer hopes that Native Americans and allies will stream this show, mention it in their social media and also respond favorably to it so that Netflix will continue to create content that includes Native Americans in the way we all live now.
EditSivan Alyra Rose