Downtown Los Angeles Skyline

John Ridley: Entertainment as a Conveyor of Empathy

John Ridley: To me, and somebody else had said this, this is not something that I've come up with, but you know, entertainment at its best is an apparatus for building a mechanism for delivering empathy and whether they're individuals on television whose actions or ideology we ultimately agree with,  And I think a really good example on the first season of "American Crime,"  Felicity Huffman, played a character named Barb and Barb was a woman, who, an individual respective over gender, she was very forthright in how she talked about race or class or those people but at the same time she lost a son who had murdered and there were elements of what she was doing that I don’t think most people would agree with in terms of how she was phrasing her distress, but as a mother suffering loss I don’t think there was anybody who could say "I don't under..., I do understand what she's going through and what she's dealing with." And that kind of portrayal that kind of performance, that kind of nuance that Felicity was able to bring to it and our writers, to me that's what it's about. There are many number of people walking around in the world today where I don't agree with what they say. There are many number of people who probably don't agree with things that I say, but I think when we strip away the harshness of the discourse and get down to the fundamental aspects of human nature,  whether it’s the healthcare debate, whether it's immigration, whether it is the drug crisis. You know I think honestly the drug crisis we're going through right now, you know, in the...  
Val Zavala: With the Opioids?
John Ridley: With the Opioids, you know when we were going through the crack; at that point, it was an epidemic. How it was phrased, how people are trying to deal with it, was very different. Now it's a crisis and how we deal with it, and we need to have intervention, and we need rehabilitation, and we need more money to try to address the problem and what is the difference. A lot of it to me is where those drugs are being distributed, whose being affected, the face of those individuals. So I think a lot of the times we need to strip away much of the incendiary phraseology, how we talk about things and really get down to the fact that we are talking about people and we are talking about communities, and they are being affected and 
we need to find ways to really work to effect change in these various communities.

John Ridley, Oscar Winning Filmmaker, discusses how entertainment can deliver empathy to audiences. 

Get the free PBS App

Upcoming Airdates

There are no airdates scheduled at this time. Visit our Shows page to discover other programs you may enjoy.